For Immediate Release
July 21, 2015
Contact: Phoebe Stonbely
Lawyer-Legislators Raked in Millions in Outside Income in 2014
New analysis finds average legal fees and income for trial lawyer-legislators is three times their state salary
A recent analysis of state legislators’ outside income by the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York, a nonpartisan nonprofit legal reform association, has found that lawyer-legislators received as much as $4.2 million in income for part-time legal work. In total, one in five members of the state legislature are attorneys, and 23 reported receiving outside income in 2014. The analysis is an update of the group’s “Power of Attorney” report, released in April, which found that political and lobbying spending by the personal injury lawyer lobby has climbed substantially in recent years.
The analysis found that the ten legislators moonlighting as personal injury lawyers accounted for 65% of all outside legal income, as much as $2.7 million. The average outside income for personal injury lawyer-legislators was $239,000, approximately triple their state salary.
Tom Stebbins, Executive Director for the Lawsuit Reform Alliance, expressed concerns about the outsized income earned by personal injury trial lawyers, “Any time you have public officials receiving two, three, even ten times more than their state salary from outside legal work, there are going to be questions about conflicting interests. Personal injury firms in particular profit from New York’s unbalanced tort laws, which are generally set at the state level. One has to wonder if the personal injury lawyer-legislators are in office to serve the interests of New York, or their personal injury law firms. It was just six months ago that former Speaker Sheldon Silver was charged with public corruption after receiving millions of dollars from the plaintiffs’ firm Weitz & Luxenberg, which federal prosecutors claim were nothing more than bribes and kickbacks.”
View one page summary of findings here: http://bit.ly/1JuFV8I
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The Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York (LRANY) is a nonpartisan not-for-profit association of businesses, professionals, healthcare providers, membership organizations, taxpayers, and concerned citizens committed to changing New York’s legal system to help create jobs and energize our economy.