Plaintiffs Firms

Ted Frank.jpgSome class action settlements are highly questionable. Think of a case where, say, the victimized consumers get a stupid coupon, so they can purchase even more goods or services from the company that victimized them — while the lawyers representing the plaintiffs walk away with a big payday.
One man is out to change all that. Ted Frank — lawyer and blogger extraordinaire, from Overlawyered and Point of Law (and also Above the Law) — has left his perch as a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He’s starting a new public interest law firm that specializes in pro bono representation of consumers unhappy with class action settlements. Ted is already handling two class actions in California.
We caught up with Ted to discuss his new gig. Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Class Action Avenger: Ted Frank’s Cool New Job”

old shoes.jpgOur colleagues over at sister site Fashionista aren’t alone. Lawyers also get worked up over shoes.
Some, like former Enron prosecutor Kathryn Ruemmler, show up to court in four-inch pink stiletto spikes. Others hate on commuter shoes and Crocs. Attorneys have strong opinions about attire, and that extends to footwear.
So we can’t say we’re completely surprised by a motion recently filed by plaintiffs’ counsel in the case of Lenkersdorf v. Sorrentino, now pending in Florida state court.
Motion to Compel Defense Counsel to Wear Appropriate Shoes at Trial — we kid you not — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “‘Holier’ Than Thou: Motion to Compel Defense Counsel to Wear Appropriate Shoes at Trial”

sokolove_james.jpgThere is a great profile in the Boston Magazine about attorney James Sokolove, a guy that advertises his legal services on T.V. so often I just assumed he didn’t actually exist.

Apparently, he does exist, but his legal services don’t, at least not in the traditional sense:

Despite his prodigious success and his omnipresent image as a bulldog attorney, Sokolove hasn’t seen the inside of a courtroom in nearly three decades. Truth be told, he’s argued only one case before a jury; it was back in the early 1970s, and he lost. It wasn’t tenacious lawyering that allowed Sokolove to build a legal empire, but rather his prowess as a businessman and an innovator. He and his staff of 80 don’t try cases; instead they connect prospective clients to other lawyers, who pay Sokolove a cut of their fees for ginning up business.

Sweet. The only thing better then an unabashed “ambulance chaser” is an unabashed ambulance chaser who doesn’t know where the courthouse is located.

But after the jump, what’s really fascinating is that this guy really does have a system.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “James Sokolove Doesn’t Fix Problems, But He Knows People Who Can”

Rick Laminack.jpg
[UPDATE on 04.03.09: Case dismissed.]
Paralegal-ing is a rough gig. Paralegals tend to get the legal drudgery similar to that done by first year associates, without the six-figure paycheck. And if you’re a paralegal for Richard Laminack, a titan of the Texas plaintiffs’ bar, you may also be asked to receive unwanted advances, fellate expert witnesses, and help defraud clients.
The American Lawyer reports on paralegal Angela Robinson’s complaint (PDF), filed against Laminack and the two firms at which she worked for him. (We have to wonder why she followed him to the second firm despite the workplace horrors. Cf. Anita Hill.)
Here’s a choice excerpt, available in full after the jump:
Robinson Complaint Short Excerpt.jpg
That is certainly above and beyond the paralegal call of duty.
The website of Laminack, Pirtle & Martines says that it’s their “honor and priveledge [sic]” to represent clients. And defraud them? According to Robinson’s complaint, Laminack “ordered checks on non-existent medical records for Fen-Phen clients and then docked the cost of the records checks from the clients’ settlement shares.”
(What is it with Fen-Phen lawyers and cheating clients? The WSJ Law Blog had extensive coverage of the Kentucky attorneys accused of bilking their Fen-Phen clients out of millions.)
Robinson put up with the sexual harassment for years; she alleges she was terminated when she confronted Laminack about the Fen-Phen scheme. She wants $55,000 for wrongful termination and back pay. A longer version of the salacious bits of her complaint, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Paralegal: Will Collate, Will Not Fellate”

Milberg 2 Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes Learch Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.GIFIn 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.

The beauty of naming the firm after Larry Milberg? He dead.
More Milberg Weiss coverage, including a statement from Mel Weiss, at the WSJ Law Blog.
Introducing . . . Milberg LLP [WSJ Law Blog]

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]

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