It just wasn’t top of mind

top of mind

From Roll on Friday 25/11/11:

A firm that specialised in repossessing homes has gone bust following the publication of a leaked set of photos showing staff celebrating Halloween by dressing up as homeless people. Classy.

Steven J. Baum, a New York State firm which represented mortgage lenders against homeowners, is set to close down leaving its 89 staff jobless, according to a New York Times report. The firm found itself embroiled in controversy after photos of staff dressing up as homeless people were plastered all over the web, complete with signs mocking the excuses of desperate homeowners.

Every lawyer’s entitled to let their hair down occasionally (even those who are ‘a bit thin on top’ – law tends to do that to people) but there are limits as to what taste, decorum and decency should permit. And that’s before we get into professional conduct regulations – yes, whatever the hell they are.

It just goes to show that even property lawyers aren’t above making the odd error of judgement (why is it that phrase always reminds me of Bill Clinton’s shenanigans?). Oh, don’t worry – I just remembered.

But really, at what point does your average fee earner think that going out to get hammered at an office ‘partay’ mockingly dressed as evictees of houses you’re helping to repossess is a good idea? Surely the ‘if it feels wrong’ rule of thumb test for professional conduct would have saved them here – if only they’d stopped to ask.

But work nights out, being what they are, it’s all too easy to get swept along in the madness of the moment. To quote James Murdoch, I’m sure it simply wasn’t “top of mind”.  But they’re certainly paying the price for it now.

Still, a lawyer with a sense of humour can always find a position with another firm, right?

Who me?


  1. A lawyer with a sense of humor, and a long client list perhaps.


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