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For more than 20 years, William S. Lerach was the most feared lawyer in America. He and his former firm, Milberg Weiss, were Jedi masters of security law, targeting Fortune 500 companies for corporate fraud and recovering a staggering $45 billion in judgments.

Tough and relentless, plaintiffs saw him as a savior, successfully suing WorldCom, Tyco, Disney,Merrill Lynch and Enron, among others. Lerach brought down high-flying CEOs and companies that routinely cooked the books to keep executives rich and shareholders broke. Famous for his class-action suits and novel legal tactics, he was the scourge of big business, forcing many companies, terrified of being “Lerached,” to settle out of court rather than fight.

In January 2008, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice, admitting he paid a few regular plaintiffs millions in kickbacks to instigate cases that netted the firm some $200 million over two decades. (No plaintiff can benefit more than others in class-action suits.) He was fined nearly $8 million and sentenced to two years in prison.  He was just released in March 2010.
Lerach was famous for tracking stock prices — charting fluctuations against optimistic statements and insider selling — before a stock crashed. If company chiefs cashed in while investors lost their savings, Lerach smelled blood. If public investments were fueled by false claims, the charge was “fraud on the market.” Plus, any investment bank and Big 8 accounting firm that aided and abetted the principles were charged as secondary participants, unleashing a legal juggernaut.

Bill talks about himself,   the legal profession, and  his contributions on behalf of investors everywhere.
If there was ever a modern Greek tragedy about a man and his times, about corporate arrogance and illusions and the scorched-earth tactics to not only counteract corporate America but to beat it at its own game, Bill Lerach's story is it.

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