Bankruptcy Sheds Light on Leading Abuse Attorney’s Earnings

The Los Angeles Daily Journal, a publication serving the law community, has reported that a leading Los Angeles abuse victim attorney, Raymond P. Boucher, has filed for bankruptcy protection.

At the time that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles paid out $660 million to 508 alleged abuse victims in July of 2007, Boucher was representing as many as 245 plaintiffs who were suing the Catholic Church.

The Journal cites “lengthy divorce proceedings” as the cause for the bankruptcy filing. Although Boucher and his wife made their divorce final in 2008, they continue to dispute over money issues.

The Journal reveals some eye-opening numbers related to the earnings Boucher may have garnered from clergy settlements in recent years.

According to the Journal, Boucher has reported an average monthly income of $1.29 million.

Boucher is a one-third partner of Kiesel Boucher & Larson LLP, and just in 2008 alone, the firm took in $16.7 million just from clergy cases. Church payouts began in December 2007, and, according to the Journal, a “final large payment” is due this year.

The paper explains:

"In the high-risk, high-reward world of contingency-fee litigation, attorneys typically command between 30 and 40 percent of their clients' settlements and judgments, but they sometimes can go many months or years without getting paid."

The article cites attorneys that claim that Boucher took home $5.5 million in 2007 and 2008; and $3.2 million in the month of January 2009. A lawyer for the attorney’s ex-wife is saying that Boucher is personally expecting $7 million “plus interest” sometime this year.

Whether Mr. Boucher is genuinely broke appears to be debatable. An attorney for the former wife has suggested that the filing may simply have been a tactical move. The Journal quotes a Los Angeles attorney:

“It’s not uncommon for people to trump a pending trial about to begin by filing a bankruptcy and going into the bankruptcy court in order to achieve objectives which may be related to the trial and even beyond,” said David W. Levene of Levene, Neal, Bender, Yoo, & Brill LLP.

[Note: The Daily Journal is a subscription-only publication, and we are unable to link to the article.]