Matthew Lickona 7 a.m., April 24
Ex-Lerach Law Firm Criticized for Role in Inquiry Commission
The Wall Street Journal of today (Jan. 13) states that some business interests are criticizing the role of San Diego law firm Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins in the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Byron Georgiou, who is "of counsel" to the firm, is one of the ten commissioners. Christopher Seefer, a partner, is on leave to serve as a senior staffer of the commission. The law firm itself and its partners are well qualfied to investigate the collapse of the financial system, in my opinion, but business pressure groups are pointing out that the firm has dubious connections. It was formerly named Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins. That was after the breakup of the firm Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, which had headquarters in New York and San Diego. The major partners were Melvyn Weiss in New York and William Lerach in San Diego. The firm, known for aggressive tactics in lawsuits against corporations, broke up and Lerach launched the Lerach Coughlin firm. But then Weiss and Lerach pleaded guilty to participating in a kickback scheme with clients at Milberg Weiss, and both were sentenced to prison. Lerach's name was, of course, dropped from the Coughlin Stoia firm.
Georgiou is a prominent Democrat, having served as legal affairs secretary to Gov. Jerry Brown. In 2008, he donated to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards, as well as to a group of senators and Nancy Pelosi.