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Legal Services of Eastern St. Louis Executive Director Daniel Glazier, second left, and Legal Services Board President Tom Glick, far right, accept a check for $2,004,000 from attorney Max Margulis. Margulis and attorney John Steward distributed leftover money from a class action lawsuit to three charitable organizations, which also included Gateway Legal Services and Washington University School of Law’s legal clinics.

Class action leftovers give boost to nonprofit legal groups

Attorneys’ donations include $2M to LSEM

A yearslong class action lawsuit ended successfully for two St. Louis lawyers, and they decided to share proceeds from the accrued interest with three local organizations.

Max Margulis of the Margulis Law Group and John Steward of Meyerkord & Meyerkord gave checks to three organizations Thursday: $150,000 to Gateway Legal Services, $455,000 to Washington University School of Law clinical programs and $2,004,000 to Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.

Margulis and Steward recently settled a telecommunications class action lawsuit. After issuing thousands of checks to class members, they said, there was money left. In such cases, cy-près doctrine allows attorneys a few options for handling the leftover money, including giving it to charitable organizations. Because the class involved in the lawsuit was made up of St. Louis residents, Margulis and Steward wanted to give that money to organizations in the area.

“These entities do great work. They represent a lot of people that can’t afford to hire private lawyers,” Steward said.

Daniel Glazier, executive director and general counsel for LSEM, described the money as a “gift to the low-income community in St. Louis.”

LSEM’s work includes initiatives that help low-income people get access to housing and health care, he said. The organization also has a family reunification program, a project that helps the chronically mentally ill, and a consumer unit. Glazier said he wasn’t sure how specifically the money will be used — he was still taken aback by the size of the gift — but said it will likely go toward some of those programs.

“There is such an enormous gap between the needs out there and resources. This is another way to work to level the playing field,” he said.

Washington University School of Law Dean Nancy Staudt said the school has not yet created a detailed plan for the donation, but that “every dollar will be used to advance consumer protection and advocacy.”

Michael Ferry, an attorney at Gateway Legal Services, said his group will use the money to continue to provide basic services to clients. “It’s a huge blessing,” he said.