Paul L. Caron

Monday, January 3, 2011

NYU Prof, Paid $950/Hour by BP, Vouches for Fund Administrator Feinberg, BP-Paid Law Professor Vouches for Feinberg on Gulf Spill Work:

A law professor being paid $950 an hour with BP's money has declared that the czar of the $20 billion claims fund for Gulf oil spill victims is independent of the oil giant.

Fund administrator Ken Feinberg said Thursday he has agreed to pay NYU professor Stephen Gillers for his advice. Since being hired, Gillers has written a letter stating that Feinberg is neutral and not subject to BP's direction or control.

(Hat Tip: Jack Bogdanski.)

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But doesn't Gillers have to say something is unethical every now and then, just to keep up his personal credibility?

Posted by: mike livingston | Jan 3, 2011 2:46:30 PM

I guess BP bought a good opinion.

Posted by: Sid | Jan 3, 2011 2:35:04 PM

Anybody notice the common thread here but me?

Posted by: robertsgt40 | Jan 3, 2011 11:58:58 AM

I'm sure they could find a professional liar willing to work for less than $950/hr.

Posted by: j r | Jan 3, 2011 11:43:22 AM

Anyone check to see if he's made any political contributions in the past decade or so?

Posted by: jorgxmckie | Jan 3, 2011 11:19:30 AM

Hearing a lawyer (or journalist) talk about the value of ethics rings about as true as a prostitute praising the value of chastity. In the end, they're all whores.

Posted by: Larry J | Jan 3, 2011 10:34:14 AM

I have often seen Gillers quoted but I do not know what his speciality is. Ethics?

Gillers wrote: "You are not in an attorney-client relationship with BP. You are an independent administrator and owe none of the attributes of the attorney-client relationship (e.g., loyalty, confidentiality) to BP. By 'independent' I mean (and I think the context is clear) that you are independent of BP. You are not subject to its direction or control."

Perhaps it is unfair - Gillers is defining independence in its most technical legal sense. Perhaps this is why so many people have a low opinion of "legal ethics." It focuses ethical rules - what can I do without being criticized rather than doing what is right and moral.

The actual bill was $950 plus $475 for an assistant. I am put in mind of when Enron paid for legal tax opinions that allowed it to turn future tax results into current income. Several fees were on the $1 million level, which seemed far in excess of any hourly charges.

The public finds just one other reason to hold lawyers in contempt - the impression is that the client paid beaucoup bucks to some lawyer who apparently do anything for money. How many lawyer jokes does that remind you of?

Posted by: Ed D | Jan 3, 2011 10:30:33 AM

It is amazing what passes for ethics amongst lawyers.

Posted by: Dr. K | Jan 3, 2011 10:26:24 AM

Are country. I remember how in elementary school we would read of laughable immorality in the Roman times, and how I couldn't believe a society would allow such behavior, but here we are. American culture is about one thing and one thing only -- money. And today that money is earned at other people's and society's expense.

Posted by: anon | Jan 3, 2011 10:25:02 AM

Time for a second opinion. I'll tackle this task myself for $905 per hour. Looks to be about 18 months work in order to be thorough. Please advise.

Posted by: Watson | Jan 3, 2011 10:24:31 AM

Followed the link to the man's bio and it seems he's written some interesting stuff.
"Regulation of Lawyers: Problems of Law and Ethics (Aspen Law & Business 8th ed., 2009)"
I guess $950 an hour is no problem ... if you have no ethics.

Posted by: middleagedhousewife | Jan 3, 2011 10:16:59 AM