Boies lured to RI by big national stakes on pensions

Nov 15, 2012

The emergence of super-lawyer David Boies in Rhode Island’s high-stakes pension fight — first reported yesterday by RIPR — was triggered by his interest in the even broader significance of the case.

Alison Frankel reports for Thomson Reuters:

The next great crisis for the United States, at least as David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner sees it, is unfunded pension liability for city and state governments. “This is a $5 trillion issue,” Boies told me in a phone interview Wednesday. “Unless we solve this problem, everyone is in jeopardy — cities and states, those who depend on their services, even employees of cities and states.” Boies predicts an unprecedented wave of government bankruptcies if elected officials don’t take action.

Boies is also putting his money where his mouth is. On Wednesday, he and Boies Schiller associate Julia Hamilton moved for admission to the state courts of Rhode Island, where police, firefighters, teachers and thousands of other state and local employees and retirees are challenging sweeping pension overhaul legislation passed last November. Boies and Hamilton will be advising the state officials named as defendants in five Rhode Island Superior Court suits asserting that the 2011 law — which, among other things, suspended cost-of-living adjustments, raised the retirement age and shrunk the defined benefit component of pensions — violates the contract, takings and due process clauses of the Rhode Island constitution.

Boies has agreed to work for the state for the whopping fee of $50 an hour.