Lerach may quit as investigators close in

One of the most influential class action lawyers in the US, William Lerach, is considering leaving the firm he founded only three years ago.

A meeting was called at the San Diego firm Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robins earlier this week, in which Lerach reportedly disclosed that he is mulling over a departure from the firm.

It is understood the decision to quit may be part of a deal to clear Lerach’s firm from federal prosecutors’ investigations into allegations of kickbacks paid to class action plaintiffs.

Lerach’s former firm Milberg Weiss & Bershad and two of its partners, David Bershad and Steven Schulman, were charged last year, accused of making in excess of $11m (£5.56m) in secret payments to individuals who served as plaintiffs in more than 150 lawsuits.

Both Milberg Weiss name partner Melvyn Weiss and Lerach were not indicted despite them being the main targets of the investigation.

If Lerach does step down his departure will fall during the most high-profile case he has worked on to date – the shareholder lawsuit against the Wall Street banks that acted as advisers to Enron before its collapsed into bankruptcy in 2001.