Monday, December 22, 2008

Lawyers Gone Bad....Yet Again

The most successful guy in my law school class never practiced law. Not one day. A math major and actuary prior to law school, he returned to finance as soon as we graduated. After several years creating sophisticated financial products for some of the largest insurance companies in the world, my classmate chucked it all to start a hedge fund based upon an algorithm that he had created that generated consistent gains through currency arbitrage trading. Over the course of ten years, all the trappings of extraordinary success--the monster house, a collection of classic cars, personal jet travel and eye-popping philanthropic giving--ensued.

And then my classmate was indicted for running what the U.S. Attorney called "a classic Ponzi scheme." According to the indictment, there had never been a trading algorithm. My classmate was simply taking money from people, generating fictitious trading records and using funds from later investors to pay "returns" to earlier investors.

My former colleague and friend, Philip Slayton, is the author of Lawyers Gone Bad--Money. Sex and Madness In Canada's Legal Profession. Here's Philip looking considerable more relaxed than when we practiced together back in the day:

Philip's book generated a lot of buzz in the Canadian media when it came out in the summer of 2007. Things really took off when Macleans did a cover story on Philip's book using the headline: "Lawyers Are Rats!"

Philip, if you ever want to do a second edition of your book, have I ever got a story for you!

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