E-Mail Exchange Gone Bad

By now, I think everyone has seen this at least once or twice. But if you haven't, here I present, lawyers behaving badly:

(The only change I made was to cut the emails so that you can read them top to bottom in chronological order. As opposed to the email that is going around, which forced you to scroll down and then read bottom to top.)

> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Dianna Abdala [mailto: dabdala@msn.com ]
> > > Sent: Friday, February 03, 2006 9:23 PM
> > > To: wak@kormanlaw.com
> > > Subject: Thank you
> > >
> > > Dear Attorney Korman,
> > >
> > > At this time, I am writing to inform you that I will
> > > not be accepting
> > > your offer.
> > >
> > > After careful consideration, I have come to the
> > > conclusion that the pay
> > > you are offering would neither fulfill me nor
> > > support the lifestyle I am
> > > living in light of the work I would be doing for
> > > you. I have decided
> > > instead to work for myself, and reap 100% of the
> > > benefits that I sew.
> > >
> > > Thank you for the interviews.
> > >
> > > Dianna L. Abdala, Esq.
> > > ---------------------------------------------------------------
> > >

> > > ----- Original Message -----
> > > From: William A. Korman
> > > To: 'Dianna Abdala'
> > > Sent: Monday, February 06, 2006 12:15 PM
> > > Subject: RE: Thank you
> > >
> > > Dianna -
> > >
> > > Given that you had two interviews, were offered and
> > > accepted the job
> > > (indeed, you had a definite start date), I am
> > > surprised that you chose
> > > an e-mail and a 9:30 PM voicemail message to convey
> > > this information to
> > > me. It smacks of immaturity and is quite
> > > unprofessional. Indeed, I did
> > > rely upon your acceptance by ordering stationery and
> > > business cards with
> > > your name, reformatting a computer and setting up
> > > both internal and
> > > external e-mails for you here at the office. While I
> > > do not quarrel
> > > with your reasoning, I am extremely disappointed in
> > > the way this played
> > > out. I sincerely wish you the best of luck in your
> > > future endeavors.
> > >
> > > - Will Korman

> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Dianna Abdala [mailto: dabdala@msn.com]
> > > Sent: Monday, February 06, 2006 4:01 PM
> > > To: William A. Korman
> > > Subject: Re: Thank you
> > >
> > > A real lawyer would have put the contract into
> > > writing and not exercised
> > > any such reliance until he did so.
> > >
> > > Again, thank you.

> > > ----- Original Message -----
> > >
> > > From: William A. Korman
> > > To: 'Dianna Abdala'
> > > Sent: Monday, February 06, 2006 4:18 PM
> > > Subject: RE: Thank you
> > >
> > > 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?

> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: Dianna Abdala [mailto: dabdala@msn.com]
> > > Sent: Monday, February 06, 2006 4:29 PM
> > > To: William A. Korman
> > > Subject: Re: Thank you
> > >
> > > bla bla bla
> > >

At that point, it gets forwarded all around the country.

A few things. First, I thought only public defenders were the only ones who were accused of not being "real lawyers." But, then again, considering this is someone who refers to "the lifestyle [she] is living," I guess it's expected.

In fact, according to this Boston Globe article, "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 also reported Korman to the Board of Bar Overseers for ''unprofessional and unethical" conduct.

Not only that, she misspelled "blah blah blah," which definitely requires an "h." And, furthermore, the phrase is "reap what you sow," not "sew."

And, finally, children, we learn two very important lessons here: (1) Don't put anything in an email that you wouldn't want published all around the world; and (2) nearly all legal communities, whether you group them geographically or by practice area can be tight-knit. The best advice is probably to keep your mouth shut at least until you know all of the players.

9 comments:

  1. Interesting dynamic these two formed. I dunno which is more shocking, a new attorney acting that way or an experienced attorney egging it on. Either way it's a great cautionary tale for all and quite humorous at the same time.

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  2. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I don't see what the hiring attorney did wrong here. Thinks he has hired a new employee, only to find out via an off-hours VM and email that she has reneged. Finds it frustrating, and sends a curt but still polite email.

    She responds childishly. I suppose he could have ignored it, but he only responded with the truth: that she was alienating a senior attorney for no reason.

    He forwards it to one person, and it takes off from there. She certainly should have known better than to put it in writing. My 2 cents, anyway.

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  3. Pat, that is not quite all of the story.

    http://federalism.typepad.com/crime_federalism/2006/02/spin_and_the_le.html

    The missing slice is that the hiring attorney orginally offered her the job with a particular salary, then, after she accepted the offer, he called her back and told her that she could still have the job, but for a significantly reduced salary. THAT is why she is so angry. She is not really the one who reneged on the deal.

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  4. I have to say I'm with the hiring attorney on this one. My understanding is that at the first interview he said the job would pay X amount of dollars, but he didn't offer her the job until the second interview and he told her at that time that it wouldn't pay as much as he originally had said. It's a little iffy whether she actually accepted the job at that point, but reading between the lines, I think she did and then reneged-- she's talking in the press about how "there was no CLEAR contract" and in the email she said he should have gotten it in writing. I think she was trying to slime out of having accepted.

    Plus, now she is pursuing an ethics complaint against him for circulating her email. And her comments in the press are ridiculous.

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  5. Oh, by the way, I was copied on the email string that's been circulating like wildfire. It's almost funnier to see this email make it's way around the Boston legal community (Ropes & Gray, Morrsion Mahoney LLP, etc. etc. etc.) and beyond, littered with comments like "OMG, did we interview her?!?!?"

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  6. No, I'm with the hiring attorney too. I don't think it matters that he had to lower the salary he offered - her email was inappropriate.

    I've had job offers (not at the PD's office, but for prior non-legal jobs) where the pay was too low. I think it's tacky to write a response about "the lifestyle I live." Instead, I just said, "I'm sorry that I can't accept your offer at this time." (By the way, at the PD's office, the pay is also too low "for my lifestyle," i.e. paying bills, but I chose to change my lifestyle, i.e. fall behind on my bills, and accept the job.)

    Furthermore, I agree with the happy feminist - the tone of those emails don't make it sound like she's turning down a job offer, they make it sound like she's withdrawing her acceptance of an offer. Which, if necessary, should be done politely.

    Either way, I think she sounds like a nut. Even as a somewhat experienced lawyer, I can't imagine having the gall to respond to anyone EVER with "bla bla bla" (or "blah blah blah" for that matter). And talking about "living off daddy" to the newspapers?

    I wonder how much relief that hiring attorney feel that he didn't hire such a nut.

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  7. Other people in my firm have independently gotten copied on the email string too. It's really making its way around!

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  8. Apparently another detail that has been left out as this story has made the rounds is that the original job listing was on Craigslist.

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  9. Actually, "He forwards it to one person, and it takes off from there." is not true. If you look at the whole string, not included here, he gives the recipient permission to forward it on. He says something like "forward it to whomever you want." That's not very professional. He's not an idiot like she is and should know better. At the least, the emails make him look bad for bringing to everyone's attention that (a) he would hire an idiot; (b) he would reduce the pay he offered at the last minute, after making the job offer; and (c) he would give his friend permission to forward the email around.

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