Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Enron's lawyers made almost $1 million a week...

Every year lawyers who represent workingmen and workingwomen are attacked. Usually, corporations attack lawyers who are willing to work for nothing until their effort yields a benefit for a client. That’s how the contingency fee works. Corporations don’t like the contingency fee because it allows workingmen and workingwomen to get good representation, which “levels the playing field.”

Today, in the criminal trial of Enron executives, Ken Lay and Jeffery Skilling, Enron’s corporate counsel took the witness stand. The Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins LLC represented Enron for years and earned "$40 million in fees annually.” Think about that for a moment: “$40 million in fees annually.”

In Enron Law Firm Probed Complaints,” Kristen Hays, Associated Press Business Writer, reports that Enron asked Vinson & Elkins to conduct an investigation of the fraud they are on trail for:

“Max Hendrick III, a partner with the Houston law firm Vinson & Elkins LLC who helped conduct the investigation, testified during the criminal fraud and conspiracy trial of Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling that the firm would have had to bow out if a more extensive probe were required because of its relationship with Enron.”
Was this a set-up, or what? It defies the imagination, how anyone paid almost $1 million a week could be independent. Can you imagine the average-guy being allowed to call his lawyer to the witness stand to say, "I investigated what Average Joe did, and I can truthfully say he didn't commit a crime." Maybe in the corporate world of Lear jets, martini lunches, and exotic getaways, $40 million is chump change. But, there you have it - the world of corporate lawyers.

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