The vast majority of law students attend law school to become lawyers, but not necessarily knowing what type of lawyer, or even specialty, they wish to be. Often they discover their interest, or it discovers them.
For example, few law students matriculate with dreams of being a municipal counsel. Yet, that can be a very lucrative practice area, or niche, as Edward Lee discovered.
He became counsel to several cities in southwest LA, including Bell, Covina, Downey, and Maywood. Between the four of them, Lee and his law firm were billing over $1 million annually in fees (Bell $243,000, Covina $477,000, and Maywood $500,000).
Billings like these entitle you to partnership in many firms. His firm, Best, Best & Krieger has about 200 attorneys in eight offices in California. Their specialty is government law.
The City Counsel’s role is to advise on the legality of Council actions, and review contracts, including employment contracts, but not necessarily to provide advice on the wisdom of the action. Bell Counsel Lee signed off on the Bell personnel contracts paying the excessive salaries.
Alas for Mr. Lee, Downey terminated his services on Thursday, July 29 on a 3:2 vote. Downey council members did not want to be tarred with the Bell scandal. They also canceled the contract with his law firm. Covina followed suit on August 2.
Edward Lee terminated his partnership with his firm last week, and then also resigned from representing Maywood. He explained that he wished at this point to represent Bell through its troubles.
He then sought appointment as Bell’s interim city attorney.
More alas for Mr. Lee!
Like 4 Bell Council members, Mr. Lee appears tone deaf. They don’t seem to understand the anger of Bell residents. Seemingly new revelations about venality, or at least venal activities, not to mention incompetence, by Bell officials are surfacing daily, and the temperature in Bell rises. Recall papers have been served on the 4 council members, two of whom said they would not run for reelection, but all resisting resignation.
After a contentious meeting Wednesday night, with scores of Bell residents demanding his ouster, the Council rejected Lee's appointment.
Edward Lee is now a lawyer without a law firm, a partnership, and perhaps a client. Lee is in Legal Hell in Bell.
The fallout from Bell continues.