Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cockroaches?

Readers have no doubt noticed that this blog has not commented on the investigation and indictment of Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman LLP and name partners David J. Bershad and Steven G. Schulman. That was not merely a myopic oversight, but a reasoned decision.

But now, the gloves are off, and I am compelled to write about one of the more dismaying sideshows, the cheap shot comment.

In a recent article in Forbes magazine, John D. Lovi, the managing partner of Steptoe & Johnson's New York office, and a frequent opponent of Milberg Weiss, when asked if the indictment of the firm spelled the end of Milberg Weiss said:
They're like cockroaches; they're highly adaptable.
The second part of that statement I have no issue with. In fact, the entire comment may have been taken out of context, as Lovi goes on to state:
Unless this firm is destroyed by this investigation and this case, I think they will continue to be a dominant player in the field.
But it's the first part of his initial quote that I cannot stomach.

As noted by the New York State Bar Association's Guidelines on Civility in Litigation:
Lawyers should not use vulgar language or make demeaning characterizations of other persons.
And:
Lawyers should be mindful of the need to protect the image of the legal profession in the eyes of the public.
Similar language is contained in the New York State Bar Association's Code of Professional Responsibility, which state in Canon 7-37:
A lawyer should not make unfair or derogatory personal reference to opposing counsel.
I recognize that the guidelines are voluntary, but performing a Google search for lawyer jokes only reinforces the need to be mindful of civility in the profession.

Let's all agree that name-calling has no place in the profession, even if it is merely being used for illustrative purposes.

Time to get off of my soapbox and return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think he may have meant it as a compliment, as unusal as that may seem. In other words, he was referring to the toughness of MW, and what could possibly survive longer than a cockroach?

Kimberly said...

In a brief opposing class certification, a defense lawyer called the four putative class representatives (my clients) "four fleas on a dog." As Meg Ryan said in "When Harry Met Sally": "Is one of us a DOG in this scenario? WHO is the dog?" Class certification was granted.

It's astonishing that we have to remind our fellow attorneys that referring to opposing counsel (or their clients) as fleas, dogs, or cockroaches is wholly unprofessional.