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This Lawyer Had Better Lawyer Up

, , , | Legal | March 27, 2022

I am a corporate lawyer and used to work for franchisers. Several years ago, one of my client’s franchisees wanted to sell his location and focus on their other two stores, all under the same brand. My client decided to buy the store directly instead of vetting another franchisee to run it. The relationship between my client and that franchisee was great and they kept doing business together for years to come.

As part of the buying process, due diligence had to be made — basically figuring out how much the company was worth, what debts it had, and things like that. My part was to analyze the contracts the company had signed and what lawsuits were filed by/against the company. If they were being sued for 200k, we had to take that into consideration. Usually, the money would be put on hold and released when the lawsuit ended or used to pay it off.

The commercial part of it went extremely well. Everyone knew we were on the same side and were helpful and friendly. When I called their lawyer for the first time, however…

Lawyer: “Hello, [My Name], how are we going to argue today? What will we disagree about today?”

Me: “Hello… We won’t argue about anything. We are going to work together to make this happen the best way possible.”

Lawyer: “I am kidding! I am just joking around. So, what do you need?”

Me: “I need a list of every lawsuit filed against the company or by the company that hasn’t been archived yet. It needs to include [basic information] as the standard in due diligence like this. We will also need it to be signed by you or [Franchisee].”

Lawyer: “Wow, wow, wow! How am I going to remember all that? I also don’t have a list of every lawsuit the company is involved in, and it might take a while to figure it out!”

Me: “I will be sending you all the information needed by email. But what do you mean, you don’t have a list of the lawsuits your client is involved in? Shouldn’t you be keeping track of them regardless of this due diligence?”

Lawyer: “Oh, you know how it is. We just deal with it when it’s time to deal with it.”

Me: “Either way, we need this information, and I was told you were informed of the negotiations a few months ago, so I am sure it won’t take too long for you to compile it. It was nice talking to you. Expect my email in the next few minutes! If you have any questions or issues with it, let me know and we can figure it out.”

The way he spoke was like a used car salesman. I sent him the email and waited. It was the beginning of a week and the deadline was the next Friday. Absolutely nothing was sent. I sent another email, this time copying his boss, asking for an update.

He answered pretending he had already sent it but I somehow lost it. Instead of the list I needed, he wrote in the body of the email some of the information and nothing else. All the lawsuits he included were, as far as I could tell, small claims or lawsuits that the company had started, while I knew there was at least a big one that was filed against them.

I took a deep breath, made an Excel sheet that he could fill, and sent it back to him saying something like:

Me: “As we talked about previously, we need a signed list with [basic information]. To make it easier for you, I am attaching an Excel sheet for you to fill out. Make sure all the information is current and complete, print it, sign it, and send it back. We need this by Monday, as the due date was supposed to be today.”

Monday came. Nothing. Tuesday came. My client and I decided to ignore the lawyer and figure out every lawsuit they were involved in by ourselves. It took way longer to do so, and since they were on good terms with the franchisee, they thought it wasn’t necessary. We emailed the franchisee and informed them that we would need to halt the purchase of the store until we could properly assess the risk that the lawsuits might bring us. When the franchisee emailed us back surprised by it, we sent them the chain of emails and they told us they understood. 

Tuesday afternoon came, and the lawyer sent me an email with the spreadsheet filled but not printed nor signed. Nothing was said in the body of the email. I thanked him and said we would still be checking the lawsuits ourselves and, although I am sure he would be sending the list printed and signed soon, he didn’t need to bother about it any longer.

We did our own check and, big surprise, the lawyer had missed some deadlines and made it so that lawsuits that were basically won had defaulted against the franchisee, making them lose a lot of money. He lost his job and was reported to the bar association.

Thanks For The Constructive Instructions

, , , , , , | Working | January 29, 2022

My coworker and I were legal secretaries and she, unfortunately, was assigned to work for a very insecure young woman associate. This associate was the daughter of a senior partner and was determined that everyone knew how powerful this made her. She never let an opportunity go by to berate or talk down to anyone she deemed less important than her.

[Coworker] was scared to death of her because she yelled at her pretty much daily. As a result, [Coworker] would sometimes stumble and make more errors, and so things went. The day in question, [Associate] had a document she needed filed in the courthouse in a hurry. She wanted to know what time the clerk’s office closed for filings. [Coworker] knew the answer but made the mistake of saying, “I think it’s [time],” instead of, “It IS [time].” As a result, [Associate] barked at her that since she didn’t actually know, she had better get on the phone and confirm that right away. Of course, either of them could’ve looked online and learned the answer, but that wasn’t good enough for [Associate]. She demanded it come straight away from a phone call.

So, poor [Coworker] started shakily dialing and getting a busy signal every time. Five minutes later, [Associate] swooped back in and barked at her again.

Associate: “Have you reached them yet?”  

Coworker: “No, it’s still busy.”

Associate: “Well, DIAL HARDER!”

It’s Not Magic; It’s Technology!

, , , , , | Working | January 16, 2022

My brother is a very young lawyer; he just graduated from law school and passed the bar exam this year. He works for a much older lawyer. Unfortunately, his boss has decided that, A) since he doesn’t understand technology, it must be magic; B) since it’s magic, it must be able to do anything; and C) since my brother is young, he must understand how to make the magic work.

Boss: “We need a [legal form]. [Brother], go get one from the Internet.”

Brother: “I looked earlier and couldn’t find it. I don’t think it’s available.”

Boss: “No, no! It’s out there, just go get it!”

Paralegal: “[Boss], [Brother] has searched for the form and it’s not available online. Why don’t we call around and see if anyone has a copy they can share with us?”

Boss: “No! This is easy! You should be able to find it online!”

Brother: “Fine, then! If it’s so easy, you do it!”

Boss: “All right, I will!”

The boss storms off, presumably to sit down at a computer and remember that he doesn’t even know how to perform a Google search. Five minutes later…

Boss: “Hey, [Brother], [Paralegal] had a great idea. I think I’m going to call [Other Lawyer] and ask for a copy of that form.”

They’re All Talk And… Well… That’s It

, , , , , | Right | December 31, 2021

I work in a legal office. I have had dealings with a client who, to put it generously, is a bit of an odd duck. This client has severe anxiety, and it tends to manifest through unhealthy obsessions with her property. Unfortunately, she is also loaded. She got a huge settlement in her divorce with her rich ex-husband and has more than enough money to fund her obsession.

Each time I have dealt with her, I have spent hours on the phone with her just trying to get basic information from her amongst a deluge of demands for reassurance, crying fits, and verbal diarrhea.

The most recent time she called me up looking for help with a property matter, I was genuinely swamped with work and couldn’t take her on. She asked me to recommend another lawyer, so I did.

The lawyer I recommended her to is an elderly gentleman who very much enjoys the sound of his own voice and makes it very hard to get a word in edgewise. I try very hard not to call him directly because I can never get him off the phone in less than an hour.

It’s a lawyer-client match made in heaven. I have visions of them asleep in their chairs, hands still gripping the phone, because neither of them was willing to end the conversation.

Printers Can Smell Fear

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: GT3Red | December 27, 2021

I work at a law firm. I was at work doing worky things. I’d been over to see one of the users in a test group for the latest print code that was waiting to be rolled out to everyone.

It can cause such a stink when it goes wrong that you don’t just give it to everyone for fear that now everyone can’t print. You select a few. And yes, we cherry-pick. If you can form a sentence in a bug report and can remember way, way back into the past two minutes and recall what you did, you get put in the top group. I believe at the time there were five different ways to print. Changes had been made to some part of it and it was out with some test users.

I had just been to the desk of one of these users over some issue she couldn’t work out.

By the time I’d walked back to my desk, a colleague was already on the phone to [User].

Colleague: “Yeah, yeah, he’s just walked in. Hold on.” *To me* “It’s [User].”

Ah, Jesus. What now?

Me: “Hi, [User].”

User: “Hi, [My Name], I can’t print since you’ve been over. I’ve tried everything I can think of and nothing’s working. Whatever you did must have broken it.”

Me: “What do you mean, you can’t print? What way are you trying?”

User: “The new print button and the old one.”

Me: “On the toolbar?”

User: “Yeah”

Me: “Huh. It shouldn’t have affected the old one even if it was broken. Try File and Print, through the dialog.”

User: “Yeah, that’s not working, either.”

Me: “Okay, try the plain Print button.”

User: “Mmm, nope. Nothing.”

Me: “Okay, try Ctrl and P.”

User: “Didn’t work, either.”

Me: “This is weird. Are there any errors on the printer?”

User: “[Coworker]. [Coworker]! Are there any errors on the printer?” *Pauses* “It says load paper.”

Me: “Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and say that’s related. Put some paper in and I’ll wait to check that it’s okay.”

User: “Yeah, that’s worked now. Ooo. It’s printing a lot!”

Me: “Yeah, it’s gonna do that.”