Christopher M. Farella, Member of the Firm in the Litigation and Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practices, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Bloomberg Law, in “Conference Report: Law Firm General Counsel Share Nightmares.” (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

[M]oderator Janis Meyer asked a panel of general counsel from several firms March 6, at “What’s Keeping Law Firm General Counsel Awake at Night?” The program was part of the 23d Annual Legal Malpractice and Risk Management Conference in Chicago…

“Clients monitor what’s said,” observed panelist Christopher M. Farella, who is a partner and General Counsel, Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. in New York. When a lawyer in his firm comments on a business issue, even for marketing purposes, “we run a conflicts check. We want to make sure our clients are not being surprised that we are commenting about a case that they lost.” Farella said his firm’s marketing department follows the firm’s lawyers’ social media accounts to remain abreast of posts. …

Meyer asked the panelists how they’re handling lawyers who text clients and engage in extended email conversations that should be conducted over the phone or in person.

Noting the difficulty of saving and filing text messages, Farella said his firm emphasizes that texting should be limited to brief administrative tasks such as setting up meetings. He recommended having lawyers block off time during the day for deep thinking without allowing interruptions or checking email or texts.

Farella said he reminded one associate who was spending the better part of the day exchanging “nastygram” emails with an opponent over discovery that he didn’t need to respond to every message. “In the olden days when we dictated our response we slowed down and had time to cool down.” Succumbing to real or imagined pressure to answer emails immediately can result in “saying something stupid” that can come back to damage the client or the lawyer, he said. …

The panelists agreed the hypothetical demonstrates the need for training lawyers to forward outside counsel guidelines to general counsel because, along with the firm’s engagement letter, they’re essential to the GC’s understanding the terms of the agreement between law firm and client. “We try to break the habit” some lawyers have of “shov[ing] them in a drawer” without reading them, Farella said.

“I encourage laterals who come into our firm to be good leavers and make sure they follow good procedures,” Farella said. “We don’t want to get involved in disputes.” 

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