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Legal Ethics

Lawyer Who ‘Worked’ 1,286 Days in a Year: ‘Common Practice’

Posted Feb 15, 2008 5:40 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: A lawyer who was reported as simultaneously working as a full-time employee for five different Long Island school districts in order to qualify for a government pension and other benefits says such arrangements were common practice.

Lawrence W. Reich actually was in private practice and representing the five districts as their legal counsel, reports Newsday. However, the arrangement—under which he was credited, for example, with working 1,286 days in 1999 as a full-time employee for the five districts—"enabl[ed] him to earn a public pension of nearly $62,000 and health benefits for life," the newspaper writes.

At the same time, his law firm earned legal fees of $2.5 million. Both school district officials and Reich's law firm, Ingerman Smith of Northport, N.Y., were aware of the arrangement, according to Newsday.

State auditors and several lawyers interviewed by the newspaper have questioned the practice, which may violate an Internal Revenue Service rule against being paid as an employee and as an independent contractor for the same job, according to Newsday.

But Reich says he has done nothing wrong. "I followed essentially a practice that was very common among my colleagues in the industry," he tells Newsday. Additionally, he notes, "I don't file these papers" submitted by the school districts on his behalf. "I don't have the faintest idea what they're filing for me."

As discussed in a Feb. 19 ABAJournal.com post, a follow-up Newsday article says that new issues have been raised for Reich as a result of the initial Newsday story about the situation.

And a subsequent Feb. 21 ABAJournal.com post discusses parallel federal and state investigations that are now ongoing over Reich's reported multiple employment.

Updated at 1:30 p.m., Feb. 19 and 4:50 p.m., Feb. 21.

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