Screw-Ups

Have you ever messed something up for a client? Ever make a mistake that was yours and yours alone, that caused your client a problem and you and your firm some embarrassment?

If you haven’t, then you haven’t been practicing very long. Because you can’t practice for a long time without making some mistakes. It’s human nature, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or self-deluding.

In 17 years of practicing as a small-firm lawyer, I made my share of mistakes. More than some lawyers, perhaps; fewer than others. Not so many that it prevented me from getting a reputation among clients and peers as a decent lawyer. But more than I wanted to make.

Obviously, we should strive to minimize the number of mistakes we make as lawyers, and to minimize their severity. But one of the most important things to learn as a lawyer is how to handle it when you’ve made a mistake.

Here are eight tips to help you fix your mistakes and make your clients love you.…

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This news is more than a little scary.

Google announced yesterday that hackers in China had gotten access to hundreds of Gmail accounts. And it wasn’t just anyone’s email. The attack targeted senior government officials in the United States, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries, military personnel, and journalists.

I have a feeling we will hear a lot more about this over the next few days. For the moment, let’s take a look at the details we know so far….

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Is it really that hard to make a commencement speech? I wrote one in high school. It was basically about seizing the day. My friend made one in college. Same theme, only in Latin. You can also make commencement speeches about giving back to your community, the importance of education, or how your generation is the most awesome generation ever to be generated. It’s not hard, people.

And yet people consistently screw it up. Today we have two different ways that people can screw up a commencement speech — one example from an old person, one example from a young person. One example from a very good law school, one example from a school that isn’t ranked that highly.

Apparently, anybody can screw up a commencement address if they try hard enough….

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The Squire Sanders email system.

Say this for lawyers: they get around to things. Sure, the process might take a while, much longer than one would reasonably expect. But at the end of the day, lawyers do their paperwork.

Apparently, somebody at Squire Sanders in the U.K. has been catching up on old emails. Really old emails. Like, job application emails that were sent during the height of the recession.

I bet people who applied to Squire Sanders in 2009 thought that the firm had forgotten about them, but that is not the case! The firm just needed to get its ducks in a row. Now that it’s had time to full assess the economic landscape, the firm has decided that it’s no longer hiring….

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If you read a lot of e-discovery articles — and I know y’all do — you know that judges are quickly losing any patience for attorneys who don’t have their act together during e-discovery (or even regular old discovery).

I know that nothing about the process is simple or easy. I know e-discovery is expensive and time-consuming and involves complex computer programs that most people don’t understand. But seriously, everyone needs to hurry up and figure this stuff out.

Otherwise you might end up like the attorneys for the city of Washington, D.C., who got benchslapped so hard on Monday that they won’t be able to see straight for a week.

Read on to learn about what Chief Judge Royce Lamberth (D.D.C.) described as a discovery abuse “so extreme as to be literally unheard of”….

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I’m done whining about Facebook privacy issues. Everyone should know by now that Facebook and privacy are basically mutually exclusive.

But every once in a while, someone does something stupid relating to Facebook privacy in a new, exciting way — like stealing a computer and posting photos of yourself on the owner’s page, or uploading placenta pics from your nursing-school class. We enjoy mocking covering such special occasions. It’s even better when Facebook bungles have larger implications.

Last week, an emergency room doctor in Rhode Island got reprimanded and fined $500 by the state medical board. (She had been fired from her hospital last year.)

Why? She posted information about a patient on Facebook….

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Raise your hand if you are a JPMorgan Chase customer. Now raise your hand if you’ve shopped at Best Buy. How about Citibank, Target or Walgreens?

Has everybody in the world raised their hands yet? Congratulations — your email address may have been stolen.

There was a data breach at Epsilon, a Texas-based marketing firm, last weekend, exposing the names and email addresses of potentially millions of their clients’ customers. I first found out about it when Chase emailed me. You might have gotten a similar alert from one of the affected companies.

Read part of the bank’s announcement and more about the breach, after the jump.

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You know, given the fact that most law school professors act like they are doing you a favor by grading your exams, it’s a wonder this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often. Of course, since it doesn’t happen more often, this is a noteworthy occurrence.

A criminal law professor out in California figured out there were grading errors from her fall semester course. She figured this out last week. But the errors were so significant that it changed the class rank of some students.

Yeah, so if you got dinged from a summer associate position because your first semester grades were too low, or if perhaps you didn’t even apply for some positions because you didn’t meet a percentile cut-off, whoops, your professor might have screwed up.

Which law school needs to examine its motives?

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Sometimes you just have to whip it out and wait for somebody to bring over a ruler. That’s just a part of life.

But some lawyers seem to sit around all day just waiting for an opportunity to drop drawers and call for the chains.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this guy from SNR Denton. He was reading the Middle East Practice Area ABA listserv and came across an innocent question and follow-up discussion. Instead of answering the question or providing any helpful information whatsoever, he shot off a quick little response about his firm’s own magnificence.

And to make matters worse (and hilarious), it turns out he didn’t even know what he was talking about in the first place…

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Full disclosure: Gilbert Arenas is one of my favorite basketball players. Sure, he’s a selfish, me-first player. And he seems to be one of the gun-nut whackos I would never want as a neighbor. But the man is the author of one of the best quotes of all time.

Check out Deadspin for Gilbert’s full thoughts on shark attacks. Here’s the kicker:

So if you’re swimming in the water and a shark bites you, that’s called trespassing. That is called trespassing. That is not a shark attack.

A shark attack is if you’re chilling at home, sitting on your couch, and a shark comes in and bites you; now that’s a shark attack. Now, if you’re chilling in the water, that is called invasion of space. So I have never heard of a shark attack.

Arenas is a gunner on the court and off the court, and he would certainly be one in the legal classroom.

So who knows, maybe he would make a great lawyer? He can’t be much worse than the lawyers at Trope and Trope. That’s the name of the law firm representing Arenas’s ex-girlfriend in legal proceedings against the star athlete.

And thanks to Trope, we know everything the woman is alleging against Arenas. Apparently Trope can’t keep its documents in order….

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