2 dads say teachers at a New York school blamed their gay son for the ‘horrific’ homophobic bullying he endured and now they are suing for ‘justice’

Jason Cianciotto and his son (pixelated)
Jason Cianciotto, pictured, began the foster-to-adopt process in 2017.

  • A gay couple said New York school failed to deal with the homophobic bullying their son endured.
  • Their child was repeatedly called homophobic slurs and physically attacked, his father told Insider.
  • Jason Cianciotto, one of the child’s fathers, is accusing the school of breaking New York’s anti-bullying laws.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Jason Cianciotto and his husband signed up their newly adopted son for the Albert Shanker School for the Visual Performing Arts, they thought it seemed like the perfect fit for him.

“Shortly after coming home with us, he came out to us as gay,” Cianciotto told Insider. “So we thought that there was also a good chance that a school that focused on the performing arts might also have other students who were out or, at the very least, it would be a safe and welcoming environment for kids like my son.”

They were mistaken.

What followed, Cianciatto said, was two “horrific” years of homophobic bullying and physical attacks by students and victim-blaming from senior staff at the school.

Now, Cianciotto, who is the senior managing director at a global non-profit, and his husband are seeking “justice” by suing the New York City Department of Education (DoE), the Board of Education (BoE) for New York City Public Schools, and several employees at the school their adopted son attended between 2017 and 2019.

‘His dream of being adopted… was finally coming true’

Cianciotto and his husband began the foster-to-adopt process with their son, who will be referred to as “Daniel,” to protect his privacy in 2017.

Daniel had a troubled start to life, according to legal documents seen by Insider. His biological parents were addicted to drugs and alcohol, and domestic abuse was commonplace in their home. He was placed into the child protection system at 7-years-old.

Read more: Trans women say Instagram removed their Pride month posts over false hate speech reports

Daniel struggled with diagnoses of PTSD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and epilepsy, as well as several learning disabilities resulting from a brain tumor, and was repeatedly abandoned by foster parents.

But when Cianciotto and his husband, who asked not to be named, came along, things started to look up for the 11-year-old boy.

“His dream of being adopted and having a forever family and, on top of that, having a family of two dads that were so welcoming and accepting of him was finally coming true,” Cianciotto said.

Daniel’s new parents deliberated over which school to send him to, hoping to find an environment that he could “learn and grow… free from fear and abuse.” They chose to enroll him in sixth grade at Intermediate School 126 (I.S. 126), better known as the Albert Shanker School for Visual and Performing Arts, in Long Island City in September 2017.

Daniel was blamed for bringing the homophobic abuse on himself

Cianciotto said the school was a “hostile and dangerous environment” for their son from the get-go. “He came out to his classmates and teachers shortly after the school year began, and right away the bullying, harassment based on his sexual orientation, and perceived gender identity began,” he added.

A 45-page lawsuit filed in a New York district court cites many examples of homophobic abuse directed at Daniel while at the Long Island City public school.

He was allegedly called several homophobic slurs, including “faggot ass,” “gay boy,” and “pussy dick sucking face.” He was ridiculed and was told that he was “damned to hell by God because of his lifestyle,” the complaint continued.

He was also physically assaulted on several occasions, according to Cianciotto.

Read more: 5 LA preschool consultants to know to get your child into a prestigious program

The bullying had a profound impact on Daniel’s mental health, his father added.

“He started, for example, self-harming behavior, where he would bite himself, he would hit his head with his hand or hit his hand against a desk or a locker at school. He would poke his fingers in his eyes,” he said. “Eventually, that self-harming turned into saying that he wanted to die by suicide.”

The parents tried to speak to the school about the bullying but a meeting with the sixth-grade dean allegedly resulted in Daniel being blamed for bringing the homophobic abuse on himself.

“We were shocked and horrified to hear her say that talking about homosexuality in middle school is not appropriate and that if my son just stopped talking about his sexual orientation or that he was getting adopted by two gay dads, then it wouldn’t be a problem,” Cianciotto said.

‘They accused him of fabricating the harassment’

Daniel and his parents alerted school administrators to the homophobic bullying but, according to the complaint, the school staff repeatedly flouted their legal obligation to document and investigate several reports of harassment.

Under New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act, the Board of Education mandates that school employees who witness or learn about harassment, bullying, or discrimination must report it to administrators. If “substantiated,” these reports must then be investigated and appropriate action must be taken to remedy them.

Cianciotto said that the school found excuses not to investigate several incidents of bullying and discrimination.

“They accused him of fabricating the harassment, blamed him for bringing the bullying on himself by being open about his sexuality, and excused his bullies’ pronouncements that LGBT people are destined to burn in hell as a mere ‘difference of opinion’ that [Daniel] should learn to respect,” the complaint reads.

“There’s a very clear difference between helping young people learn and understand and respect various religious beliefs and traditions and allowing there to be religious-based bullying and harassment,” Cianciotto added.

Albert Shanker School in New York
The Albert Shanker School for Visual and Performing Arts in Long island City, New York was a “dangerous and hostile” environment, according to Jason Cianciotto.

Another incident, in which Daniel was called a homophobic slur, wasn’t considered substantiated enough to be investigated because it was decided that a student knew no better, according to the complaint.

“Even though it was confirmed that a student called him a faggot, the dean investigating it said that it wasn’t actually a bias incident because the students who said it didn’t have the contextual understanding to go to know what that meant,” Cianciatto said.

The father told Insider that other homophobic attacks were overlooked because teachers claimed they could not corroborate the information.

‘We needed to find a safer school for him’

In May 2019, an incident was deemed to be substantial enough for the school to log. Daniel received notes in class. One called him a “gay bitch,” and the other said: “Because you don’t love Jesus your [sic] an asshole . . . you [sic] going to hell you white idiot.”

A dean notified Cianciotto of the incident by email. However, according to the complaint, the school took no action beyond sending letters to the parents of all those involved.

On May 22, 2019. Cianciotto and his husband arranged to speak to the school principal, Alexander Enguiera, who turned down Insider’s recent request for an interview. In a meeting also attended by the assistant principal and the seventh-grade dean, Daniel’s parents said they were left deeply disappointed.

Read more: As a teacher, I see the Republican Florida law requiring students and staff to expose their political beliefs as a gross government overreach

“Not only did they say that they couldn’t put him in a different class or reasonably ensure that the bullying would stop, they also confronted me, saying that the parents of kids who had bullied him were putting pressure on the school and ask why it was that my son was getting ‘special attention,'” said Cianciotto.

The meeting made it clear that they needed to find a safer school for their son. Daniel was pulled out of school and an emergency transfer to a new school was approved.

“These allegations are deeply troubling and there is absolutely zero tolerance for bullying or harassment of any kind in our schools,” a spokesperson for the New York City DoE told Insider in an email statement. “Every student deserves to feel safe, welcomed, and affirmed in their school and we have invested in training and support to reform classroom culture, with a focus on inclusive policies and effective strategies to prevent bullying,” the statement continued.

“The safety of our students is our number one priority and we will review the complaint and immediately investigate the claims,” the spokesperson added.

The school had bullying rates significantly above the district average

Cianciotto and his attorneys are now seeking to hold the Albert Shanker school and the DoE and BoE accountable for the bullying Daniel experienced.

“We want to do everything we can to make sure that other kids like my son don’t experience this kind of bullying,” Cianciotto said.

Daniel, who is now 14, is at a middle school in the same district. “The difference is night and day,” his father said.

The complaint highlights that the Albert Shanker school had bullying rates significantly above the district average while Daniel attended it, according to the Department of Education’s School Quality Surveys.

The 2018-2019 survey outlines that 42% of respondents said that students harass, bully or intimidate each other based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, compared to 24% elsewhere in the district.

This highlights the school’s notable failings, according to the complaint.

“What that really highlighted for us is that it’s very possible and actually is safe in some schools for kids where bullying is addressed quickly and stopped, and the law is followed,” Cianciotto reflected.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Family office launch guide: who to know when you’re opening or hiring for a family office

Todd Angkatavanich, Natasha Pearl, Bill Bjiesse, and Lisa Featherngill on a pink background.
Todd Angkatavanich, Natasha Pearl, Bill Bjiesse, and Lisa Featherngill.

  • As global wealth surges, more people want to start family offices to take control of their finances.
  • Insider spoke to more than a dozen industry insiders to compile a list of 21 must-know experts.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Whether they’re rags-to-riches entrepreneurs or old-money heirs, many of the wealthy have created their own family offices to oversee their assets.

Citi estimates that as many as 15,000 family offices have been created in the past two decades alone.

Insider spoke with more than a dozen family-office professionals to find out who the wealthy go to when deciding to set up their own shops. Whether they’re lawyers or wealth managers, here are 21 must-know family-office experts.

You can read our full story if you’re an Insider subscriber: These are the 21 advisors, accountants, and lawyers to know if you’re thinking about starting your own family office

Insider also rounded up some of the must-know executive recruiters in the space, as hiring top talent is key to maintaining wealth that lasts for generations.

Meet 8 top recruiters scouting talent for family offices as the secretive wealth managers to the world’s richest look to supercharge their investing prowess

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘A gag order for life’ – How nondisclosure agreements silence and control workers in Silicon Valley

NDA excerpt only allowing an employee to state they cannot discuss a matter at hand

Kira isn’t allowed to talk about the business trip she took to Texas in 2019, when she says a male colleague drugged and raped her. She awoke the next morning to find his credit card on the floor of her hotel bathroom, her underwear torn, and her body bruised.

Kira canceled the second leg of her trip and flew home, where she called her boss to describe what happened. Her boss notified human resources, setting off a chain of events that made it impossible for Kira to continue working at the multibillion-dollar tech company where she was a contract manager.

At the end of a contentious legal mediation in the months that followed, Kira signed a settlement agreement that forced her to resign. In exchange for roughly a year’s worth of her salary, Kira is now bound to silence, facing the threat of steep financial penalties if she ever tells her story.

“It angers me to my core,” said Kira, whose NDA stipulates that, in response to questions about the status of her allegations, she can only say “I can’t discuss it” or “I would prefer not to discuss the matter.”

Kira’s experience might be extreme, but the strict nondisclosure terms of the settlement agreement she signed are incredibly common. Every day, thousands of people sign nondisclosure agreements when they start a new job or leave their current one. Most of the time, especially for employees starting a job, the agreements are just one more document in a stack of first-day paperwork.

But the agreements can be far more consequential than many people realize.

Nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, strike directly at the heart of one of America’s most fundamental individual liberties, limiting what someone can talk about and who they can talk to. Yet even as they’ve spread throughout the corporate world in the span of a few decades, the dizzying scope and legality of the contracts have received relatively little scrutiny.

In Silicon Valley, the culture of secrecy that companies have long justified in the name of protecting innovation has ballooned into sweeping strictures that often prevent employees from discussing everything from embarrassing management mistakes to workplace misconduct and abuse.

To understand how nondisclosure agreements have come to form the backbone of Silicon Valley’s culture of secrecy, Insider reviewed 36 agreements shared by tech workers at companies ranging from Fortune 500 giants like Facebook, Google an Apple, to smaller startups.

The scope and breadth of the agreements stunned academic experts and employment lawyers interviewed for this story. Taken together, they provide one of the most comprehensive reviews to date of these widely used contracts.

You can read our full story if you’re an Insider subscriber:

We reviewed 36 NDAs from major tech companies and discovered how far Silicon Valley’s giants will go to silence and control their employees

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former Trump inaugural chairman Tom Barrack’s bond set at $250 million by federal judge

Inaugural Committee chairman Tom Barrack
Former Trump Inaugural Committee chairman Tom Barrack speaks at at a pre-Inaugural “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017

  • A federal judge set financier and former Trump ally Tom Barrack’s bond at $250 million.
  • Barrack is charged with illegal foreign lobbying, making false statements, and obstruction.
  • Barrack must wear an ankle bracelet, observe a curfew, and not spend more than $50,000 at a time.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A federal judge set the bond for Tom Barrack, a prominent financier and former ally of former President Donald Trump, at $250 million during a Friday hearing.

US Magistrate Judge Patricia Donahue stipulated that Barrack must wear an ankle bracelet and cannot spend more than $50,000 at a time as conditions of this bond. The hearing follows Barrack’s Tuesday arrest by federal agents in California.

Earlier this week, federal prosecutors charged Barrack and two co-defendants, Matthew Grimes and Rashid Sultan Rashid Al Malik Alshahhi, with one count of acting as an unregistered foreign agent and one count of conspiring to act as an unregistered foreign agent each.

Barrack was also charged with one count of obstruction of justice and four counts of lying to the FBI.

Barrack and Matthew Grimes are set to appear in federal court in Brooklyn, where they are charged, to enter their pleas at noon on Monday.

“Mr. Barrack has made himself voluntarily available to investigators from the outset,” a representative for Barrack told Insider upon his arrest. “He is not guilty and will be pleading not guilty.”

Read more: 3 things to know about Tom Barrack, the real-estate titan and Trump associate charged with illegal lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates

Barrack made his name as a successful commercial real estate investor and executive chairman of Colony Capital. He first became friends with Trump through the real estate business in the mid-1980s, and went on to serve as the chairman of Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee. He is the eighth former official in the Trump 2016 presidential campaign, transition, and administration to be indicted on federal charges.

Barrack is accused of violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, by lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. Prosecutors say Barrack and the co-defendants used Barrack’s high-level connections to heavily lobby on behalf of the UAE without properly registering themselves as foreign agents with the Department of Justice.

“The defendants repeatedly capitalized on Barrack’s friendships and access to a candidate who was eventually elected President, high-ranking campaign and government officials, and the American media to advance the policy goals of a foreign government without disclosing their true allegiances,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko of the DOJ’s National Security Division said in a news release.

Alshahhi, a UAE national, is currently at large and has not yet appeared in court.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Giant inflatable rats used by labor unions are constitutionally protected free speech, labor board rules

"Scabby the Rat" is a fixture at labor disputes, first deployed in 1990 by a union in Chicago.
“Scabby the Rat” is a fixture at labor disputes, first deployed in 1990 by a union in Chicago.

  • “Scabby the Rat” was first used by labor unions in 1990.
  • The inflatable rat ranges in size from 12 feet to 25 feet.
  • The Trump administration had argued its “red eyes, fangs, and claws” constituted an illegal threat.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Labor unions have a constitutionally protected right to protest using giant inflatable rodents, a federal board ruled Wednesday.

“Scabby the Rat,” as it is known, has became a staple of labor protests in the United States, often rolled out when a company has decided to hire non-union contractors. The menacing inflatables were first deployed in 1990 by a bricklayers union in Illinois, according to the Chicago Tribune. Some have been as tall as 25 feet.

In this case, the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, headquartered just outside Chicago, had brought a 12-foot “rat” along with it to a trade show for recreational vehicles. The target was Lippert Components, which supplied parts for another firm, MacAllister Machinery, that the union accused of engaging in unfair labor practices.

Under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, unions are generally prohibited from engaging in secondary boycotts, or seeking to intimidate so-called “neutral” companies that are not the direct target of their dispute. The question considered by the National Labor Relations Board – an independent federal agency whose members are appointed to five-year terms by the president – was where to draw the line between legal speech and illicit intimidation.

The Trump administration had sided against labor, submitting a legal brief maintaining that the giant rats were “glaring in character and size and an unmistakable symbol of contempt,” their “red eyes, fangs, and claws” constituting a threat, not constitutionally protected expression. The ACLU, in turn, argued that the First Amendment was at stake, arguing that the previous administration was “attempting to exterminate Scabby because he is a labor symbol.”

Ultimately, even those members of the NLRB who were appointed by former President Donald Trump sided with the ACLU and organized labor.

In her opinion, NLRB Chairman Lauren M. McFerran, a Democrat and appointee of President Joe Biden, wrote that courts “have consistently deemed banners and inflatable rats to fall within the realm of protected speech, rather than that of intimidation and the like.”

The NLRB’s three other members, all Republicans, likewise agreed that while federal labor law limits activities targeting a “neutral” employer, it does not override the Constitution and its protections for free speech.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

Read the original article on Business Insider

Leading Democrats oppose Biden plan to end house arrest and potentially return inmates to prison after the pandemic

In this Feb. 18, 2020, file photo, prisoners stand outside the federal correctional institution in Englewood, Colo.
Prisoners stand outside the federal correctional institution in Englewood, Colo.

  • Since March 2020, more than 28,000 people have been released from federal prison due to COVID-19.
  • Those released were assessed to face severe health risks if they contracted the coronavirus.
  • Those released currently have to return to prison a month after the pandemic formally ends.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Two leading Senate Democrats are urging the White House to reconsider a legal opinion that could potentially return thousands of people to a federal prison.

At issue is a pandemic-era policy, approved by Congress, that allowed the federal government to release inmates who were deemed to have especially serious health issues putting them at heightened risk from the spread of COVID-19 behind bars. Those prisoners – 28,587 since March 2020 – were allowed to serve out the remainder of their sentences under house arrest.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that the Biden administration had concluded, like its predecessor, that the authority to transfer prisoners to home confinement would expire once the federal government lifts the state of emergency declared due to the pandemic.

There are currently 7,225 federal inmates in home confinement, according to the Bureau of Prisons.

Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday that there is no reason to return those people to prison.

Since being released, those now in home confinement “have posed no threat, and are already reintegrating into society, reconnecting with their families, and contributing to our economy,” he said in a statement.

Durbin urged the administration to other reconsider its legal analysis or use other tools, “like compassionate release and clemency,” to ensure that no one is returned to prison.

Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey and leading advocate in the upper chamber for criminal justice reform, said he was “deeply troubled” by the Biden administration’s interpretation of the law.

“The Trump-era’s Office of Legal Counsel opinion that will require incarcerated individuals return to prison once the public health emergency ends serves no public health purpose,” he said in a statement, “and only works to unnecessarily incarcerate people who have succeeded in re-entering society.”

In April, Durbin and Booker sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland arguing that Congress never intended to rescind home confinement. They say have not heard back.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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A federal judge gave Indiana University the green light to move forward with its COVID-19 vaccination requirement, potentially setting the tone for other colleges and universities in the US

Fourth-year medical student Anna Roesler administers the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Indiana University Health, Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., December 16, 2020.
Fourth-year medical student Anna Roesler administers the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at Indiana University Health, Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., December 16, 2020.

  • 8 students sued Indiana University in June over their COVID-19 vaccine policy.
  • IU mandates the students and faculty must be fully vaccinated before returning to campus.
  • On Sunday, a federal judge ruled that IU can uphold their vaccine requirement.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A federal judge ruled that Indiana University could keep its policy requiring students to get COVID-19 vaccinations before returning to campus in the fall.

Judge Damon Leichty denied the motion for a preliminary injunction request by eight students who sued the university over the policy in June.

Students and staff can only be exempt from getting the vaccine if they’re completely online or qualify for a religious, ethical, or medical exemption, the University’s policy said.

Those who qualify for an exemption would have to wear masks, and quarantine in case of an outbreak. Those who don’t qualify for an exemption can have their classes canceled.

The New York Times reported that about 400 campuses across the country are requiring vaccinations against COVID-19.

In their lawsuit, the students argued the policy violates state law and “the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which includes rights of personal autonomy and bodily integrity, and the right to reject medical treatment.”

The complaint had a list of reasons why the students opposed the vaccine, including the lack of knowledge on its long-term impact. The complaint also compared the vaccination requirement to the infamous decades-long Tuskegee experiment, where scientists monitored Black men with syphilis but never treated them.

“The university isn’t forcing the students to undergo injections. The situation here is a far cry from past blunders in medical ethics like the Tuskegee Study,” Leichty, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, wrote in his ruling.

They also opposed the measures put in place for those unvaccinated.

In his ruling, Leichty wrote: “the students aren’t being forced to take the vaccination against their will; they can go to college elsewhere or forego college altogether. If this case were merely that, merely the right to attend university, this state action wouldn’t trample on their rights. There is no fundamental or constitutional right to a college education, much less one at a particular institution.”

James Bopp Jr., an attorney for the eight students, said they plan to appeal the ruling.

“Today’s ruling does not end the students’ fight-we plan to immediately appeal the judge’s decision,” James Bopp said in a statement. “In addition, we plan on asking the judge to put a hold on IU’s Mandate pending that appeal. We are confident the court of appeals will agree that the Mandate should be put on hold.”

IU did not respond to Insider’s request for comment at the time of publication but told CNN: “We appreciate the quick and thorough ruling which allows us to focus on a full and safe return. We look forward to welcoming everyone to our campuses for the fall semester.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

An American father and son will serve prison time for helping ex-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn in his dramatic escape from Japan in a box

Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn wears a black suit jacket, white shirt and pink tie.
Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn faces charges of financial misconduct in Japan

  • Two Americans will serve prison time for helping ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn flee Japan in 2019.
  • Michael and Peter Taylor admitted to assisting Ghosn’s escape to Lebanon in a metal box.
  • Ghosn was on bail and facing trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A Japanese court sentenced an American father and son to prison for their role in helping smuggle former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon in 2019.

Former US special forces veteran Michael Taylor, 60, was sentenced to two years in prison on Monday for aiding the escape of a criminal, while his son Peter Taylor, 28, was given a one year and eight month-term on the same charges, per the Associated Press.

The Taylors admitted in June to helping the ex-Nissan chairman escape on a private jet from Japan where he had been facing a trial over financial misconduct charges. US authorities arrested the pair in Massachusetts in May 2020 and extradited them to Japan in March this year, per the AP.

Prosecutors said Michael Taylor met Ghosn’s wife Carole in Lebanon in June 2019 where she convinced him to help orchestrate her husband’s escape, The Wall Street Journal reported. The younger Taylor met with Ghosn during numerous trips to Japan over the next few months, with Ghosn transferring more than $860,000 to his marketing firm to finance the plan, the prosecutors said, per the WSJ.

On December 29 2019, the elder Taylor traveled with another man, George-Antoine Zayek, to Kansai International Airport in Osaka posing as musicians. The pair brought a large metal box normally used to transport audio equipment to hide Ghosn, drilling breathing holes in the side, The Washington Post reported, citing Japanese prosecutors.

Read more: Carlos Ghosn’s transformation from business icon to international fugitive was entirely predictable, industry leaders say. But his next act could surprise everyone.

That same day, Ghosn traveled with the elder Taylor and Zayek to a hotel close to Kansai airport. Only Taylor and Zayek were spotted leaving the building with the metal box. Zayek has not been arrested, The Washington Post reported.

The men helped Ghosn board a private jet from Osaka to Istanbul, and then on to Beirut. Ghosn told the BBC in a recent interview that waiting for the plan to take off was “probably the longest wait” of his life. Lebanon, where Ghosn spent time as a child, does not have an extradition agreement with Japan.

“Because of this case, Ghosn, a defendant facing serious charges, was able to escape overseas,” Chief Judge Hideo Nirei told the courtroom Monday, per The Washington Post, which cited media pool reports from the court hearing. “It has been one and a half years since the escape, and there is still no prospect of a trial. The consequences of this case are very large.”

Japanese authorities arrested Ghosn in 2018 on charges of financial mismanagement. He is accused of underreporting his pay over multiple years and breach of trust, by using Nissan finances for his own personal gain. He denies all charges.

Nissan did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 pitch decks that legal-tech startups used to raise millions

legal tech lady justice code 4x3
The legal-tech space has raised nearly $1 billion in funding so far this year.

  • Funding for legal-tech is nearing $1 billion for 2021 so far.
  • VC firms, private equity, and even traditional law players are pouring money in.
  • Check out these 5 pitch decks for examples of how legal-tech startup founders sold their vision.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As law firms and their clients seek to digitize and streamline work, VCs have been opening their wallets to the growing legal-tech space. The total value of deals in the global market to date this year clocks in at at least $974 million – already surpassing the $603 million figure from 2020, according to data from PitchBook.

Private equity firms are also increasingly eyeing legal tech, investing more than $3.6 billion in Q1 of 2021 alone, according to market intelligence platform Bodhala.

Here’s a look at our legal-tech pitch deck collection.

Adrian Camara
Athennian’s CEO and founder, Adrian Camara.

Athennian, which helps law firms and legal departments manage data and workflow around legal entities, raised a $7 million CAD (more than $5.5 million USD) Series A extension in the beginning of March, nearly doubling its initial $8 million Series A round last year.

Athennian’s revenue and headcount more than doubled since the original Series A, according to founder and CEO Adrian Camara. He declined to disclose revenue numbers, but said that the sales and marketing team grew from 35 people in September to around 70 in March.

Launched in 2017, Athennian is used by nearly 200 legal departments and law firms, including Dentons, Fastkind, and Paul Hastings, to automate documents like board minutes, stock certificates, and shareholder consents.

The Series A extension was led by Arthur Ventures. New investors Touchdown Ventures and Clio’s CEO, Jack Newton, also participated in the round, alongside Round13 Capital and other existing investors. To date, Athennian has raised $17 million CAD, or around $14 million USD, in venture capital funding, per Pitchbook.

Here’s the small but mighty pitch deck that nearly doubled legal tech Athennian’s Series A to $12 million.

Evisort’s CEO and co-founder Jerry Ting.

Contract tech is the frontrunner in the legal tech space, as companies across industries seek to streamline their contract creation, negotiation, and management processes.

Evisort, a contract lifecycle management (CLM) platform, raised $35 million in its Series B announced late February, bringing total funding to $55.5 million. The private equity firm General Atlantic led its latest funding round, with participation from existing investors Amity Ventures, Microsoft’s venture firm M12, and Vertex Ventures.

Founded in 2016, Evisort uses artificial intelligence to help businesses categorize, search, and act on documents.

Its CEO Jerry Ting founded Evisort while he was still attending Harvard Law School. He spent one summer working at Fried Frank, but soon realized that he didn’t want to be a lawyer because he didn’t want to spend excruciating hours manually reading fifty-page contracts. He did, however, recognize how important they are to corporations, and co-founded Evisort as a tool to locate and track valuable information like a contract’s expiration date and obligations like payment dates.

Evisort’s CEO walks through the 11-page pitch deck that the contract software startup used to nab $35 million from investors like General Atlantic – and lays out its path to an IPO

Contractbook_founders_2 min
Niels Brøchner, Jarek Owczarek, and Viktor Heide founded Contractbook to offer a client-centric tool to manage contracts,

Try to imagine the contracts negotiation process, and one might conjure up a scene where a sheaf of papers, tucked discreetly into a manila folder, is shuttled from one law office to the mahogany table of another. With a stroke of a fountain pen, the deal is sealed.

Those old-school methods have long been replaced with the adoption of PDFs, redlined versions of which zip from email inbox to inbox. Now, contracting is undergoing another digital shift that will streamline the process as companies are becoming more comfortable with tech and are seeking greater efficiencies – and investors are taking note.

Contractbook, a Denmark-based contract lifecycle management platform, late last year raised $9.4 million in its Series A investment round, led by venture capital titan Bessemer Venture Partners. In November 2019, Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, led Contractbook’s $3.9 million seed round.

Founded in Copenhagen in 2017, Contractbook uses data to automate documents, offering an end-to-end contracts platform for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Niels Brøchner, the company’s CEO and cofounder, said that Contractbook was born out of the notion that existing contract solutions failed to use a document’s data – from names of parties to the folder the document is stored in – to automate the process and drive workflow.

Here’s the 13-page pitch deck that Contractbook, which wants to take on legal tech giants like DocuSign, used to raise $9.4 million from investors like Bessemer Ventures

Kiwi Camara DISCO headshot
Kiwi Camara, CEO and cofounder of Disco.

Cloud-based technology is having its moment, especially in the legal industry.

As attorneys have been propelled to work remotely amid the pandemic, data security and streamlined work processes are top-of-mind for law firms, leading them to adopt cloud technology.

Investors are taking note. Disco, a cloud-based ediscovery platform that uses artificial intelligence to streamline the litigation process, snapped up $60 million in equity financing in October.

Its Series F, led by Georgian Partners and also backed by VC titans like Bessemer Venture Partners and LiveOak Venture Partners, brings total investment to $195 million, valuing the company at $785 million.

Launched in Houston in 2012, Disco offers AI-fueled products geared towards helping lawyers review and analyze vast quantities of documents, allowing them to more efficiently determine which ones are relevant to a case.

The CEO of Disco, a legal tech that sells cloud-based discovery software, walked us through a 20-page pitch deck the startup used to nab $60 million

Dan Broderick BlackBoiler
Dan Broderick, cofounder and CEO of BlackBoiler.

BlackBoiler is an automated contract markup software that’s used by Am Law 25 firms and several Fortune 1000 companies.

The software uses machine learning to automate the process of reviewing and revising documents in “track changes.” This saves attorneys the time they would typically spend marking up contracts that often use standard boilerplate language.

As a pre-execution software used in the negotiation and markup stage of the contracts process, BlackBoiler has carved out a unique space in the $35 billion contracts industry, said Dan Broderick, a lawyer who cofounded the company in 2015 and is now its CEO.

Broderick walked Insider through the pitch deck the company used to attract funding from investors, including DocuSign as well as 10 attorneys that run the gamut from Am Law 50 partners to general counsel at large corporations.

Check out the 14-page pitch deck that contract-editing startup BlackBoiler used to nab $3.2 million from investors including DocuSign

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A 33-year-old identity thief who bought a diamond-encrusted bitcoin pendant and stole half a million dollars gets 3 years in prison

Bitcoin Cryptocurrency logos seen displayed on an Android phone with an American flag in the background
  • A 33-year old who used the dark web to steal $500,000 and buy bitcoin has been sentenced to prison.
  • Aaron Laws used burner phones and recruited accomplices to avoid detection, a Seattle court said.
  • He bought a diamond-encrusted bitcoin pendant and a Rolex that cost more than $34,000.
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A “prolific identity thief” who fraudulently used credit cards, pocketed $500,000, and bought bitcoin has been sentenced to three years in prison, the US District Court in Seattle announced on Friday.

Aaron Laws of Atlanta, Georgia, the 33-year-old suspect, employed a sophisticated scheme that involved recruiting accomplices, operating digital wallets and burner phones, and using bitcoin to avoid detection, Acting US Attorney Tessa Gorman said.

“Motivated by greed, this defendant attempted to use digital advances to hide his old-fashioned fraud,” Gorman said in a statement.

“At all phases – from accessing the dark web, to loading stolen data onto digital wallets, to acquiring prepaid anonymous phones, to adopting aliases, to laundering money through anonymous cryptocurrency accounts – his operation was sophisticated and difficult to detect. But ultimately law enforcement stopped him in his tracks.”

Laws acquired credit card information from “carding websites” on the dark web to carry out his scheme, the District Court said, citing case records. Such illegal websites are used to share stolen credit card data and for criminal activity.

He stored this information on digital wallets on prepaid phones, then immediately used it to make fraudulent purchases of luxury goods and items that could be sold for cash or bitcoin, the court said. He also bought a diamond-encrusted bitcoin pendant and a Rolex watch that cost more than $34,000.

Bitcoin diamond pendent

Laws spent about $166,000 on bitcoin between February and November 2017, buying 56% of that amount in just one day – on August 23, 2017. He was arrested in October of that year, having to serve time in jail on the weekends. But he continued to commit fraud across the country, the statement said.

He “had a very complicated criminal enterprise and nothing seemed to deter him,” US District Judge Robert Lasnik said at the sentence hearing.

Laws pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft on January 31, and was ordered to make a $623,554 restitution payment.

Representatives for Aaron Laws could not be reached for comment.

Read More: These 5 stocks are ripe for a short squeeze after surging in popularity this past month, according to Fintel. 2 even have the meme-friendly appeal of AMC and GameStop.

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