What goes on in those "smoke filled rooms"?
This email (Download NYSTLA List Serve-Forge) entitled "[Plaintiffs only ]structuring attorney fees" was circulated on September 25, 2009 using a NYSTLA forum/ list serve (copied to a dedicated email address at the New York State Trial Lawyers Association "NYSTLA") to many others:
Attorney Robert J. Greenstein of Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP states:
"Below is a link to a very informative article written by tax attorney, Robert Wood, regarding structuring attorney fees. If you’re interested in fee deferral, please contact (name of settlement firm) they are a partner...and we should support them – they contribute 60K+/yr to NYSTLA"
Can one help but wondering how often an email tying the size of a insurance agency's financial contribution to the solicitation of insurance on behalf of a licensed agent or licensed agency with NYSTLA occurs? Bear in mind that both the consumers in the structured attorney fee insurance sale AND the beneficiaries of the insurance agency's financial contribution are the association's members.
NYSTLA's own published guidelines state that its membership forums are provided as a service
to its members to ask for feedback and advice. NYSTLA publicly claims to have never permitted
any advertising for cases by its members. It publicly states that no one is barred
from seeking the services of another firm or attorney, but the
solicitation of cases is not permitted. It publicly states that any user posting advertising or solicitation will be immediately removed from all forums. As a reader of English could anyone REALLY construe the aforementioned email as "asking for feedback and advice"?
Readers should note that as a practical matter the only lawyers who can structure attorney fees are lawyers representing plaintiffs, whether or not they can characterize their practice as plaintiff only. For example the lawyer who does a little defense work in addition to plaintiff work, or a predominantly defense lawyer who has the odd plaintiff case BOTH have the opportunity to structure their legal fees on the plaintiff cases for which they are engaged.
The above email begs the question of whether there is a "willingness to discern" by certain trial lawyers in choosing vendors as well as a question of the perceived commoditization of structured settlement services by those who choose to pay the premium. There is nothing more to say really except to suggest one be mindful of this:
"However, where, as here, an agent or broker advertises that the agent or broker makes contributions to a not-for-profit organization of concern and interest to potential purchasers of insurance or annuities, such conduct constitutes an illegal inducement to purchase insurance that runs afoul of Insurance Law § 4224. Nor may an agent or broker evade the prohibition set forth in the Insurance Law by enlisting the aid of the not-for-profit organization to do what the agent or broker cannot do lawfully".
From the Office of General Counsel of The New York State Insurance Department in a September 24, 2007 published opinion
Upon information and belief the same or similar scenario is playing out in more than one state.
Plaintiffs should be forewarned of the potential biases!