Law Practice

Nixon Goodbye Inspired Lerach

Securities class action lawyer William Lerach is fessing up: The announcement of his retirement borrowed partly from Richard Nixon’s farewell speech to his staff.

Lerach said in an e-mail that he is retiring from law practice to resolve an investigation into alleged kickbacks paid to lead plaintiffs while at securities class action firm Milberg Weiss. Lerach has not been indicted, but rumor has it he is close to a plea deal with prosecutors. (See this earlier post for more information.)

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has been abuzz with posts that questioned whether Lerach borrowed from Nixon and from The Godfather II.

Lerach called Peter Lattman of WSJ Law Blog and gave him the answer: He borrowed one line from Nixon, and no comment on The Godfather.

“You’re right about the Nixon ‘au revoir’ thing,” Lerach said. “I always thought that was a great line.”

The Law Blog posted the exact lines. Nixon told his staff in 1974: “You are here to say goodbye to us, and we don’t have a good word for it in English—the best is au revoir. We’ll see you again.”

Lerach wrote: “I won’t say goodbye—it’s the wrong word. The French au revoir—until we meet again—is better.”

The mobster character in The Godfather II, talking about the death of the man who built Las Vegas, said: “This was a great man—a man of vision and guts. And there isn’t even a plaque—or a signpost—or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order. When I heard it, I wasn’t angry; I knew Moe. I knew he was headstrong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we’ve chosen.”

Lerach wrote: “I’ve also always understood that when you spend decades challenging powerful interests, the powerful interests will fight back with a vengeance. Sometimes when you take the bull by the horns, you get gored—this is the business we’ve chosen.”

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