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Sunday, December 23, 2007


The New York Post

December 23, 2007 -- The MTA is lining the pockets of some of the city's wealthiest lawyers with "astronomical" fees paid by unwitting transit riders - who next year will have to shell out an extra $163 million in higher fares.
Since 2001, the MTA has spent $57 million on outside attorneys, with wads of dough going to some of the most expensive and profitable firms in the country, according to hundreds of records reviewed by The Post.

The lion's share of the cash - more than $15 million - went to the white-shoe firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, to which the MTA paid $3.6 million last year. The authority's retainer agreement soaks riders for fees that reach an eye-popping $668 per hour - even after a mandatory 20 percent MTA discount.

That rate is more than four times the $150 per hour that the MTA pays outside counsel for negligence and other lawsuits, and nearly nine times the $75 per hour the state pays court-appointed lawyers in murder cases.

In 1995, Skadden, Arps helped beat a lawsuit to block fare hikes that year. Recently, it has cleaned up after the bungled renovation of MTA offices at 2 Broadway.

The firm ranked 14th on the latest list of the country's most profitable, with partners each taking home a cool $2.1 million last year.

Both Gov. Spitzer and his wife, Silda, worked at Skadden years ago.

Second on the authority's legal gravy train - Proskauer, Rose - bills at rates nearly as high, with fees reaching $660 an hour. The firm, which handles MTA labor matters, has collected $6.8 million since 2001.

Figures from the MTA show that it spent $9.7 million on outside counsel last year, up from $7 million in 2005 and $5.7 million in 2004.

But those numbers don't include lawyers hired by its subsidiaries, including New York City Transit and the LIRR. Last year, the total cost of the transit system's outside attorneys topped $25.6 million, up from $24.2 million in 2005 and $23.9 million in 2004, according to the state Comptroller's Office.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign called the MTA's legal fees excessive and said officials would never spend so freely with their own money.

Payroll records show 32 lawyers and support staffers in the MTA General Counsel's Office. They earned a combined $3 million in salaries and other pay last year.

An MTA spokesman said hiring leading outside lawyers "actually saves the MTA far more money than it spends" because major construction projects require top-notch legal advice.


Anonymous said...

these big law firms are the new organized crime. they will steal and payoff and who will go after them? if someone does they tie them up in court for years.

Anonymous said...

i was told insurance companies pay 125 an hour for defense work.
If you get a criminal defense lawyer because you can not afford them one the courts pay around
65 per hour i was told.
Guess what they think the poor is worth.
why not get rid of the MTA members that approved that.
Also see if they got any free work or "gifts" from them.
Why do they need more than 32 lawyers the paralegal do the paperwork and resarch they do not make that much.
Is that stealling and abuse of services?
I hope the N.Y state AG or the Feds look into it.

Anonymous said...

If Porksour Rose or Proskauer Rose is involved, it looks, acts, smells and is a rat. These guys triple bill their trips to the toilet.

Check out the 1.5 Billion Federal Lawsuit against Proskauer @ which only goes to show that these guys are criminals, criminals who have figured out how to rip off the system and hard working New Yorkers tax dollars. Burn the firm to the ground and scatter the ashes.

Best ~ Bat out of Hell
Eliot Bernstein

Anonymous said...

A big bunch of whores!

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