Balch & Bingham Shoots Itself in the Head

Balch and Bingham’s response to the $50 million lawsuit filed by ex-Drummond executive Dave Robinson is like a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The response appears to be a notice, a blaring notice to all General Counsels who utilize Balch and Bingham legal services:

If any Balch and Bingham partner ever provides bad legal advice, lies to you, or is involved in a criminal scheme, it is YOUR fault.

Although Balch’s response spends pages upon pages arguing and whining about “statute of limitations,” Balch acknowledges that Roberson’s claims indeed arose from the legal advice Balch provided to Drummond.

Balch’s best line from the entire document is this gem:

“Alabama law does not hold employers civilly liable under a respondeat superior theory for the criminal acts of employees where the employer had no prior notice of the criminal act.”

No prior notice?

During Day 11 of the criminal trial last summer, Chad Pilcher, the ethics lawyer at Balch  testified:

“And what I explained to [convicted felon and ex Balch partner Joel I. Gilbert] is Section 36-25-5(c) of the ethics act prohibits the use of official resources and material for your private sector activities. So if a state House letterhead was used for the private sector work, then that would be a violation of 5(c) by Mr. Robinson.”

According to Dave Roberson, at least 21 Balch & Bingham attorneys were involved in the North Birmingham matter. And according to media reports, Pilcher, Gilbert and Balch partner Greg Butrus were exchanging emails in 2014 about the ethics of the matter.

The lawsuit from Dave Roberson could be devastating and, as we said in an earlier post, open Balch to more scrutiny.

What clients would want to deal with a law firm that engages in unsavory conduct and/or legal malpractice, and then declares “Balch owed no duty” and blames the client’s executives for their “own wrongful conduct?”

Not I said the fly; not me said the bee.