Call it a Comeback: Mel Weiss Wants Back in the GameBruce Green in The Wall Street Journal, June 22, 2011
by Nathan Koppel
Famed securities class action lawyer Melvyn Weiss used to sit at — or very near — the top of the legal pyramid, thanks to the billions in fraud settlements his old firm, Milberg Weiss, helped engineer.
Weiss, of course, tumbled from that perch, after pleading guilty in 2008 in connection with a scheme to pay kickbacks to investors to entice them to serve as lead plaintiffs in securities class actions.
Weiss served time in prison and then a halfway house. The last time we looked in on Weiss, over a year ago, he was honing his golf game, doing charitable work and reflecting on his time behind bars, according to a Bloomberg profile.
But now, Weiss is chomping at the bit to get to work, as a mediator, according to this New York Times profile.
Although Weiss, 75, lost his law license and was disbarred when he pleaded guilty to a felony, he recently mailed letters to about 200 of his former colleagues seeking work as a mediator, according to the Times.
“Despite the upheavals in my own life, I am happy to report that my body and spirit are in great shape, and I am motivated to be as productive as ever,” Weiss wrote. “Bottom line, I am available to mediate or arbitrate significant disputes.”
Not all are convinced of the wisdom of Weiss’s second act. “I am not so confident that it is permissible for a disbarred lawyer to serve as a mediator and expressly draw on his prior legal experience, as Mr. Weiss appears to be doing,” Bruce Green, a legal ethics professor at Fordham University, told the Times.
But most legal experts, the Times reports, say Weiss is ethically in the clear since non-lawyers are allowed to serve as mediators.