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Akin Gump Sued for Malpractice Over Outdoor Sign Advice

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on October 13, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Akin Gump has a lot of shiny offices and attorneys sporting pin stripes. But the firm may not be the best place to go for outdoor signage law guidance.

The BigLaw firm is facing the type of lawsuit that every lawyer or law firm dreads: malpractice.

World Wide Rush, one of the Akin Gump's former clients, says that the firm gave it erroneous advice.

Akin Gump was retained to consult the company about using outdoor signage in Los Angeles. A city ban prohibited the use of "supergraphic" signs. These signs are large and scale the sides of some of the city's tallest buildings.

In 2008, a federal district judge lifted the ban, ruling that the prohibition violated the constitution. An injunction was issued and the judge declared that the sign companies had a high likelihood on winning any appeals.

Unfortunately, they didn't. The Ninth Circuit ruled in 2010 that the prohibition was perfectly constitutional.

But that was after Akin Gump had advised World Wide Rush that they should erect as many supergraphic signs as possible before new bans were implemented.

As a result of Akin Gump's stellar legal advice, World Wide Rush had to tear down all of its supergraphic signs after the Ninth Circuit's ruling.

And the company faced multiple civil and criminal complaints filed by city officials.

This does not paint a promising picture for the associates and partners at good 'ol Akin Gump. People go to lawyers to advise them on how to comply with the law. Companies hardly expect to retain an expensive firm only to get legal advice that runs afoul of the law.

Now World Wide Rush says it wants damages. They allege that they spent about $1 million because of all the legal fees. And they're holding Akin Gump responsible. Whether or not the company will be successful in their suit remains to be seen. But it seems that it's a safe bet that some poor associate at the firm is getting an earful right about now.

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