I took the Bar/Bri Bar Review course, as do far too many attorneys-to-be. Simply put, it costs far too much for what amounts to mere force-fed rote memorization of masses of answers to multiple choice questions.
As you likely know, there’s a settlement out there negotiated between the firm representing the class, McGuireWoods, and BAR/BRI. The settlement (not yet finalized) requires West Publishing to pay $36 million, and Kaplan to pay $13 million. That amounts to an average of $125.00 for each of the approximately 300,000 law students that took a BAR/BRI course between 1997 and 2006.
McGuireWoods partner Eliot Disner, however, along with three of the seven lead plaintiffs, have objected to this settlement, claiming it far undervalues the class’ actual damages, which Mr. Disner estimates at more than $400 million. Although Mr. Disner drafted the brief, he did not file it–it was filed by the three objecting plaintiffs, Loredana Nesci, Lisa Gintz, and Ryan Rodriguez. Turns out that Mr. Disner et al don’t think the $125 is so free after all. At ten times the damages, this theoretically would mean we’d each be entitled to, approximately, $1,000. Much more attractive figure, that.
May 24th, the Wall Street Journal reported, and Mr. Disner confirmed, that he has been fired by McGuireWoods for objecting to the settlement. Law.com reports that McGuireWoods partner William Alcott responded to the Disner-drafted brief: “Eliot’s brief does not represent the position of McGuireWoods as lead class counsel,” and that “[McGuireWoods] will be addressing the substance” of the brief in a later filing.
For those of you that agree with Disner, et al, and think the objectors have any chance of success, you may get word in advance of your September 17 deadline. While the $49 million settlement has been preliminarily approved by the judge, another hearing is scheduled for June 18th to finalize the settlement.
And a little postscript. Who is this colorful Loredana Nesci character that’s popping up in the media in pictures with Disner? Why is she suddenly the objectors’ poster-girl? From the odd MySpace page, to her bodybuilding stats, to her extra-schmaltzy law firm website (check out the bio, which details her participation in police shootouts (as a policewoman) and her providing nutrition counseling to insecure fellow law students), she almost seems like an attractive female Mike Hammer (yes, right down to the schmaltz). At best, this seems like an unorthodox choice of a poster-girl. Her wit and wisdom about the settlement is that it “pretty much sucks.” Needless to say, I agree: I’ll take the $1,000 over the $125 anyday.
Loredana: I sincerely hope you and Disner can squeeze a little more out of those publication and Bar Review powerhouses for us starving attorneys. Disner: hope you get your job back. If all else fails, Loredana’s web site says that her passion as an attorney is defending the blameless. (And we all know you’re doing this solely because it’s a righteous cause… you’re doing it for us.)