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Lawyers under fire

Posted by: Laurence Simons 01/06/12

Imagine, for a moment, that you are a bank. Transcend your blood-filled limbs. You have vaults in the bottom of you and a man smoking a cigar in the top, and you are basically more of a concept by this point than an actual building stuffed with dollar bills. You have been accused of being corrupt. For illustrative purposes only, you are now called Goldman Sachs.

 

Bad news: Overstock.com is now suing you. It is 2007 and they are mad because alleged 'naked' short-selling caused their stock to fall, but without enough evidence, a California judge dismissed the suit, and all is well.

Well, it was until some lawyer decided this week to email an unredacted version of the earlier filing by Overstock to other parties on the case, only including a previously very much top secret section titled - and you can guess what this might include - 'Facts Defendants Improperly Seek to Seal'. Basically: it included a number of facts that the defendants improperly sought to seal, only neatly typed out, and in the form of a 34-page PDF. Emailed back to them. For no discernible reason.

"These danged computers!" says Joseph Floren, the man it transpires was responsible for this almighty booboo, hammering at a computer with his simian fists, tears running down his face and into his cool goatee beard. "How do they work?" They work like this, Joseph: as a tool for Morgan Lewis partners to email plaintiffs enough evidence to put a financial giant on the ropes all over again, including excerpts from employee emails that, as Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi puts it, "volubly confess to the activity, in writing". Legal firms, make sure all of your partners have training in 'how to send an email'. Joseph Floren, take a bow.

Find out more about the Banking & Finance Division at Laurence Simons.