When this lawyer took to the pages of a local industry mag to dispense general advice about depositions, she probably figured she was tossing out some non-controversial observations and maybe boosting her own profile. Hopefully it could drum up some business.
She probably didn’t count on kicking over a hornet’s nest of fellow lawyers, who ripped her advice and went so far as to accuse her of violating local ethics rules.
Hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?
* The fiscal impasse in our nation’s capital is over! The government shutdown is over! Obamaphones for everyone!!!!! [Washington Post]
* Tim Geithner was recently deposed as part of a lawsuit alleging that the government bailout of AIG was unconstitutional. Muammar Gaddafi was less recently deposed as part of a coup alleging that his female bodyguards were unconstitutionally sexy. [Fox Business]
* Cory Booker (Yale Law ’97) won a Senate seat last night, promptly bumping Lat from the cover of the next Yale Law alumni magazine. It was the Halloween issue — the annual Boo Haven edition. [ABC News]
* Mark Cuban was acquitted of insider trading charges yesterday. In related news, this basset houndloves fans. [CBS News]
* Brooklyn Law faces a possible debt downgrade from Standard & Poor’s. The school’s unemployed graduates, substandard and poor, have yet to weigh in. [Crain's New York Business]
Contractors have been there before — an unnecessarily angry associate screaming at a room of temps muttering about when they were first-year associates. So what has got their panties in a bunch? Well, like most curmudgeons, it is change. The legal landscape is rapidly shifting, and one has to move with the tide or be swept away.
We frequently throw the term “Contract Attorney” around in this column, but there are a wide variety of tasks that are now considered contract work. As the tasks change, contractors encroach more and more on work traditionally thought of as an associate’s domain.
So what are the most typical contractor tasks, and how are they affecting the associates’ way of life?
Sometimes, the conventional wisdom is dangerously wrong.
Today’s conventional wisdom is this: “Never do any direct examination of your own witnesses at [discovery] depositions. These witnesses are under your control. If opposing counsel tries to use the deposition testimony against you in a motion, you’ll just get an affidavit from your witness and fix the problem. If opposing counsel tries to use the bad testimony against you at trial, you’ll just call the witness live at trial, and you’ll fix any issues with the testimony there. Doing direct examination during the deposition just gives opposing counsel advance notice of the way you’ll fix the testimony later.”
(Some folks will admit to an exception or two to this rule. If the witness said “yes” and meant “no,” then maybe you have to fix that on the record at the deposition. If the witness is 95 years old and has a bad cough, then maybe you should do a direct examination during the deposition. But those exceptions are typically few and far between.)
If you haven’t yet heard this conventional wisdom, then either (1) you’re not a litigator or (2) you haven’t yet defended your first deposition of a person under your control.
I’m here today to tell you why this conventional wisdom is often wrong. . . .
Last year, a New York judge denied a motion to dismiss made by Allen & Overy in the sexual harassment case brought against the firm by the former associate known as Deidre Dare (aka Deidre Clark). “And thank God for that,” as Clark herself said.
We have nothing against Allen & Overy; the Magic Circle member is one of the world’s finest firms. It’s just that if the lawsuit had been dismissed, we would have been deprived of this amazing video of a managing partner reading pornography aloud during his deposition.
Yes, we know that watching video is tough for those of you who are reading us at work. But close your office door, or don your headphones, or put a reminder in your calendar to watch when you get home tonight. This short clip is worth it….
* Mike Brown, the man at the center of the would-be South Carolina restaurant racial discrimination suit, has a post over at xoJane telling his story. [xoJane]
* Time for a Team Prenda update! Now they are making really embarrassingly terrible “your mom” jokes. [Popehat]
* Contrary to Elie’s tweet, there is kind of a legal angle to the debacle at the VMAs that was Miley Cyrus dancing with an aging Michael Keaton dressed as Beetlejuice Robin Thicke. MuckRock has submitted a FOIA request to find out how many complaints were filed with the FCC. Unfortunately, my bet is that the number is more than zero, despite the FCC having no legal authority over indecency on MTV. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, here’s a collection of GIFs. [MuckRock]
* Shots fired! Law Librarian Blog snarks on Law Professor Blogs 2.0 re-design. Palace Intrigue: Blogger Edition. [Law Librarian Blog]
* A new website provides an online course in general deposition prep for witnesses. Will this work? Pro: Deposition prep involves haphazard application of life lessons from a lawyer’s individual career and a professionalized course is beneficial. Con: Why would a firm forfeit all those billable hours to a third-party? [The Perfect Witness]
* Not every law school is cutting back. San Joaquin College of Law is expanding its enrollment. It’s not ABA-accredited, so all these students are sure to land on their feet. [KFSN]
* Since we’re likely to be at war with Syria by the end of the week, here’s a thoughtful piece on the legality of intervention in light of the UN charter and moral obligations. [Boston Review]
* The Poly Prep alumni who settled their sex abuse suit against the school are going after O’Melveny & Myers for allegedly playing a part in prolonging the litigation by doing what lawyers do best: lying. [Am Law Daily]
* If you’ve got a case up on appeal and you’re like a virgin, giving oral (arguments) for the very first time, then you should probably consider taking a look at the top 10 tips that’ll help you to prepare for it. [The Recorder]
* The California Supreme Court denied petitions from Proposition 8 proponents seeking to enforce a ban on same-sex marriage across the state. Kamala Harris, the country’s best looking AG, approves. [BuzzFeed]
* The Chapman School of Law will change its name after receiving the second-largest donation ever made to a law school. N.B. The donor isn’t a law school graduate, which certainly explains why he has cash to spare. [National Law Journal]
* Keep ya head up: Legendary lawyer Roger Rosen, whose clients range from O.J. Simpson to Phil Spector, will hang up his shingle to avoid prosecution for leaking info to Tupac’s killers. [New York Post]
* Just think, if the judge in Paula Deen’s case had permitted counsel to stay discovery, perhaps the celebrity chef wouldn’t have been able to serve up a slice of her piping hot racism casserole. [Daily Report]
When it comes to the deposition process, it can get painfully boring for everyone involved. That’s why we love it when deponents spice things up by telling attorneys to “suck [their] dick,” or by accusing counsel of asking “stupid-ass questions.”
Sometimes, even the lawyers get involved in the fun, by drawing pictures of male genitalia or asking probing questions like, “So, your jurisprudential hymen is being ruptured?” We thought that we’d seen it all when it came to deposition antics, but it seems that we were incredibly mistaken.
Has a naked man ever interrupted one of your depositions?
Place eight metric tons of butter in large mixing bowl.
Add 16 kilos of salt.
Mix in buttermilk, meat product, and two eggs.
Fry in LOW FAT cooking oil.
Inject directly into carotid artery.
Serves one baby.
– Every Paula Deen recipe ever.
By now, many of you have heard about Paula Deen’s ridiculous deposition, in which she basically admitted that she’s a horrible racist who thinks slavery was funny. But since she made a career off of being a random woman who cooks like she thinks heart disease is funny, I already have a hard time taking anything she says seriously enough to be outraged by it.
So, how about this, I won’t act like Paula Deen’s views on a “perfect Southern wedding” speak for all Southerners, and Southerners won’t feel the need to reflexively defend the offensive and racist views of Paula Deen. It’s one thing to live in the South and like butter. It’s another thing to wish for a “bevy of tap dancing little n***ers” at your brother’s Southern wedding….
Sometimes, we care about questions. Sometimes, we care about answers. Sometimes, we care about both.
When you’re reporting on a situation, remember that.
I see many, many interview reports that unnecessarily include questions when the reader cares only about answers. If you’re interviewing a witness, and the witness lived the facts (and you personally know bupkis), then we really don’t care about your questions; we care only about the witness’ answers.
So, when you’re reporting on your interview of the witness, do not assign an abbreviation to your name (Mark Herrmann, hereinafter MH), an abbreviation to the witness’s name (The Witness, hereinafter TW), and then report on your questions as though they mattered:
“MH asked . . . . TW responded . . . . MH followed up by asking . . . .”
We care only about the facts — which the witness knows, and you do not — so report only the facts:
“According to the witness . . . .” Your name should appear no more than once in the entire report, so we know who conducted the interview.
That’s a situation where we care only about answers. But there are other situations where we care only about questions . . . .
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
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