Bangkok: Nusbaum’s Unconscionable Retainer Makes Him a ‘S–Bag’ Lawyer

Many clients have accused Ed Nusbaum of fraudulent billing and malpractice. 


Nusbaum frequently uses Fairfield County Attorney Alex Trembicki to represent him.

The evidence of the seemingly fraudulent billings came from a simple comparison of Nusbaum’s bills with the guardian ad litem in the same case, Jocelyn Hurwitz’s invoices.  

Nusbaum billed Riordan for dozens of phone calls and emails with Hurwitz, but Hurwitz did not bill Riordan for those calls. Hurwitz was either too shy to bill, forgot about four months of phone calls and emails, or Nusbaum lied.  

Since Hurwitz and Nusbaum bill by the hour, divided by 1/10 of the hour minimum increments, and Hurwitz makes her living, like Nusbaum, billing by the hour, it does not seem like she would be too shy or forgot.

Hurwitz of the law firm Cohen and Wolf meticulously bills and racked up billings of around $200,000 in this case. It seems hard to believe she’d forget to bill some $10,000 worth of billings.

It smells like evidence of fraud to me.  

I also wrote Nusbaum never advised his client Riordan about three unusual provisions in his retainer agreement. 

  1. That if a dispute arose between them, it would go to arbitration with no set rules and an arbitrator that works closely with Nusbaum. 
  2. That the arbitration record would be kept confidential
  3. That there would be something brand new in law — no discovery. Every standard arbitration or courthouse lawsuit has discovery. It is the heart of a lawsuit. 
  4. So Nusbaum would have a secret arbitration with a friend as judge and jury, and with no opportunity for his client to get evidence of alleged fraud and overbilling. 
Judge Roy Bean was a judge that made up the law as he went.
Judge Roy Bean’s Saloon

Nusbaum’s choice: Daniel Portanova. But a reader, Skeptic, objects both to my calling the discrepancy in billings between Nusbaum and Hurwtiz evidence, and that Riordan signed the retainer with those provisions, and therefore she is stuck.

Skeptic wrote

But was that really evidence? I know it didn’t match with another lawyer’s records, but who’s to say that her records are correct? To me, that mismatch raises a red flag, but it is hardly dispositive evidence.

“Nusbaum, she claims, never told her of the unusual aspects of the retainer.”

However, the terms were very clearly laid out, right above where the client signs.

Is it really the lawyer’s responsibility to point out where their retainer might differ from another lawyer? I don’t think so.

I’m sure he overbilled, and I would love to see Karen get her money back, but I think she has no hope of it since she signed that contract. Unless she goes to arbitration and the arbitrator rules in her favor.

Rich Luthmann weighed in

That’s actually the legal definition of evidence in Connecticut. Frank has it spot on.

Relevant evidence” means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is material to the determination of the proceeding more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.”

You’re not a lawyer. And if you are, you’re probably part of Nusbaum’s Fairfield County Club.

Question : Do you guys wear funny hats at your meetings and have a secret handshake?

Skeptic replied

No, I’m not a lawyer. I never said I was.

It is evidence that there are discrepancies between the two lawyer’s records, but I don’t think it’s evidence that proves Nusbaum’s records were falsified. Maybe Nusbaum had it right, and the other lawyer had it wrong. At this point, without the actual phone records etc of either lawyer, we just don’t know.

Bangkok Responds

Bangkok added his thoughts to the conversation, accusing Skeptic of being another commenter, Sherizzy

Bangkok wrote, 

Is that you, Sherizzy? 🙂

With regard to your comment stating ‘she signed the contract’ —- please lookup the legal principle known as “unconscionability”.

It renders all contract clauses, which meet its definition, non-enforceable.

It’s pretty universal across all states and federal law.

Here’s a quote from the article (not from CT, but CT courts have similar rulings)

“Limited discovery is a hallmark of arbitration. (Ramirez, supra, 75 Cal.App.5th at p. 385.) However, discovery must allow a party to vindicate their statutory rights in consumer and employment arbitrations. (Baxter, supra, 16 Cal.App.5th at p. 727.) If a party cannot do so, the discovery limit is unconscionable. (Ibid.)” -End of Quote

Part of deciding if a contract is unconscionable is how much power one party has over the other party (to deceive them when signing the deal).

In this case, the sophisticated ‘legal knowledge’ possessed by her shitbag attorney (Nusbaum) gave him an unfair advantage —- because he knew that Karen’s legal knowledge wasn’t sophisticated enough to realize what RIGHTS she was truly giving up by signing his one-sided, unusual, and unconscionable arbitration agreement.

Also, the fact that CT family attorneys are likely protecting their own colleagues (in arbitration disputes) is so grossly unfair, and possibly illegal, that no court would assume that any reasonable person would enter into such an agreement if they truly understood the scheme behind it.


Then WHY would an attorney insist on having his own colleagues, from CT family court, arbitrate his disputes?

Why not allow a neutral arbitrator who won’t favor anybody?

It’s cuz Nusbaum is a shitbag who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

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  • Portanova is a snake. He failed to show up at a hearing re Dan Lynch because he knew he had filthy hands.

    He’s dangerous and has made a career out of thievery and deceit.

  • Nusbaum, Portanova and Trembicki are snakes and liars. Serious liars void of ethics.

    Portanova is in with Adelman. Buddies with long history and both dangerous.

  • Even if he keeps his license. I think Nusbaum will be filling and answering the phone. Who in their right mind is going to hire a lawyer charging a hundred thousand dollars to send emails and phone calls. Zealously ripping through your retainer.

        • Some offices in Connecticut’s justice system were hijacked for massive profit about fifty years ago. Most people living in the state don’t know because the news is owned just like the news is owned everywhere. A new court administrator took the place of the old corrupt administrator. If the new administrator has a conscience and enough people working in the system want to clean out the corruption, maybe good things will happen. The new administrator knows how horrible the family courts are. Maybe she cares enough to get rid of all the corruption and isn’t afraid of the few powerful, horrible people who made the system so horrible for so long. The problem is: she might be compromised. She apparently had a sexual relationship with her nanny and then sealed her family court record when no other family court records were so easily sealed.

  • Part 3 of my reply:

    “Hurwitz of the law firm Cohen and Wolf meticulously bills and racked up billings of around $200,000 in this case. It seems hard to believe she’d forget to bill some $10,000 worth of billings.”

    If Hurwitz raked in $200,000 for doing jack shit as Riordan tends to allege, it’s not unreasonable to assume she might get sloppy about a piddly $10,000. If it were a $20,000 bill and she underbilled $10,000, that’d be a lot more suspect.

    Listen, I agree the discrepancy is a red flag, but I don’t think a judge would be convinced that it shows fraud on Nusbaum’s part. One would hope maybe it would inspire the judge to request phone records from both parties, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • Look at the Billings. He charged her almost 2,000 for sitting at a hearing when he was dismissed from her case! 😂

      The blatant malfeasance is insane.

      He also refuses to provide her with the emails he allegedly sent and received which he billed her for.

      Attorneys need to substantiate billing. Nusbaum lists a bunch of bs with a lump sum. How long was the call? What was the purpose of the call?

      The fact that nusbaum insists on a no-discovery clause that violates due process and is refusing to provide any information to support his billing tells all.

      His entire list of Billings is bullshit. Nothing accomplished. Total scum bag.

      • Does “due process” apply in private arbitration? Sort of like how the right to free-speech doesn’t apply on a private blog?

        “The guarantee of due process for all persons requires the government to respect all rights, guarantees, and protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution and all applicable statutes before the government can deprive any person of life, liberty, or property.”

        In this case, it’s not the government that would be depriving Karen of property. It would be the private, non-governmental arbitrator .

      • “Look at the Billings. He charged her almost 2,000 for sitting at a hearing when he was dismissed from her case! 😂”

        Ok, so why doesn’t Riordan present that at arbitration? She does not have to go with his choice of arbitrator, she can select her own.

        • My understanding is that they chose Portanova. If she doesn’t want him then she chooses one but it has to be a buddy of nusbaums- another Fairfield family law attorney- she can’t even choose someone from a different part of ct.

          Then whoever she finds within Fairfield county and Portanova choose a third buddy from their cartel.

          All three with them arbitrate at a min of $500/hr each. The arbitration panel assigns the total bill at the end of arbitration —

          There is no discovery which violates due process.

          The AAA has oversight, rules, requirements and neutrality.

          Nusbaums private forum has none of it. No one will disclose relationship history with one another. It’s totally bias and illegal.

          Nusbaums been getting away with it- they are driving money to their private cartel on an “arbitration” process that violates all due process and uses it as another way to drive money to their buddies with zero accountability.

          A client has the expectation that their attorney is honest and above board. Nusbaum is withholding client files in both the Riordan case and Brandt case. Both want jury trials with good cause.

          Nusbaums doing everything to shut them down bc he’s exposed.

          He’s also unethical and a hot tempered, abusive bully.

          Stay away.

          • “There is no discovery which violates due process.”

            Does the right to due process apply in a private arbitration? I’m not sure it does.

  • Here is part 2 of my reply:

    I did a minute of research to get an understanding of what an unequal bargaining advantage means in legal contract terms, and I still don’t think it applies in Riordan’s case.

    “Unequal bargaining power occurs when one party has an unreasonable advantage over the other party. This can be demonstrated by showing that one party is aware that the other party obviously did not understand the contract terms.”

    First, Nusbaums contract was written in plain English. Second, Karen had been involved in the divorce proceedings for a year when she signed with Nusbaum. Surely she had heard the term “discovery” by that time. If not, Nusbaum’s contact said that if you don’t understand the terms, consult with an attorney.

    Second, even a basic cell phone contract typically has an arbitration clause that says “limited discovery.” I’d guess the average person has no idea what limited discovery means, and yet, those cell phone contracts are enforceable.

    I’m not saying Nusbaum’s contract is a shining example of ethical lawyering, I’m just saying that I believe his contract is enforceable, unfortunately.

  • Ok, I read the article at the link you provided. It appears this case does not meat the requirements for unconscionability. Here’s how the article defines it, with my comments in brackets:

    To evaluate procedural unconscionability, the court will ask three questions:

    Was there adhesion (unequal bargaining position and a form contract)?
    [I had to look up adhesion to get a better idea what it means in legal terms.]
    “An adhesion contract is a contract where the parties are of such disproportionate bargaining power that the party of weaker bargaining power could not have negotiated for variations in the terms of the contract.

    [It seems adhesion doesn’t apply here. Karen could have negotiated directly with Nusbaum for a change in the contract before signing. Nusbaum would have said no, and she could have gone to another lawyer. Right? As a non-lawyer, I don’t see any disproportionate bargaining power here.]

    Was there surprise (undisclosed terms)? – [No, the terms were disclosed.]

    Was there oppression (pressure)? – [No, there was no pressure. Karen was free to choose another lawyer, etc.]

    “However, discovery must allow a party to vindicate their statutory rights in consumer and employment arbitrations.”

    Okay, so which CT statutory right is Karen unable to vindicate due to the no-discovery clause?

    “Then WHY would an attorney insist on having his own colleagues, from CT family court, arbitrate his disputes?”

    Because he can, and the law lets him do it.

    • Actually it doesn’t. And the agreement must be reviewed and explained.

      Clients enter agreements in good faith. Attorneys are to conduct themselves in an honest manner.

      Nusbaum has been abusive and violated the rights of so many clients. Then he hides it under a bullshit arbitration.

      Did you read the retainer? There’s no explanation of the arbitration process one assumes it will be a legitimate arbitration process. Nusbaums is not.

      It’s illegal.

      • I did read Nusbaum’s retainer, and there is a very clear explanation of the arbitration process. It’s all in writing. If Riordan had questions about it, she could have asked. ?

        It can be argued that a family law attorney in the county who doesn’t work in Nusbaum’s law office is not a “colleague” of Nusbaum’s.

        Nusbaum absolutely stacked the deck to (1) discourage clients/former clients from pursuing disputes with him and (2) tilt the odds in his favor, but that’s what businesses do when they write up arbitration agreements. It’s the consumer’s option to refuse to sign.

        But maybe it will be ruled that Nusbaum overstepped the bounds. So far, it doesn’t seem like it though. The court ruled to compel arbitration.

        I personally think arbitration agreements tend to give the consumer the shaft, and there probably should be a federal overhaul of what’s permitted in them, particularly in employment contracts. But as my handle suggests, I’m skeptical that this will turn out well for Riordan. I think she’ll have to pay what she “owes” Nusbaum, plus pay for all the costs of the arbitration. If it turns out in her favor, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    • No. Corrupt judges have condoned it so far but judges did raise concern for the no-discovery clause.

      Now the issue is being pursued and exposed.

      You cannot choose an arbitrator who you have a personal relationship with. It’s innately bias.

      • “No. Corrupt judges have condoned it so far but judges did raise concern for the no-discovery clause.”

        And then a judge ruled it was hunky dory — he compelled arbitration aka honored the contract.

    • Sorry Skeptic, but you might be a sociopath.

      Since estimates show about 1 in 25 people are sociopaths, court administrators should screen everyone involved in all cases for sociopathy.

      Judges, lawyers and vendors actively promoting the “no disclosure in arbitration” cases should go to jail and/or lose their licenses and court administrators must screen sociopaths from now on. If sociopaths aren’t screened, case precedent set in this case should allow every client in family courts to record all interactions with every lawyer and vendor and any proceeding at any time for the duration of every case.

      Clients who signed the “no disclosure allowed in arbitration” contracts didn’t sign contracts that said: “The lawyers can and will do whatever they want to do. If I notice the crimes, the case will be sent to arbitration, I will be charged more money and the lawyers will get away with their crimes. The lawyers taking on this case might seem charming and charismatic at first, at least on the surface, but they generally find it difficult to understand other people’s feelings. They often:

      break rules and laws
      behave aggressively and impulsively
      feel little guilt for harm he causes others
      use manipulation, deceit, and controlling behavior …”

      • I’m a sociopath because I’m reporting the facts of what the law says about arbitration?

        I looked into a little bit more and found that the Supreme Court ruled that “the right to discovery” is not a constitutional right, even in criminal cases. And also the right to due process that applies to litigation in courts does not apply to private arbitration.

        Im not saying it’s good or right, I’m just saying it is what it is.

        • You’re not saying what is.

          You’re saying:

          “No matter what happened in any of Nusbaum’s cases, no discovery should be allowed and Nusbaum and his friends can run over any client, anytime, anywhere for any reason.

          • What I’m saying is I believe Nusbaum’s contract is enforceable, unfortunately. I think Riordan should participate in the arbitration and give her side of the case. Maybe the arbitrator will raise an eyebrow at the discrepancy between the billings from Nusbaum and the other lawyer and reduce the amount Riordan owes etc. There is a good chance he will also recognize that the 2000 for sitting in court after he was taken off the case is wrong. She can still explain everything in depth. Just because she cannot subpoena his records does not mean she cannot present a strong case to the arbitrator.

            And just because Nusbaum has used Portanova before for arbitration, that does not mean Portonova can never be used by him again. That is not the way arbitration works. By that logic, no one could ever use the same arbitrator twice. People would run out of arbitrators in no time.

            This is all a dire warning to read contracts carefully and make sure you understand what you’re signing.

  • Any update?

    Did any of the 33 attorneys respond? Or do all have something to hide?

    No response means they’re protecting their own ass.

  • Trembicki is as guilty as Nusbaum. He’s forcing a litigant to an illegal arbitration, on the basis of an unenforceable contract.

    Looks to me like Judge Taggart is on team Nusbaum.

  • Portanova and Adelman worked in lockstep to torture litigants. They are pure evil.

    They’re both in their 80’s- and also buddies with psychologist Robert Horwitz- a sadistic mother fucker—

    Change at this stage of life is unlikely. Time for them to suffer into eternity.

  • Frank- can you tell us what Nusbaum said to threaten you?

    While you have the right to record a call for purposes of self protection (if nusbaum threatened you), it’s not needed in a one party recording state.

    But you said you were in Tennessee, where only one party had to consent to being recorded.

    So basically, Nusbaum I’d screwed.
    Looking forward to the reveal.

  • Daniel Portanova and Ed Nusbaum are evil fucks.

    They seem deep into the corruption. Nusbaum is also the biggest pussy.

    Any adult that has to cling to his high school wrestling days— decorating his office with trophies from his youth – has serious issues

  • Nusbaums fraudulent emails and calls is the tip of the iceberg.

    Nusbaum has no-discovery bc it will expose the truth.

    Looks like Jocelyn Hurwitz and Ed Nusbaum will have to submit their phone records to determine validity of Billings.

  • Lawyers must be believed to be honest by the community they serve, otherwise the privilege to practice is forfeited.

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