Where Were the Lawyers?

While our economy crumbles, the American public observes like lemmings as the Wall Street criminals who executed the greatest financial fraud in history add insult to our collective injury by continuing to openly steal billions. Only now, instead of conning the world into believing that their excrement is some sort of sophisticated securities derivative too complex for non-Streeters to comprehend, they are referring to their cash grab as “bonuses.” Relatively insignificant sociopaths like Bernie Madoff can only aspire to sit at the desks of these miscreants whose greed may still prove monumental enough to bring us all to ruin. We at Hanover Legal are certainly not the first to ask whether and when members of our legal community should have recognized and tried to put a stop to the epic Wall Street slight of hand. However, we viewed our function as limited to servicing the financiers to whatever extent we were paid to do so, and as long as Moody’s and S&P were signing off on these transactions with their highest ratings, who were we to raise an eyebrow?

But to what extent can attorneys credibly claim ignorance when the perpetrator of massive fraud is their own attorney colleague and full-time employer? Which brings us to the alleged crimes of Marc Dreier, formerly the sole equity and managing partner of Dreier LLP, the now defunct New York law firm that only two months ago employed two hundred and fifty lawyers. To put the question another way, how is it possible that another sociopath this time with a law degree was able to enlist an army of attorneys while perpetrating millions of dollars of fraud under the guise of the practice of law, all the while maintaining an excessively lavish lifestyle even by successful major law firm partner standards? Can it be that Mr. Dreier was such a skillful con artist that he was able to fool every one of the lawyers on his payroll? Does it not stand to reason that at least one of these attorneys had an inkling that he was not your typical hard working litigator?

As of today, only about 100 of Mr. Dreier’s former lawyer-employees have been able to secure work at other firms. Given the overwhelming glut of attorneys on the market, there is little hope that any of his remaining attorney-colleagues will find new major law firm employment in the near future. It is our hope that some of these still jobless lawyers will take this crisis as an opportunity to engage in a field other than the practice of law, and that this time around they will be circumspect and fortunate enough to lend their talents and energies to good and honest enterprises.

We at Hanover Legal also see the current upheaval as an opportunity to assist in the substantial major law firm restructurings now underway at virtually all BigLaw firms, encouraging the implementation of potent internal oversight committees consisting ideally of former prosecutors fresh out of the elite offices of the United States Department of Justice. Indeed, it is our prediction that given the certain upcoming onslaught of white collar criminal prosecutions of indefinite breadth and duration and the ever decreasing tolerance for criminal behavior at our major firms, those with the strongest white collar criminal groups and internal oversight committees will be best positioned to thrive in our post Wall Street world.

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