Email Scandals

Monica Lewinsky Monica Lewinsky Monica Lewinsky oral sex blow job Bill Clinton impeachment.jpgCurvaceous beauty Monica Lewinsky, who will go down in history as the world’s most famous intern, once joked about going to law school. Instead she went to the prestigious London School of Economics, from which she graduated with a master’s degree in social psychology.

Interestingly enough, Lewinsky wrote a law-related thesis: “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of the Third Person Effect and Pre-Trial Publicity.” So maybe she’s leaving the door open to law school at a later point in time.

If Lewinsky decides in favor of a legal education, she might want to consider Washington College of Law (WCL), at American University. Based on an amusing instant-messenger chat that has been making the rounds recently — we received it from half a dozen different sources, so it’s in wide circulation — it seems she’d fit right in.

If you have delicate sensibilities, stop reading now. But if not, check out the quasi-racy IM conversation, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Kids These Days: Or, Why You Should Always Sign Out of a Public Computer”

animated siren gif animated siren gif animated siren gif drudge report.GIFThis is, like, WOW. We don’t quite know what to say.

This departure memo, sent by an associate leaving the San Francisco office of Paul Hastings, is extraordinary. It also confirms the rumors — which have swirled about for quite some time, but without confirmation until now — of associate layoffs at PH.

We’re reaching out for comment to the associate in question and to Paul Hastings. But we wanted to put this up ASAP, to break the story first.

Farewell email below (with a handful of minor typos corrected). “Transition Agreement and General Release,” after the jump.

*******************

From: [Redacted]

Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 10:14 AM

To: [redacted]

Subject: My departure

The circumstances surrounding my departure from Paul Hastings have been deeply disappointing. It is one thing to ignore an email sent as a colleague is waiting to have her uterus scraped after a miscarriage, but it is wholly another level of heartlessness to lay her off six days after that. [Partner X] is the only one who expressed any sympathy after my miscarriage, and I am grateful to him for that.

Paul Hastings LLP Paul Hastings logo PH San Francisco ATL Above the Law blog.jpgA business is a business, but it takes very little to convey some level of humanity to carry out even the most difficult business decisions. We are human beings first before we are partners or associates. Had you simply explained that the department is unable to sustain the number of associates in the office, I would have completely understood. Had you explained that the office had been directed to reduce the number of associates and I was chosen because of my high billable rate and low billable hours, I would have appreciated such directness, even though the consequences of blindly raising billable rates to an unsustainable degree is plainly predictable. What I do not understand is the attempt to blame the associate for not bringing in the business that should have been brought in by each of you and to hide your personal failures by attempting to tarnish my excellent performance record and looking to undermine my sense of self esteem.

The last few months have been surreal, at best. Just last year, I had celebrated my engagement and marriage with many of you. In fact, during the engagement party, the head of the department took my then-fiancée aside to express to him what a great attorney I am and what a great future I faced. Indeed, less than a week before this year’s bizarre performance review, I was again told by the same partner that my work is great and that the slow business in no way reflected on my performance. A week later, I was given a mediocre performance review and told that I should worry about whether I have a future at Paul Hastings. When I asked for specific examples of my alleged deficiencies, I received no response. When I asked for an explanation as to why I had been downgraded in so many performance categories when I received absolutely no criticism throughout the year and my prior year’s review was stellar, I was told that my prior year’s performance assessment may have been “over-inflated.” What a startling response.

After my miscarriage, I had discussed my concern with several associates that Paul Hastings may use that opportunity to lay me off quickly before I have a chance to get pregnant again. Those associates thought it unfathomable that a firm would be so callous and assured me that Paul Hastings isn’t that kind of a place. What a lesson this has been for them – and for me. I would not have anticipated that a partner would tell me one thing and completely renege on his words a week later. I would not have anticipated that a female partner (whom I had looked to as a role model) with children of her own would sit stone faced as I broke into tears just days after my miscarriage. Even a few words of sympathy or concern would have made a world of difference. What kind of people squander human relationships so easily?

If this response seems particularly emotional, perhaps an associate’s emotional vulnerability after a recent miscarriage is a factor you should consider the next time you fire or lay someone off. It shows startlingly poor judgment and management skills — and cowardice — on your parts. If you should ever have the misfortune of suddenly losing something or someone precious to you, I hope you don’t find similar heartlessness as I have.

As for your request for a release, non-disclosure, and non-disparagement agreement in return for three months’ pay, I reject it. Unlike you, I am not just a paid mouthpiece with no independent judgment. I will decide how and to whom to communicate how you have treated me. I find it ironic that you would try to buy the right not to be disparaged after behaving as you have. Your actions speak volumes, and you don’t need much help from me in damaging your reputation.

I attach the proposed release for any associate who may be interested in reviewing its details.

[Redacted]

*******************

And that’s all she wrote. The release that Paul Hastings wanted this associate to sign, after the jump.

Update (5:10 PM): We have heard back from the associate in question, who had no additional comment.

Update (8:20 PM): Previously posted in the comments, but now we can bring it up to the main page. Here is Paul Hastings’s statement, from Eileen King, Global Director of Public Relations:

“We disagree with the person’s description of what occurred, but unfortunately we don’t comment on internal employment matters.”

Update (5/6/08): Blog reactions to this story are collected here. Additional discussion of pregnancy discrimination cases appears here. Lawyer layoffs at Paul Hastings are covered here.

Further Update (5/9/08): The author of the email, Shinyung Oh, has gone public and given an interview. See here.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: A Dramatic Farewell Email
(And proof of Paul Hastings layoffs.)”

DLA Piper logo Above the Law blog.jpgSome minor email amusement, in the spirit of Skadden Arps and Pepper Hamilton, courtesy of the Chicago office of DLA Piper:

This is a pretty cool goof by Bill Rudnick, the new head of DLA Piper’s Chicago office. A group of partners just came over from Locke Lord Bissell, and apparently one of them went back to Locke Lord within a week.

Around 8:30 p.m. last Wednesday, three messages went out to the Chicago office all within a couple minutes. The first e-mail below went out first, followed by a “recall” message, and then the last message below.

Read the emails, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Yet Another Biglaw Email Screw-up”

Listserv.gifFrom one of our tipsters:
Richard Rosenbaum, president of Greenburg Traurig, made the following group email faux pas. He used the company listserv to send two emails soliciting contributions for the McCain campaign, proving that law students aren’t the only bumbling souls who screw up listserv etiquette. From Rosenbaum’s first email:

“As we have said on a number of other occasions, our firm does not support any particular presidential candidates as a firm. We are a business catering to a wide range of clients and employing lawyers and staff with a wide variety of interests and preferences in the political arena…”

Blah blah blah, a bunch of politically correct qualifiers, then BANG! The money-grab:

“I have recently been named a National Co-Chair of Senator McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. As has previously been the case, over the next several months I will be working alongside several other leaders from the American business and legal communities to personally solicit contributions and other political support for Senator McCain’s presidential campaign.”

Now, of course, Rosenbaum goes on to say that participation is voluntary, etc. But is it really appropriate for a firm President to use group email to solicit campaign funds?
More, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Campaign Contributions and Listervs”

It’s not just Pepper Hamilton. Email screw-ups are committed by even the most renowned lawyers — like longtime Skadden Arps partner Sheila Birnbaum, a living legend of the product liability defense bar. As we previously wrote, “Birnbaum, who heads Skadden’s Complex Mass Tort and Insurance Group, has a nickname reflecting her expertise: ‘The Queen of Toxic Torts.’”

From the Insurance Coverage Blog:

Some of [Mississippi Attorney General] Jim Hood’s proneness to gaffes must have rubbed off on Sheila Birnbaum of Skadden, Arps, a lead counsel for State Farm, when she was down in Mississippi to hear Hood testify February 6….

Birnbaum accidentally replied to all the people on the distribution list for an e-mail Hood’s press spokeswoman sent out this morning to a number of people, including reporters. Birnbaum thought she was responding to other State Farm lawyers.

Ah, the perils of “reply all.” Perhaps a CLE course should be given on how to use it properly?

(Part of the class could be devoted to client confidentiality issues. I Can Haz Ethics Credits?)

P.S. Birnbaum, by the way, does very nicely for herself. Back in May 2001, Forbes published an interesting list of some of the country’s highest-paid corporate lawyers. Birnbaum reportedly earned $3.8 million a year — and that was back in 2000-2001, before the latest Biglaw boom.

State Farm attorney mistakenly sends query about having Hood held in contempt to reporters, Hood’s press spokesperson [Insurance Coverage Blog]
Email May Hurt State Farm, Miss. Truce [AP via Forbes]
Highest Paid Corporate Lawyers – 2001 [Forbes]
Sheila L. Birnbaum [Skadden]

Earlier: ATL Practice Pointer: When Emailing Super-Sensitive Settlement Information, Double Check the Recipient List
Separated at Birth: Sheila Birnbaum and Harold Koh?

William and Mary Marshall Wythe School of Law Above the Law blog.jpgWe love internecine warfare at law schools and in other academic settings. As the old saying goes — our cursory Googling doesn’t immediately generate the exact wording or source, so we’ll paraphrase — fights in academia are so vicious because the stakes are so small.

As Hillary and Barack do battle in Virginia today, so too do administrators at William and Mary. From a tipster at William & Mary School of Law (interesting factoid: it’s one of the oldest law schools in the country):

Today the William and Mary Board of Visitors decided not to renew William and Mary President Gene Nichol’s contract. Nichols sent out a pretty amazing email to all students about his resignation, and Michael Powell, former FCC Chairman and Rector of W&M, sent a response. Needless to say, people are talking of nothing else today.

To make the story even better, the law school dean, Taylor Reveley, is now serving as President of W&M. Nichols is joining the law school staff, where his wife is also a professor.

Check out the messages — Gene Nichol’s defiant departure email, claiming he was ousted due to ideological reasons, and Michael Powell’s steadfast denial that the non-renewal was based on ideology — after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Turmoil at William & Mary – Law School Dean Takes Over as President”

email e-mail small message microsoft outlook Above the Law.JPGBut it didn’t result in a front-page New York Times story on the Zyprexa settlement talks. Apparently reporter Alex Berenson had independent knowledge of the settlement negotiations, and this knowledge was the basis for his story. Details over at Drug and Device Law.
In our brief and breezy post, we never claimed that the email error triggered the NYT story. But we did link to other sources that mistakenly suggested this. So if you read the original post, be sure to read this correction / clarification.
Update: Actually, the correction may itself require correction (or at least clarification). See here.
It Wasn’t Pepper’s Fault! Berenson Confirms [Drug and Device Law]
Earlier: ATL Practice Pointer: When Emailing Super-Sensitive Settlement Information, Double Check the Recipient List

email e-mail small message microsoft outlook Above the Law.JPGOr triple check, or quadruple check. Especially when one of the lawyers involved in the case has the same last name as a New York Times reporter.
Assuming the email system in question was Microsoft Outlook, we imagine the panicked Pepper Hamilton lawyer trying to invoke the amusingly ineffectual “Recall” function (à la Judge Marsha Berzon).
Also, we’re thinking of getting our last name legally changed to “Boies.”
Update: As it turns out, Alex Berenson and Brad Berenson are cousins. Small world!
Further Update: This post is subject to a quasi-correction / clarification. See here.
Still Further Update: Actually, the quasi-correction may itself require correction (or at least clarification). See here.
What’s in a Name? Alex Berenson (the crusading reporter) vs. Bradford Berenson (the high-powered attorney). [Starkman & Associates]
Lilly’s $1 Billion E-Mailstrom [Portfolio]
How to Recall an E-mail in Microsoft Outlook [eHow.com]

supreme court small with heart above the law atl.JPGTo San Francisco, apparently, to clerk on the Ninth Circuit.
We hope that the author of this email is clerking for one of court’s slave-driver judges. He needs to be kept busy, so he won’t have time for any more literary endeavors.
“Pleaded” or “pled” may be a matter of personal preference. But turns of phrase like “I had to have breakfast with my unit” and “the inadequate salve of an orgasm” ought to be criminalized — even in the Ninth Circuit.
Correction: We’ve heard from the woman who received the email. As it turns out, she works for the Ninth Circuit; the sender does not (although he is an attorney, in southern California). She construes the references to the Ninth Circuit to mean “that the job he currently has is *his version* of the Ninth Circuit — that is, his dream job.”
“It Was A Risk — Dating You. Risking My Reputation. Where Was Respect For That?” [Jezebel]

Susan Estrich Fox News Quinn Emanuel Supreme Court clerk Above the Law blog.jpgMore news from one of ATL’s favorite law firms, Quinn Emanuel. See Gawker and Radar.
If your friends are as fabulous as Susan Estrich’s, why hide them behind a bcc?
Query: Could this actually be a brilliant viral marketing ploy? Has Susan Estrich harnessed the power of the blogosphere to get all the world to read her paean to QE?
The Art Of The ‘To’ Line [Gawker]
Fox News’ Susan Estrich Has a New Job [Radar Online via Big Law Board]

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