One of our favorite law professor bloggers, Stephen Bainbridge, chimes in on yesterday’s summer associate scandal story. His commentary appears here.
Our general view of the matter was summed up by a commenter: “Guys from my high school used to seal the deal with girls from college all the time. It was no big deal.” Professor Bainbridge begs to differ.
P.S. Same rules apply. Please don’t name any individuals in the comments — including, but not limited to, the summer associate, the college intern, or the associate who brought the SA’s conduct to the attention of the hiring partner. Thanks.
Advice for Young Law Firm Associates: Don’t Poop Where You Eat [Punditry - Professor Bainbridge]
Earlier: Summer Associate of the Day: The Cradle Robber
Update: Take our reader poll:
One of our favorite law professor bloggers, Stephen Bainbridge, chimes in on yesterday’s summer associate scandal story. His commentary appears here.
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my law firm. My sin, my soul, my summer intern. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.”
Now that summer associate programs are over, and most summers have offers safely in hand, it’s a good (read: safe) time to dish about SA scandals. If you have a story to share that we haven’t previously covered, please email us.
Here’s one story that is making the rounds. We’ve omitted the firm name because the summer class was not very large. Per our usual rules, please don’t name the summer associate (or the college student) in the comments.
After a firm-sponsored event, a college student interning at the firm went out for drinks with several summer and full-time associates. She was not old enough to be drinking.
The college intern, in a state of inebriation, left the bar hanging all over one of the summer associates (hereinafter “The Cradle Robber”). Later that evening, the Cradle Robber wrote an email to several associates, claiming that “the deal was sealed” with the college intern.
An associate forwarded the email to the hiring partner. The Cradle Robber did not receive an offer.
Read our take on this series of events, after the jump.
[Ed. note: This post is by MARIN, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Marin's avatar (at right).]
If you’ve ever secretly read somebody else’s email 537 times, turns out you’re not alone. Larry Mendte, former CBS3 Philadelphia news anchor and Botox enthusiast, allegedly hacked into his former co-anchor Alycia Lane’s personal email accounts 537 times since January 2008 and leaked the contents of some of those emails to the press, according to the criminal information filed last Monday. What makes this case interesting is not the charge itself (one felony count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization; Mendte is expected to plead guilty on August 22), but the fact that this case appears to confirm that there are real-life Ron Burgundys among us: vain, jealous and 100% ridiculous.
According to Lane’s attorneys, Mendte, insanely envious of Lane’s 8.7% higher salary (Lane supposedly made $780,000, Mendte about $100,000 less), embarked on a campaign to sabotage her career by installing keylogger programs to obtain Lane’s passwords, which he then used to compulsively check Lane’s emails from work. And home. And vacation. And his country club. Lane unwittingly assisted Mendte in his plot to undermine her by sending pictures of herself in a bikini to married NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen, which were intercepted by Eisen’s wife. It is believed that Mendte leaked the correspondence to the press, including the wife’s classic response:
Boy, do you look amazing in a bikini . . . congrats! Whatever you’re doing, (Pilates? yoga?) keep doing it – it’s working for you. Anyway, sorry but those seven e-mails you sent to my husband, Rich, well, oops, they came to the e-mail address we both use from time to time, but no worries, I’ll forward the beach shots as well as the ones of you dancing with your friends on to his main address. Do you have it?
Mendte also allegedly leaked certain privileged communications between Lane and her lawyer concerning that one time when she allegedly assaulted a police officer and accidentally called her a “dyke b*tch.” Stay classy, Philadelphia.
Evidently Mendte was so busy hacking into email, subverting attorney-client privilege and leaking private information to the press that he failed to consider that his lower salary was merited. It takes more than a Cheshire grin and a plastic face to succeed as a news anchor, and unfortunately for Mendte, his spray tan could not mask his complete ineptitude as an investigative journalist.
When you’ve been wronged, there’s a part of you that wants the whole world to know. Maybe you think exposing the evildoer’s misdeeds will bring solace, revenge, sympathy… But more often than not, it brings scorn. People just don’t like tattletales.
Several tipsters sent along such an exchange from the University of Michigan’s law school list-serv. Here’s the catfight one law student sent out to the list-serv with the subject line, “not sure how to handle this:”
On Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 11:22 PM, TATTLETALE wrote:
Listen, I tried to be nice and understanding about all this but now it’s just ridiculous! I did you a favor and now I’ve been stuck hounding you for my phone for months and months as if you’re doing ME the favor! I bought that phone for $120, so either send me a check for that amount or return the phone ASAP…
I’m not going to lecture you about how this is no way to treat a law school class mate and definately [sic] no way to start making your reputation in the legal community — hopefully you realize all that. Just return the phone or the money so I can finally forget about this after half a year!
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2008 08:01:52 +0200
Subject: Re: phone
You f***ing nasty b****,
My sister is gonna give you a f***ing check that you can f***ing hold onto until I come back from rome.
On Fri, Jul 25, 2008 at 7:54 AM, EVILDOER wrote:
I AM INF ***ING ROME YOU STUPID W****. I SAID I WILL MAIL IT TO YOU ONCE I
GET BACK. NO REASON TO BE A F***ING B****.
Is bar exam stress driving Michigan students over the edge?
Full exchange (warning: unredacted profanity), plus a bevy of responses, after the jump.
(We’ve redacted identities — and appreciate your protecting anonymity in the comments. Thanks.)
Curvaceous 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.
This 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.
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 10:14 AM
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.
A 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.
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.”
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.
From 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.
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]
- Email Scandals, Law Professors, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Politics, Vicious Infighting, William and Mary School of Law
We 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.