Deaths, Money, Small Law Firms, Suicide

Law Firm Gets Greedy After One Of Its Partners A Partner Kills Himself

File this under “Why People Hate Lawyers.”

A partner working with the Milwaukee law firm of Styles & Pumpian killed himself. That is sad and tragic news for his family. You’d think it would be sad and tragic news for his law firm colleagues, but they didn’t really see it that way. Instead, they took the “He’s dead? More for us!” angle that is more the kind of thing you’d expect from the Donner Party than a group of well-fed lawyers….

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (gavel bang: ABA Journal) that Styles & Pumpian partner Ira Bordow committed suicide. On the seat of Bordow’s Lexus, his brother found a $250,000 check made out to Bordow and Styles & Pumpian. The check was for work Bordow completed before he died, and the brother dutifully sent the check over to the firm.

UPDATE (6:30 p.m.): Bordow is not a partner with Styles, but was in partnership with Styles on a particular representation.

The fee-sharing arrangement between the firm and Ira Bordow entitled Bordow to a third of the money, $41,666. But Styles & Pumpian decided that they shouldn’t have to pay Bordow’s estate that $41K. Instead, the firm argued that Bordow’s suicide constituted a “breach” of the firm’s fee-sharing agreement, and so his estate was entitled to nothing. Mind you, all the work was (obviously) completed by Bordow before he took his own life. The check was in his car!

Can you even wrap your mind around the greed being shown by Bordow’s “partners” in this matter? They’re trying to screw a former colleague out of $41,666 that could probably help his family in this time of sadness.

Lawyers interviewed by the Milwaukee paper claim they’ve never heard of this argument before. This isn’t a life insurance claim: Ira Bordow completed the work, got paid for it, and then killed himself. It doesn’t even make sense that Bordow’s estate shouldn’t get money for work he’s already been paid for after his death.

But, greedy people are greedy, I guess. It must be a wonderful “firm culture” they have going on at Styles & Pumpian. Eat what you kill, but also feel free to scavenge off the corpses of your dead colleagues.

Did lawyer’s suicide cost him final pay? Court to decide [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
Law firm won’t split $250K check with attorney’s estate, says his suicide voided fee-share agreement [ABA Journal]

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