The Year's 10 Most Infamous Lawyers

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Lawyers do not enjoy the best of reputations. Some people hate them just by default.

But behind every cliche is a kernel of truth, and each year brings no shortage of lawyer scandals.

Examples this year range from Pepperdine Law grad Rod Blagojevich’s exit from the Illinois governorship to Florida lawyer Scott Rothstein’s confiscated boats to Bernie Madoff’s niece Shana, who was a little too close to the family business. Add in a few judges behaving badly, and all bases for lawyers behaving badly are covered. 

Click here to see 2009’s 10 Most Infamous Attorneys>>>

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title=”Paul Bergrin”
content=”He was a well-known New Jersey criminal defence attorney and a former federal prosecutor, but he is now on the other side of the law.

Federal prosecutors say Paul Bergin had a wintess killed in a drug case, hired a hit man to kill another, and used a Newark restaurant as front for a cocaine ring. He was arrested in May and indicted in Newark in November, charged with conspiracy and murder.

Bergrin’s touch tactics are legendary. ‘No witness, no case,’ he reportedly said.”
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title=”Rod Blagojevich”
content=”The year began with a January impeachment from the governorship of Illionis for Rod Blagojevich, who was accused of trying to sell Barack Obama’s seat on the Senate.

In April, he was charged with 16 corruption felonies.

Blagojevich did have some fun this year — though the judge would not let him appear on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, he was given approval to appear in Celebrity Apprentice.

Blogojevich graduated from Pepperdine Law and and was a prosecutor in Illinois, so he should be well-eqipped to aid in his own defence.”
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title=”Marc Dreir”
content=”Harvard Law graduate Marc Drier was known as a ‘litigation powerhouse’ who worked at prominent law firms before starting his own, Dreier L.L.P.

But in July he was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to conducting an elaborate scheme — creating bogus documents included — to defraud clients and hedge funds out of $400 million.

His firm collapsed nearly immediately once is indiscretions came to light, leaving 250 attorneys looking for new work.

His legal career officially came to an end when he was finally disbarred in October.”
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[slide
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title=”Gene Cauley”
content=”Arkansas attorney Steven Eugene ‘Gene’ Cauley plead guilty in June to wire fraud and criminal contempt for failing to properly maintain settlement monies. He was also ordered to pay more than $8.8 million in restitution.

He was one of the country’s top young attorneys in 2005, but ran into trouble when he wired proceeds from a $65.8 million settlement into an escrow account he controlled. When time came to pay the clients their settlement amounts, he did not have the money.

The WSJ Law Blog covered Cauley’s story here.”
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title=”Arthur Cutillo”
content=”Several lawyers are wrapped up in the ongoing hedge fund insider trader scandal, but Arthur Cutillo has the distinction of being the first named that hails from a big name firm.

Cutillo was an associate at Ropes & grey until his November arrest, and is accused of providing confidential information obtained through his work as a litigator to co-defendants who used the information to make illegal trades.

Cutillo is a 2005 graduate of Villinova law and was an litigation associate, focusing on intellectual property.”
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title=”Judge Samuel Kent”
content=”After years of rumours about his somewhat ungentlemanly-like behaviour, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Samuel Kent, a federal judge from Texas, in June, because ‘he abused his power and lied to cover up sexual assaults on two women who worked for him in Galveston.’

Those proceedings came after Kent plead guilty to obstructing justice and for lying to a judicial panel about the same incidents. Kent admitted he assaulted the two women, and was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison.

He was the first federal judge to go to prison since 1991.”
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permalink=”shana-madoff-7″
title=”Shana Madoff”
content=”Shana Madoff worked for the family business, serving as compliance director at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities.

Having been in charge of compliance for the firm out of which your uncle perpetrated the largest Ponzi scheme in history inevitably leads to a fair amount of legal trouble. In October, Madoff was named by the trustee for the Madoff victims in a $200 million lawsuit that also tags her father, aunt and two cousins.

The suit alleges she improperly received more than $10 million.

Shana graduated from Fordham Law. In happier times, Madoff was featured in New York Magazine for her love of Narciso Rodriguez.”
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title=”Judge Thomas Porteus, Jr.”
content=”Louisiana federal judge Thomas J. Porteus listened to testimony in front of the House Judiciary in November that he routinely asked for cash and gifts from lawyers appearing before him, in part to pay for his $150,000 credit card debt.

The hearings are just a first step toward potential impeachment.

The fall hearings were a long time coming — in 2007 the Fifth Circuit recommended his impeachment; at that time he had been under criminal investigation for several years, though he was never indicted.”
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title=”Scott Rothstein”
content=”Florida lawyer Scott Rothstein offered to voluntarily give up his law licence in November.

Disbarment was likely an inevitability for Rothstein, who was arrested earlier this month on fraud and racketeering charges for allegedly operating a $1 billion investment scheme involving fake lawsuit settlements.

Rothstein drew a lot of attention for his high-flying lifestyle. Prior to is arrest he fled to Morocco, and authorities have already seized several of his homes and some of his toys, including sports cars and power boats.”
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title=”Howard K. Stern”
content=”Howard K. Stern first entered the notorious category when he appeared with Anna Nicole Smith on her reality show, identified as her attorney.

He eventually became her constant companion (at least publicly) until her death in 2007.

But this year brought more problems for Stern. He and two doctors were charged in March for felonies related to conspiring to furnish Smith drugs.

Following weeks of testimony by psychiatrists, pharmacists and the father of Smith’s baby, a judge ruled in October that Stern must stand trial.

Though Stern’s legal career may have become the butt of jokes, at the time of the charging the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog posed some real legal questions, including whether Stern would be removed as executor of Smith’s estate.”
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[slide
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title=”Don’t Miss…”
content=”Top 10 Celebrity Lawyers
and
10 Huge Law Firm Collapses of The Decade
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