Law Firm Employees Allegedly Misbehaving Make Headlines
May 31, 2023
You don’t have to go back far in history to read about the many misbehaviors of law firm employees. Whether the media stories concern the alleged actions of partners, associates or support personnel, there is plenty of fodder to make law firms rethink its hiring practices and firm culture to keep the firm name out of the headlines. Unfortunately, they aren’t always successful in achieving that goal. While we don’t have first-hand knowledge of the details, there are several examples of alleged misbehavior that we can learn from.
One major risk for law firms is the theft of data by current and/or ex-employees. Typically, that means client confidential data associated with a legal matter and/or client contact information. In other words, data that can be used to take the business to another law firm or assist in the starting of a new firm.
Jonathan O’Brien, the former chief operating officer for Proskauer Rose, is accused of stealing sensitive internal information. According to the lawsuit, O’Brien is alleged to have tricked firm employees into allowing him to copy 34 gigabytes of client and compensation data prior to his giving notice of leaving the firm. O’Brien has denied the firm’s claims that he intended to take the data to another employer. He said that the data was needed to allow him to work during his two-week vacation to Mauritius.