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Tobacco Case Lawyer Opposes Higher Fees


— December 15, 2003

The lead private attorney in Massachusetts’ $8.3 billion settlement with the tobacco industry said Monday it’s “patently unethical” for his former firm to claim the full 25 percent fee agreed upon in a 1995 pact with the state.

Two of the five firms that represented Massachusetts in the landmark suit are suing the state for an additional $1.25 billion in attorneys fees on top of the $775 million that the five firms are scheduled to receive.

“That would amount to essentially paying each person who had worked on the case $27 million per year per person for the time that they were working on the case,” Thomas Sobol, a former partner with Brown Rudnick Berlack & Israels, testified in Suffolk Superior Court.

Sobol, who left Brown Rudnick in 2000, is considered the state’s star witness. It is trying to convince the jury that giving the attorneys’ 25 percent of Massachusetts’ tobacco payment over the next 25 years is not reasonable and would not reflect the level of work they did.

Under questioning from Brown Rudnick’s attorney, Sobol acknowledged that in conversations with his former partners, he had expressed concerns that pursuing the full fee would impede his ambitions of being appointed a judge.

Is it still noble to refuse such a windfall when your motivation for doing so is that you want to become a judge? Reported by the AP here.


The lead private attorney in Massachusetts’ $8.3 billion settlement with the tobacco industry said Monday it’s “patently unethical” for his former firm to claim the full 25 percent fee agreed upon in a 1995 pact with the state.

Two of the five firms that represented Massachusetts in the landmark suit are suing the state for an additional $1.25 billion in attorneys fees on top of the $775 million that the five firms are scheduled to receive.

“That would amount to essentially paying each person who had worked on the case $27 million per year per person for the time that they were working on the case,” Thomas Sobol, a former partner with Brown Rudnick Berlack & Israels, testified in Suffolk Superior Court.

Sobol, who left Brown Rudnick in 2000, is considered the state’s star witness. It is trying to convince the jury that giving the attorneys’ 25 percent of Massachusetts’ tobacco payment over the next 25 years is not reasonable and would not reflect the level of work they did.

Under questioning from Brown Rudnick’s attorney, Sobol acknowledged that in conversations with his former partners, he had expressed concerns that pursuing the full fee would impede his ambitions of being appointed a judge.

Is it still noble to refuse such a windfall when your motivation for doing so is that you want to become a judge? Reported by the AP here.

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