"Should Firms Ban Sex Between Partners and Associates?"
Well, should they?
The question is the headline on a "The American Lawyer" blog that appeared last week. The blog quotes assorted people coming out against cross-rank sex but then, rather enticingly, ends with this: "Law practice is dreary enough. Can't we keep a little spark?"
I like this blogger.
But does she go far enough? (Get your mind out of the gutter. I don't mean that way.)
It's easy to find people to quote on all the reasons not to have intramural office sex - potential harassment, breakup animosity, general yuckiness - but where are the quotes from the pro-sex side?
The obvious explanation is that those people are too busy having sex.
So let me pretend I've had some experience in these matters and offer some arguments for the other side:
Income generation: Someone has to represent your firm and your firm's associates in sexual harassment litigation. Why not look at this as client development?
You can't represent both sides, but you can trade places with like-minded firms in your area.
You might as well put that litigation insurance to good use.
Competitive edge: Imagine you're a highly recruited budding superstar lawyer and you've got good offers from multiple firms. Do you take the offer from the pro-sex firm or the anti-sex firm?
This could be a tremendous recruiting tool.
Marketing: A series of harassment lawsuits, brawls, and disturbing-the-peace complaints from neighbors caused by screaming (joyous or angry) coming from your office will provide just what your firm needs: media attention.
You might even get reality TV offers.
Sure, some of it may be embarrassing, but it draws in business. Everyone wants to be part of a show, and a lot of potential clients will empathize with what's happening in your firm. They may want to join in.
If you don't believe me, think about how many people profess to despise Gloria Allred. Then think about all the cases she gets.
Or consider one of my heroes: Lindsay Lohan. She still gets jobs.
Just be careful not to have everyone in your firm disbarred. That would defeat your purpose.
More sex: This is self-explanatory.
A Quick Challenge: Read this quote and see if you can spot the irony: "Appellate Wordsmiths Target Proposed Word-Length Cuts."
OK, that's pretty easy - the quote is a Twitter post. You can't get any word-length-cuttier than that.
The post refers to a Legal Times blog that discusses a proposed rule limiting the number of words in federal appellate briefs.
Not surprisingly, a lot of wordy people are against this rule. They're probably writing lengthy explanations in opposition as I write this.
I've seen quite a lot of legal writing over the years and I know a lot of 50-page lawsuits could have been reduced to a couple of sentences. A good deal of emotional distress for whoever has to read those things could have been avoided with editing.
Still, arbitrary word limits don't make sense. Some cases are more complicated, or entertaining, than others. One size doesn't fit all.
So I have a better solution: an intermediate editing court. A brief should not, as a matter of law, be passed on to an appellate panel unless it's well-written, concise, and not repetitive.
This might sound like a time-consuming extra layer of bureaucracy, but the savings in time and sanity created by editing should more than make up for any costs.
And appellate rulings must go to the same intermediate editor court before being made public.
It's only fair.
Brief thought: Why are we discussing this word-length issue now? Haven't briefs always been too long?
Could it be that in this multimedia Internet age our attention spans are limited?
I don't know. I'm bored with this ...