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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

September 30, 2005

too much disclosure? (erin go bra!)

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 12:21 pm

The f/k/a Gang has always been in favor of full disclosure by

lawyers and law firms (see, e.g., our posts on fiduciary duties,

retainer agreements, malpractice insurance, JD alma maters,

self-help resources). Longtime readers know that personal

injury and class action tort lawyers have often been the subject

of our disclosure lectures and dreams. Last night, however, we

started to wonder about the limits of disclosure — just how much

do we want to know or see?


Our journey into DDS (disclosure doubt syndrome) began quite

innocently last night — simply following a pointer from PoL‘s

editor Walter Olson about the “Harvard School of Public Health

bestowing its Julius Richmond Award on glamour-puss toxic-tort-

chaser Erin Brockovich.” From Michael Fumento’s Town Hall column

on the topic, we came to the law firm profile page of Erin-Brockovich

Ellis, at Masry & Vititoe, in Westlake Village, California. And saw:

W&V Director of Research

update (May 12, 2008): A post by Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice — “Decolletage or Disaster?” (May 10, 2008) — reminded us of our prior musing in this posting over Ms. Brockovich’s mugshot. Scott discusses the Wall Street Journal column “Risky Business: Decolletage At a Work Dinner” (WSJ, by Christina Binkley, May 8, 2008). If my rattled brain comes up with a useful reaction, I’ll report further in a new posting.

[Your Editor was apparently mistaken when writing this update, as Brockovich’s webpage is back at M&V. Sorry for any inconvenience to our readers.] update (March 17, 2006): Ms. B is apparently no longer affiliated with Masry & Vititoe. Her bio page is no longer available at the M&V website. You can see a picture of Ms. Brockovich similar to the one above at her “official” site and on the cover of her memoirs.

EBustovich tiny check After the eponymous film in 2000 (which won Julia Roberts a Best Actress Oscar in the title role), Ms. Brockovich-Ellis is surely the world’s most famous (and rich?) paralegal.

Just this week, we wrote two posts on selecting law firms. Back in

March, we also wrote about decloaking associates. Nonetheless, a

close look at the Brockovich profile page raises the question: Just

how much disclosure, decolletage and detail is necessary or useful

for the purpose of choosing a law firm? I’ve been a lifelong fan of

feminine buxomness (in the sense of definition 1b, and not 3., in

this dictionary). But, exposure and disclosure start to overlap in

Ms. B’s mug shot. Similarly, I like to know a little about the personal

life of people I might work with, but hearing about two former husbands

and jobs held for a few months, and minor beauty pageants, etc. etc.,

seems a bit much.

tiny check If you’re that interested in Erin’s life, try her 2001

memoir, which is available for as little as 23 cents

at the Marketplace. It appears that

the cover photo of the book was taken at the same

portrait session as her firm picture.

unaware of the thief’s
eyes, melons
cooling in water

Kobayashi Issa

translated by David G. Lanoue

So, I’m curious: (1) Does Erin Brockovich’s profile page make you ooh ooh

want to hire M&V? (2) Has her style of firm photo started a trend

among p/i or other law firms — among lawyers, paralegals, or other

support staff members? (3) Do Dennis Kennedy, Carolyn Elefant,

Kevin Heller, and Bruce MacEwen, who want more information on

law firm websites about associates, approve of the way M&V has

featured its famous paralegal? and (4) Is this website sweeps month?

I wonder what psychology professor and haiku poet George Swede would think of all this?

through a hole

in the fog billboard girl’s

radiant face

one button undone

in the clerk’s blouse I let her

steal my change

penny sm penny sm

autumn clothesline

his and her pyjamas

frozen together

training bra

on the clothesline

half moon

George Swede

from Almost Unseen (Brooks Books, 2000)

fine print on her t-shirt –

she glares at me

for squinting

[Sept. 30, 2005]


p.s. If you came here looking for the meaning of “erin go bragh,”

click on the link for the Encarta definition, which agrees with

other sources that the term is translated “Ireland forever!” but

notes in the etymology that it literally means “Irish until doomsday”

Wikipedia has further details, including the possible Scottish

roots of the phrase.


  1. This is a difficult question, David. I know that I certainly would not approve of a lawyer going to court attired in the same manner that Erin B. is at the website. On the other hand, she is a paralegal, not an attorney and also a celebrity so she can get away with more. As for a more generic case, I personally like reading about people’s families and histories because I have voyeuristic tendencies. But I don’t think that I’d ever put all of that information out there because I’d be afraid that it might drive clients away. I think that ultimately, most lawyers would come down on the issues from the same perspective – not so much whether the dress is professional but whether it will drive clients away.

    Comment by Carolyn Elefant — October 2, 2005 @ 10:01 pm

  2. Thanks for your usual good common sense, Carolyn.   I wonder how a lawyer decides whether clients will be attracted or repelled.  I guess you have to decide your target audience — and work with the assets your firm has or can hire.

    Comment by David Giacalone — October 2, 2005 @ 11:25 pm

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