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LOS ANGELES � Of the more than 150 letters requesting that a federal judge grant leniency to securities plaintiffs’ lawyer William S. Lerach last week, most come from some of the nation’s most prominent lawyers, judges and law professors. Lerach, a former partner at Milberg Weiss, was sentenced to two years in federal prison as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors reached last year. About 20 current and former lawyers and employees at Lerach’s former firms � Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins of San Diego and Milberg Weiss of New York � filed letters supporting him. Although none of the name partners of Coughlin Stoia wrote letters, several other partners did, including Randi Bandman, Helen L. Hodges, G. Paul Howes, Keith F. Park and Henry Rosen. Among the most prominent plaintiffs’ lawyers to write letters were Martin Chitwood, a partner at Chitwood Harley Harnes in Atlanta; Samuel “Skip” Keesal, partner at Keesal, Young & Logan in Long Beach, Calif.; and Sherrie R. Savett, chairwoman of the securities litigation department at Philadelphia-based Berger & Montague. Following Lerach’s example Steve Berman, managing partner of Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, said he decided to start his own firm partly because of Lerach’s teachings and example. A few prominent defense lawyers advocated for Lerach, including Gregory Markel, chairman of the litigation department at New York-based Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; Tower Snow, former chairman of now-defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison; Jerold Solovy, chairman emeritus of Chicago’s Jenner & Block and Brad S. Karp, co-chairman of the litigation department at New York’s Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

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