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A prominent Columbia Law School professor has leveled fierce criticism against a group of fellow scholars in an article set for publication in Stanford Law Review. Professor William Simon contends that professors from other law schools gave highly questionable legal advice to the detriment of some 587 plaintiffs suing Nextel Corp. for racial bias. In “ The Market for Bad Legal Advice),” Simon issues a scathing review of the law professors’ conduct that he contends was performed under conditions of secrecy and immunity from public scrutiny. Three of the law professors identified in the article are University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Geoffrey Hazard, Fordham University School of Law Professor Bruce Green and Hofstra University School of Law Professor Roy Simon. “It’s easy to take a personal attack and lash out at the person who made it,” said Roy Simon. “The last thing I want to do is get into a fight.” Green declined to comment. Messages left for Hazard were not returned. William Simon’s 52-page article currently posted on the Social Science Research Network Web site, and accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Stanford Law Review, contends that the law professors were “enablers of pernicious (and heretofore largely undiscussed) practices” that helped to protect the lawyers who hired them from accountability to the 587 plaintiffs. Specifically, William Simon’s article asserts that Nextel hired Hazard to provide an opinion regarding an agreement the company had with the plaintiffs’ law firm, Leeds Morelli & Brown in Mineola, N.Y. The agreement, according to the article, stated that the law firm would receive millions for representing the plaintiffs and that the company would retain the law firm as a legal consultant for developing its anti-discrimination policies. Hazard, according to William Simon, was hired to determine whether the agreement presented a conflict of interest for the firm for its representation of the 587 plaintiffs. The article also states that Roy Simon and Green were hired as experts for Leeds Morelli after it was sued by two plaintiffs in Colorado for malpractice. Earlier this month, a judge in the District Court of Denver found that the law firm provided sufficient disclosure of its agreement with Nextel. A jury in the same trial found in favor of the law firm on the malpractice claims. Of note is that William Simon himself was hired as an expert in the malpractice case by the plaintiffs. But he was not allowed to testify after the attorneys who hired him did not respond to a defense motion to strike him as an expert. William Simon asserts that the Nextel case is just one example of a “vast enterprise” in which lawyers and legal scholars provide dubious legal opinions and advice to shield those who hire them, to the detriment of innocent third parties. The attorney representing Leeds Morelli in the legal malpractice action in Denver called William Simon’s involvement in the case “troubling.” “Judges and juries � not self-ordained ‘experts’ � are the arbiters of whether legal advice is good or bad,” said Tracy Van Pelt, Leeds Morelli’s attorney.

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