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Lerach to Leave Law Firm Aug. 31.

  Legal Careers News  -   POSTED: 2007/08/29 14:37

Pioneering class-action attorney William S. Lerach said Tuesday that Aug. 31 will be his last day at the firm that bears his name. Lerach has been dogged by a seven-year investigation by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles into allegations that his former law firm in New York paid people to sign on as plaintiffs. In June, Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins LLP said that Lerach would leave the San Diego-based firm by the end of this year to focus on fighting the allegations and to allow the new firm to move out of the shadow of the investigation.

"We decided this was going to happen some time ago, and Labor Day seemed like a good time to do it," Lerach, 61, said in an interview. "I've worked a lifetime and a half and achieved what I wanted to achieve."

The famously mop-haired attorney declined to comment on the investigation.

Lerach's previous firm, Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, was indicted in May 2006 by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles. Prosecutors allege the firm secretly paid more than $11 million in kickbacks to get people to take part in shareholder lawsuits, allowing its lawyers to be among the first to file lawsuits on behalf of shareholders and secure the lucrative position as lead plaintiffs' counsel.

The firm now known as Milberg Weiss and a former partner, Stephen Schulman, have pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges and are scheduled to be tried in January 2008.

Another former partner, David Bershad, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in July and will be sentenced early next year. Former physician Steven G. Cooperman also pleaded to a federal conspiracy charge for his role in the alleged kickback scheme.

Lerach has not been charged.


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