Be nice to your secretary. It’s the right thing to do.
What, basic human decency doesn’t appeal to you? Alright, how about: be nice to your secretary — or else she might totally screw you over by revealing your secrets.
It’s advice product liability lawyer David Gross might have wanted to take. The ABA Journal reports:
An unhappy secretary has brought ethics troubles for a prominent product liability lawyer in New Jersey.
The New Jersey Disciplinary Review Board has recommended that litigator David Gross be disbarred for failing to share a $50,000 check with his law firm partners, the New Jersey Law Journal reports. Gross’ secretary, Claudette McCarthy, revealed the check to Gross’ partners at Budd Larner four years after he received it in 1998.
You know what, that secretary has CHARACTER.
The New Jersey Law Journal reports that Claudette McCarthy might well have kept the confidential payment confidential, if Gross had just treated her better:
Enter Claudette McCarthy. She had been Gross’ secretary for many years and they had a good relationship. She enjoyed working for him and he gave her glowing evaluations, according to the discipline board.
McCarthy testified that she typed the letter setting up the Keene payment and the letter advised the Keene trustee to send the check to Gross in an envelope marked “personal and confidential.” Letters not marked that way would be opened in the mailroom and the check would have automatically been set aside for deposit in the firm account, according to testimony.
Gross instructed McCarthy to remove the letter from her computer and told her not to tell anyone in the firm about it. And she didn’t … until 2002, when she decided to get even because Gross had begun treating her badly, she testified.
Getting your asshole boss disbarred has to be a dream of every under-appreciated legal secretary out there. And the dream is good:
She said she started getting the cold shoulder in 1999 after she refused to take time from a busy schedule to do some work for Gross’ wife, Heidi Gross, a lawyer in the firm. There were other incidents, one of which ended with Gross calling her a “fucking idiot,” McCarthy told the disciplinarians.
In 2002, not long after Gross scrawled “no” across her vacation request and threw it into a wastebasket, McCarthy told members of the firm about the 1998 check.
“She admitted that she wanted him to feel embarrassed and humiliated because she felt that he had demeaned, degraded, and abused her, and had ruined her reputation at the firm,” the board said.
Hell hath no fury like a legal secretary told to work for the partner’s wife.
Unhappy Secretary’s Report Spurs Ethics Trouble for NJ Litigator [ABA Journal]
Dissing Secretary Put Top Litigator on the Road to Possible Disbarment [New Jersey Law Journal]