Triple Play is a weekly NJBIZ feature that asks top executives in New Jersey to talk about three things related to their industry.
Eric Breslin is a partner in the white-collar criminal defense group at Duane Morris in Newark; he was counsel for one of the "Madoff Five" Bernard Madoff employees tried for fraud and other counts in a five-month federal trial that ended last month.
We asked Eric for 3 points about his practice.
The government's response is growing in frequency, complexity and visibility. There has seldom been such a prolonged and emphatic course of criminal prosecution and civil enforcement directed at alleged offenses of a sophisticated financial nature. An increased public consciousness of the societal costs of such behavior and a vastly decreased public tolerance are driving this. White-collar crime used to be thought of as "victimless crime" in some quarters. You just do not hear this anymore.
Like everything else, white-collar crime is going "big data." White-collar cases are now heavily document-intensive. Document discovery in a big securities case, for example, can easily run into hundreds of thousands or even millions of pages. Wiretaps are far more frequent than ever before. Computer aptitude and the in-house capability of handling and processing such volumes of data used to be a luxury. It is now a necessity and an expensive one at that. And the technology is still evolving and changing.
Behind all those bytes, there are still human beings in trouble. Cases may get more frequent and complicated, but there are some things that do not change. As a defense lawyer, you have an intimate relationship with your client — founded on trust and respect. You are representing people in real peril, at one of the worst times in their lives. For this reason, true empathy, not just "hand-holding," is necessary.