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Bill Lerach Cuts a Plea Agreement

As this story from the San Jose Mercury News and multiple others report, class action lawyer William Lerach, formerly a partner in the indicted class action law firm Milberg Weiss, struck a plea agreement to pay $7.75 million for his involvement in a class action kickback scheme by which Lerach made undisclosed payments to class action plaintiffs in exchange for signing them up for representation. In addition, Lerach will receive a prison term of one to two years.

As the article reports, Lerach's securities actions were widespread and changed the nature of securities law practice. But because other firms copied Lerach's strategies, legal experts quoted in the article expressed doubt that taking Lerach out of the picture would reduce litigation.

A couple of bloggers have commented on the Lerach plea agreement. From What About Clients?, Holden Oliver says that his firm's lawyers and their clients never much liked the class action bar. But he concedes that Lerach and his team "were good at what they did--i.e., a new kind of economic terrorism aimed at corporations via research,pleadings and discovery--even if we hated it. If this new stuff is true, what a 100% waste of talent, energy and resolve."

At Houston's Clear Thinkers, Tom Kirkendall reminds readers of the irony of:

the circumstances under which it has been obtained. Lerach was facing a horrifying trial penalty if he chose to fight the charges. And as Larry Ribstein has repeatedly pointed out, it doesn't say much for our criminal justice system that the government is paying witnesses to testify against Lerach for the crime of paying his class representative clients. As Larry points out in his most recent post on the matter, the non-cooperation nature of the plea deal does not necessarily mean that the government isn't providing Lerach some form of hidden incentive for his plea.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 19, 2007 at 05:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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