What sound, reputable client would ever hire embattled law firm Balch & Bingham after this despicable admission?
Balch has stunned the legal community today in a report from Legal Schnauzer, the well-read legal blog.
David Roberson, the ex-Drummond Company executive, is suing Balch and Drummond for $75 million. Balch, which once stated in court proceeding that Balch “owed no duty” to Roberson, appears to have stepped onto another landmine, affirming that the firm “basically gave [Roberson] bad advice.”
Quoting from the transcript of court proceedings, Legal Schnauzer published these stunning words by Balch’s defense attorney:
In November of 2014 before implementation of the [bribery] plan [involving former State Rep. Oliver Robinson] — and we all know what the plan was — the plaintiff asked Gilbert if he had inquired with the ethics lawyers of Balch Bingham whether the plan was legal and ethical. Gilbert represented to the plaintiff that Balch’s in-house ethics lawyers had reviewed the plan and determined it was legal.
Now, that bad legal advice, or alleged bad legal advice, was November 2014. . . . The whole gravamen of this case is based on legal advice that was wrong or false or falsely stated. . . . In addition . . . they say [Mr. Roberson] relied to [his] detriment on this . . . legal advice and was convicted on July 20, 2018 . . . and they suffered damages as a result of that bad legal advice.
It does not depart from the fact that his whole claim is based on poor, faulty legal advice. Whether he was technically a client or not, he says he heard it, he relied on it. The law firm basically gave him false advice. He acted on it, and he was convicted. Nothing could be more a case of a claim against a legal services provider than this case is.
Balch’s attorney admits the firm provided false advice.
Burt Newsome, Roberson’s attorney of record, rips Balch in the same transcript:
Balch wants it both ways. They say in their own pleadings that Roberson was not Balch’s client. They had no duty to Roberson, yet they want to apply the statute of limitations for the Alabama Legal Services Act. And that’s ridiculous. These claims against Balch are ordinary fraud claims, and the statute of limitations on an ordinary fraud claim accrues when all the elements of a fraud are met, and one of those elements is damages. Roberson suffered no legal damage until he was indicted, and he filed suit within two years of his indictment.
[Balch’s attorney] keeps saying Joel Gilbert gave Roberson legal advice. That’s false. Read the complaint. Mr. Roberson didn’t ask Gilbert for legal advice. He didn’t ask Gilbert to research whether the plan was legal. He asked him a simple question. Has your compliance department looked at this, and Joel Gilbert lied. He said, Yeah, they’ve looked at it, and they determined it’s legal. . . .
[He] could have said nothing. But what Joel Gilbert did to his non-client, Mr. Roberson, knowing that he’d rely on it, was he lied to him. He said, our compliance department has looked at this and it’s legal. And as the testimony showed and Mr. Roberson learned at trial, the compliance department had told Joel Gilbert actually the opposite, that it was illegal. He never was a legal-services client or received legal services whatsoever from Joel Gilbert. He simply asked Gilbert a question, and Gilbert lied to him.
In our almost four-year campaign to educate the public about Balch’s alleged insidious, unethical, unsavory, and criminal conduct we have learned that Balch and others enjoy hiding behind non-disclosure agreements, attorney-client privilege, or confidentiality agreements.
The Roberson Case, unlike the Newsome Conspiracy Case which was shielded in an unconstitutional and secretive Star Chamber, is wide-open and has exposed Balch for what they appear to be: lying sacks of marbles.
Drummond Company, Southern Company, and others appear to be quietly distancing themselves from Balch & Bingham.
Now with this “ridiculous” admission, more clients will be studying and reviewing the “third-party” risk of utilizing a disgraced law firm that defends lying to a client as a legal service.