Plaintiff attorneys Dickie Scruggs and Bill Lerach started out as men of the people. They used their law degrees and cunning brilliance as tools of earnest populism.
In KINGS OF TORT, Alan Lange chronicles the tale of Scruggs whose mother brought home tales of employees where she worked suffering lung disease. Scruggs became a hero. He is now in prison. Lange describes Scruggs's later behavior as the manifestation of pure evil. There are myriad ways of interpreting tragedy. I view Scruggs's corruption as the play out of a very basic human motivation: Greed.
In CIRCLE OF GREED, Patrick Dillon and Carl M. Cannon trace Lerach's journey from defender of victims of securities fraud to a type of thug who kneecapped with his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. No ambiguity, the guy was greedy. Probably still is. Although he's been disbarred from the legal profession, he still has plenty of access to power. He participated at at law-school hosted panel on securities fraud and may join the University of California Irvine School of Law to teach a course on regulation.
But evil? Lerach, at least as he's depicted by Dillon and Cannon, seems as human as the rest of us. His drive, hard work, and willingness to think out of the box gave him professional opportunities most of us would likely have wound up abusing.
Should there be a mandatory multi-disciplinary seminar in law firms, both plaintiff and defense, on the dynamics of greed and how they can be managed? Had Scruggs and Lerach attended that kind of briefing, they might both be still practicing law, on the side of the people.