But it doesn’t. From a WSJ email, dispatched this evening to my inbox, this story:
from The Wall Street Journal
Sept. 17, 2007
William Lerach is set to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy in the criminal case involving the noted securities lawyer’s former firm, now called Milberg Weiss LLP. The plea agreement, which calls for a one to two year prison term, could be announced as soon as Tuesday.
I’m all for protecting the common man, the common investor, and I’m nothing if not both of those things. However, while Milberg Weiss (…Bershad Hynes & Lerach) LLP has always claimed that their seldom-seemly, and often seedy, pursuit of class action lawsuits, against any company whose stock price took a noteworthy downturn, was for the public good, I’ve never been able to agree.
Not in my stance as a champion of the unfettered right of public companies to run roughshod over their investors, either. Because I have no such stance. Instead, my dim view of him and all who practice his kind of law is justified by standard tactics he and his partners (current and former) have used in pursuit of specious claims. Think “greenmail”, ala Carl Icahn and Boone Pickens in the 1980s – make life tough enough for someone, even someone who’s got no basis for having to defend their actions, and they’ll pay you to go away.
As referred to in an Los Angeles Business Journal article of Sep 3, 2007, Lerach is an “economic terrorist”, and I don’t think that’s too tough a characterization of him. As the article says:
Lerach, of course, did not invent but did perfect the securities class action lawsuit. In that scheme, most any company that sustained a stock drop, even if it had nothing to do with anything of consequence, often found itself the recipient of allegations of fraud in a Lerach-engineered lawsuit. Likewise, companies that announced most anything negative could get the same kind of lawsuit – often within hours of the announcement.
Lerach then pounded the company, using the discovery process to find some little scrap somewhere in some underling’s file drawer that “proved” the company knew that bad news could develop.
In other words, this guy, and all lawyers like him, specialized in swooping in any time there was even a flimsy pretext for doing so. I mean, there’s no way a stock could drop without malfeasance and lying on the part of management, right?
Well, no – that’s wrong. But Lerach, et al, after having put their lawsuit’s stake in the ground, would then embark on forced discovery at their target companies, essentially fishing around for a reason to justify their lawsuit.
And one doesn’t have to be a big-business apologist to find that sort of thing to be outside the bounds of fair and reasonable play.
Over the years, I’ve been the recipient of at least 50 securities class action solicitations. I received one just the other day, “In re CARDINAL HEALTH, INC. SECURITIES LITIGATION“. And while I almost never take the time to participate in these paper chases, I’ve always paid particular attention to any such action which has either “Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP” or any of the many versions of “Milberg Weiss +/-Bershad +/-Hynes +/-Lerach LLP” listed as the attorneys looking out for my “best interests”.
Because they don’t, they haven’t, and investors are simply a raw material for them and their business process. And I throw their solicitations away as soon as possible, to avoid stinking the house up.
His former partner Bershad has already pled, and if the news report is correct, Lerach’s getting ready to do the same. It’s not the Christian thing to say, but I’m not much of a Christian anyway, so I’ll hope that Milberg, Weiss, and all the rest be following them to the pokey soon after.
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