Thursday, April 08, 2004
"I didn't know we had to renew the filing every five years." This is what a sixth-year associate came in this morning and told me about a financing statement that just expired on some property one of my clients has a lien on. Or had a lien on. Usually it's no big deal, this stuff lapses and you don't even realize it, and people make the payments and it's fine, no problems. Only this time our client's dealing with a company that looking like it's going to be going through bankruptcy, and even though we just re-filed today, if they file within the next 90 days our client goes from a secured creditor to an unsecured, and my associate's screwup is going to cost our client about $60,000. So we're trying to figure something out. A sixth-year associate should know better. At least even though $60,000 is a lot of money, it's not really a lot of money for a company their size. It's a buffet breakfast with an omelet station, maybe two. Or it's a sixth-year associate's bonus she won't be getting. Or three or four hours of billable time for me or one of my colleagues. $20,000 an hour, yeah, that's about right. Oh well, stuff happens. Lesson learned for the associate, who's probably still curled up in a ball in the corner of her office after this afternoon's conference call where she explained her mistake to the client. She thinks partners are tough. Well, we'd be a lot worse if it was actually our money at stake in some of these deals. This guy tore into her. It was really sort of amusing. Made me remember the days back when I was a young associate and firms weren't yet advertising themselves as humane, civil places where partners don't scream and spit and make you bleed. Letter openers can do quite a bit of damage. I still have a scar near my elbow from the time I forgot to disguise the company name in the tender offer document I was putting together. That didn't happen a second time.