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Coffey Won’t Return to Law After Electoral Defeat

Sean Coffey, the lawyer who won more than $6.15 billion in settlements for WorldCom Inc. investors, has no plans to return to practicing law after his defeat in a run for New York Attorney General.

“I’m retired from the practice of law,” Coffey, 54, said in a phone interview today. “I don’t see returning to practicing law, certainly in the near term.”

Coffey came in third in yesterday’s Democratic primary for the state’s top lawyer job with 16 percent of the vote, based on 98 percent of precincts reporting, behind winner Eric T. Schneiderman and Kathleen Rice, according to the New York Times.

Coffey, a former partner at New York’s Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, which represents investors in securities-fraud lawsuits against companies, won the WorldCom settlements in 2004 and 2005 following a collapse of the company linked to accounting fraud. A novel settlement with WorldCom’s former directors required them to pay a portion, a precedent that reverberated in boardrooms nationwide.

Coffey left Bernstein Litowitz in October to run for public office for the first time, seeking to succeed Andrew Cuomo, who is running for governor.

Coffey said he may teach law as an adjunct professor, and is considering writing an article about his 11 months running for office, for which he kept a diary. He said he also hopes to do some traveling with his family.

“I really was 100 percent focused on winning and, while understanding it was a long shot, didn’t spend any time thinking of the alternative,” he said. “I got 100,000 votes from people who two months ago didn’t know my name.”

Coffey said in an April interview that he got into the attorney-general race principally to clean up state government and that he would be vigilant with Wall Street if elected.

“I’m probably the only candidate running who doesn’t need to beat up Wall Street to prove he can beat up Wall Street,” he said at the time.

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