I’ve never met you, but I assume that you’re incompetent.
I realize that sounds a bit harsh, but it’s time someone told you the truth.
Some people assume that strangers are competent. One of my colleagues in our Law Department said to me recently: “Outside counsel says we won’t have much liability in that case.”
I naturally asked, “Is he right?”
She was shocked: “He’s a partner at a well-respected firm. We hired him. I assume he’s competent.”
That got us to talking. My colleague gives strangers the benefit of the doubt; she assumes that people are competent until they prove otherwise. I’m exactly the opposite: When I meet you, my working assumption is that you’re inept. Over time, there’s a chance you’ll convince me that I’m wrong. (But probably not.)
Why do I assume that all new people I meet are incompetent?
No, that’s too easy. Here’s the better question: Why am I right to assume that everyone’s incompetent, and why is that a helpful way to go through life?
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….
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…
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….
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….
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?
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…
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:
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?
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.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
Non-attorneys would think the stress comes from preparing for a big trial, deposing a hostile witness, or crafting the perfect contract for a picky client.
But that’s nothing compared to the constant, nagging, real-life kind, the kind you get from the day-to-day grind of being a law-abiding attorney.
Connecticut plaintiffs-side boutique litigation firm (12 lawyers) seeks full-time associate with 2-4 years litigation experience, top tier undergraduate and law school education. Journal or clerkship experience a plus; highest ethical standards and strong work ethic required. Familiarity with Connecticut state court legal practice is preferred, but not required.
The firm handles sophisticated, high-end cases for plaintiffs, including individuals and businesses with significant claims in a wide array of matters. Our cases often have important public policy implications, and are litigated in state and federal courts throughout Connecticut. Representative areas of practice include medical malpractice, catastrophic personal injury, business torts, deceptive trade practices and other complex commercial litigation, and products liability.
Additional information can be located on our website, at www.sgtlaw.com.