Fresh out of prison, disgraced securities plaintiffs attorney Bill Lerach has returned to the public light.
On April 12, Lerach is scheduled to speak at a University of San Diego School of Law panel titled "Where is Corporate and Securities Litigation Headed Post-Crisis?" The evening event, which is free, is being organized by the school's Center for Corporate and Securities Law, which launched in January in response to the current financial meltdown.
On March 8, Lerach was released from a prison term of two years. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy as part of the federal government's criminal probe alleging that members of his former firm, Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach, now called Milberg, paid kickbacks to lead plaintiffs in securities class actions. Lerach had been serving his sentence in home confinement since Dec. 26, 2009.
The upcoming event in San Diego will address trends in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, including changes in state court filings in Delaware and strategies used in securities class actions against financial institutions in federal courts. In addition to Lerach, the panelists are Brian Cheffins, professor of corporate law at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Law, and Frank Partnoy, professor of law and finance at the University of San Diego School of Law.
Partnoy, who is director of the school's Center for Corporate and Securities Law, defended his decision to include Lerach, noting that a recent book was released chronicling the lawyer's career. That book, "Circle of Greed: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Lawyer Who Brought Corporate America To Its Knees," includes interviews with Lerach. Partnoy also said that none of the panelists is being paid for the event.
Still, he anticipated that Lerach's criminal past would come up in discussion at the event.
"He's going to be at a public forum, and he will be exposed to a large audience and people certainly will have the opportunity to ask him questions," he said. "But I think if we have people who are smart and knowledgeable, even if they have been convicted of a crime and served that time, that doesn't seal them off from these kinds of events. And so he has been one of the highest-profile, smartest, and most knowledgeable lawyers in the country."