William S. Lerach
Lecturer, Writer and Investor advocate
For decades, Mr. Lerach was one of the leading securities lawyers in the United States. He headed up the prosecution of hundreds of securities class and stockholder derivative actions which resulted in billions of dollars of recoveries for defrauded shareholders from Wall Street banks, big accounting firms, corporations and insurance companies. Mr. Lerach has been the subject of considerable media attention and is a frequent commentator on economic and political matters and securities and corporate law.
Mr. Lerach was involved in many of the largest and highest profile securities class action and corporate derivative suits in recent years, including Enron, Dynegy, Qwest, WorldCom and AOLTW. The $7 billion recovery he obtained for the Enron stockholders was the largest stockholder recovery in history. He was featured in the Oscar-nominated 2006 documentary, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.” For years he was listed in “Best Lawyers in America.” Mr. Lerach frequently lectured on class and derivative actions, accountants’ liability, and attorneys’ fees, and has been a guest lecturer at Stanford University, University of California at Los Angeles and at San Diego, Harvard, University of Pittsburgh, San Diego State University Law Schools, the Council of Institutional Investors and the International Corporate Governance Network.
Mr. Lerach has testified before federal and state legislative committees concerning corporate governance and securities matters and is frequently quoted in the national media regarding corporate issues. He has published numerous articles and op-ed pieces, including “Achieving Corporate Governance Enhancements Through Litigation,” keynote address to Council of Institutional Investors spring meeting, Mar. 27, 2001; “Why Insiders Get Rich, and the Little Guy Loses,” L.A. Times, Jan. 20, 2002; “The Alarming Decline in The Quality of Financial Reporting”; “The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost: How Wall Street, the Big Accounting Firms and Corporate Interests Chloroformed Congress and Cost America’s Investors Trillions”; “The Average Joe Deserves a Bailout,” San Francisco Chronicle, December 6, 2007; “Loser CEOs, Raking It In,” Washington Post, November 11, 2007; “Always an Insider’s Game,” AP January 6, 2008; and “What About the Rest of Us? Bailout Fails to Help the Little Guy,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 23, 2008. Mr. Lerach has addressed the Take Back America Convention in Washington, DC – highlights of his speech and comments are included in “Taking Back America: And Taking Down the Radical Right,” by Robert Borosage and Katrina Vanden Heuvel (2004), Chap. 11 “Holding Corporations Accountable.”
Mr. Lerach was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and received undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. He gave the May 2003 Commencement Address “American Law: Instrument of Social Progress or Weapon of Repression?” at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. The University of Pittsburgh bestowed one of its highest awards on Mr. Lerach, designating him a “Legacy Laureate” – one of the University’s most outstanding graduates. Mr. Lerach was honored by President Clinton who appointed him to be a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
In 2007, the Bush Administration Justice Department ended Mr. Lerach’s legal career by prosecuting Mr. Lerach for activities in connection with his prosecution of stockholder lawsuits. He was sentenced to two years in federal prison.