The plaintiffs firm has an eye for talent.
The class-action giant only last year settled a federal indictment over charges it had run a 30-year kickback scheme. The firm paved the way for this nonprosecution agreement by repudiating three partners -- Melvyn Weiss, David Bershad and Steven Schulman. Milberg claimed it had been in the dark as to their "illegal activities," and all three men later pleaded guilty to felonies.
Only later did we learn and report that Milberg the law firm had agreed to pay indicted partner Melvyn Weiss a slice of the firm's future lawsuit winnings, and was also picking up his legal fees. The supposedly remorseful firm made sure its founding felon would receive this cash even if he went to prison -- which he did. The Justice Department later admitted it had inexplicably sanctioned this sweetheart deal.
Meantime, as a felon, Melvyn Weiss had to obtain court approval for any fees for legal services he provided. In July of 2008, New York Supreme Court Judge Herman Cahn was asked to pronounce judgment on the Milberg payoff. A month later he agreed to let Melvyn Weiss have his booty, even as the judge acknowledged that law firms are generally barred from sharing legal fees with nonlawyers, and that Melvyn Weiss had forfeited his right to practice law.
And now for the latest news: In December, Judge Cahn retired from the bench. Last week, the renamed Milberg LLP announced it had hired a "distinguished" new attorney: Herman Cahn. In its press release, the firm listed his most notable cases, though omitting any on which he'd ruled on its behalf.
To recap: A class-action firm's name partners are nailed in a 30-year fraud. Class-action firm rewards lead perpetrator with share of future earnings. State judge sanctions the earnings deal. Class-action firm hires state judge. We'll let our readers decide what they think of this "fact pattern," as a plaintiffs lawyer might put it.
Here's the Milberg Press Release:
NEW YORK SUPREME COURT JUSTICE HERMAN CAHN JOINS MILBERG LLP
New York, NY - Justice Herman Cahn has joined Milberg LLP after a distinguished career spanning several decades serving as a judge in New York State courts, it was announced today. Justice Cahn will serve in various capacities at Milberg. He will act as both a mediator and arbitrator, particularly in complex commercial litigation cases. He will also play a principal role in the Firm’s commercial litigation practice, in addition to advising on a wide range of matters drawing from his deep knowledge and experiences as a prominent justice and expert in commercial law.
Justice Cahn was first elected as Judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York in 1976. He subsequently served as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court from 1980 until 1992, when he was elected to the Supreme Court. Throughout his decades on the bench, he principally handled civil cases, with the exception of 1981 until 1987, when he presided over criminal matters. Justice Cahn was instrumental in the creation of, and a founding Justice in, the Commercial Division within the New York State Supreme Court. He served as a Justice of the Commercial Division from its inception in 1993 until joining Milberg.
Among his most notable recent cases are the consolidated cases stemming from the Bear Stearns merger with JP Morgan (In re Bear Stearns Litigation); litigation regarding the next upcoming America’s Cup Yacht Race (Golden Gate Yacht Club v. Societe Nautique De Geneve); litigation stemming from the attempt to enjoin the construction of the new Yankee Stadium (Save Our Parks v. City of New York); and the consolidated state cases regarding the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site (World Trade Center Properties v Alliance Insurance; Port Authority v. Alliance Insurance).
“I weighed many options as I embarked on this new chapter in my career.” said Cahn. “I joined Milberg because of the quality of its attorneys and the important role the Firm plays in many of the pressing and emerging issues related to commercial law including investor and consumer rights. Milberg has always had the reputation of an innovative firm of dedicated individuals at the forefront in its areas of practice. I believe that my experience and knowledge serves to perfectly complement the Firm’s focus on complex litigation,” he said. “My move to Milberg will also provide me the opportunity to serve the Bar as a mediator, arbitrator and consultant in commercial litigation, to which I look forward,” he added.
“Justice Cahn joins Milberg at a time when companies both here and abroad increasingly find themselves in conflicts or disputes requiring mediation or arbitration,” stated Sanford P. Dumain, the chair of Milberg’s Executive Committee. “Given his extraordinary stature in the legal, academic and business communities achieved through decades of dedicated service to the state judiciary, coupled with his expertise in complicated commercial litigation, Justice Cahn is a significant and timely addition to the Firm.”
Before ascending the bench, Justice Cahn practiced law in Manhattan. He was first admitted to the New York bar in 1956. He is admitted to practice in numerous courts, including the New York State courts, the Southern District of New York and the United States Supreme Court.
Justice Cahn received his law degree from Harvard Law School and a B.A. from City College of the City University of New York.
Milberg LLP has been representing individual and institutional investors for nearly 40 years and serves as lead counsel in federal and state courts throughout the United States. Please visit the Milberg website (www.milberg.com) for more information about the firm.
Dan Fleshler - 212-935-0210; firstname.lastname@example.org
Barbara Shrager - 212-935-0210; email@example.com
Click Here to See Related December 15, 2008 New York Law Journal Story by Brian Baxter,"Lawyers, Lawyers Everywhere in Wall Street's Latest Scandal."
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