Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - 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. - In fact, how would you like to make a partner right now? - Oh, oh no. Oh no. - I mean, I shouldn't-- - Ew, quid pro quo sexual harassment. Oh, is that even consensual? Really, I think that that could be considered quid pro quo sexual harassment. She is making it seem like his partnership is contingent on some sort of sexual relationship with her.