Reply All

As an openly gay attorney at Becker & Poliakoff for over nine years, I know that the email sent by this attorney does not reflect the core values of this firm. In fact, Becker & Poliakoff is committed to diversity as reflected by the firm’s hiring practices, outreach and diversity scholarships awarded annually.

Michael Gongora, a shareholder at Becker & Poliakoff, explaining how outreach and scholarships might help future Becker lawyers learn where AIDS comes from. The firm says it has taken “immediate and severe” action against Walter Kubitz in light of his homophobic firm-wide email, but still refuses to announce the nature of the action. Kubitz’s profile is still up on the firm website, so I’m wondering if Becker management understands what “immediate and severe” even means.

The last few years have helped me get very used to the passive-aggressive bigotry that homophobes still think they can get away with. “Just believing” that marriage is between a man and a woman conveniently leaves out the stunning antipathy to gay love and civil rights… but it doesn’t sound as “hateful” as it is. And the idea that gay marriage can somehow threaten straight marriages sounds more stupid than bigoted, even though it’s both.

Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to search very long for harsh anti-gay rhetoric. But in the refreshingly genteel environment of educated society, old-school, anti-gay hate speech comes off as particularly harsh.

Old-school, anti-gay hate speech captured over law firm email is downright surprising given the current environment. But then again, bigoted statements that a senior lawyer sent out to all attorneys at a law firm come back all the way around to “incredibly stupid.”

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this stupid, bigoted, dumbass, hate-filled, verbal feces slathered all over law firm email is… quaint.

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Does being a Biglaw partner mean never having to say you’re sorry… for annoying, rude, or stupid firm-wide emails? When associates hit “reply all” to firm-wide emails, they sometimes wind up in hot water. But when partners send their random musings far and wide, their colleagues often praise them.

Sure, occasionally “reply all” emails from partners don’t go over well. Sometimes the messages come across as lecherous: “I admire your gumption, especially when you’re in a tight dress.” Sometimes they sound disloyal: “Why are we both still at this firm?”

Today’s Biglaw partner “reply all” doesn’t rise to those heights of cringe-worthiness. But it’s still bad enough to be worth sharing with you….

(Please note the UPDATE added below, which puts the partner’s email in proper context.)

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How our original tipsters felt.

Yesterday we shared with you a controversial firm-wide email sent by a fairly senior partner at Kirkland & Ellis. After receiving too many “requests for information” that he viewed as a waste of his (and everyone else’s) valuable time, corporate partner Kenneth Morrison fired off a firm-wide response that made fun of three offending messages and offered guidance for future RFIs.

The K&E sources who shared Morrison’s message with us disapproved of it. They viewed it as a share partner essentially engaged in cyberbullying of junior colleagues, publicly humiliating them before the entire firm.

But some folks disagreed — including, for example, many commenters on yesterday’s story. And since then, we’ve heard directly from multiple people, both at Kirkland and outside of it, who support Ken Morrison’s email. Let’s hear what the members of #TeamMorrison have to say, shall we?

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When it comes to annoying emails, deletion is often the better part of valor. Some irritating emails, such as ones from opposing counsel or clients, might require a response. But if you receive an annoying email that does not require a response, don’t respond. Simply delete (or archive) the offending message.

There’s no need to be a hero. There’s no need to publicly call out the sender for being annoying. If you have a burning desire to complain, shoot the sender a private email.

But look, this is just my personal opinion. One equity partner at a super-elite law firm apparently disagrees. After receiving three annoying firm-wide emails, he sent a firm-wide response aimed at chastising and humiliating the senders. In the end, though, he may have humiliated himself most of all….

(Please note the UPDATES below; the partner in question has his defenders.)

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Did you know that the ABA maintains a listerv for all of the law deans at ABA accredited and provisionally accredited schools? I did. And I’ve always thought that it would be great to hack into that listserv. As far as I can recall, we’ve had just one story (although a great story) come from that listserv. I assumed it was because law deans were just really disciplined about not forwarding me threads from their private discussions.

Now I realize that their listserv is just boring as all hell.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, the WSJ Law Blog obtained a copy of the “rules” for the listserv that the ABA circulated to all the law deans recently. I’ve seen law review notes that inspire more interest and discussion….

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We’ve written time and again about the dangers of using the reply-all email function, but it seems that those in Biglaw just can’t take the hint. It’s how allegedly lecherous Quinn Emanuel partners get outed. It’s how apparently discontent MoFo partners share their feelings about the firm. It’s how Skadden partners make their evaluations of associates less than confidential.

And now, it’s how senior associates at Clifford Chance implore their colleagues to stop furiously masturbating to them….

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Last night, David Lat reported that Quinn Emanuel will be rolling out a new approach to on-campus recruiting later this year. Maybe Quinn should also consider a new approach to getting old partners in touch with young secretaries eager to party? Because the current method of accidentally sending reply-all messages referencing the secretaries’ physical attributes might not be the best strategy.

I don’t mean to be cryptic. A Quinn Emanuel partner not only emailed something inappropriate last night, but he accidentally hit “reply all” while he was doing it.

It’s gonna be easy and most likely appropriate to kill the guy. But on the chance that my wife is not reading today, I’m going to offer a defense of this leering partner. Just hear me out…

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A partner at Morrison & Foerster accidentally “replied all” to an email on which “List/Attorney/All” was cc’d. Emails sent to “List/Attorney/All” go out to all 1,000-plus MoFo lawyers around the world.

What the partner wrote in the email was probably not something that should have been shared with the rest of the firm….

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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….

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