Offices and What Not to Do in Them

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The first office I’m going to mention is my new one. We have just moved to a new building in San Francisco, and these offices are so much better than our old ones (leased just before the dot-com crash in 2000) that people are practically in tears.

I mention this partly because I know readers in Japan have been through a lot lately and could use a little good news. And what could cheer up a suffering, irradiated population like knowing that a bunch of lawyers somewhere have moved into offices with much better views? So, you’re welcome.

Partner deskAlso, for those of you who see partnership as a goal that will, once achieved, result in the power and respect of which you have long been dreaming, I thought I would mention that I spent most of the morning arguing with various managers and architects in order to gain the right to rotate my desk 90 degrees. You might think that after years of work and sacrifice you would be able to freely choose which way your desk faces, but perhaps not. Ultimately I just asked the movers to turn the desk and then sat here in the new configuration daring anyone to turn it back. For now there seems to be a cease-fire, although the last manager to come in here did mumble something about the “fire code.”

That one’s for the Libyan rebels. Yes, you may be fighting a tyrant and facing almost certain death if you lose, but I bet if you had an office right now you could put your desk wherever you wanted it. Just trying to keep things in perspective.

The second office has nothing to do with me, and that’s a good thing because it involves criminal charges and possible ethics violations, all of which should serve as reminders that getting a client drunk in your office and trying to take advantage of her (or, maybe, him) is something in which the state bar and law enforcement might both get interested. According to the Ames Tribune (via the ABA Journal), an Iowa attorney who allegedly did that is now facing aggravated misdemeanor charges.

The attorney’s client says she does not remember much, but does remember sitting on her attorney’s lap at one point (and while there is no specific rule of ethics on that, there are lots of more general ones that are likely to come into play). The woman claims that the attorney — who was representing her on a DUI charge — served her four drinks and “engaged in inappropriate behavior.” She says she doesn’t remember how she got onto his lap or how she got home. The attorney says there was no alcohol present and denies the groping (if that’s the behavior involved) took place. He was booked on assault charges but it remains to be seen who’s telling the truth.

The report did not mention which way the attorney’s desk was facing, possibly because a couch was allegedly involved. But as this case shows, it is important to just make sure that whichever way the desk is facing, you keep it between you and your client.