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BUSINESS
August 20, 2012 | By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - Hard economic times have helped push millions of Americans deeply into debt, plunging many into a dark world filled with relentless collection agents, aggressive lawyers and companies that profit mightily if they can get people to pay up. Aided by outdated laws and lax oversight, debt collection has become a $12-billion-a-year business as people increasingly have fallen behind on their bills for credit cards, student loans, hospital stays...
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BUSINESS
August 19, 2012 | By Donie Vanitzian
Question: My homeowners association has contracted with the same attorney firm on retainer for more than 25 years. The attorney also receives 40% of any money collected from dues and fines, and the association is demanding more in settlements to recoup its attorney expenses. In response to questions of this practice at a board meeting, the president said that "we have no choice in this economy due to the high number of delinquencies but to use the attorney's services, and all HOAs are doing this now. " Many of my longtime neighbors are walking away from their homes because they can't meet these higher re-payment demands by the board.
BUSINESS
July 14, 2012 | By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times
A federal appeals court Friday rejected a class-action settlement involving allegations that Kellogg Co. made false health claims about cereal because the pact gave $2 million to the lawyers who sued and, at most, $15 for each consumer. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the lawyers' fees — $2,100 an hour— were too high, while those who bought Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats got a "paltry" $5 a box for up to three boxes. "Not even the most highly sought after attorneys charge such rates to their clients," Judge Stephen S. Trott wrote for the unanimous panel.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 4, 2012 | By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times
Paul Zuckerman was sifting through resumes when he paused, "astounded," over a particularly strong applicant for a law clerk opening: Ivy League undergraduate, top-notch law school, legal work for two judges in Washington. Zuckerman's Los Angeles County firm handled personal injury cases - auto accidents and slip-and-falls. He figured the applicant, whose credentials marked him for a prestigious "white shoe" firm, had applied to the wrong place. Then he read the cover letter. Stephen Randall Glass wrote that he was a disgraced former Washington journalist.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 14, 2012 | By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to new boundaries for its 15 voting districts, setting the stage for a legal battle with Koreatown activists and possibly two of its own members. The maps were passed on a 12-2 vote, over the objections of council members Jan Perry and Bernard C. Parks, who alleged that last-minute changes had been made without proper council review. Deputy City Atty. Harit Trivedi disputed that assertion, saying city engineers followed instructions given by the council three months ago. The council also voted 14-0 to pay an outside law firm, Remcho, Johansen & Purcell, up to $295,000 to defend the city if someone sues.
BUSINESS
May 29, 2012 | By Tiffany Hsu
Storied law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf - which once advised the Los Angeles Dodgers on their restructuring - is itself filing for Chapter 11 protection as it prepares to liquidate. It's a far fall for the New York firm, which in its heyday employed a retinue of more than a thousand attorneys, commanded massive salaries for partners and kept offices in Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Hong Kong and elsewhere. Now, weighed down by debt, Dewey & LeBoeuf is looking to “preserve assets and wind down its business.” The company hopes to keep a skeleton crew of about 90 employees to help over the next few months (there's already been a recent exodus of 160 of the firm's 300 partners)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 29, 2012 | By Valerie J. Nelson, Los Angeles Times
The legal establishment in Los Angeles was segregated in 1937 when African American attorney Walter L. Gordon Jr. pulled on a childhood connection to set up his new practice. The former newspaper carrier was given office space "three steps" from the pressroom of the California Eagle, a black weekly founded in 1879 by an escaped slave. The newspaper's location proved fortuitous. It was on Central Avenue, "the city's black thoroughfare," Gordon later said, and he benefited from being one of the first black lawyers to hang a shingle in the city's African American community.
OPINION
April 1, 2012
Recent weeks have brought sharply different perspectives on the state of women in America today. A new study on the status of women and girls in California, just released by Mount St. Mary's College, concludes that women here earn degrees at a higher rate than men. Nearly a third of the state's businesses are solely owned by women, and 38% of its elected representatives are women. Those are encouraging, if still developing, indicators that an equal society is under construction. And yet the same survey produces reminders of persistent inequity.
BUSINESS
March 24, 2012 | By Roger Vincent
Los Angeles office landlord MPG Office Trust Inc. said Friday it had consented to put its downtown skyscraper Two California Plaza into receivership. The move was the first step in MPG's plan to quit ownership of the 52-story tower at 350 S. Grand Ave., which is encumbered with $470 million of mortgage debt. “Two California Plaza is an asset that is significantly over-leveraged,” Chief Executive David L. Weinstein said. “While we are disappointed that the company was unable to retain this asset, we were unable to restructure the loan on terms that were in the best interests of our stockholders.” MPG determined that it was more prudent to use its cash to support its remaining downtown office portfolio, he said.
BUSINESS
March 23, 2012 | By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times
The offers of help arrive at a particularly vulnerable time for troubled homeowners, promising legal tactics that can fend off foreclosures or slash mortgage balances and rates. But the so-called mass joinder lawsuits against lenders often are only the latest foreclosure-rescue frauds designed to extract payments from financially strapped borrowers, the Federal Trade Commission warns. "The firms involved in this scam promise relief but generally don't deliver," the FTC said in a consumer alert posted on its website Thursday.
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