Like lilacs and hurricanes elsewhere in the country, spring’s transition to summer brings its own annual rite to Southern California: prosecutorial convulsions in the seemingly endless Milberg Weiss case.

On Wednesday, four top-level partners from the firm spent an hour in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles trying to negotiate a deal. That session came amid a downpour of rumors and media reports raising new questions about the firm, its lead partner, Melvyn Weiss, and William Lerach, the former star partner whom prosecutors have been after for nearly eight years — and who may now be stepping away from the firm.