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  • - How would you like to make a partner right now?

  • - Oh, oh no, oh no.

  • Ew, quid pro quo sexual harassment!

  • Oh, is that even consensual?

  • (cheerful jingle)

  • Hey legal eagles, the James Stone here,

  • teaching you how to think like a lawyer.

  • Today we are covering one of the funniest

  • legal movies of all time, Liar Liar.

  • Now this is the first in a two-part series.

  • As always, remember to like and subscribe,

  • and be sure to comment in the form of an objection.

  • I'll either sustain or overrule your objections,

  • and while you're there, let me know what movie

  • or TV show I should do next,

  • and stick around until the end of the video

  • where I give the first half of Liar Liar

  • a grade for legal realism.

  • So without further ado, let's dig in

  • to the first half of Liar Liar.

  • - My dad,

  • he's

  • a liar.

  • - A liar?

  • Oh, I, I'm sure you don't mean a liar.

  • - Well, he wears a suit and goes to court

  • and talks to the judge.

  • - Oh, oh, I see,

  • you mean he's a lawyer.

  • (relaxed music)

  • - I object, that is slanderous and I will take that

  • little boy to court and sue him for all that he is worth.

  • Uh, you know, or no, it's not defamation,

  • I'm just kidding.

  • - Reede, do you have a moment?

  • - I'm sorry, I'm very late,

  • it's my day to be with my son.

  • - A couple of reporters want to talk to you

  • about your big win today.

  • - Oh yeah, how's my hair?

  • - Fabulous, you look great.

  • - So lawyers often have to talk to the press.

  • I've talked to journalists on many occasions

  • to talk about recent developments in the law

  • and things that are going on in my cases,

  • because if you don't do PR for your client, no one will,

  • or worse yet, they'll talk to your opponent

  • who will give a completely different spin,

  • and you've gotta get ahead of that

  • to make sure that your side gets out.

  • - Fred, it's your duty to present

  • the strongest case possible.

  • - Sort of. - The strongest case possible

  • consistent with the truth. - Yeah, sort of.

  • - Will you let the judge decide what's true?

  • That's what he gets paid for.

  • - Eh. - You get paid to win.

  • - So lawyers are bound by the rules

  • of professional responsibility and ethics

  • for their particular jurisdiction,

  • and most jurisdictions base their rules

  • on the ABA model rules of conduct,

  • and under those rules, a lawyer has an obligation

  • of candor to judges and juries.

  • In other words, they have to be honest

  • to those judges that they're up in front of,

  • so under the rules of professional responsibility,

  • no single lawyer can lie to a tribunal,

  • and in fact, if the lawyer knows that their client

  • is going to lie to a judge or jury, that lawyer

  • has an obligation to not elicit that information.

  • In fact, the lawyer has a duty to try to convince

  • their client not to offer false testimony

  • in front of a tribunal,

  • so there are plenty of rules of professional responsibility

  • that prevent lawyers from actively lying to a court.

  • So under rule 3.3 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct

  • a lawyer can not lie to a judge,

  • a lawyer cannot knowingly elicit false testimony

  • from their client, and in fact, if you know that

  • there is contrary legal authority out there,

  • you have to give that to the judge in addition

  • to the legal authority that actually helps your case.

  • So this attorney is absolutely right

  • that there is a limit to the kind of representation

  • that you can use for a particular client,

  • and you can't actively lie to a judge or jury to help

  • your client out, regardless of what your client wants.

  • - Damn it, I completely forgot.

  • - Oh, what a surprise.

  • - You are a saint.

  • I should buy you a gift.

  • - You did.

  • - I always do the classy thing.

  • - I think it's inappropriate for a lawyer

  • to rely on his legal secretary or legal assistant

  • to get gifts for his family.

  • However, I will put in a plug for having

  • a good legal secretary, they can really save your life

  • when you are working really long hours

  • or you have a filing that is on a tight deadline.

  • They can really be the difference between life or death

  • in an attorney's office because they know your schedule,

  • they know what's going on, they know what needs to be done,

  • and often they're knowledgeable enough

  • to really help you out when you're in a tight bind.

  • - Any calls?

  • - Ted Rawling's clerk, he needs your filing.

  • - Tell him it's in the mail.

  • - Right, you'll do it next week.

  • Mr. McKinley called. - Oh man.

  • - To confirm your meeting tomorrow.

  • - All right, so one of the things that drives

  • all attorneys just completely insane is

  • the deadlines that they have to adhere to.

  • When a court or a judge sets a deadline,

  • the worst thing you can possibly do

  • is let that deadline lapse because the courts

  • have a very busy schedule and you're at their mercy.

  • So if you miss a court-set deadline,

  • you can be in a huge amount of trouble.

  • You could miss one deadline and that could be grounds

  • for getting disbarred or getting sanctioned by the court,

  • and really prejudicing your client.

  • Often, these deadlines are what's called jurisdictional,

  • which means that if you miss that deadline,

  • your case might get dismissed.

  • So deadlines are this malpractice trap for attorneys,

  • and I've seen many, many appeals taken

  • where the attorney just screwed up,

  • they missed a deadline, they were late in a filing,

  • and you cannot do what Fletcher Reede is trying to do here

  • and just push off a deadline when the court

  • is calling you up and saying "you need to file something."

  • That could be really important to the case,

  • and you could get horribly sanctioned

  • if you fail to adhere to that deadline,

  • so that's the first time Fletcher may have been

  • disbarred in this particular movie.

  • - I heard about your victory, congratulations.

  • You know, you're making quite an impression

  • on the partnership committee.

  • - Oh that's right, you folks are meeting again soon.

  • I've just been keeping myself so busy

  • I haven't even thought about it. (laughs)

  • - Most law firms have a partnership committee

  • that is formed by a group of equity partners,

  • which means that they are actual partners,

  • they own equity in the particular law firm

  • and they're going to choose who gets to come in

  • as another equity partner for that law firm.

  • One of the things that most people don't know

  • about partners in a big law firm

  • is that in order to become a partner,

  • you have to actually invest, usually,

  • you have to invest in the firm itself.

  • So often when you're being upgraded from

  • an associate to a partner in the law firm,

  • you actually have to make a substantial contribution,

  • often on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars,

  • to purchase your equity.

  • So they are voting to let you in to allow you to pay

  • the firm to allow you to be a partner in that law firm.

  • Hopefully if you're paying a substantial amount

  • to become an equity partner in a law firm,

  • it's profitable enough that you will

  • recoup your investment and then some.

  • Another thing that a lot of people don't know

  • about partners in a law firm is that they often

  • don't get paid a salary.

  • They only get paid a percentage of revenue

  • or profit in the law firm itself.

  • So often when you go from an associate in a law firm

  • to a partner, you forego a salary

  • and you only get paid maybe once a year

  • based on the general financials of that entire firm,

  • so there's a lot of good and a lot of bad

  • associate with being a partner,

  • but obviously Fletcher here wants to become a partner,

  • as most people do in a law firm.

  • (playful music)

  • - Oh, this is good.

  • This is really smart.

  • - Thank you.

  • - Only, well it's not true,

  • I mean, does that present a problem?

  • - So if the lawyer himself can't lie

  • to a judge or jury, I really doubt you can

  • convince your client to lie on his or her behalf

  • to the judge or jury, so I think this is a violation

  • already of rule 3.3, the duty of candor.

  • - You're the victim here,

  • the wife of a cold, distant workaholic,

  • starved for affection, driven in the arms of another man.

  • - Seven.

  • - Yeah whatever.

  • You're not trying to deny him what is rightfully his,

  • all you're insisting on is what is rightfully yours.

  • - Yeah.

  • - And maybe a (scoffs) fraction more.

  • I think you're bending over backwards.

  • - So ironically, despite them saying that whatever

  • was in that legal brief that was a lie,

  • the argument that Fletcher Reede is making here

  • aren't really lies, they're just creative ways

  • of talking about the facts as they exist.

  • So his rhetorical flourishes here talking about

  • how she's the victim, those can be true

  • from her point of view, so it's not necessarily a lie

  • in and of itself, it's just a creative argument

  • that uses the facts as they exist.

  • I don't know if that would win the day

  • against a prenuptial argument that's pretty cut and dry,

  • but so far, what he's talking about

  • probably doesn't breach rule 3.3 yet, we'll see.

  • - You're right, Mr. Reede,

  • I am tired of getting kicked around.

  • - Good for you.

  • - Thank you, I am so grateful

  • to have an attorney I can trust.

  • (whimpers) - Oh god.

  • All right, so let's talk about whether it's appropriate

  • for a lawyer to engage in sexual activity

  • with his or her client.

  • Up until last year, California was one of the few states

  • that said that a lawyer could, in fact,

  • engage in sexual relations with his or her client,

  • so long as that attorney didn't coerce or force

  • that client into that activity under duress.

  • That rule changed last year when California Supreme Court

  • brought California into line with most other states

  • that says an attorney cannot, under any circumstances,

  • have sexual relations with their client,

  • unless that relationship existed before

  • the attorney client relationship existed.

  • So, at the time that this movie was made,

  • it was sort of okay for clients and attorneys

  • to have a romantic relationship.

  • Now, that's not appropriate at all,

  • so that's something that Fletcher really needs

  • to watch out for, he needs to be careful with that client.

  • (heels click)

  • - Oh you are good.

  • (chuckles) You are very, very good.

  • You know, the Cole case is worth a truckload

  • of money to this firm.

  • If you win, I guarantee you'll make partner.

  • - Oh.