Email Scandals

The best time for law school emails is right before spring semester finals. People have been stressed for an entire year and things are just about to get worse, so you see law students just breaking down. The Crimson DNA affair came to light last April; hopefully we’ll get something good this year too.

The second best time to gawk at law students is right now — after Christmas break, but before spring break. Students come back to school and momentarily feel like they matter, like they’re important, like they should speak up when things happen to them.

Like a bear, I feast on the salmon run that comes at the end of the semester, but I’m more than happy to sample the berries and other fruits that become available at this particular time of year. Just this week, we’ve seen a Georgetown kid tell his classmates he is no cheater. We’ve got the BU kid who posted his grades on Facebook.

Today we’ve got pure gold from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Law students can bring the crazy on their own, but they’re so much more interesting when you can put two of them in a room together. Then you can just watch the sparks fly.

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Is “phishing” running rampant throughout the legal community? A few weeks ago, Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School fell victim to a phishing scam. As the HLS Help Desk helpfully explained at the time, “Phishing emails are fraudulent email messages claiming to be from a legitimate source that ask you to send confidential information such as username, password, date of birth, etc.”

The latest high-profile victim of a phishing attack is a leading law firm, WilmerHale. A mass email is going around, purportedly from “Brian Willmer” of “Willmer Hale,” regarding an alleged subpoena. The email is a fraud; as far as we know, there is no “Brian Willmer” of “Willmer Hale.” It contains a link that you definitely do not want to click on.

Let’s look at the fake email — and the very real response, from the managing partners of WilmerHale….

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Yesterday we posted a racy email recounting a male associate’s supposed one-night stand with a female partner. The general consensus was that the story was fiction.

Here’s more support for that view, from our Comment of the Day….

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Maybe Demi Moore - and Ashton Kutcher, not Michael Douglas - will play them in the movie.

Last week, we started hearing about an amazing email making the rounds. In this email message, a male associate at a large law firm allegedly described, in excruciating detail, a supposed sexual encounter with a married female partner at the firm.

Apparently the raunchy email was making like an STD and going viral within the firm. Concerned about this development, the firm tried to crack down on dissemination by distributing a hard-copy memorandum to lawyers and staff, warning them about recent “spam” containing inappropriate language that was being circulated between several firm email accounts. Memo recipients were directed not to forward the “spam” if they received it, and they were also told not to disseminate the paper memo warning of the “spam.”

Meanwhile, the firm’s information-technology team was frantically trying to put the horse back in the barn. Members of the firm’s IT department were working overtime to locate and delete all copies of the email that they could find.

Alas, they didn’t work fast enough. The sexually explicit message — WARNING: stop reading here if such talk might offend you — finally found its blessed way to the Above the Law inbox….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Racy (But Fake?) Email About An Associate’s One-Night Stand With A Married Female Partner”

First of all, Happy Chanukah. May your candles burn bright.

It is certainly possible that some lowly internet hacker was trying to take advantage of some holiday compassion when he or she hacked the email of Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson. Nesson is a well-known figure in “internet and the law” circles — as well as to readers of A Civil Action, who know him as “Billion Dollar Charlie” — but today he’s just another victim of a phishing attack. An email went out to the HLS community this morning claiming that Nesson was stuck in the U.K. and in desperate need of money.

We can’t be sure if Nesson will be able to find and bring charges against the hacker, but let’s hope that if he does he isn’t forced to rely on HLS students for legal advice…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “HLS Potpourri: Professor Nesson Victim of Phishing, While Students Fish for Constitutional Protection from the TSA”

Nothing says “Biglaw” quite like an old-fashioned partner threat. Biglaw partners, a self-important bunch if there ever was one, generally do little to mask their huge egos. But when those egos express themselves in the form of threats against underlings, well, that’s when you learn why people get paid $160,000 right out of school.

You see, in most situations you just can’t treat highly educated people like naughty schoolchildren and expect them to take it. Not if you are paying them $50,000 a year for some average, middle-class lifestyle. They’ll quit. They’ll tell you to take your BS job and shove it down your condescending throat. But when you pay people $160,000 (or more), then you can talk to them however you please. They’ll take it (and apparently thank you for it). Biglaw partners know that their associates are being paid more money than they can make nearly anywhere else, and so they have little incentive to consider how they speak to their associate colleagues.

Now most partners threaten or belittle people on an individual, face-to-face basis. But sometimes these communications are disseminated to a broader group, and on the rarest of occasions these partner meltdowns are captured over email and sent to Above the Law. And those are the best.

Yes, Steven Pesner of Akin Gump, we’re about to make you a star….

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Those of you who have been in the legal profession long enough remember the tale of Jonas Blank. While working as a summer associate at Skadden, he inadvertently sent an irreverent email, intended for a single friend, to the firm’s entire underwriting group (partners included). Whoops.

But the firm was forgiving of young Jonas. He received a full-time offer at Skadden, and he worked there for several years before moving on to Richards, Kibbe & Orbe, a well-regarded boutique (where he still works).

It makes sense that Skadden forgave Jonas. Partners in glass towers should not throw stones….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Skadden Partner Accidentally Emails Confidential Evaluations to Entire Department”

You know how cars can be equipped with an ignition interlock device that prevents the engine from being started if the driver is intoxicated? Can we get one of those thingies for the personal computer, Blackberry, or any other device people can use to send email? Because I’m pretty sure a Northwestern Law student could have used a little technological warning before she logged on to her email this weekend.

Over the weekend we received an email that was (I can only assume) intended for an officer on the Northwestern Student Bar Association. But it was accidentally sent out to the entire NU law school student body. Whoops.

These are the things that happen when you try to email people at 12:30 on Friday night/Saturday morning….

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Discovery disputes, like a certain other thing, happen. But it’s not often that these happenings make the pages of the New York Times. An article on the front page of the business section reports:

Dell has been accused of withholding evidence, including e-mails among its top executives, in a lawsuit over faulty computers it sold to businesses, according to a filing made Thursday. Advanced Internet Technologies filed a motion in Federal District Court in North Carolina asserting that Dell had deliberately violated a court order by failing to produce documents written by its executives, including the company’s chief executive and founder, Michael S. Dell.

The filing is the latest twist in a three-year-old lawsuit brought by A.I.T. that accuses Dell of selling at least 11.8 million faulty PCs over three years and then trying to hide problems with the computers from customers. A.I.T., an Internet services company, says it lost business as a result of the broken Dell machines.

Ironically enough, one of the apparent victims was the law firm representing Dell in the case….

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email e-mail small message microsoft outlook Above the Law.JPGThere are many big questions in life. For example, email etiquette. “To” or “dear” or just a name? “Best” or “best regards” or “sincerely” or just your initials? Instant response or tasteful 15-minute delay?

Like many of the big questions, it’s hard to come up with definitive answers. But one summer associate has a core belief system that he thinks all fellow lawyers and law students should embrace:

The summer intern season / horror show is winding down. For the sake of next year’s crop of law student summer interns/associates, could you please post a commentary on annoying email habits? Maybe something similar to George Costanza’s rules for workplace behavior. Anyways, I was fortunate to work at least three years before heading back to school and learned some useful lessons about email etiquette. Apparently, these lessons do not reach most of my over achieving, nobody-has-ever-told-me-no-before law school classmates who come straight from undergrad.

- Chester Copperpot

Copperpot has brought Four Commandments back from the digital mountaintop. We blaspheme against some of them after the jump….

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