It should be obvious in this day and age never to put something in writing if you would not want your words to become part of the public record. Among the non-published forms of writing, this is perhaps especially true of email, which is so easily forwarded from person to person. One would especially expect such commonsensical wisdom to be observed carefully among lawyers. Thankfully for those of us in need of a good laugh, some attorneys worry more about these things than others. Today's Globe has the story:
Once again, a friendly reminder: The next time you're tempted to send a nasty, exasperated, or snippy e-mail, pause, take a deep breath, and think again. Then consider the tale of local [Boston area] lawyers William A. Korman and Dianna L. Abdala.
Korman was miffed that Abdala notified him by e-mail this month that, after tentatively agreeing to work at his law firm, she changed her mind. Her reason: ''The pay you are offering would neither fulfill me nor support the lifestyle I am living."
In his e-mail reply, Korman told Abdala that her decision not to have told him in person ''smacks of immaturity and is quite unprofessional," and noted that in anticipation of her arrival, he had ordered stationery and business cards for her, reformatted a computer, and set up an e-mail account. Nevertheless, he wrote, ''I sincerely wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors."
Her curt retort: ''A real lawyer would have put the contract into writing and not exercised any such reliance until he did so."
His: ''Thank you for the refresher course on contracts. This is not a bar exam question. You need to realize that this is a very small legal community, especially the criminal defense bar. Do you really want to start pissing off more experienced lawyers at this early stage of your career?"
Abdala's final three-word response: ''bla bla bla."
That's when the exchange, confirmed as authentic yesterday by Korman and Abdala, began whipping through cyberspace, landing in e-mail in-boxes around the city and country, and, eventually, across the Atlantic.
They differ on whether, at the end of the second meeting, Abdala accepted the job. Korman said he believes Abdala did, and that they even set a start date, which would have been yesterday. Abdala said there was ''no clear contract or agreement" and she still wanted to ponder the offer. She said she ultimately decided not to take the job because the reduced salary ''might have been realistic for other people to survive on, but I like nicer things. I like the finer things in life."
Abdala, who described herself as a ''trust fund baby," was admitted to the Massachusetts bar last year and said that since then she has ''just been taking it easy" because ''I worked hard in school." She decided to respond to Korman's job posting because ''I wanted to establish somewhat of a career for myself," she said. ''No one wants to be living off daddy." Abdala's father, George S. Abdala, is a Springfield lawyer.
Abdala said she is now working for herself by renting space from a lawyer on Franklin Street in Boston, where she will take court-appointed cases and do private criminal defense work.
Abdala said she has no regrets about the e-mail exchange.
That's right, she has no regrets about the exchange. I guess it's easy not to worry about these things when you're living off Daddy's money, and not working post-graduation because you worked so hard at your fourth-tier law school. Although if Abdala has no regrets and isn't worried about the repercussions of this incident, it's curious that she would report Korman for a supposed ethics breach. It's also amusing that she believes contracts are only contracts if written, and that the forwarding of a non-privileged email qualifies as unethical, considering that both positions are false--one might expect an attorney (or even a first-year law student) to know this! Of course, one might also expect a first-year law student to be able to spell "blah" correctly.
David Yas has more at Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.