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April 18, 2012 3:20 PM

Did Shearman Associate, a Pippa Pal, Flash a Pistol at Paris Paparazzi?

Posted by Brian Baxter

Romain Rabillard, a corporate finance associate in Shearman & Sterling's Paris office, was photographed waving what appeared to be a gun while chauffeuring English socialite Pippa Middleton, sister-in-law of Prince William, the heir to the British crown, around the City of Lights in his Audi convertible over the weekend.

British tabloids such as The Sun practically fell over themselves to identify Rabillard, 36, as the "hot-shot lawyer" at the center of the incident. Meanwhile, various British and French media outlets reported that unnamed individuals riding with Rabillard and Middleton—in Paris to celebrate French fashion designer Viscount Arthur de Soultrait's birthday—claim the "gun" in question was actually a "children's toy" pointed at the sidewalk shutterbugs as a joke.

De Soultrait and his brother, Marcy de Soultrait, were subsequently identified as the other passengers in the car. The fashion entrepreneur issued a statement Wednesday apologizing for the incident, which he claimed Middleton had nothing to do with and was solely intended as a joke on Rabillard's part.

Initial reports suggested French police were investigating the incident and that Rabillard faced a possible prison term for violating the country's gun laws. France is on high alert following a series of handgun killings by an Al Qaeda–affiliated terrorist last month and with the first round of the country's presidential election scheduled for this weekend.

Rabillard, who has been labeled a fixture of the Parisian party circuit by the British press, appears to be in the clear, though, with Paris police categorizing the episode as a "low priority," according to various news reports.

Last year Rabillard, who was admitted to the local bar in 2004, was part of a team of Shearman lawyers advising German weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch on a €295 million (roughly $387 million at current exchange rates) high-yield bond offering. The Oberndorf am Neckar-based company is a leading seller of small arms in Europe.

Spokesmen for Shearman in New York and Paris declined to comment on Rabillard when contacted by The Am Law Daily. An automatic out-of-office reply prompted by an Am Law Daily message to Rabillard's Shearman e-mail address stated that he is on “vacation until April 26, 2012.”

Rabillard's actions are not the first by an overseas Shearman employee to cause the firm some embarrassment this year.

In February, an e-mail from a Shearman trainee solicitor in London named Daniel England went viral after it included graphic details about a planned trip he was taking with some friends to a rugby tournament in Dubai. Shearman investigated that matter and later claimed to have taken "appropriate action" without revealing further details about England's status at the firm.

 

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