The Common Scold

The Common Scold is named after a cause of action that originated in Pilgrim days, when meddlesome, argumentative, opinionated women who displeased the Puritan elders were punished by a brisk dunk in the local pond. Believe it or not, the tort lasted until 1972, when State v. Palendrano, 120 N.J. Super. 336, 293 A.2d 747 (N.J.Super.L., Jul 13, 1972) pretty much put it to rest. But the thought of those feisty women, not afraid of a little cold water, has always cheered me up and inspired me. I first used the moniker as the name of my humor column at the University of San Francisco School of Law many moons ago, and revive it now for this blawg!



Pillsbury_video Sound familiar? "The scene is a client development meeting for which the four big-firm lawyers have arrived late. One of the lawyers launches into a canned spiel about the firm's capabilities. But as he continues, one of his colleague droops his head and whips out a Blackberry."

Been there, done that? If so, you are not alone -- but one firm has created a new video to help lawyers be a little more, um, er, "sensitive." Anthony Lin, of The New York Law Journal, reports* that a group of Pillsbury Winthrop partners and associates have channeled their inner thespians to create a training video on the fine art of business etiquette.The video illustrates how swiftly lawyers' bad habits can come to the fore in a client development setting, observes Lin.

"The clear errors include one lawyer's decision that business casual attire is fine for the pitch meeting, the failure of all of the lawyers to read their pitch book ahead of time and their late arrival to the meeting."

"Beyond that, though, the lawyers' arrogance is a continuing theme of the scenario, and it is not just inexperienced associates at fault. The senior lawyer at the meeting, played by partner Sutton Keany, tells his colleagues that their late arrival will give the in-house lawyers the impression that the firm is very busy. Mr. Keany also takes over the meeting from the client and turns it into a page-by-page review of the firm's past transactions as listed in its pitch book."

"As the meeting wraps up, an associate played by Jeremy Estabrooks haughtily asks the two in-house lawyers, played by [director of professional development Valerie] Fitch and consultant Jon Cranston, whether they will be the final decision-makers. If not, he says, the firm would prefer to follow up with the appropriate people. After the in-house lawyers assure them they are the decision-makers, Mr. Keany says he thinks the meeting went great and asks if he can borrow their conference room to make some calls. After the in-house lawyers leave, the firm lawyers all congratulate themselves on how well they think the meeting went," writes Lin.

PHOTO: Pillsbury Winthrop training video. Left to right: Senior associate Bryan R. Dunlap and partner David A. Crichlow.
Image: Courtesy of PW.

Anthony Lin can be reached at alin@amlaw.com.

*Link may require subscription.

December 28, 2004 | Permalink


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Lawyers are, like anyone else I suppose, subject to the usual interpersonal skill abilities and inabilities, but it does often seem that large firm lawyers are perhaps more than others ... um ... persuaded of their own impressiveness. [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 30, 2004 2:01:48 PM


Sounds like the video is trying to teach lawyers how not to make asses of themselves. Good luck on that effort!


Posted by: Al Nye | Dec 30, 2004 9:57:53 AM

really nice blog

Posted by: ron | Aug 27, 2011 10:25:38 PM

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