Agent or principal?


THERE CAN'T BE much competition for most devoted lawyer of the week after news broke on Tuesday that Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s long time personal lawyer, paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to a pornographic film actress who claimed to have had an affair with Trump. In a statement to the New York Times, Mr Cohen said, ‘Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms Clifford and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly’. Mr Cohen described the payment as a ‘private transaction’ and declined to answer the newspapers follow-up questions. His stated narrative appears to be he simply decided to give the woman $130,000 of his own money and there is nothing unusual about the situation at all. As CNN’s headline laconically noted, ‘Legal Questions Remain’. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel produced a fake advert for Cohen’s law firm with the tag-line ‘World’s Dumbest/Most Generous Lawyers’ whilst other commentators noted such largesse was a novel way of winning new client business.

MEANWHILE in Scotland news appeared reporting a male partner at Dentons had left the company after a series of complaints from female staff about behaviour. A spokesman for Dentons said ‘Last month we became aware that reports of inappropriate behaviour were made against a Maclay Murray and Spens (MMS) partner… more than a year before MMS’s merger with Dentons. Immediately upon becoming aware of these reports we launched an internal investigation and placed the partner on a leave of absence. The investigation has now completed and we have found no evidence of sexual harassment. However during the investigation it became apparent that the behaviour of the partner concerned fell well below the expectations that we have of our partners. We can confirm he has now left the firm’. 

THIS NEWS came the same week as data from the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England revealed a third of partners in England are women. These shifts in the profession are perhaps the first indicators of greater changes still to come. In 2015 in Scotland the numbers of female solicitors overtook males for the first time, although statistics show women are still under represented in senior roles. The wider trend in the profession is reflected in new admissions as Writers to the Signet being more than 50% female and in the office bearer group in which women are in the majority. Current Deputy Keeper of the Signet, Caroline Docherty, is the first woman to hold the office. Her contribution to modernising the Society was recently recognised with the award of an OBE in the New Year’s honours list.

VALENTINE'S DAY this week saw an outbreak of legal humour on Twitter under the hashtag #legalvalentines. Although some might unkindly suggest attempts at legal humour are never the profession’s finest moment, this didn’t stop many lawyers from having a go: “Roses are Red, Ginger beer is Ginger, all law students know, Mrs Donoghue was a whinger’ being just one example. However, one twitter user was unimpressed, summing up that ‘my conclusions from a quick survey of the #legalvalentines is that lawyers are generally not funny people’. Ouch.

— “Writer”

Writer's Week is not intended to represent the views of the WS Society or its members.