Kudlow’s Money Politics

What Goes Around Comes Around

Terrific op/ed in today’s Wall Street Journal on Milberg Weiss.

’As the nation’s premier filer of class action lawsuits, Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP has long presented itself as a fearless watchdog of America’s financial markets. Milberg lawyers are famed for their skill at seizing on missteps by the businesspeople they sue — a missed earnings projection, an omitted disclosure, a too-rosy accounting practice — and portraying them as evidence not of inadvertent or technical slip-ups, but of systematic and brazen crookedness.

All the while, if one is to credit the 102-page indictment by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles last week, Milberg Weiss was passing at least $11 million in payoffs under the table to plaintiffs in its suits. Since such payoffs are baldly illegal, prosecutors claim the firm took elaborate steps to keep them concealed from judges and othe…

…Milberg and partners David Bershad and Steven Schulman (who have taken leaves of absence from the firm) flatly deny the charges and say they’re victims of overzealous prosecution. There’s irony in this — since the firm is known for zealous tactics akin to those it’s now facing, such as the use of charges under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) law.

…The two celebrity lawyers who made Milberg famous, Melvyn Weiss and the now-departed William Lerach, have thus far escaped indictment: Of course, if they were prosecuting such a case, they would miss no opportunity to insinuate that misconduct by part of a team of top executives must have been at least tolerated by the others, that the rot goes straight to the top, that senior partners turned a convenient blind eye to signs of misconduct because they profited handsomely from that misconduct, and so for…’

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Illegal leaks of classified information should be treated as a serious offense. But they would be easier to prevent if less information were classified.