When its California operation split off in 2004, the leaders of Milberg Weiss had a choice: Break up their partnership and form a new firm, or continue as the same entity.

Dissolving would have triggered massive capital payouts to former partners, but almost certainly would have saved the new firm from liability for wrongdoing committed prior to the breakup. The firm and its top partners, at the time, had been under criminal investigation for five years.

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