In today’s Morning Docket, we wondered about what Milberg Weiss’s new name would be, now that Mel Weiss is on his way to becoming a convicted felon. The answer came more quickly than expected. From the WSJ Law Blog:
The firm formerly known as Milberg Weiss Bershad & Shulman LLP, then Milberg Weiss Bershad LLP, then Milberg Weiss LLP, will now be known just as Milberg LLP. According to a Milberg insider, the name change was announced at a staff meeting this morning, at which Mel Weiss gave a speech talking about the accomplishments of the firm. The audience reportedly applauded…..
“Hey everyone, I’m going to prison for 18 to 33 months. Give me a big hand!”
The WSJ reported this morning that Mel Weiss has struck a deal to agree to plead guilty in a case alleging improper kickbacks. Other former name partners David Bershad and Steven Schulman had previously pleaded guilty in the case.
* You’ve got mail! And you better hold on to it. [CNN]
* Both sides shooting to get SCOTUS to hear D.C. gun case. [New York Times]
* Milberg Weiss asking for home court advantage in trial. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Can anybody do anything based on the Mitchell Report? [Sports Illustrated]
* Holy Lawsuit, Batman! Professors sue Ave Maria. [AveWatch.org]
* TMI indeed; spare us talk of that burning sensation. Just say you have a doctor’s appointment, and leave it at that. [Nasty, Brutish & Short] * Just because you’re a 46-year-old man who has never been married doesn’t mean you’re gay. Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — whom we met earlier this month, btw — is engaged. Congrats, Pat! [WSJ Law Blog]
* Milberg Weiss and the Democrats: politics makes for not-so-strange bedfellows. [Overlawyered; Overlawyered]
* Some undergraduates earn cash by selling their class notes online. How long before this trend takes hold in law schools? [Conglomerate]
* Who says Yale Law grads can’t be funny? [Wonkette]
* Didn’t they just execute somebody with an electric chair? And this is what gets them in trouble with the Constitution? [Jurist]
* Mel Weiss to be indicted. [New York Times]
* Oh, Al Sharpton, you’re incorrigible. [CNN]
* Judge withdraws jury instruction in Spector case; has he set up an easy appeal if there’s a conviction? [CNN]
As you know, we’ve been doing a series of fall recruiting open threads on the Vault 100 law firms — which, of course, tend to represent large corporate defendants in litigation matters.
But lately plaintiffs’ firms have been on our mind. Like Hewes & Associates, the fictional firm headed by Glenn Close in the new FX show, Damages. Or Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins — which will drop “Lerach” from its name as of August 31st, after the departure of the colorful and controversial Bill Lerach (whose over-the-top farewell message can be accessed here).
We’re not alone in thinking about plaintiffs’ lawyers. The crew over at Illegal Briefs sent in this request:
We’ve been enjoying your recent recruiting posts/threads. We’d be curious to read about folks’ take on plaintiff-side recruiting and work experiences.
We’re curious too. To kick things off, here are some questions:
1. What are associate salaries (and bonuses) like at the big plaintiffs’ firms, like Lerach Coughlin or Milberg Weiss?
2. Law students (a) want to make money, so they can pay off their student loans, and (b) generally have liberal or left-of-center political views. So why do they all go trooping off to firms that defend big corporations? Why not do plaintiffs’ work, where they can stand up for “the little guy” — and make good money, too?
And, from a different reader, an inquiry about another ATL favorite subject:
You should consider including in your updated clerkship bonus coverage the bonuses being paid by a large plaintiff firm such as Lerach. It would be interesting to see if they are matching their corporate adversaries.
In the wake of name partner David Bershad’s guilty plea, the schadenfreude over the fall of Milberg Weiss continues.
Even ex-paralegals at Milberg Weiss are getting in on the fun. Check out this excerpt, from a comment posted at Roger Parloff’s blog:
[F]or anyone who argues that theirs were essentially victimless crimes, how about the competitive advantage Milberg Weiss has enjoyed over firms who really are ethically defending the little guy? It was this idea of evening the playing field for investors and consumers that made me excited about working for Milberg Weiss in the first place, and I passed up more lucrative offers from Defense firms because of my desire to be able to look myself in the mirror every morning. Too bad my employers did not have the same commitment to honesty.
Oh, and as an additional note on class, [former name partner Steven] Schulman actually had the nerve to e-mail the entire firm to ask if they wanted to support his children’s private school by buying gingerbread houses decorated by the kids for $200 a pop. And then, the night of the firm Christmas Party, he sent out a second-chance e-mail offering them discounted at $150!
Former Milberg Weiss partner David Bershad has agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy count, and to cooperate with the feds in their investigation of his former law firm (in which he was once a name partner). The government alleged that Bershad paid kickbacks to clients to serve as plaintiffs in securities class action cases. See here, here, and here.
The best part of the whole story, from the WSJ Law Blog:
* In the earlier years of the alleged conspiracy, Bershad along with Partners A and B and others, “pooled their personal cash into a fund Bershad maintained in his office at Milberg Weiss, which was used by the Conspiring Partners to supply cash for secret payments to paid plaintiffs and others.”
* According to the statement, “the amounts the Conspiring Partners each contributed were supposed to be approximately proportionate to their respective partnership interests in Milberg Weiss. Bershad kept track of the amounts contributed and of the secret cash payments that had been made to paid plaintiffs.”
* Cleared Duke lacrosse players given extra year of eligibility. [New York Times]
* ACLU v. Boeing over alleged CIA torture flights. [Jurist]
* Save it for the field, fellas. [Reno Gazette-Journal]
* Milberg partner may plea in class-action kickback case. [WSJ Law Blog]
After we mentioned the departure of indicted partner Steven Schulman from the indicted law firm Milberg Weiss, some of you had funny things to say. See, e.g., this comment.
As it turns out, there were reasons unrelated to federal criminal charges for Steve Schulman to leave Milberg. From Legal Pad:
Schulman’s deal with the firm required that upon his departure, he receive a sum based on Milberg’s income during his last year at the firm. With 2005 a considerably better (as in, indictment-free) year for the firm than 2006, the partner had a real incentive to leave. Indeed, we’re told that by departing before the end of 2006, he’s in line to get about $5 million more than if he had waited.
It’s all about the benjamins, baby. You can take the lawyer out of the plaintiffs’ firm; but you can’t take the plaintiffs’ firm out of the lawyer.
And that $5 million could come in handy if Schulman does strike a plea deal — something that, according to lawyers familiar with the case, has not happened yet, but very well could. We hear that Schulman is open to the idea, and his switch of attorneys earlier this year — from the NY brawler Ed Hayes to former federal Judge Herb Stern — would seem to lend itself to negotiations. The hitch is that if he were to flip, Schulman would probably have to offer up a superior or two, namely Melvyn Weiss or William Lerach.
Very interesting. We know many lawyers who have worked with Judge Stern, and some say that at times he can be difficult, controlling, and arrogant (although you’d be too if you were an ex-Article III judge). But it’s certainly true that he’s not as much of a street-fighter as Ed Hayes, one of the deans of the Mafia defense bar (along with Bruce Cutler and Gerald Shargel).
The prospect of Schulman flipping on Mel Weiss or Bill Lerach is dizzying. The glee among Fortune 500 general counsels and Biglaw securities lawyers — and the Schadenfreude among less successful plaintiffs’ lawyers — would be boundless. Happy Kwanzaa! 5 Million Reasons to Quit Milberg [Legal Pad / Cal Law] Partner at Law Firm Resigns to Focus on Criminal Charges Against Him [New York Times] Steven G. Schulman bio [Milberg Weiss] Earlier: Musical Chairs: 12.13.06
As part of a nationwide tour, Above the Law is coming to the great city of Chicago.
Join preeminent law firm management consultant Bruce MacEwen, Katten Muchin Chicago managing partner Gil Sofer, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. assistant general counsel Jason Shaffer for a panel discussion (sponsored by Pangea3) on the evolutionary and market forces bearing down on the law firm business model. Come on by Thursday, November 20, at 6 p.m., for thought-provoking discussion, food, drink, and networking.
Space is limited and there will be no on-site registration, so please RSVP
Average law school debt for graduates of private universities hovered around $122,000 last year. With only 57% of new attorneys actually obtaining real lawyer jobs, recent graduates have a lot to consider when it comes to managing their student loan payments. Thanks to our friends at SoFi, today’s infographic takes a look at student loan debt, including the possible benefits of refinancing for JDs…
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.