Never look down on someone unless you are helping them up. J. Jackson


I have been troubled ever since I read the  Above The Law article titled Dewey Know Why Patton Boggs Is Consulting A Top Bankruptcy Lawyer? 

I have no issues with, and in fact support, probing the challenges and changes that are so prevalent in our industry; but what has bothered me is the degree to which much of the commentary around firm transitional challenges hints at a preoccupation with watching a train-wreck in progress.

More to the point — I wonder how and why one of legal’s premier information outlets finds humor in another organization’s problems.  Two parts of the post bother me.

First, there was this. . .

Maybe the floundering firm of Patton Boggs can actually right itself. It doesnt have the Biglaw mark of Cain, namely, a name that lends itself to bad puns e.g., Dewey and do we, Howrey and how are we, and Thelen (rhymes with “feelin’”). In hindsight, Patton Boggs did the right thing when it dropped George Blows name from the marquee and went from Patton Boggs & Blow a name we would have had a field day with to simply Patton Boggs.

(Yes, Patton Boggs has some pun potential. But there are only so many bogs down and swamp-related plays on words to be had. Yes, even for us.)

Really? The not so veiled linking via childish name-play of a firm that is clearly wrestling with transition with that of a couple of high profile failures strikes me as the first low blow.

And secondly when reporting? on the firms retention of Al Togut, who was/is  bankruptcy counsel to Dewey LeBoeuf, the article states . . .

Or maybe Patton Boggs wants to merge with Togut, Segal & Segal? Over the past few months, Patton Boggs has been talking about its exciting strategic discussions with some unknown New York firm. An 18-lawyer bankruptcy boutique sounds like the perfect lifeboat for a Biglaw firm with more than 350 attorneys.”

The cheap-seats seem beneath the stature of Above the Law.  Personally, I find much of its content to be interesting, well written and informative. But it is my opinion that this post has the ratings-grab tenor of sensational news / sports talk radio.  This kind of commentary is potentially destructive.

Patton Boggs, like so many law firms over the last few years, has confronted numerous challenges. The firm has been attempting and continues its efforts to stabilize itself — for the good of its partners, associates, staff and clients.

Before we focus on the humor in clever headlines, let us not forget that the firm is home to approximately 600 lawyers and supporting personnel. The issues the firm is facing could have a dramatic impact on the lives of many.

This is not to suggest that the struggles of Patton Boggs, or any other firm, should be swept under a rug and not spoken of.  But it is one thing to examine, analyze and offer insight.  It is another to construct puns that insinuate impending failure.  Having managed the liquidation of an AMLAW 100 firm, I don’t find anything amusing in this type of reporting.  Do you?