Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It's Good to be Rich and Powerful

Dori Klagsbald used to be one of the most important lawyers in Israel, head of a booming firm, with a client list longer than your arm and including at least two former prime ministers, and lots of speculation about his chances to be appointed to the supreme court (which would undoubtedly have meant a 6-figure pay cut). Then, about a year and a half ago, while driving recklessly, he killed Yevgenia Wexler, a young woman in her 20s, and her 6-year-old son Arthur. He was convicted, sent to jail for 15 months, and recently got out after 13 of them.

So far, so reasonable. Tragic, but reasonable. In today's The Marker there is a story (unfortunately only in Hebrew), about what happens next.

First, his seat on the supreme court has gone to his partner, Yoram Danziger, who will be seated next month. This leaves Dori alone in charge of what by Israeli standards is probably a largish-size law firm with some 40 lawyers, which he'll have to run all by himself - lots of administration. Rather than deal with all that, he apparently has decided to do what he was considering anyway before the accident, namely take a handful of the lawyers with him to a smaller firm where he'll be able to focus entirely on litigation, and the little administration that will be required, someone else will do. Ah, and of course, he'll take the entire list of clients, or at any rate all of the clients he wants to continue working with. Because, this you need to understand, apparently not one single client defected after that tragic mishap; they all stayed loyal to Dori.

All of this is of course entirely legal. The man has paid for that one horrendous mistake he made, and now really should be allowed to get on with life. Since it just so happens that he's an excellent lawyer, well, getting on with life means top-notch lawyering. Still, I'd be more comfortable if this society we live in would demand of him that he be decent, and spend his remaining decades differently. Maybe he could volunteer to run the department that supplies defense lawyers for poor criminals - that's a perennially understaffed and under budgeted department for you. Or he could teach law at the most remote college around, one of those places that serve the kids that can't afford to go anywhere better. Maybe he should found that new firm and live off the proceeds of his associates, while he does only pro-bono work. Something, anything.

Fat chance.

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