Victims of what anti-law-school bloggers have dubbed “the law school scam” might argue that working for a law school, or at least the kind of law school that saddles students with debt and can’t get them jobs, is closer to a crime than community service. There is certainly an argument that law professors who aren’t part of the solution are part of the problem.
But the notorious William Lerach, the securities plaintiffs’ lawyer turned convicted felon, believes that law teaching is a noble calling — and wants the community service credit to show for it….
Infamous plaintiffs lawyer Bill Lerach just got sentenced for his role in the Milberg Weiss kickback scheme. He got the highest sentence possible under the plea agreement, which was also the sentence sought by the government: 24 months imprisonment. For more, see links below.
Random resemblance of the day: Bill Lerach and Ricky Gervais’s character-within-a-character on “Extras.” Comparethis (photo accompanying story) withthis (short video clip, “Are You Having a Laugh?”). Lerach Gets Maximum Term [The Recorder via Law.com] Breaking News: Bill Lerach Gets Two Years in Prison [WSJ Law Blog] Are You Having A Laugh? [YouTube]
* The war on punitive damages continues. [USA Today via How Appealing]
* Suspect from Burning Man burning to burn something else. [Reno Gazette-Journal]
* Senators want clarification from Mukasey on waterboarding. [Jurist]
* Lerach pleads guilty. [Los Angeles Times]
* Do we have a de facto moratorium on executions pending this term’s SCOTUS lethal injection case? We should find out today. [New York Times]
As we mentioned in passing yesterday, infamous plaintiffs’ lawyer William Learch will be pleading to a federal conspiracy charge, related to his involvement in Milberg Weiss’s secret scheme to make payments to name plaintiffs in class-action cases. Under the deal that was so skillfully cut by Lerach’s lawyer, John Keker of Keker & Van Nest, Lerach will cough up $8 million in forfeiture and fines and serve one to two years in federal prison.
Is Bill Lerach getting off easy? Quite possibly. But a judge still has to sign off on the deal.
Not surprisingly, Lerach spread his cash around liberally among several Democratic candidates for president. But his favorite was fellow plaintiffs’ lawyer John Edwards. From Ben Smith over at Politico:
Edwards and Biden each gave away money from Lerach; no word yet on whether Hillary will give back the money he gave her 2006 Senate campaign.
Edwards, though, is particularly tied to him. Though he’s giving away the $4,600 from Lerach, Lerach is also listed as a bundler, and employees of the lawyer’s firm are his third-largest group of donors, mostly giving in the first quarter.
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.
* The nation mourns President Gerald R. Ford. Federal government employees and stock exchange workers thank him for a four-day weekend. [Washington Post; Associated Press]
* Plaintiffs’ class-action lawyer William Lerach claims that firing him would cause “delay, duplication of effort and extra costs.” So does hiring him. [WSJ Law Blog]
* A new year, an old question: Are federal judges underpaid? Maybe; maybe not. [New York Times; Washington Wire; SCOTUSblog; National Review Online (via How Appealing)]
(We think Chief Justice Roberts is being a bit alarmist. Is it truly a “constitutional crisis” that Sidwell Friends doesn’t accept payment in prestige?)
* This seems sensible. But since when has the Senate cared about common sense? The inefficiency quirkiness of that institution is why we love it so. [Los Angeles Times via How Appealing]
* Can New York Governor Eliot Spitzer live up to the hype? Several scandals have at least given him a lot to work with. [New York Times]
* WaPo columnist Richard Cohen shares our love for Monica Lewinsky. Why can’t the media give her the respect that she’s entitled to? Making double entendres about oral sex is no way to treat a lady. [Washington Post]
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
People pay attention to a judge’s reversal rate — how often that jurist gets reversed by a higher court. And a high reversal rate is usually regarded as “not a good thing.”
But we kinda admire judges who aren’t overly concerned with their reversal rate. We respect judges who are willing to go out on a limb, who aren’t afraid to take the law in new and interesting directions — no matter what the folks upstairs might think. Such judges play a key role in the evolution and clarification of the law.*
Some of you might criticize such an envelope-pushing approach to judging as improper, even “lawless.” But here at ATL, we call it entertaining!
Meet Judge Melinda Harmon (S.D. Tex.). She’s the trial judge responsible for the jury instructions in the Arthur Andersen prosecution, which the Supreme Court didn’t like so much. And now she’s handed down another interesting ruling:
In a decision that she conceded flies in the face of previous rulings by other courts, a federal judge in Houston has ordered the law firm of William S. Lerach, a leading class-action lawyer, to pay the legal fees and costs of a company he sued.
The company, Alliance Capital, a money management firm, was sued by Mr. Lerach’s firm as part of a large Enron class-action case. The lawsuit argued that Alliance should be held responsible for the Enron fraud because an Alliance official was also a director of Enron.
The federal rules permit awards of fees and costs. But these are usually paid by the parties, NOT by their law firms.
More about this groundbreaking ruling, after the jump.
* Anna Nicole Smith, the buxom ex-Playmate and victorious Supreme Court litigant, supports a formal inquest into the mysterious death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel Wayne Smith. [Associated Press]
* SCOTUS groupies, rejoice: Same-day transcripts of Supreme Court oral arguments will be made available, for free, on the Court’s website. [Washington Post; SCOTUSblog]
* The Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down the legislature’s attempted repeal of judicial pay raises as unconstitutional. As a result, Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices’ salaries will increase to about $171,000, and Common Please judges’ salaries will increase to almost $150,000. Not bad for being an icky state court judge. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* Boy that was fast: notorious plaintiffs’ lawyer William Lerach, a former partner at the indicted law firm Milberg Weiss, has filed a derivative lawsuit against the HP board. [The Recorder via WSJ Law Blog]
* Michael “Under God” Newdow, the Energizer Bunny of questionable litigation, is at it again. [Law.com]
* More wrangling between the White House and Congressional Republicans over military tribunals and permissible interrogation methods for terror suspects. We hope this gets resolved soon, ’cause our attention span just isn’t that long. [New York Times]
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
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The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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