Screw-Ups

Keith Lee

One of the great, unspoken realities of being a new lawyer that is never mentioned in law school is that you are going to screw up – badly. And then you’re going to have to explain it to your client or supervising attorney.

You’re going to miss a deadline, not file an objection, miss some case law, or not contact an attorney involved in the case on a hearing. A mistake is going to be made and it will be your fault.

You may be tempted to try and shift the blame. Come up with excuses as to why something outside of your control caused the problem. That you were swamped with work and had too much on your plate. He said, she said. But if it was a task assigned to you, it is your personal responsibility to make sure it was completed on time and specification.

As the task, and subsequent mistake, are your responsibility – you must own it….

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Over the course of the past few years, law school personnel have found it especially difficult to keep their students’ personal information private. In April 2012, someone at Baylor Law School sent out an email containing a trove of admissions data — from names, to grades, to LSAT scores — to every student admitted to the Class of 2015. In March 2014, Loyola Law School in Los Angeles sent out an email with a heap of financial information for the entire graduating class — up to and including Social Security numbers and loan amounts — to some members of the Class of 2014.

Today, we’ve got another email screw-up for you, and this is one of the juiciest and most prestigious accidental data dumps we’ve seen yet. Someone at a T14 law school “inadvertently” sent out every piece of vital information possible about its clerkship applicants — from GPA, to class rank, to work experience, to recommenders, right down to where their girlfriends live — to everyone on its clerkship listserv.

If you’d like to see how you stack up against elite law students, now you can. We’ve got all the data…

Please note the UPDATES at the end of this post.

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Justice Scalia made what’s being called “a hugely embarrassing mistake” and an “epic blunder” after he wrote one of his characteristically dismissive and belittling dissents. Unfortunately it seems Justice Scalia (or his clerks) failed to do proper research and based an entire section of his dissent on a past decision that he completely mischaracterized.

A past decision that he wrote himself. Cue effect.

Maybe if he spent more time focusing on the law instead of fomenting revolution he could have avoided this….

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In the wake of the Heartbleed incident, everyone is understandably concerned about their online privacy.

If you’ve applied to law school with the assistance of the good folks at LSAC, you probably appreciated the opportunity to have your law school application process entirely automated. But you also placed your personal information at risk, up to and including your Social Security number, due to some serious (but easily remedied) security flaws.

Thankfully, they know about the problem and are working on it.

Maybe. Eventually. It’s not really clear.

Which, considering the gravity of the risk, is just as discomforting an answer as blowing it off completely….

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Congratulations to everyone who passed the February bar exam. As we recently learned from several late-night texts from readers, results just came out in New York (which tends to be one of the last states to post). Private look-up for New Yorkers is available here, and results should be posted publicly soon.

Judging from the timing of the texts we received, New York results were available sometime after midnight today (Thursday). But one candidate found out his results on Wednesday afternoon. How?

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(And how one New Yorker got early results.)

Yesterday, Florida released the results of the February 2014 Bar Exam. At least they thought they did. Many people were disappointed when they learned that they failed.

Then, a few hours later, Florida told people to “double-check” their exam results. Some of the people who thought they failed actually passed. Isn’t that a dream of every failed test taker? “Oh, the graders must have made a mistake, I’m sure I passed.”

See, Florida really is a place where dreams come true. It’s the Incompetent Kingdom…

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Most days, I’m proud of owning my own small law firm. And while technically, I’m not a solo — I’ve had an assistant for over eight years now as well as a revolving crew of of counsel, part-time associates and independent contractors — many of my colleagues lump me and most very small law firms into that category nonetheless. So when other solos act foolishly or unprofessionally, it reflects poorly on the rest of us.

Understand, I’m not picking on solos.  Let’s face it — large law firms are hardly paragons of upstanding conduct; one needn’t look further than the recent Dewey & LeBoeuf scandal as proof. But for whatever reason, when Biglaw behaves badly, that conduct doesn’t diminish the reputation of Biglaw in the eyes of judges and other lawyers as it does for solos.  

So that’s why it bugs me when solos do stupid — and often avoidable — things. Here are my top three peeves:

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Could this be the bar exam bandit?

Bar exam applications suck (believe me, I know — I’ve had to fill out quite a few of them). Bar applicants need to supply every single piece of personal information imaginable, from their birthday and Social Security number to their 10-year work history. If anyone with criminal intent ever got their hands on that information, we can’t even begin to describe how screwed those poor bar applicants would be.

As it turns out, some bar applicants are getting a taste of what it feels like to be violated by a state bar outside of a timed test-taking situation.

Which state bar just exposed an untold number of exam applicants to identity theft due to a break-in?

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With all of the recent advances in technology, even doing the simplest of things can be quite difficult for law school personnel. How hard is it to send an email to prospective students without cursing in the subject line? Very. How hard is it to send an email without attaching the admissions data for a law school’s entire admitted class? Extremely.

We’ve got yet another email screw-up for you, and we think you’re going to like it. When the good folks at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles aren’t busy telling women not to dress like whores, they’re emailing students with very private personal information about everyone in the graduating class.

Sorry Loyola, but we don’t think “law school transparency” means what you think it means….

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Nicor Gas claims that all customers recorded heard a ‘warning’ before being recorded, and ‘consented’ by remaining on the line after the warning was given. But under the law, any consent only gave Nicor Gas a right to record, not to divulge or use the recordings. Any ‘consent’ they got from customers that permitted them to record was for the limited purpose of internal quality assurance – not for divulgence to outside parties, and certainly not for use in public court proceedings

Adam Levitt, a lawyer with Grant & Eisenhofer, in a class action filed against Nicor Gas, a natural gas distributor in northern Illinois. Nicor had a plan. They were so proud of using their recordings of customers in their defense. Too bad Illinois has an Eavesdropping Act that prohibits that. D’oh!

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