The law firm Goodwin Procter, which laid off nearly 40 lawyers and staff last year, is asking the taxpayers of Worcester and Lowell, Mass., to pay the firm more than $1.75 million in legal fees for "pro bono" work on behalf of aggressive beggars fighting city crackdowns. Boston.com reports:
The lawyers who fought to repeal unconstitutional panhandling restrictions in Worcester and Lowell are seeking to collect more than $1.5 million in fees and costs from the cities, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, along with Boston-based law firm Goodwin Procter LLP, have asked a judge to award them $1,026,223 from Worcester and $736,466 from Lowell. Worcester officials called the fees "outrageous," and Lowell officials said they estimated attorneys' fees should come to less than $100,000, the Telegram reported.
The Worcester lawsuit was filed on behalf of two homeless people in January 2013 after city ordinances banned "aggressive" panhandling, standing or stopping on traffic islands, and soliciting in certain public spaces. In November, a federal judge struck down the ordinances on the grounds that they infringed upon an individual's right to free speech. A judge made a similar ruling in Lowell.
A lawyer for Goodwin Procter told the Telegram that the firm had already discounted its rates by 20 percent in the Worcester case, and that much of the fee would be donated to the ACLU of Massachusetts.
Maybe instead of going to the lawyers or the ACLU the money should go to the homeless panhandlers, which would solve the problem of aggressive panhandling (but not of revenue at Goodwin Procter).