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Partners: Void Our Unethical Law Firm Sale

Posted Oct 16, 2007 2:55 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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After paying $1 million to a former partner for his share of their Long Island law firm, several New York lawyers tried to void the buyout agreement as unethical and get their money back.

A state judge, however, refused to save them from themselves. First of all, their agreement to pay Selwyn Karp $1.2 million in installments over eight years wasn't unethical and didn't violate public policy, ruled New York Supreme Court Judge Leonard B. Austin. And even if it had, his opinion continues, the partners were equitably barred from contesting the validity of their own agreement, reports New York Lawyer (reg. req.), reprinting a New York Law Journal article.

"A party who avails itself of the bargain is estopped from contesting its willing participation in the agreement," Austin writes. "Six and a half years after the parties had entered into the agreement and after substantially all the payments due under the terms have been paid, plaintiffs seek to void the agreement. This cannot be permitted."

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, who practice with Silver, Glinkenhouse, Floumanhaft & Queen, says they intend to appeal the decision by the state supreme court.

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