Summary: Multiple ex-law firm partners were convicted of felonies this year.
2017 has been a weird year for lawyers. According to Law.com, there has been a “rash of ex-partners” from Big Law firms earning convictions for felonies while others are in the midst of fighting charges.
Multiple criminal defense attornies told Law.com that this year has been filled with several Big Law partner convictions, but they said that this isn’t an uptick. The difference from this year and the past is that people are becoming more aware of the news because attorney cases are getting more exposure.
“Several top criminal defense attorneys acknowledged 2017 has been a year filled with notable Big Law partner convictions,” Law.com wrote. “But they said it’s probably not because the profession is any more dishonest than it was, nor due to a sharpened focus by law enforcement on attorneys in the last few years. They pointed to a string of lawyer scandals in previous decades, from tax shelter charges to insider trading schemes.”
So what makes a law partner turn to crime? One theory is that lawyers see their clients living the high life, and they want to enjoy that experience as well. Add that desire to covet with access to confidential information and loads of money, and there’s a recipe for disaster.
“Most smaller firms are not dealing with massive multidistrict litigation where you have the opportunity to hide an extra half-million in dollars in fees to a vendor,” Isabelle Kirshner, a partner at 11-attorney Clayman & Rosenberg, said. “My clients would notice if I put half a million in fees to a vendor.”
The following are some of the most notable ex-law firm partner crimes of 2017, according to Law.com:
- Keila Ravelo, a former partner of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, pled guilty on November 20 to using fake litigation support companies to embezzle millions from Willkie and her other prior employer, Hunton & Williams. She allegedly used the stolen money to fund an extravagant lifestyle.
- Former Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner, Jeffrey Wertkin, reportedly will plead guilty to trying to sell two confidential whistleblower complaints.
- Robert Schulman, a former partner at Arent Fox, was convicted in March of insider trading.
- Walter “Chet” Little, a former Foley & Lardner partner, was also accused of insider trading, and this month, he admitted to conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
- Evan Greebel, a former partner at Kaye Scholer and Katten Muchin Rosenman, is on trial for allegedly helping Pharma Bro, Martin Shkreli, steal money. Greebel pled not guilty.