Released from prison, the felonious class-actioneer plans to join Dean Erwin Chemerinsky’s left-leaning new University of California law school to lecture students on the topic of “Regulation of Free Market Capitalism — Why Have We Failed?”. He also apparently intends to claim the time spent in this propagandistic effort toward his community service obligation. In an interview with Diane Bell of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he says of his past legal practice: “I would not have done anything differently.” “I also intend to be active in progressive political activities probably with the Campaign for America’s Future,” he says. [Sign On San Diego, WSJ Law Blog, Ribstein; cross-posted from Point of Law]
…The authors explain in their Prologue that initially, Dillon had intended to co-author a book with Lerach, but that project got waylaid when it became clear that Lerach’s legal difficulties were serious. …
Lerach’s skill and his excesses emerged in his first successful case in San Diego, in which he represented a group of retirees against the Methodist Church. Lerach’s legal performance was by all accounts brilliant, and produced a great result for his clients. But, the authors note, “along with the good came the other things: the hubris, the taunting, the acrimony with the opposing side, the hyperpartisanship borne of the Manichean world view.” …
The authors also methodically show how so much of Lerach’s crusading activities depending on his firm’s corrupt system for procuring plaintiffs on whose behalf to bring the suit, as well as on the testimony of a corrupt expert witness.
…Bill Lerach did not invent the criminal conspiracy; he joined it in progress. His “full cooperation” fails to name names and take numbers. … Lerach knows, but he isn’t telling, because the statute of limitations has not yet run for all of his crimes. …
Nevertheless, “Circle of Greed” is a must-read for lawyers and judges because even a “limited hang-out” by Bill Lerach reveals far more than he intended.
An excerpt from the book is at Politics Daily. LaCroix also interviews the authors (who note that while Lerach encouraged stories about a supposed conspiracy to get him, the Milberg prosecution “was managed by a dedicated civil servant in the Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office named Richard Robinson who is not only a career prosecutor, but a Democrat.”) And San Diego public broadcasting outlet KPBS runs its Dillon-and-Lerach interview under the gag-worthy headline, “The Story Of Bill Lerach’s Fighting For Consumers.”
All four have completed their sentences and don’t seem to have it so bad, judging by a March 19 Bloomberg story. William Lerach is going to teach at a law school and work for a “progressive think-tank.” And for the Milberg law firm itself? “Over the past couple of years, while everybody has been laying off lawyers and cutting pay, we’ve been giving lawyers raises and extra bonuses.”
- Are you a member of Tyson chicken or H&R Block Express IRA class action settlements?
- Jim Copland on Harry Reid and the trial bar. [NRO]
- Jim Copland on the Ground Zero settlement, which may pay lawyers $200 million—but the judge plans fee scrutiny. [NY Post; NY Daily News]
- Kevin LaCroix interviews the Circle of Greed authors. [D&O Diary]
- Judgeships: Rhode Island lead paint trial lawyer in despite mediocre rating, but Sri Srinivasan out because of his clients—not Al Qaeda, but, heaven forfend, eeeevil corporations like Hertz.
- There’s no evidence that workers on automotive brakes (which sometimes contain asbestos) get mesothelioma at a greater rate than the rest of the population, but auto companies still get sued over it. Ford fought one in Madison County, rather than settle, and won. [Madison County Record]
- Overview of defensive medicine at work. [AP]
- Pantsless Rielle Hunter on John Edwards: “He’s very honest and truthful.” [GQ]
Kim Strassel reviews it in the Wall Street Journal:
Much of the riveting detail in “Circle of Greed” comes from Mr. Lerach, who cooperated fully with the authors. They seem to buy his line that his actions were motivated by his desire to protect innocent shareholders from greedy corporations. The book’s overall argument—as the title suggests—is that it was corporate greed that created Mr. Lerach and provided a model for his ethical failings. That claim is unfair to the many honest companies who were Lerach victims and implausible in any case, thanks to the authors’ own vivid evidence of Mr. Lerach’s outsize criminal behavior.
Clients are an important constraint on lawyers, the restriction on their desire to push as hard as possible for every little victory in a case. …
When your opponent is your enemy, and you can say whatever you want because there is no client there to restrain your baser instincts, then at some point you will step over the line and perhaps eventually pay a price.
Henning also recounts Lerach’s famous vendetta against scholar/consultant Daniel Fischel (“I will destroy you”), which put the world on notice of the class actioneer’s character years before the main scandal hit.
“The Justice Department is fighting a request by former class action lawyer Bill Lerach, who is on probation after pleading guilty to hiding payments to plaintiffs, to take a 44-day vacation to 18 cities in Europe this summer accompanied by as many as 18 family members and friends.” What seems to especially gall prosecutors is the way Lerach, despite earlier promises of contrition, now goes around proclaiming his lack of regret over his past behavior. “Carl Cannon and Pat Dillon’s book on Lerach is due out in March”; it is entitled Circle of Greed. [Josh Gerstein, Politico]
- Greenwich, Connecticut real estate board may discipline member whose blog (often linked in this space) regularly pokes fun at overpriced houses. Antitrust/First Amendment problem? [Chris Fountain, For What It’s Worth]
- “Religious group sued for allegedly inciting harm through prayers” [USA Today]
- Legally driven waste of water in parched California should reopen Endangered Species Act debate [Max Schulz, American Spectator] “More Unintended Consequences — Endangered Species Edition” [Ronald Bailey, Reason; related AEI panel]
- “Apple v Woolworth re Apple Logos In Australia” [Trademark Blog]
- Speaking of Australia, Consumers Union’s Consumerist site publishes fake “Aussie McDonald’s fraud plot” memo as real — revises post later, but without mentioning it was taken in by hoax [HardArticle]
- Pennsylvania couple learns about squatter’s-rights law the hard way [Hazleton Standard Speaker]
- Maybe Saratoga Springs, N.Y. will let middle schoolers bike — or even walk! — to school [Albany Times-Union, Lenore Skenazy/Free Range Kids, Patrick at Popehat, Doug Mataconis/Liberty Papers]
- Milberg, the disgraced class action firm of Mel Weiss and Bill Lerach fame, is hot again [NLJ]
Class action impresario Bill Lerach’s old Lerach Coughlin firm, now renamed Coughlin Stoia, continues to prosper mightily despite the imprisonment of its former principal, but federal judge James Rosenbaum in Minnesota has now knocked $45 million off a $110 million fee request in a settlement of a class action against UnitedHealth, saying the firm would probably not have been selected as lead counsel had Lerach “timely and fully” disclosed to the court his status as a target of federal investigation. The lead plaintiff in the case was CALPERS, the California public employee pension fund that has long enjoyed cozy relations with politicians, unions and prominent class-actioneers. [Dan Levine, The Recorder/Law.com]
Who would have dreamed that a protege of Bill Lerach would wind up later copping to a felony rap resulting from ethical infractions? (Wait, don’t answer.)
At a barbershop in 1994, [Cauley] says, he picked up Forbes magazine and saw a profile of Lerach; it was the famous article, where the attorney was quoted as saying, “I have the greatest practice . . . I have no clients.”
Cauley approached Lerach and was soon launched in a thriving class action practice (“His usual way to deal with things was to yell and bang things and threaten,” said a fellow plaintiffs lawyer, Glen DeValerio of Boston.) It came crashing down under revelations that the Little Rock, Ark.-based lawyer took $9 million from clients’ settlements to spend on firm overhead and unrelated investments. [Koppel/WSJ, ABA Journal, interview-based WSJ Law Blog story first, second]