Monday, April 30, 2007

PCO, Inc. v. Christiansen, Miller . . . (Cal. Ct. App. - April 30, 2007)

Sure, there are lots of upsides. But there are some serious potential downsides of having a high-profile criminal defense attorney as a partner -- even a non-equity partner -- of the firm as well.

As Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro learned in this case. In which Justice Mosk reverses the grant of summary judgment to the firm below and holds that the firm might well be vicariously liable for the alleged misconduct of Robert L. Shapiro -- yes, that Robert L. Shapiro -- during the course of his representation of white-collar fraudster David Liang. Including this neat little tidbits: "Shapiro . . . directed a group of those associated with Laing to go to Laing’s residence in Palm Springs, California, and there to obtain 12 duffel bags, each containing $500,000 in cash that Shapiro knew or should have known had been unlawfully obtained . . . and some of that money was used to post bail for Laing and to pay the fees of Shapiro and the Christensen Firm. . . . . The Christensen Firm’s retainer agreement specifies a flat fee of $250,000; Shapiro testified that he told Laing and Laing’s associates that Laing’s legal fees 'could run a million dollars.'"

Duffel bags full of cash. Not a bad practice if you can get it, I guess. Unless, of course, you get sued because of it. (And, even then, there's insurance. Thank you, moral hazard.)