But for most, it's a feeling—an instinct that lay deep in their gut ever since they could remember. A germ that began to bloom and fester amidst the bursting bubble of the sub-prime mortgage crisis, together with the financial downturn of 2008 and beyond. A bacterium that began to infect following the 'Bailout-and-Bonuses' debacle that saw influential corporate executives line up for previously negotiated and contracted performance bonuses—their reward for having their hands on the rudder of corporations requiring a bailout with taxpayer dollars.
In an eerie foretelling of the #OccupyWallStreet movement, The New York Times on March 14, 2009, included the following nugget in its coverage of the A.I.G. story related to the proposed payout of $165 million in bonuses to executives "in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.
"…The payment of so much money at a company at the heart of the financial collapse that sent the broader economy into a tailspin almost certainly will fuel a popular backlash against the government's efforts to prop up Wall Street."
"And yet those in the legal profession know that the court of public opinion can only deliver so much. There is no room in the judicial system for public opinion."
While many of the participants in Occupy Wall Street and related actions are protesting for the sake of protest, many others are there because they don't know where their next meal is coming from. They don't know how they're going to make the rent at the end of the month.
They don't know how they're going to break the news to their kids that they'll have to give up their warm bed and the only home they've ever known for the cold comfort of a cot in a drafty room somewhere.
Citizens who are doing all they can to get by, but just can't seem to get there. They work hard, yet their reward is hollow. They ask the government for help but get nothing, while they witness that same government shelling out billions in bailouts—$170 billion to A.I.G. alone—to a sector that doesn't appear to have earned it.
That's $170 billion borne on the backs of that same taxpayer who's about to lose his home…
And so the citizens of the world are saying they have had enough—of Wall Street, of Fat Cats, Big Business, Lobbyists and all of that.
Watching all this from a distance, are the attorneys…
You know what they say about those damned lawyers. Opportunists, all. Ambulance chasers. Fee-bitten varmints.
No, the judicial system is based on rule of law. And no amount of #OWS protesting will persuade, dissuade or ultimately have a bearing on legal arguments involving some of the very cases serving as grist for the protestor's mill—even if they may not have a specific target, or case in mind.
Judges base their decisions on jurist prudence and legal precedence. Jurors are counseled to render their decisions based on fact, evidence and reasonable doubt, rather than emotion.
Thus, the lawyers doggedly pursue their mission of bringing down the Bernie Madoffs of this world: individuals who take advantage of the uninformed, and those corporations wielding power and influence at the expense of those who can least afford it.
It hasn't been a group of sign-wielding protesters parading around a drive-up ATM that's brought about the recent Bank of America settlement over excessive overdraft fees—or the court ordering Wells Fargo to cough up $200 million for repayment of bank fees charged as a result of reordering customers' transactions. Lawsuits delivered those results.
While the Occupy Wall Street protests continue to gain momentum and mass public awareness, the lawyers are quietly pursuing the issue as they always have—where it counts—in the courtroom.
As reported in LawyersandSettlements.com last week, officials in the state of New Jersey have resurrected their Securities Fraud Lawsuit against Ernst & Young LLP, alleging the firm aided attempts by the now-defunct Lehman Brothers to overstate the true value of the company—and thus, putting up a veil that allegedly misled investors and resulted in stock fraud.
If you recall, Lehman Brothers—the massive global financial company—would have liked to have snagged a bailout as well, but instead was allowed to fail, affording #OWS protestors one less target. Still, there are issues. While Ernst & Young LLP defended its auditing practices related to Lehman Brothers and noted that the collapse of the global economy was the real reason for Lehman's demise, The Wall Street Journal noted on October 11 that former Lehman officials settled with the state of New Jersey for $8.25 million without admitting wrongdoing.
Forgive #OccupyWallStreet protestors for asking: if Ernst & Young LLP did nothing wrong, why must they pay $8.5 million?
The Ernst & Young LLP Securities Fraud Lawsuit is separate from a Securities Class-Action Lawsuit involving allegations from several plaintiffs of losses when Lehman Brothers collapsed.
No amount of public opinion will recover those losses. Occupy Wall Street protests will not result in a magical credit to plaintiff's bank accounts, plaintiffs who fell victim to alleged corporate largess and mismanagement through no fault of their own.
What stands the greatest chance for returning that money, for winning restitution and bringing true fairness and justice to bear are the voices of the lawyers, who wield years of education and decades of experience arguing on behalf of those plaintiffs taking their protests to the courts of law via a specific case.
READ MORE SECURITIES FRAUD LEGAL NEWS
But real change happens in the courtroom.
Thus, when the #OccupyWallStreet participants come in from the cold, the attorneys and those in the legal profession will be at the ready to represent their interests in the courts of law—the place where the Occupy Wall Street message has the most value and holds the most promise for real change.