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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Are Big Law Firms Feeling the Pain?

Our pal Robby Scott Hill is always coming up with interesting stuff at his Novationeering blog. His recent post about the noted Birmingham law firm Bradley Arant caught my eye.

Hill notes that Bradley Arant failed in its efforts to get Luther Strange elected lieutenant governor or Drayton Nabers as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The firm, Hill writes, has continued to hemorrhage cash as it supports the unpopular policies the Business Council of Alabama.

The fallout? A large law firm in Nashville wanted to merge with Bradley Arant but backed out when its due-diligence investigation revealed the shaky state of financial affairs at the Birmingham firm.

"The once financially solid firm has now become highly leveraged in order to support the lifestyles and failed political ambitions of its partners," Hill writes. Ouch!

Actually, we love this kind of stuff at Legal Schnauzer. You see, when my criminally inclined neighbor filed a bogus lawsuit against me, I made the mistake of turning to a "top-tier," downtown Birmingham firm--the esteemed Lange Simpson.

Jesse P. Evans III, a partner at Lange Simpson, took my case and assigned most of the work to an associate, Michael B. Odom. Between them, Evans and Odom accomplished two things--billing me with frightening regularity (to the tune of about $12,000) and kowtowing to the desires of corrupt Shelby County Judge J. Michael Joiner. In the process, Evans and Odom blew copious amounts of smoke up my fanny in an effort to make me think they had my best interests at heart--when in fact they were serving as Joiner's lap dogs.

How did I know this? For one, they refused to file a counterclaim on my behalf--even though my neighbor had trespassed against my wife and me in about as blatant a way as possible. Under the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, the direction of a case is determined by the client--in this case, me. If a client directs an attorney to take a lawful course of action, the attorney is obligated under the law to do as he is told. Evans and Odom flat out refused to follow my lawful directions.

I offered to deal with Evans and Odom in a fair way. I told them it had become clear that they could not represent me thoroughly and aggressively, so I asked them to return my money and I would be on my way--seeking a lawyer who could represent me as he or she was required to under the law. Evans and Odom and the kind folks at Lange Simpson refused this request, so I sued them for legal malpractice.

My allegations against Lange Simpson are not exactly breaking news. They are a matter of public record, and anyone can go to the Jefferson County Courthouse and read my complaint against the firm.

I will be dealing with the actions and inactions of Evans and Odom in great detail later on. I also will show how a Jefferson County judge--Shelby County is not the only place in Alabama with corrupt judges--violated well-established law in order to protect his cronies at a big Birmingham firm.

But for now, excuse me while I chuckle as Hill recounts the troubles at Bradley Arant. (By the way, I should mention that Lange Simpson, unlike Bradley Arant, did manage to merge with an out-of-state firm. The place is now called Adams & Reese/Lange Simpson. And Evans and Odom bolted for another high-end firm, Haskell Slaughter. I don't know much about Haskell Slaughter, but I would suggest they should be more careful about the company they keep.)

Back to Bradley Arant. Hill seems to take special delight in tossing this dagger at the stuffed shirts:

Just when the firm thought things couldn’t get any worse, Bradley partner and former President of the Alabama State Bar, Gary C. Huckaby was sentenced to Federal Prison for committing lewd and indecent acts on Public Land in the Joe Wheeler Wildlife Refuge. He had represented Time Magazine and the University of Alabama in their civil suit against former Crimson Tide Coach Mike Price who had been railroaded by wealthy but dissident alumni and football boosters who did not like him.

It wouldn't be such a bad thing, Hill seems to be saying, if a few big-money law firms went down the tubes. Based on what I've seen from Lange Simpson, I couldn't agree more. More from Hill:

As old money law firms like Bradley, Arant continue to be mismanaged and continue to travel on a course heading for failure, the market is now wide open for socially responsible firms to seize their market share. The impending failure of Bradley, Arant, Rose and White, LLP is welcome news to the Workers of Alabama.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haskell Slaughter is a big-time Democrat firm that's got lots of Siegelman cronies -- so there's a connection for you.