The American way is “innocent until proven guilty.” The American Lawyer way seems to be “guilty by association”. 

The July 2008 American Lawyer, in the “Bar Talk” section, has an article Irony, Thy Name is Guidance sub-titled “Howrey’s EDD provider has EDD problems of its own.” The short article reports that discovery practices of Guidance Software, Inc., makers of popular EDD software EnCase, “have come under attack” for how it produced e-mail in an employment matter.

That an EDD vendor may have its own EDD problems is perhaps newsworthy. But the article opens by asking “Did Howrey bet on the wrong horse when in linked up with electronic data discovery provider Guidance Software, Inc. in May?” Two paragraphs later: “The same month that Guidance announced its alliance with Howrey, an arbitrator in Los Angeles admonished the Pasadena-based company for its discovery practices in an employment suit in which it is a defendant.”

So what? The implication seems that Howrey is somehow at fault. I don’t get it. The magazine, instead of analyzing the business value of Howrey’s alliance with Guidance, implies the firm has chosen poorly. What is the standard of care for a law firm (or any entity for that matter) in choosing products or business partners? Should customers not use a leading product because the company has what may be a minor legal problem?

For the many BigLaw partners I’ve met over the years who believe that American Lawyer has an axe (or two or three) to grind, this article will certainly confirm their views.