Did NBC lawyers cost the network the Weinstein scoop? I hate to blame lawyers, but I can’t help wondering if NBC’s lawyers messed up on the Harvey Weinstein revelations.
NBC had one of the biggest scoops about the entertainment industry in its hot little hands, then let it go. Former MSNBC host Ronan Farrow (he’s the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen—or possibly Frank Sinatra) pitched his findings about Weinstein’s sexual exploits to NBC first, but the network sat on it and sat on it. Farrow then went to The New Yorker, and that magazine snagged it up right away. The result was one of the biggest exposes in the entertainment industry. As Farrow told Rachel Maddow on her show: “I walked into the door of The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier.”
The New York Times doesn’t put the blame directly on NBC’s in-house lawyers, but the legal department certainly seems to be implicated. After Farrow, left, worked on the Weinstein investigation for several months, his report “went through rounds of vetting within NBC—including with Kimberley Harris, NBC Universal’s general counsel, according to two people familiar with his reporting who were not authorized to speak publicly.”
While it’s not clear how much the legal department dragged its feet on Farrow’s report, the Times notes that it does have a history of being overly cautious: Just a mere year ago, NBC also missed out on publishing the Access Hollywood tape (where Donald Trump boasted about grabbing women’s genitals), despite owning the tape, which was in its archives. “It lost the story, however, as its lawyers put the tape through a three-day vetting process,” writes the Times.
Three day-vetting process? What year is this—2005? Note to lawyers of media companies: Set your reporters free.
Gone Girl. Gone. I do a double take when someone other than a straight, white male becomes the leader of a major firm (e.g., Irell & Manella’s new managing partner Ellisen Turner) so it makes sense that my radar also perks up when I hear that a female leader got booted.
Just two years ago, Crowell & Morning elected Angela Styles, below, to be the firm’s chair—one of the few women to lead a major firm. (Crowell was also named by Working Mother just recently as one of the “best” firms for women.) Just a week ago or so, we learned that she’s out, replaced by Philip Inglima. And now this news: Styles is leaving the firm entirely.
It’s not clear what happened but it kind of looks like a coup of sorts. According to Am Law Daily” behind the scenes, there appears to be at least some internal rancor about Inglima’s sudden ascent to leadership and Styles’ short-lived tenure as chair.”
What’s curious about all this is that Crowell & Moring had a jolly good 2016: Gross revenue rose 20 percent, to $434.5 million, and profits per equity partner bumped to 40 percent ($1.45 million).
Given those rather healthy increases, it’s hard to believe that Styles was ousted for performance deficiencies. Usually, when partners are making money, no one is complaining. I can only assume that Styles stepped on someone’s toes. Or maybe she was easy to push aside. In any case, she seems to be in a hurry to get the hell out of there. (The firm declined my request for comment.) Who knows? But give me a holler if you know the scoop.
Not a boys event? Really? Did you catch that story about Pepper Hamilton partner Ray Miller who invites current and potential clients to his private island in Canada? A four-day retreat on a private island sounds pretty snazzy, right?
Wrong! This is how Legal Intelligencer describes the four day event: “They donned T-shirts and shorts, shared four-person cottages and spent the bulk of each day in discussion and presentation sessions where they shared information and ideas about their work. Those sessions, of course, were punctuated by hiking, fishing trips and barbecued meals.”
Though 22 guests attended, only two women were in attendance. Other women were invited, “but few have accepted the invitation,” reports The Intelligencer. But “despite the demographics of the retreat,” one of the two female attendees insisted, “it did not feel like a boys’ club.”
Oh, come on now! Does that really sound like an event that women would be dying to attend? To this New Yorker, it sounds like a Boys Scouts outing in the woods. I think I speak for a lot of women when I say I’d rather go to an expensive restaurant in the city or a posh spa. (Pepper Hamilton partner Miller boasted that the cost would be about the same as wining and dining the attendees at a fine restaurant.)
Rustic accommodations, fishing, business discussions in the great outdoors: No thank you.
Lawyers are moderately potty-mouthed. How often would you guess lawyers swear on the job? I’d guess more than 50 percent of the time. But according to a U.K. study, only 42 percent of British lawyers regularly use obscene language on the job, report the Legal Cheek. Perhaps the Brits’ upper lips are stiffer about life’s daily frustrations, but to my American sensibility, honed in the way of Big Law, that rate of cursing seems like a low number.
Even more surprising, according to this survey by Soap Supplier (why a wholesale soap distributor is doing this survey is beyond me), engineers swear more than lawyers, and those in the energy field are the most prolific swearers. And get this: Only 36 percent of finance workers curse—which, if you’ve ever met anyone in that field, makes no sense at all.
Alas, people in pharma cursed the least (only 29 percent). And that, I’m surmising, is because most are so well-medicated.
In any case, here’s how lawyers rank on the cursing scale: