New book on Bill Lerach, “Circle of Greed”

by Walter Olson on March 3, 2010

Kim Strassel reviews it in the Wall Street Journal:

Much of the riveting detail in “Circle of Greed” comes from Mr. Lerach, who cooperated fully with the authors. They seem to buy his line that his actions were motivated by his desire to protect innocent shareholders from greedy corporations. The book’s overall argument—as the title suggests—is that it was corporate greed that created Mr. Lerach and provided a model for his ethical failings. That claim is unfair to the many honest companies who were Lerach victims and implausible in any case, thanks to the authors’ own vivid evidence of Mr. Lerach’s outsize criminal behavior.

More: At New York Times “DealBook” (via Pero), Peter Henning reviewing the same book traces Lerach’s downfall in part to the nature of his famous “I have no clients” practice:

Clients are an important constraint on lawyers, the restriction on their desire to push as hard as possible for every little victory in a case. …

When your opponent is your enemy, and you can say whatever you want because there is no client there to restrain your baser instincts, then at some point you will step over the line and perhaps eventually pay a price.

Henning also recounts Lerach’s famous vendetta against scholar/consultant Daniel Fischel (“I will destroy you”), which put the world on notice of the class actioneer’s character years before the main scandal hit.

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