Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It’s Raining Lawyers in the Gulf

Depressing but probably unavoidable...
Turn on a radio or television in Louisiana these days, and out comes a gusher of news and commentary on BP’s unstoppable oil leak in the gulf. Even commercial breaks are no escape from the oil onslaught.

In New Orleans, for instance, the Lakers-Celtics N.B.A. finals game last week repeatedly featured a law firm’s ad urging viewers to visit or to call 1-800-BIG-SPILL if they had been harmed by the slick. Similar pitches flood the radio waves.

Some lawyers are taking a lower-budget approach. For the past month, Spencer Aronfeld, a Miami lawyer, has posted a half-dozen YouTube videos chronicling his travels through the gulf to view the oil’s devastation – and presumably to sign up a few clients.

In the first video in the series, shot in the New Orleans airport, Mr. Aronfeld describes a “very emotional experience” he had while flying over the oil spill from Miami.

“We’ve rented a car, we’re going to drive down the coast, we’re going to roll up our sleeves, take our briefcases out, and find out how we can help people who depend on this environment, and to hold those people responsible who have caused this horrible, horrible disaster,” he says. In another, viewable above, he visits a Vietnamese shrimper thwarted by the spill who is hoping for alternative employment.

That lawyers are homing in on what is shaping up into one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history should surprise no one. Tens of billions of dollars are at stake, and with the much-vilified oil giant BP as a defendant, lawyers sense a major opportunity. One commentator quoted in Britain’s Globe and Mail newspaper recently described the BP blowout as “the trial lawyers’ Full Employment Act.”
Read the rest here.

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