Posts Tagged ‘Bill Lerach’

From disgrace to the law lectern

Bill Lerach’s contemplated hop from the federal slammer to a teaching position may be especially notable, but Kai Falkenberg at Forbes reminds us that others with records of disgrace or lawbreaking have turned up at the law lectern too, including Sixties terrorist Bernardine Dohrn, long ensconced at Northwestern; disbarred felon Lynne Stewart, who addressed the celebrated Hofstra ethics conference; and smurfing specialist Eliot Spitzer, who “taught a class called ‘Law and Public Policy’ at City College during the fall 2009 term.” And had you heard that former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose trial on corruption charges is upcoming, gave a student-sponsored talk last month at Northwestern on the topic of ethics in government?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the faculty panel discussion from the police lineup. In my forthcoming book Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America — due out next spring from Encounter Books — I’ll have a lot more to say about the lessons that sends.

Beyond parody: Lerach plans to teach law at Irvine

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]

More on “Circle of Greed”

More reviews of the new Lerach book (earlier). Kevin LaCroix:

…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.

Howard Sirota:

…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.”

More: Seth Hettena, Voice of San Diego, profile and interview.

The Milberg Weiss Four after prison

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.”

March 16 roundup

  • 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]

New book on Bill Lerach, “Circle of Greed”

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.

More: At New York Times “DealBook” (via Pero), Peter Henning reviewing the same book traces Lerach’s downfall in part to the nature of his famous “I have no clients” practice:

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.

“DOJ fights Europe vacation for Lerach”

“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]

October 10 roundup

“Lerach Costs Former Firm $45 Million in Fees”

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/]