Law firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, which made its name prosecuting class-action lawsuits, pleaded not guilty to a indictment of the firm and two former partners for allegedly paying improper kickbacks to plaintiffs.

The indicted former Milberg partners, David Bershad and Steven Schulman, also entered not guilty pleas in Los Angeles federal court.

In a 20-count indictment by a federal grand jury, prosecutors allege that Milberg Weiss and the two men paid at least $11.3 million over a 25-year period to clients. Prosecutors have raised the possibility of more indictments in the case, with the loudest rumors floating the name of William S. Lerach, a former partner who departed in 2004 to found his own firm.

The law firm has vehemently denied all the charges, calling the indictment "unprecedented and unfair" in its most recent public statement. However, Milberg did get some good news this week, when a federal judge in New York named the firm as lead counsel in a class-action lawsuit against a bankrupt oil company, a seeming vote of confidence that the law firm is not nearing the end of its own days as a court plaintiff.

U.S. District Judge John F. Walter said that he expects to set a start date for the trial late next year.

Previously on WebCPA:

Judges with Milberg Ties Recusing Themselves (June 19, 2006)

KPMG Gets Okay for $153M Settlement (June 6, 2006)

New York Law Firm Indicted (May 22, 2006)

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