Whoops

The Mandarin Oriental in Boston.

Some readers have issues with the often irreverent commenters here at Above the Law. While ATL commenters sometimes say hurtful or offensive things, like anonymous commenters all over the internet, they also provide significant value. They serve as copy editors, highlighting our typographical mistakes; they work as tipsters, pointing us in the direction of news stories; and they function as fact checkers, identifying errors in reporting.

Relying upon the estimable Boston Globe, we recently reported that Henry Rosen, a real estate lawyer at Choate Hall & Stewart, purchased a fabulous $13 million penthouse condominium. But a commenter came along and disputed that: “[Rosen's] just a straw — he purchased it as trustee for a trust.”

After seeing this comment, we raised the issue with the Boston Globe reporter who wrote the original story. And as it turns out, Henry Rosen is not the real party in interest. He is not the true purchaser of the prime penthouse at the Mandarin Oriental in Boston.

Let’s look at the Globe’s correction….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Think A Lawyer Can Afford a $13 Million Condo? Think Again.”

There’s a reason why people get crotchety when they get old. People forget about things that went right in their professional lives; that’s like water off a duck. But people remember things that got screwed up; that’s what sticks in their craws.

You personally are not necessarily incompetent. But you’re tarred by the ghosts of incompetents past. When your elder — a partner, a boss, a client, whoever — asks you to do something, the boss assumes that you won’t do it. The boss doesn’t assume this because she knows that you’re irresponsible; she assumes it because the clown she asked to do something six months ago was irresponsible, and she has to hedge against you being an irresponsible clown, too.

How do you prove that you’re not irresponsible?

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A wise man once said: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

I think of this whenever there are claims of attorneys royally screwing up e-discovery. It’s easy to indulge in some schadenfreude and say, “What suckers!” But truthfully, many firms — even the big, prestigious ones — are more vulnerable than they’d like to admit.

This month, McDermott Will & Emery ended up in the bright, unpleasant spotlight, because a former client sued the firm for malpractice.

Why, you might ask? The firm allegedly botched a client’s e-discovery.

Keep reading to see how the Am Law 100 firm became the e-discovery dunce du jour….

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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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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….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “About That Job You Applied For Two Years Ago”

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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Image representing MySpace as depicted in Crun...

Proving your case requires more than a screenshot.

The practice of “oversharing” on social networks has been a boon for law enforcement. Investigations regularly involve checking out people’s Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn profiles. Thus, it’s probably unwise to post about your involvement in a crime. Or about threatening a witness set to testify against your boyfriend.

While investigating Antoine Griffin, a murder suspect in Maryland, police checked out his girlfriend’s MySpace wall, where she had unwisely written (note that “Boozy” is Griffin’s nickname): “FREE BOOZY!!!! JUST REMEMBER SNITCHES GET STITCHES!! U KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!”

The “veiled” message was a little too transparent. During the trial, prosecutors used this as evidence that Boozy’s girlfriend, Jessica Barber, had intimidated one of their key “snitches” witnesses, affecting his testimony. They introduced a print-out of Barber’s MySpace wall into evidence. Boozy was busted and found guilty of the 2005 shooting. Seems like an open and shut case, right?

But Griffin appealed, in part because the prosecution had not proven that it was really his girlfriend’s MySpace profile, or that it was really something she had written. The Maryland Court of Appeals was sympathetic….

Read on at Forbes.com….

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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