Plaintiffs Firms

Zuber Taillieu LLP Olivier Taillieu Borat Above the Law blog.jpgAs recently mentioned in these pages, the internal slogan of the post-merger Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell is “One Firm, One Future.”
Some firms, however, take the opposite view. We’ve just discovered a Southern California boutique whose motto might as well be “Two Firms for the Price of One.” Or maybe “Corporate Work and Plaintiffs’ Work: Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together.” A tipster tells us:

My friend just interviewed at a place called Zuber & Taillieu in Los Angeles. You know, Olivier Taillieu — the guy who filed suit on behalf of the frat boys from Borat….

Ah yes, we do recall. Look back at this post. Engaging in Gallion & Spielvogel-esque self-promotion, Olivier Taillieu described himself as follows: “[Olivier clerked] for the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, one of the most prestigious and sought-after clerkships in the country. Following his clerkships, he entered private practice as a litigator in the Intellectual Property and Technology Department in the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, one of the top 15 law firms in the country as ranked by revenue by The American Lawyer.”
Back to our source:

Well, get this. What that firm doesn’t announce on their “corporate” website is that they have an evil twin: a plaintiffs’ side alter ego, called ZT Personal Injury Law Group. Exact same attorneys, but this time, you can call them at 1-866-SUE-2-WIN. Pay particular attention to the language about penises and vaginas on the firm’s Child Molestation page.

It looks like this “O’Melveny spinoff” isn’t doing QUITE the same caliber work as they’d have you believe…

ZT Personal Injury Law Group Above the Law blog.jpgIndeed. We checked out that “Child Molestation Law” page, which features such lovely words as “vagina,” “rectum,” and “penile penetration” — not your standard law firm website fare. Here’s an excerpt:

If someone you know is a victim of sexual abuse, contact one of our child molestation attorneys today to find out what ZT Personal Injury Law Group can do for you. We offer a FREE consultation, and we don’t get paid unless you win!

Well, look on the bright side: at least these ex-OMM lawyers are doing well for themselves. They’re hiring more lawyers and expanding their firm — which is more than can be said for the O’Melveny mother ship, with its rumored layoffs.
Update: As some commenters remind us, Olivier Taillieu was a contestant on that short-lived reality TV show, The Law Firm.
Zuber & Taillieu LLP [official website]
ZT Personal Injury Law Group [official website]
The Law Firm [Wikipedia]
Earlier: Still More About Borat

runaway groom trial lawyer Above the Law blog.jpgLast week, our friends over at the WSJ Law Blog asked: “Why do ‘trial lawyers’ have such a bad name?”
One possible answer: Because they abandon their brides at the altar. From the Miami Herald:

Walk-away groom: Jim Ferraro, multimillionaire trial lawyer.

Ferraro, set to marry prominent real estate broker Patricia Delinois on Friday in a formal ceremony at Fisher Island’s Vanderbilt Mansion, jilted her — at the altar — as they were about to exchange vows before 75 to 80 guests….

After five years of dating, the couple were to finally tie the knot. But, says Ferraro: ‘When it was time to say `I do,’ I just said, ‘I love her but I just can’t do this.’ ” He walked away, flanked by sons James, 21, Andrew, 18, and daughter Alexis, 14.

The audience gasped. Delinois’ sister, Ingrid Long, told off Ferraro — loudly. Some say she yelled, ”You dog!” Not so, Long says. “I called him a snake. I think I even called him a few other things. I was trying very hard not to curse, but I think a few curse words came out.”

Says Ferraro: “It was dramatic.”

Trial lawyers can be such drama queens. Maybe they get addicted to making audiences gasp — you know, that whole “Perry Mason” thing. It appears that finances weren’t behind the cancellation:

The issue, [Ferraro] says, was not money. ”We did have a prenup.” She is CEO of Century 21 Premier Elite Realty. He has law offices in Miami and Cleveland, owns the Cleveland Gladiators arena football team, has a private jet, and built a 21,000-square-foot compound in Martha’s Vineyard — with 14 bedrooms, tennis court, basketball court, nine-hole putting green, movie theater, and weight and cardio gyms.

This time, Ferraro figures, their romance is done for good. “She probably doesn’t ever want to talk to me again.”

Update: All’s well that ends well. In February 2008, Ferraro and Delinois got married, in a secret seaside ceremony in St. Bart’s.
Power couple’s wedding ends with `I don’t’ [Miami Herald]
Why Do “Trial Lawyers” Have Such a Bad Name? [WSJ Law Blog]

gorilla lawyer ad advertisement advertising Above the Law blog.jpgThe ethical rules governing advertising by lawyers are designed in large part to protect the public from misleading pitches. But maybe it’s the lawyers who need protecting — from themselves.
If these lawyers scratch themselves inappropriately during meetings, or hog the cold cuts at lunch, don’t say they didn’t warn you.
Magilla Gorilla, Esq. [copyranter]
Earlier: Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My — Is It a Law Firm Ad Campaign?

Richard Scruggs 2 Dick Scruggs Dickie Scruggs Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgYesterday the FBI executed a search warrant on the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, Mississippi — the shop of high-flying plaintiffs’ lawyer Dickie Scruggs. It wasn’t immediately clear what investigation the search was related to. Here’s some commentary on the situation that we enjoyed, from David Rossmiller (in brackets, following excerpt from news article):

“This is a surprise to everybody connected to the Scruggs Firm,” [lawyer Joey] Langston said, “but I’ve got to tell you people who are very high profile and very successful have to contend with unpleasantries and this is unpleasant, but we’ll contend with it.”

[I like the touch of noblesse oblige here -- as if the FBI descending on one's place of business is the same as, say, getting heckled by drunken lumpenproletariat while showing up in top hat and tails to receive an award for charitable giving.]

suitcase briefcase cash money Above the Law blog.jpgNow we have a better idea of what the office search was probably about. From the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger:

Multimillionaire trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs has been indicted on charges of conspiring to bribe a judge in the case involving $26.5-million in attorney fees involving Katrina claims….

According to the indictment, Lafayette County Circuit Judge Henry Lackey cooperated with the FBI in the investigation after reporting a bribery overture to authorities.

According to the indictment, Scruggs and others tried to influence Lackey by giving him $40,000 in cash to resolve the attorney fees’ dispute in favor of Scruggs’ law firm. Some of the conversations between Balducci and Lackey were captured on tape.

An interesting observation, from the WSJ Law Blog:

Down in Mississippi, there has been speculation of a connection between the FBI search warrant and this week’s surprise resignation of Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS), Scruggs’s brother-in-law. Lott’s office told the Sun Herald the two events were but a mere coincidence.

Because, you know, it’s so much better to have people think you stepped down because of a gay sex scandal, as opposed to your brother-in-law’s indictment.
(For the record, the rumors about Sen. Lott and the gay sex scandal appear to be unfounded. See HuffPo and Wonkette — two sites that would, of course, love for the rumors to be true.)
Scruggs arrested on bribery charges [Clarion-Ledger]
More on FBI search of Scruggs’ law offices [Insurance Coverage Law Blog]
Dickie Scruggs Indicted On Federal Bribery Charges [WSJ Law Blog]

* How much will various law-related search terms cost you on Google? Adam Liptak has collected some interesting examples: “Asbestos attorney” = $51.68, “Pro bono lawyer” = $2.89. [NYT via WSJ Law Blog]
* Another day, another Republican politician in a gay sex scandal. [Green Bay Press-Gazette]
* Not law-related, but interesting to those who follow the blogosphere: Vanessa Grigoriadis’s detailed profile of Gawker Media. [New York Magazine]
* Blawg Review #130, presented on two attorney/mediator law blogs — a Southern Hemisphere edition from New Zealand, and a Northern Hemisphere edition from the USA — recognizes Blog Action Day and International Conflict Resolution Day. [mediator blah... blah... and Online Guide to Mediation, via Blawg Review]

Mikal Watts Mikal C Watts Law Firm Above the Law blog.jpgEven when they’re not getting indicted or pleading guilty, high-profile plaintiffs’ lawyers can still entertain us with their antics. From Walter Olson, over at Overlawyered:

Looks as if the legal tactics of one politically ambitious Texas plaintiff’s lawyer may have blown up in his face:

“Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mikal Watts of San Antonio once tried to pressure a legal opponent into a $60 million personal injury lawsuit settlement by claiming he would have an advantage on appeal because of his firm’s ‘heavy’ campaign financial support to an appellate court’s justices, ‘all of whom are good Democrats.’

Guess Brad Schlozman isn’t the only arbiter of “good”-ness. Anyway, back to Watts:

A “nine-page letter Watts wrote to opposing counsel in 2001 apparently was intended to make an out-of-state corporation think the donations could sway” the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi. The letter was sent to a defense lawyer representing American Electric Power in an auto-accident case. “Politely put, south Texas venue by itself makes this a very dangerous lawsuit,” Watts wrote.

We commend Mikal Watts for his candor. Why should walking into a south Texas courtroom be a trap for the unwary?
Furor over Mikal Watts “judges owe us” letter [Overlawyered]

* 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]

Managhan Kortum Managhan Law Firm Above the Law blog.jpgIn case you missed this story from last week, here’s a recap. Earlier this month, a plaintiffs’ lawyer in Montana by the name of William Managhan sent out the following email, to the entire Montana Trial Lawyers Association:

From: William L. Managhan
To: Montana Trial Lawyers
Sent: Sunday, September 09, 2007 6:32 PM
Subject: [mtla_members_all] Firm Name Change

Managhan & Kortum-Managhan Law Firm will no longer be known as such. The name is returning to Managhan Law Firm as Santana Kortum-Managhan is leaving the firm. Turns out that she was having sex with Tim McKeon of Anaconda while attending MMLP hearings in Helena.

Call me silly but I no longer fill [sic] comfortable with her as my law partner or wife. Some will think this is an inappropriate announcement, but considering the small legal community in our state, I might as well preempt the roomer mill [sic]. Please address communication to William L. Managhan through Managhan Law Firm.

More discussion, including accounts of our telephone conversations with Bobbi Bonnington and Tim of Anaconda, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “An Update on the Managhan Law Firm (aka ‘My Wife Is Sleeping Around and That’s Why We’re No Longer Law Partners’)”

BarBri 2 bar bri bar exam review course prep course Above the Law Above the Law ATL.jpgWe reminded you on Friday, but we fear our post got lost in the shuffle. If you’re part of the plaintiff class in the Bar/Bri class action — and since you’re reading ATL, you probably are — then the deadline for filing your proof of claim is this Monday, September 17. So if you want your $125 or so, you need to act now.
Is the settlement a good deal? We largely agree with this commenter:

That settlement is a disgrace. The plaintiff class was sold up the river…. But I’ll take the money and run.

Just like most of you (see poll results), we filed a claim, knowing that we’re being undercompensated. And knowing that we’re acting against the advice of The Legal Diva — a named plaintiff in the case who now opposes the settlement. From The Recorder:

Legal Diva Loredana Nesci Bar Bri Barbri Above the Law blog.jpgLoredana Nesci, a 2005 graduate of Quinnipiac College School of Law in Connecticut, said lead attorney Eliot Disner initially convinced her he’d built a strong case against BAR/BRI and would seek to break the company apart. “We were promised the moon and stars by Disner,” she said.

But Nesci said everything changed after Disner’s former firm — Los Angeles’ Van Etten Suzumoto & Becket — was acquired by McGuireWoods.

“After that merger, I think that McGuireWoods took Eliot, gagged him [and now] he’s in a basement in their firm, because I can’t find the guy,” said Nesci, now a practicing attorney based in Studio City.

It seems that the Legal Diva — er, Ms. Nesci — was right about Disner. Her “gagged in a basement” comment appeared in a February 2007 article. A few months later, in May 2007, Eliot Disner was fired by McGuireWoods (after he criticized the settlement).
Legal Diva 2 Loredana Nesci Bar Bri Barbri Above the Law blog.jpgFor more on her Diva-ness, check out her website, which is a real trip. Her bio describes her past work as a police officer for the LAPD, explains how she earned the title of “Legal Diva,” and boasts of how she was “quickly gaining notoriety for being a colorful and cunning attorney.” It also mentions that she “enjoys working with feral cats,” which sounds apropos for a Legal Diva. MEOW!
(See especially the super-cute testimonials from her clients, including Doug Smith, at right. We don’t want to know what types of matters she handled for him….)
Bar/BRI Class Action Litigation [official website]
The Legal Diva: Loredana Nesci [official website]
$49M Disappoints Some in Lawyers’ Class [The Recorder]
Earlier: A Friendly Reminder: The BAR/BRI Proof of Claim Deadline Is Monday!

BarBri bar bri bar exam review course prep course Above the Law Above the Law ATL.jpgAttention young lawyers. We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you this important announcement:

If you purchased a bar review course from BAR/BRI anywhere in the United States anytime from August, 1997 through July 31, 2006 (the “Class”), you may be affected by a settlement of a class action lawsuit pending in the United States District Court for the Central District of California called Rodriguez, et. al v. West Publishing Corp., d/b/a BAR/BRI, and Kaplan, Inc., Case No. CV-05-3222 R (MCx).

Okay, you already knew about that — and we wrote about it before too. But here’s the important part: the deadline for filing a Proof of Claim is this coming Monday, September 17, 2007. So if you chucked that form into a big “to deal with later” pile, just like we did, you need to fish it out over the weekend.
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Friendly Reminder: The BAR/BRI Proof of Claim Deadline Is Monday!”

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