His image may be in permanent ruins, but whether or not the disgraced IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will set his sights on the Eiffel Tower anytime soon is largely up to one man: his attorney, Benjamin Brafman.
No stranger to celebrity scandal, the New York-based Brafman has represented stars from all over the famous/infamous continuum, from the rappers Sean “Diddy” Combs and Jay-Z, to pop icon Michael Jackson to various reputed members of the mafia. New York Magazine dubbed him “the man to have on speed-dial when you’re in really big trouble.” According to that same 1998 New York profile, Brafman’s wife Lynda, a librarian, had nicknamed him H.P. for “high profile”.
The son of Holocaust survivors, Brafman grew up in Brooklyn and Queens and put himself through Brooklyn College night school and then Ohio Northern University Law School, before getting an additional Master of Laws degree from New York University: “Okay, so it’s not Harvard,” reported New York writer Meryl Gordon, “but Brafman uses his down-to-earth pedigree to put people at ease. He’ll even joke about his equally down-to-earth stature (he boldly claims five feet six) to score points with juries. ‘He’s short, and he uses it well,’” she quotes criminal-defense lawyer Fred Hafetz as saying of Brafman.