Representation Without Representation
Lawyers in class action suits too often represent their clients as a sort of grudging afterthought to representing their own monetary interests. Daniel Fisher blogs at Forbes of my friend Ted Frank's appeal of a judge's award of $21 million in fees to lawyers and $6 million to those they were supposed to be representing:
For a thorough description of how a compliant judge can allow class-action lawyers to turn practically worthless coupons into a fountain of fees, read Ted Frank's appeal of a St. Louis judge's award in the A.G. Edwards case. St. Louis Judge Angela T. Quigless approved a settlement that gives lawyers at Milberg and other firms $21 million in cash but only $6 million for some customers and three annual coupons of $8.22 apiece for the rest. The judge didn't even see fit to inquire into the lawyers' valuation of the coupon portion of the settlement, despite strong evidence that less than 10% of coupons in such cases are ever redeemed. (A simple question to the lawyers might have sufficed: "If they're so valuable," Judge Quigless might have asked, "why don't you accept them at the same 100 cents on the dollar you have told the court they are worth?")
The judge did show some backbone when Frank asked her to order an inquiry into how many coupons were redeemed in a nearly identical settlement Milberg negotiated with Edward D. Jones in 2006. She rejected the request.