When a lawyer is past his sell-by date

Here are some signs that a lawyer is past his sell-by date (I speak from personal experience.) You begin to regard calls from clients as intrusions. You become irritated too easily during depositions. Reading judicial opinions used to be fun but now you sometimes find yourself asking ‘what do I care what this hack thinks?’.

And here’s one I hadn’t thought of: you tweet to help think through a legal issue.

That’s Larry Tribe’s explanation for why he tweeted:

I have notes of when Trump phoned me for legal advice in 1996. I’m now figuring out whether our talk was privileged.

Facing criticism for having violated the rules of professional responsibility, Tribe claimed:

The tweet I sent about Mr. Trump having sought my legal advice 20 years ago breached no confidence and violated no privilege. I did wonder whether disclosing my notes of that call would be improper, thought that raising that question in a tweet might help me think the issue through, decided that it wouldn’t be improper in any technical sense but concluded that I wouldn’t disclose the notes in any event. . . .

(Emphasis added)

It makes you wonder how Tribe managed to write American Constitutional Law in the days before Twitter.

In reality, Tribe didn’t tweet about Trump’s alleged request for legal advice in order to think through the “privilege” issue (which is actually an issue about confidentiality). He tweeted because he wanted to make it appear that he has damaging information obtained from Donald Trump.

But the fact that Tribe was reduced to claiming that he writes on twitter to figure out what he thinks about a legal issue (and a particularly straightforward one, at that) suggests that Tribe is, indeed, past his sell-by date.

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