Bad Ideas, Blackberry-Crackberry, Dewey & LeBoeuf, Email Scandals, Jews, Rudeness

Dewey & LeBoeuf: A Bunch of Nazis?

The firm of Dewey Ballantine was never known for being particularly PC. From a 2004 article by Anthony Lin, for the New York Law Journal:

Nearly one year after lawyers at Dewey Ballantine infuriated members of the Asian-American community by performing a stereotype-laden parody song at their annual dinner, the law firm is again dealing with allegations of racial insensitivity….

On Monday, an employee sent a firmwide e-mail advertising the availability of some puppies for adoption. Douglas Getter, a London-based American who heads Dewey Ballantine’s European mergers and acquisitions practice then sent a firmwide reply.

“Please don’t let these puppies go to a Chinese restaurant!” Getter wrote in his e-mail.

Adolf Hitler Dewey LeBoeuf Zieg Heil Sieg Heil Above the Law blog.jpgNow Dewey has merged with LeBoeuf Lamb. Happily, it appears their firm cultures are a good match. Check out this email exchange appearing below — and note that Partner X came from the LeBoeuf Lamb side of the marriage….

From: Ralph C. Ferrara
To: DL All Attorneys – US
Cc: Ferrara, Ralph C.
Sent: Mon Dec 17 11:00:29 2007
Subject: German Translation – Completed

Dear All,

Thank you for your many quick responses [to a request for translation of a German document]. The translation has been completed.

Regards, Ralph

From: [Partner X]
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 11:02 AM
To: Ferrara, Ralph C.; DL All Attorneys – US
Subject: Re: German Translation – Completed

Zieg Heil!!!!!!

Sent from my Blackberry Wireless Handheld

Oh, the perils of Blackberrying! If you respond to a firm-wide email on your Blackberry, be EXTRA careful about not hitting “reply all” (unless that is truly your intention).

Of course, the “Zieg Heil” response would have been inappropriate even if sent to a smaller group of recipients. As noted by Wikipedia, uttering the phrase “Sieg Heil” in Germany is “a criminal offence punishable by up to three years of prison.”

Two emails of profuse apology, issued within an hour of the offending message, after the jump.


From: Veve, Valerie On Behalf Of Steven H. Davis
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 11:46 AM
To: DL All Attorneys – US
Subject: Email

I want to apologize on behalf of the firm for the email message that went out over our email system this morning. Dewey & LeBoeuf does not condone any type of offensive language or conduct, and we are sorry for this unfortunate experience. The firm will investigate the circumstances and take appropriate action.

Please do not hesitate to speak with your head of department, or call Janis Meyer, Nicholas Jelf or Jason Dinwoodie, if you would like to discuss this further.


From: Partner X
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 12:11 PM
To: DL All Attorneys – US
Subject: Apology

Dear Colleagues,

Sometimes we speak without thinking and embarrass ourselves in doing so. On occasion we do worse — we hurt our friends and colleagues. My e-mail responding to Ralph’s request for aid in a German translation was thoughtless and embarrassing to me and, unfortunately, hurtful to many of my friends and colleagues. I regret both the comment and the effect it has had on so many, especially during this holiday season. Given my many friends in the firm, common sense and my own Jewish heritage, I know that these are words that should have never been spoken or written. Hopefully, my earlier comments will not interrupt a joyous holiday season for all.

[Partner X]

Dewey Partner’s E-Mail Causes Upset Over Racial Insensitivity [New York Law Journal]
Singing for Supper, Dewey Hits Bad Note [New York Post via NAAAP]

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