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Ducks in a Row: Stupidity Kills

by Miki Saxon

In 2012 we looked at how a bad judgment and a toxic, dysfunctional culture killed off the 113-year-old premier law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf.

But having read the latest I have to revise what I said.

In addition to bad judgment, think gross stupidity.

I suppose I should say “alleged,” but the evidence leaves little doubt regarding just how stupid these bosses were.

Consider the smoking emails between Steven Davis, Dewey’s former chairman; Stephen DiCarmine, the firm’s former executive director; Joel Sanders, the former chief financial officer; and Zachary Warren, a former client relations manager.

Four men, who were charged by New York prosecutors on Thursday with orchestrating a nearly four-year scheme to manipulate the firm’s books to keep it afloat during the financial crisis, talked openly in emails about “fake income,” “accounting tricks” and their ability to fool the firm’s “clueless auditor,” the prosecutors said.  (…) One of the men even used the phrase “cooking the books” to describe what they were doing to mislead the firm’s lenders and creditors in setting the stage for a $150 million debt offering…  

And ignorance isn’t a viable excuse for lawyers by any stretch of the imagination.

The global number one rule in our post-Enron world is that you do not write anything in emails that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of your newspaper.

In case you aren’t familiar with them, the Darwin Awards “are cautionary tales about people who kill themselves in really stupid ways, and in doing so, significantly improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from the human race.”

Perhaps there should be a special award for people who kill companies through acts of excessive stupidity.

stupidity-kills

Image credit: Tombstone Generator

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