The Next, Next

Last Thursday, when the CDLU walked by Steven McKinney at the federal courthouse during a break, he was beaming, happy. And we are sure today he is elated.

Joel I. Gilbert is probably at home with stomach butterflies, stress, and anxiety as judgment day approaches.

If indicted Balch & Bingham partner Gilbert is found guilty this week, what could happen next?

  1. Several controversial matters could be revived for scrutiny including the Newsome Conspiracy Case and the alleged Vincent “Whites-Only” Land Grab.
  2. Although Balch & Bingham could attempt to label Gilbert a rogue attorney, Clark A. Cooper’s alleged unsavory behavior (and eventual firing from the firm) in the Newsome matter could face similar questions.
  3. The questionable campaign contributions to Judge Carole Smitherman and her husband State Senator Rodger Smitherman could come under a microscope by law enforcement.
  4. A RICO civil suit by the residents of North Birmingham and GASP would be of no surprise.
  5. A RICO civil suit by Burt Newsome could be filed within days of the conviction.

But those five items of “what ifs” are external in nature. The true problems could arise internally at Balch & Bingham.

  1. Some may think Gilbert was left to hang. How could junior attorneys trust partners and others who are monitoring their work?
  2. The Balch brand could forever be tied to an alleged bribery scheme. How many current partners, attorneys, and staff would run for the exit?
  3. Balch clients (like BBVA Compass or Southern Company) could be under enormous public pressure because of third-party risks to dump the firm.
  4. Institutional investors of their clients could finally exercise “social responsibility” demands and force Balch to lose clients.

The next, next may be coming soon.

And what should Balch & Bingham do if Gilbert is convicted?

  1. Pull Steve Feaga, Balch’s Chief Compliance Officer, out of the storage room and announce a top-to-bottom review of the law firm, including the firing of any bad apples.
  2. Settle the Newsome Conspiracy Case once and for all, and hold those accountable for creating a Star Chamber mess.
  3. Conduct a Day of Forgiveness and Reconciliation in North Birmingham and meet with local residents.