MISTAKES ON A TRAIN: THE DANGERS OF LAWYERS WORKING ON THE MOVE

This post is caused by a Twitter thread this evening.  I was travelling on a train and a solicitor sat beside me (who I did not know). I knew she was a solicitor because she took out a laptop and started sending emails.  The caused me to ponder the wisdom of working on trains.

Sir Stephen Sedley  tells the story of a young advocate who met a “nice Old buffer” and his wife on the train. The advocate spent the train journey telling the nice old buffer who was a fellow passenger how he was going to appear in front of a High Court Judge held in low esteem by the legal profession as a whole.  A judge who had no merits but married money and gained advancement without any personal merit. The advocate’s stories  were in mid-flow when the train arrived.

The High Sheriff of the County was on the train platform to welcome the barrister’s fellow passengers – the High Court Judge and his wife.

“As a journalist, I want you all to keep chatting and leaving your documents out to read. Ignore the naysayers.”

ADVICE FROM TWITTER – THE DANGERS OF TRAVELLING ON TRAINS

I was heading to Newcastle for my first contract negotiation. Three gentlemen got on the train and sat at the same table. After eating they proceeded to discuss their strategy and bottom lines for their negotiating meeting the next day. Next morning only one of them recognised me

I was able to draft a response to a letter of Claim last year “Thank you for your letter which we have been expecting as your Mr X referred to the drafting of the same in a phone call on the 7.45 Euston to Manchester last Thursday”. Client’s employee was on train

As a journalist, I want you all to keep chatting and leaving your documents out to read. Ignore the naysayers.

I blogged about this a few years ago – I’m amazed that people are so indiscreet on the train (with correct link this time):

Late to this one but not obvs not restricted to lawyers…..once spent most of New Street to Euston trying to avoid reading adjacent laptop belonging to senior finance officer of major corporate experiencing high profile financial difficulties 🙄

Often – pre-tech- used to see young barristers ostentatiously reading (very thin) instructions on the tube and train, red ribbons aflutter, backsheets and evidence on show. Assumed they were sweetly proud of their new status. Always whispered a discreet word as I passed.

I sat next to a HR professional advising client by phone how to make up a discipline process to dismiss an employee. Sophisticated plot. I really wish an employment judge could overhear as apparently, many don’t believe in conspiracies.

2013: Grabbed my backpack off the train luggage rack and headed to the court. Discover on the security search it contained someone else’s gym kit and a lot of protein shakes (“no, I won’t sip them, thanks”). Got the papers back in the end. Pretty uncomfortable hearing, though.

This is how I travel with files. And I don’t get them out en route! 🔒⛔️🤐

Early in & around time my crime career ended, I mislaid” an original CPS prosecution file on a works night out. Realisation it could not be found did nothing for hangover. Turned up after loss reported. Hanging offence now. Rightly so. Glad I’m not starting off or so stupid now.

I’ve been a train commuter since January. Shocked how many files I see clearly showing names, details… also how many people call secretaries/colleagues e.g. “On [FULL NAME OF CLIENT]’s file, please send CAFCASS report to counsel and point out [FULL NAME]’s drug test failure” 🙈

challenge them. I do, every time. It’s shitty behaviour and disrespectful to our clients. Or take their photo and share it in here!!

A chap sat opposite me on a long train journey to Cardiff and spent the whole journey on his mobile talking about Children Act cases. We both got off the train in Cardiff and he kept looking at me in increasing horror as we both walked the same way to the court building.

He wasn’t a lawyer but I recently sat behind someone who started a PowerPoint on ‘IT Security’. He proceeded to tap out confidential bits n bobs and even left the pc unlocked when going to the loo. I actually thought I was on some TV prank show.

Technically they could be in breach of SRA code of conduct 4-6 : 4.act in the best interests of each client; 5.provide a proper standard of service to your clients; 6.behave in a way that maintains the trust the public places in you and in the provision of legal services;

One note of caution for those looking to name & shame. It isn’t unheard of for draft transaction documents to use pseudonyms for parties/assets/properties etc in a deal right up until they are engrossed for signature. It may be that nothing identifying a client etc is on display.

Replying to 

I was on a train on Friday Mcr/London where a woman was sitting near the carriage exit (i.e. where people queue) with papers out on the seat next to her (the aisle seat) showing her firm’s name and also ICO headed papers… which made me chuckle 😬

1. On a tube and the chap next to Me was reading his file for a housing hearing. I could see everything, he wasn’t even trying to hide the information 2 First class – Manx/Lon, silk takes out brief and papers to read. I mentioned I was a solicitor, he told me all about his case!

Privacy screens for laptops stop are available for exactly this and should be used, it’s only way to remain GDPR compliant and work on the move. Firms should and do supply them (sometimes you might have to ask the IT department nicely-dont ever get on their bad side!!!)

I heard a phone call whilst stood up (obviously!) on the train where a solicitor was completely bad mouthing their client and the case itself.. I could even see information on their screen and no doubt everyone around them could!

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen files open or left whilst people go to the toilet or to the on train cafe..

I once mentioned to a woman next to me that I could read all the sensitive info she was typing about school pupils. She called me rude and moved. To prove my point I put the info together, identified the school and reported her…

On train to London, solicitor sits next to me and plonks 4 files on the table. They were bundles. He tells me he is on his way to a con and then to RCJ to hand deliver bundles. Proceeds to read a file. I could see it all. He then goes to loo and LEAVES THE FILES ON THE TABLE!! 😳

As I stand on my packed train nose to nose with other commuters reading this thread I’m actually glad for once that I don’t have the opportunity to do any work on the train. The amount of confidential emails I’ve been able to read over other people’s shoulders is concerning.