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Where Are the Pro Bono Attorneys When You Need Them?oximately 20 capital cases. It is unclear whether I will be paid at all, even though by Supreme Court standards this could be full-time employment for the next five years.
Last year, lawyers came to the rescue to help out their colleagues in the aftermath of Katrina. Let's not forget that some, like Doskey and his clients, still need assistance. This sounds like a neat pro bono projects for law firms, with potential for a jury trial and perhaps, down the line, an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court (which plenty of law firms are avid to obtain). Any takers?
Discovery Pays, but Sometimes, Plaintiffs Pay for Discovery
Ah, the amazing possibility of electronic discovery, which allows litigants access to every little shred of e-mail, every memo and every PDA entry ever created on the company computer. Surely, somewhere in all of those megabytes of data, a plaintiff suing for discrimination is bound to find a smoking gun. But not always, as Craig Williams of May It Please the Court describes in this post.
Williams blogs about the recent federal court decision in Claudia Quinby v. WestLB AG, No. 04 Civ. 7406, S.D. N.Y. , where the plaintiff "couldn't seem to fashion a good question to get the discovery results she wanted," even though defendants ran up nearly a quarter-million-dollar tab in an effort to respond to plaintiff's request. Consequently, as Williams writes, since "the court found that since the results were something very much less than spectacular, the Plaintiff should bear some of the cost, and shifted some $30,000.00 to her. "
As we all know, discovery can pay. And as Quimby bears out, when discovery doesn't pay, the party seeking it (in this case the plaintiff) just might pay instead.
Now, Fastow and Olis Have Something in Common: Six Years
It's not often that we're happy to get less than what we bargained for. But presumably, former Enron executive Andy Fastow is elated with the six-year prison sentence he received for his role in the criminal activity that brought the demise of Enron as reported in articles like this one at Forbes. After all, Fastow had originally agreed to a 10-year sentence in exchange for his cooperation with prosecutors, which he'd testified about in some detail during the Skilling-Lay trial.
The six-year sentence gives Fastow something in common with Jamie Olis, the midlevel Dynegy executive we blogged about here last week. But as Tom Kirkendall of Houston's Clear Thinkers writes, six years is about all the Fastow and Olis have in common. From this Kirkendall post:
Morever, as Austin defense lawyer Jamie Spencer points out in this post, Judge Lake reduced the Olis sentence to six years expressly because the fraud involved was not meant to defraud the company or its shareholders and was not meant to enrich the defendant. Seems that under Judge Lake's standard, Fastow doesn't deserve a six-year sentence, whether he cooperated or not.
So what explains the Fastow sentence? Is it simple irrationality as Kirkendall suggests? Did a good word from Enron shareholders, now involved in class action litigation against Enron that has been aided by Fastow's continued cooperation make a difference, as noted in Peter Lattman's WSJ Law Blog post? Or is this the kind of leniency that defendants can expect in exchange for cooperation with the government and foregoing rights to a jury trial, as suggested by Ellen Pogdor at the White Collar Crime Blog?
Maybe by the time Fastow and Olis are released from prison, we'll have figured out a way to punish and deter corporate crime while maintaining some semblance of fairness in our system of justice.
Why Lawyers Work -- It's Not All About the Billables
Sometimes, it's hard to remember that lawyers work for anything but money, with the focus on stratospheric associate salaries, the obsession with billable hours and the general public perception of lawyers as money-grubbers. But as Arnie Herz of Legal Sanity reminds us in this post, lawyers work not just for money. Herz cites a couple of articles that discuss why we work, including this piece, Why Do We Work? by Jenner & Block lawyer Gregory Gallopoulo s. Gallopoulos identifies many reasons that lawyers work, including intellectual growth, personal and institutional pride and recognition. He concludes:
If your legal career isn't bringing you much more than dollars, perhaps it's time you asked yourself a different question: Why am I working as a lawyer at all?