November 15, 2006

Bad Judgment at White & Case and ATL

by PG

I'm disappointed to see that someone forwarded this to David Lat, and that he chose to publish it. The July 2006 New York Bar Exam pass list is not yet public, and while I might expect someone online to pick through the list when it is, pointing out people who were known to have taken the bar yet not passed, to publicize a single person's failure and her reaction to it is a particular kind of bad taste that I hadn't expected of either White & Case employees or of Above the Law.

I'm thankful to be sufficiently uninteresting that if I fail the bar, no one will care enough to attribute it to "partying." The possibility that someone he views as a celebrity might have been doing something worthwhile with her time -- say tutoring Harlem children, or assisting with her class gift campaign -- either isn't something Lat can imagine, or just isn't enough fun.

That said, congratulations to those who have passed.

(I know that it may be a bad choice on my part to link ATL's post, but if I just say that Lat has done something tasteless without specifying what it was, readers may assume that I'm referring to any one of a number of posts that I actually found acceptable.)

November 15, 2006 11:16 AM | TrackBack

Lawyers pointing out the misfortune of others. Shocking!

FWIW I agree with you. That's rough. But, emails get forwarded and you have to think if you send an email it's gonna be forwarded, esp at a place like that.

Posted by: BTD_Venkat at November 16, 2006 12:06 AM

I'm surprised that you expected better of Lat. I don't think he has any decorum/taste-related qualms about posting anything.

Posted by: Stan at November 16, 2006 04:26 PM

I actually can't take credit for breaking this story. I actually first learned about it in a mainstream media blog, the WSJ Law Blog:

But the Wall Street Journal didn't break this story either. The source with the scoop was actually ANOTHER MSM blog, the New York Observer's widely read politics blog, The Politicker:

So, PG, please don't hang this all on me just because I'm a blogger (and we bloggers are such easy targets, especially on matters of journalistic ethics). I only touched this story after two MSM organs did -- even though I had the email much earlier.

Of course, once the Wall Street Journal and the New York Observer decided to cover this story -- a story which, you must admit, lies squarely within the territory of Above the Law -- I couldn't just sit on the sidelines.

Posted by: David Lat at November 16, 2006 05:39 PM

It would be silly for me to target bloggers for criticism, considering that I am one, albeit with the security of relative obscurity. That two other bloggers (who are connected to traditional media outlets, but no more edited than you are) posted the story first doesn't excuse your doing it, particularly considering that they made it a short one-off that was soon buried down the page by other posts. In contrast, you've now written three posts about it, solicited and published comments from the subject's acquaintances (all anonymous ones, of course) and ascribed the failure to her "partying" with a link to speculation about a cocaine habit. Again, bad judgment.

Posted by: PG at November 16, 2006 09:40 PM

PG, if you want this issue to disappear into obscurity, then stop issuing moralistic diatribes against ATL and other bloggers. Shut up yourself. Pataki chick is the one who chose to air her failure probably with the hope that the email would preempt any negative gossip. Awful calculation. This is just as much about this girl's gradiose notion that people would care about her failing a stupid exam as it is about bloggers having the energy to give a damn.

Posted by: Not PG at November 17, 2006 11:31 AM

Oh, come on, PG. That's what Lat does. Asking him to not publicize this sort of thing is like asking Drudge to not make things up about Democrats.

Posted by: fishbane at November 17, 2006 11:32 AM

NotPG, as I haven't asked anyone to "shut up" -- just to think seriously about what they're doing -- I'm not sure why I'd need to "shut up [my]self." Also, my post primarily (see the order of the title and the first sentence) blames the jerk at White & Case who thought an intra-office e-mail was appropriate for public consumption, and secondarily the bloggers who made his/her day by publishing it. If you, too, are incapable of distinguishing between "information relevant for my co-workers" and "information that should be shared with the whole world ASAP," then I hope you're not a lawyer yourself. Information about my professional authorization is *very* relevant for my colleagues -- this makes the difference on whether someone can be sent to court on a low-level pro bono motion by herself, or whether she still needs a supervising attorney. But unless Lat planned to hire her, it's none of his, the WSJ's, the Observer's or the AP's business.

fishbane, I actually like Lat's writing because I think it's generally in the spirit of good fun. You'll notice he runs contests for the superhotties of a given field, but never "ugliest ERISA attorney." This enjoyment of another person's failure, repeated emphasis on it and use of it as an opportunity to air anonymous people's gripes is not in good fun -- it's just tacky. ATL/ UTR never mentioned the subject of the schadenfreude until the bar exam failure announcement, which weighs against the claim that Lat deems her a public figure who currently rates 5 separate posts on ATL. If she's so squarely in his area of coverage, why has she never been noteworthy before? Contrast Kathleen Sullivan, whom Lat listed among "people who qualify as sighting subjects," a list that a mere Columbia Law student or recent grad doesn't make.

Posted by: PG at November 17, 2006 07:04 PM
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