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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Suits Should Know Better - Working Against A Client Is A No-No

This is my second post in my I'm-Getting-Really-Frustrated-With-Suits-So-Make-It-Stop rant. In the episode called Shelf Life, the writers commit what I consider to be one of the biggest faux pas of bad legal writing: working against a client. You can't do it. Ever.

In this episode, Mike and Harvey have to fire Stan Jacobson, the senior vice president of their client and accounting firm, Dreibach Accounting due to phony credentials. Jacobson claims he's getting railroaded  because he recently discovered some illicit book-cooking and refuses to sign. So far, so good. Then they decide to investigate his allegations. That's fine. They're doing their due diligence in case he sues, and they represent the corporation, not Jacobson's boss, so they have to figure out if the corporation has exposure. Here's where it goes bonkers.

They decide he's right. So instead of doing what they were told, they decide not to push Jacobson to sign. Instead, they start acting on behalf of Jacobson and against their client. Whoa doggy. After that, I lost my ability to concentrate on the plot. I was too busy screaming at the TV screen. I still like the show because I enjoy the characters and love the main plotline since it really happens (a nonlawyer faking his way in a big firm, pretending to be a lawyer). But if they're close to losing me, then imagine how many lawyers and people involved in the legal system they lost who tuned into the show for the first time.

I have one more episode to rant about. They need to get their act together next season or they'll lose me as a fan, along with everyone else who knows they're not bothering to get the legal stuff right.


Jeffrey Hollar said...

Methinks USA is unconcerned with losing lawyers as viewers. It's a fairly true statement that doctors don't watch doctor shows, cops don't watch cop shows, etc. I assume they pander to sheer entertainment and allow realism to fall by the wayside. Typical and time-tested TV formula is at work there. Shame it just keeps working so well for them.

Agniva Roy said...

I'm a non-lawyer and I don't know shit so i'm just asking- Their client in this case is also their accounting firm and the latter is stealing from them through the shelf company. So they are protecting the firm's interests by going against the accountng firm. Is that wrong?

Donna Ballman said...

Hi Agniva. If the firm had to protect their own interests, which are contrary to the client's, they have a conflict. They can't work against a client, period. They'd have to withdraw and even then they'd have ethical problems in using information they learned through working for the client against the client.

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