Friday, December 7, 2007

N.Y. Judge Rebukes Lawyers, Mourns Drop in Civility

Dorsey Firm Sanctioned as Part of Judge's Manifesto on Civility in Legal Profession, N.Y.L.J., Nov. 30, 2007. The judge wrote a 129-page opinion, criticizing the lawyers' conduct of discovery in a case that had settled.

Southern District of New York Judge Harold Baer opened his 129-page decision with a discussion of how "naked competition and singular economic focus of the marketplace have begun to infiltrate the practice of law, subordinating the high standards of service, collegiality and professionalism as a result."

He ended it with his observation that "partners are at times made and retained for their rainmaking skills and not for their legal skill, that the number of billable hours is not only the alpha and omega of bonuses but that these hours -- or at least the ones that count -- often exclude pro bono hours, or that who gets credit for originating a piece of business can throw a firm into turmoil and prompt internecine struggles, or that the bottom line has eclipsed most everything else for which the practice of law stands or stood to the extent that the practice of law is now frequently described as a business rather than a profession."
One of the lawyers who was the target of the judge's anger said that he was no model of civility himself, for instance mocking an attorney who asked for permission to attend church services before a deposition the judge had scheduled for a Sunday.

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