Madoff’s lawyer


“As one Jew to another, I deeply regret that the Sorkin family did not perish in the Nazi death camps.”

So reads the lede to a profile of Bernard Madoff’s lawyer, Ira Sorkin, in Wednesday’s New York Times.

While his client is the most hated banker on earth, Sorkin, known commonly as Ike, is not far behind Madoff in terms of being the object of ire, it seems. He has received death threats so serious that he has had to call the FBI, the Times reports.

Even though he and his family were personally invested with Madoff at one point — Madoff has waived his right to conflict of interest free representation — Sorkin has his reasons for representing his client.

But he keeps for himself the role of lightning rod when flashes of white-hot rage fill his e-mail and voice-mail in-boxes.

He knows that the angry, injured people behind those messages could have been in the crowd at some fund-raiser for the American Friends of the Hebrew University, which he serves as chairman. Or they might have been across the aisle on one of his frequent flights to Israel, whose tourism he has helped promote through ads and testimonials. He might even have attended their family funerals, or shared their celebrations in those sunnier pre-Madoff days.

Mr. Sorkin said he understood the anger and grief of Mr. Madoff’s former customers, but “to preserve a system that can protect the people who didn’t do bad things, you have to represent people who did do bad things,” Mr. Sorkin said of his belief in the system. “That’s the role we play.”

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