Rudeness

Jordan Belfort

Last night, I attended a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y featuring some very interesting individuals — including two lawyers. Thane Rosenbaum, the law professor and novelist, moderated a panel featuring former federal prosecutor Daniel Alonso, CNBC anchor Kelly Evans, and the “star” of the evening, Jordan Belfort — the disgraced stockbroker turned convicted felon turned bestselling author who served as the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film, The Wolf of Wall Street.

So what was the evening like? One attendee described it as “cringeworthy” — and I have to agree….

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‘Hey, everybody! I just wanted to let you know I’m an a-hole!’

Law is a profession that attracts some of the most cunning of linguists modern society has to offer. The ability to speak eloquently about dense legal concepts is an art that takes years to perfect, and is a skill that some lawyers can only hope to someday achieve. Until that time rolls around, other lawyers are happy to roll up their sleeves and employ the usage of a language they’re all fluent in to prove their respective points: sarcasm. It’s the lazy lawyer’s key to success — but it can also serve as his undoing.

Sometimes, being overly sarcastic can earn a lawyer a reputation for being a loveable jokester. Other times, being overly sarcastic can earn a lawyer a seat at his very own disciplinary hearing. For example, asking opposing counsel if he’s “grow[n] a pair” yet would probably land a lawyer in the hot seat.

The subject of today’s foray into ethical lapses definitely grew a pair of his own, because not only was he censured for his over-the-top sarcastic remarks, but he also admitted that he’d been ignoring his work in favor of golf trips and exotic vacations. Fore! Watch out for that legal career hitting the sand trap…

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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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Judges are people too. Usually older people apt to complain that everyone should keep it down and get off their lawn. And in the interest of getting people to quiet down, older people love writing rules. As Jerry Seinfeld said of Florida, older folks “work hard their entire lives just so they can move down there, sit in the heat, pretend it’s not hot, and enforce these rules.”

So it really shouldn’t come as a surprise when we get our hands on this over-the-top “Best Practices” guide sent out by a county judge for every lawyer, staff member, and litigant who crosses the courthouse threshold.

And it’s even less of a surprise when it reads like it was written by a grumpy grandparent….

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We overuse the word “childish” when discussing the behavior of lawyers. This dispute though is so utterly childish it can be summed up as “Teacher! Denise swore!” and “But, Dan did it first!”

Rare is the opinion with the word “a**hole” (though without the wusstrisks we use on this site) in the opening sentence. But that’s what you get when a judge levels a benchslap against one side for “intemperate language,” which is apparently a thing that lawyers shouldn’t use.

Now lawyers can be a salty bunch, so it takes a serious outburst to earn the ire of a federal judge. And this woman doesn’t disappoint, allegedly drafting an aggressive email peppered with “intemperate language” combined with shady tactics and outright lying. It’s a cocktail of behavior that deserves consideration if you’re looking for case studies for a professional responsibility course. As the judge writes in his opinion, this is one where the lawyer should have hit “delete” instead of “send.”

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Donald Sterling

Go back to answering questions rather than making somewhat entertaining comments.

– Judge Michael Levanas, in response to Donald Sterling’s combative antics during a trial to determine whether the 80-year-old billionaire was competent to remain as co-trustee of the Los Angeles Clippers trust. During testimony, Sterling called opposing counsel a “weird lawyer” and a “smartass.”

The happy couple, before Dengal’s balls ruined their wedding.

[Samuel James Dengal's] act was so extreme and outrageous as to exceed all possible bounds of decency and must be regarded as utterly atrocious and intolerable in a civilized community.

– An excerpt taken from Anna Rogers Murphy’s lawsuit against City Market Hotel Associates, the operators of the Double Tree Hotel & Suites in Charleston, South Carolina. Murphy alleges that a hotel guest “pressed his unsheathed member” against a window for all of her wedding guests to see.

During the final year of law school, those who are about to be handed their degrees are desperately seeking legal jobs of any kind so they can be counted among the few, the proud, the would-be lawyers who are employed at graduation.

Considering how terrible the job market is, those who are lucky enough to find a job are likely do anything they can to keep it. They might even be willing to deal with some “disgusting and grotesque” sexual comments for a while.

But how much is too much? It’s quitting time when the boss starts demanding sexual favors…

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Star Trek, beads and wire, sculpture by Devorah Sperber, Spock, Kirk and McCoy: Beaming-In (In-Between), Microsoft, Studio D, Redmond, Washington, USA" by Wonderlane

From Star Trek — The Motion Picture:

Doctor McCoy: Spock, you haven’t changed a bit. You’re just as warm and sociable as ever.

Spock: Nor have you, Doctor, as your continued predilection for irrelevancy demonstrates.

Spock is a Vulcan. He gets away with living by “reason and logic with no interference from emotion,” but that’s because his extraterrestrial humanoid species gave “massive assistance to a devastated post–World War III Earth, enabling the planet to eliminate poverty, disease, and suffering within a single century.”

Lawyers, unless you can save planet Earth like the Vulcans did, don’t be so cocksure about the upside of being a 24/7, devoid-of-emotion, professional a-hole….

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‘Have spent all day fending Edna off my graphite shaft.’

We already knew that Biglaw firms aren’t exactly the most friendly places for women. We already knew that some male lawyers are still quite miffed that women invaded their good old boys’ clubs. What we didn’t know was that some Biglaw firms would go so far as to essentially sign off on their partners’ extremely sexist views.

Which firm recently found out that one of its partners was involved in a sexist email scandal, and is doing absolutely nothing about it?

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