Thursday, November 05, 2009

I've been following the news this morning about the Ropes & Gray associate accused of insider trading as part of an investigation into the Galleon Group hedge fund.

Ropes & Gray released a statement, saying in part: "We are deeply disappointed about this situation, which suggests an extreme breach of this person's duty of trust to our clients and to the firm."

Well, no kidding. It's damn well a breach of the duty of trust to the firm. If an associate here found out some insider information we could use to make a killing, they better not be keeping it to themselves. They ought to tell a partner, tell the whole executive committee, give us all a chance to get in on it. If we can't trust our associates to bring us valuable opportunities to increase our own personal wealth, what do we really need them around for? I've spent years digging through client paperwork looking for information that I could use to make better investment decisions. And for an associate-- not even a partner-- for an associate to be running with this, without making the opportunity available to his superiors.... Well, it was a pretty easy decision to fire him. And it should serve as a warning to everyone else at the firm-- you find a good deal, you bring it up the chain of command and let us all have a piece.

Hey, it's not like I don't tell my associates when I go to mortgage foreclosure auctions and try to feast on the corpses of evicted homeowners. They're welcome to come along and join the fun.

As long as their work is done.

And they carry my briefcase. I hate carrying my own briefcase.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Just read about a lawsuit against PepsiCo, regarding Aquafina water, where the plaintiffs won a default judgment of $1.26 billion because a legal secretary forgot to respond to the complaint.

This is why we have the associates do our secretarial work.

Gosh, what a lesson for firms that actually expect their secretaries to do anything. Of course secretaries can't be trusted to do anything, that's why they're secretaries. That's why we need eighth-year associates, supervising sixth-year associates, supervising fourth-year associates, supervising second-year associates, supervising first-year associates whose only job it is to stamp numbers on papers and sort things in the right order.

If we relied on secretaries to do important things like get me a highlighter or clean my shoes, they'd never get done and we'd lose billion dollar cases.

I don't know what PepsiCo was thinking having a secretary responsible for something. Everyone knows secretaries are only good for bringing in food and taking up space in the cubicles. And sometimes having affairs with, but only when extremely desperate and all of the associates are busy stamping numbers on papers and sorting things in the right order.

I once gave my secretary a task. I was filing a motion, and had woken up the morning it was due with an incredible idea -- instead of numbering our 135 exhibits A through EEEEEE, we should use the Greek alphabet instead, since the judge was Greek, and he'd probably get a kick out of it and therefore be much more likely to rule for our side despite the evidence completely favoring our opponents. So I needed someone to switch all the pages out and replace them with pages labeled with the Greek alphabet. Plus I needed all the references in the brief to be amended. Plus I needed the city's best gyro for lunch, just to get me in the mood.

After an hour of serious deliberation, I decided to send the associate for the gyro, and have the secretary do the re-labeling, because even though the brief had a 5:00 deadline, the gyro needed to be in my office by 1:30 or I'd be eating too late to still be hungry for dinner. So clearly the gyro was priority number one.

Sure enough, down to the wire, the secretary is running around trying to figure out whether beta comes before or after theta, and the associate is dripping tzatziki all over the exhibits binder... and then the secretary threw up, all over exhibit Eta. She claimed it was because the yogurt sauce had gone bad -- I mean, of course I had her taste the gyro before I ate it, just to be sure it wasn't poisonous, that's just part of the job -- but she could have at least avoided vomiting on the papers.

So we missed the deadline, our clients received a default judgment against them, and I had to come up with a phony excuse about how we did everything we could but the evidence just wasn't on our side. They paid the bill, so no harm no foul, but it taught me to never put secretaries in charge of anything, ever again.

Lesson learned.

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