23Dec

    South Florida Law Firm Convicted Of Fraud

    Derek ByrdThis month, six attorneys were convicted in a case that included a billion dollar fraud from partners and lawyers at a South Florida firm. The organization’s ex administrator helped prosecutors pin down the attorneys involved in the scheme, in exchange for cutting down her prison stay from ten to five years. 

    The administrator, Debra Villagas, is now working with prosecutors in order to appeal her plea bargain to the U.S. District Judge William Zloch.  However, if Villagas and her lawyers succeed, that would mean that the firm’s CFO would also be released sooner than expected  in the upcoming year. 

    The former partner of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, is scheduled to serve a 50 year sentence in the federal prison system, but insiders are saying that his time might also be cut short if he chooses to cooperate with federal agents. 

    Villagas has helped convict a total of six lawyers from RRA, one from another firm in South Florida and civilians who are not involved in the justice system. Villaga’s scheduled court date in relation to the Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler  case interfered with her appearance in court for her husband’s murder case.

    In a report by the Sun Sentinel, a former county sheriff lieutenant was also placed under arrest for acting as one of Rothstein’s “enforcers.” In a claim, the lieutenant was accused of falsely arresting the ex- spouse of one of Rothstein’s lawyers in order for him to gain full custody of his son. This all came into light after Villegas was placed under questioning from federal agents. 

    After RRA’s case became public in 2008, the firm went through a great deal of financial difficulties, until it  declared bankruptcy in early 2009. The investors who were deceived by the law firm, were awarded close to $67 million on behalf of disbarred attorney Scott Rothstein. 

    21Nov

    5 Myths Regarding Practicing Law

    imgresPeople who don’t practice law tend to have a preconceived notion of what a lawyer actually does or how he actually got to become a lawyer. It leads to many myths tied to law or lawyers. Lets take a look at five myths that are tied to practicing law according to aboutcareers.com.

    1. Becoming a lawyer is a guaranteed path to financial success:
    Not every lawyer is comfortable financially. For one, after attending those additional years of schooling, a lawyer has far for student debt than say someone who received their traditional four year degree and went right to work. Lawyers do not just catch on anywhere and receive a job. The most financially comfortable lawyers work for the largest firms in the world. These firms tend to have over 100 attorneys and make up 1% of all law firms.

    2. As a lawyer, I can eradicate injustice and affect societal change:
    Litigation is not clear cut in the sense that good trumps evil. Because you’re client did the right thing or was victimized is only half the battle. If you don’t play the law strategically, you can still lose despite your client being innocent. You still have to present a valid case and play your hand. More often than not, cases end up in compromise rather than right defeating wrong.

    3. I will make a great lawyer because I am good at arguing:
    Just because you can always strike a good argument and make a great conversation out of it does not mean you’re cut out to be a lawyer. You have to be logical, do research and essentially persuade a jury or judge that what you’re preaching makes sense and actually happened.

    4. Litigators lead a thrilling, high-powered and glamorous life:
    With so many law shows out there like Suits, Law and Order, or Franklin and Bash, its easy to think that all these lawyers live thrilling and extremely comfortable life. That however is not the case. Lawyers are not actually in a courtroom as often as you think they are. Practicing law requires a lot of research done on your own from your office. Less than 1% of all cases go to trial.

    5. The work of a lawyer is intellectually challenging:
    Lawyers are constantly doing the same practices over and over that the work is actually mundane. Newer lawyers in large firms are often in charge of doing a large portion of the work which can become mind numbing.

    19Nov

    Social Media’s Effect on Criminal Trial Law

    imgresThe OJ Simpson trial in the 90s was important for a number of reasons, not least of all as a signifier of the powerful effect of mass media on a trial. High-profile cases are now regularly featured in tabloids and popular online news aggregators.

    A recent study, Public Engagement with the Criminal Justice System in the Age of Social Media, examines this same topic 20 years later, in a world where mass media is much different, and much more pervasive.

    The study links the media’s portrayal of criminal trials to the dwindling of public confidence in the country’s criminal justice system. Researchers looked examined a host of data points for participants, including news reading sources and habits, knowledge about major recent criminal trials, and overall trust in the criminal justice system at large.

    The study’s abstract claims that the study is the first look at social media’s impact, specifically. If that’s true, it’s amazing researchers have waited so long. We have to imagine it won’t be the last study of its kind.

    Ultimately, the study finds that social media coverage and conversation about criminal trials do not enhance public knowledge, and does nothing to increase confidence in the overall system. What does tend to increase when the public engages in social media surrounding a trial, is a “greater desire for vengeance and encouragement of vigilante attitudes and behavior.” The conclusion adds that the advent of ‘cyber vigilantism’ may have been born, in part, from this effect. Noble motives, but potentially harmful actions.

    As we each make choices about how we use the internet to enhance and enrich our lives, we need to consider how it’s affecting us and our perceptions of our world.

    You can download the entire study here. [http://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/325/471]