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How One Lawyer’s Obnoxious Behavior Cost Him a Law Firm Job

Posted Dec 16, 2010 6:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Marketing campaigns, strategic branding and well-written mission statements may do little to help a law firm’s reputation if its lawyers misbehave in the trenches.

A single bad experience with a lawyer can harm a law firm’s reputation, hurting its ties to clients and its recruiting efforts, according to law firm consultant Frank Michael D’Amore. Misbehaving lawyers may also do harm to their own career prospects, D’Amore writes for the Legal Intelligencer.

D’Amore says law firms need to teach their lawyers that great results can be achieved when acting honorably. “Young lawyers, especially litigators, are often ‘raised’ in environments in which every matter, whether it is a trial or even a simple motion to compel, is tantamount to a battle between good and evil,” he writes. “This can lead to regrettable behavior, even from lawyers who otherwise are good, decent people.”

Lawyers need to realize that they are always in the public eye, even if they are at a Little League game or waiting for a plane, he writes. D’Amore recalls flying to another city to help a law firm recruit some new partners. After reviewing the bios of the potential laterals, D’Amore was waiting at the airport for the trip home.

One of the targeted lawyers, who didn’t know D’Amore, ended up sitting across from him at the airport. The lawyer sported a briefcase emblazoned with the name of his firm.

“I then proceeded to watch in horror as this rather slovenly dressed lawyer sprawled out over his seat and starting chomping on his breakfast as if he were Secretariat munching his last bale of hay,” D’Amore recalls. “His repast was followed by a series of cellphone calls with escalating volume and obnoxiousness. I retreated to another area, secure in knowing that he was now off the candidate list."

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