The signs of trouble were present at least three years ago. That’s when Deputy Attorney General Yeoryios Apallas first raised concerns that the lawyers working on the $500 million-plus estate of Larry Hillblom might see the case as a goose that would lay many a golden egg.

“Although we find the potential retention of Morrison & Foerster as new bank counsel refreshing, we wish to urge caution in the involvement of a 550-member law firm,” Apallas wrote in a Nov. 29, 1996, filing. “With that many mouths to feed, we doubt seriously that the estate will be getting a bargain for the services performed.”

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