Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

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Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:16 pm

I have a research assignment given by a partner in BigLaw that basically just asks what someone should know and consider before doing X.

Well I found an article that is 100% on point and puts it in words better than I can. Is there a problem with lifting most of it word for word for my memo?

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rpupkin

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:24 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I have a research assignment given by a partner in BigLaw that basically just asks what someone should know and consider before doing X.

Well I found an article that is 100% on point and puts it in words better than I can. Is there a problem with lifting most of it word for word for my memo?

Yes. Respond that you found an article that is on point. Briefly summarize the article in your memo and attach it to your email.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby jhett » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:25 pm

Why don't you just send the partner the internal memo and say that you searched the system and found that someone else already looked at this issue?

If the partner still wants you to write something up, then you can crib from the memo. Or the partner uses the article and congrats, you completed the assignment.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby jbagelboy » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:26 pm

Uh. Yeah. If its a law review/journal article, you can cite it for certain choice quotations and rely on the underlying cases discussed in the articld and the cases cited by those cases as additional citations. But the writing itself should be yours.

Eta: scooped by a superior suggestion that you tell the partner about the article first. If he still wants the memo, follow my suggestion. Dont use the language of the article without attribution
Last edited by jbagelboy on Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:27 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I have a research assignment given by a partner in BigLaw that basically just asks what someone should know and consider before doing X.

Well I found an article that is 100% on point and puts it in words better than I can. Is there a problem with lifting most of it word for word for my memo?

Yes. Respond that you found an article that is on point. Briefly summarize the article in your memo and attach it to your email.

Yup.

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Monochromatic Oeuvre

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby Monochromatic Oeuvre » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:34 pm

It takes a particular kind of stupid to bypass the ethical and really easy choice in order do the thing that's not only completely out of bounds but also would take you ten times longer.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:43 pm

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:It takes a particular kind of stupid to bypass the ethical and really easy choice in order do the thing that's not only completely out of bounds but also would take you ten times longer.

In defense of the OP, I think it takes awhile for young summer associates and junior associates--particularly those without prior work experience--to get the point of their role. A request for a memo is not like an assignment you get in a Legal Writing class in law school. When a partner asks you to research a question, it's not a test to see how well you do something. The partner just wants an answer to the question. If you can answer that question quickly by pointing to the work of another, you have done a great job: not only does the partner have an answer, but you have spared the client the expense of hours of research and writing.

When in doubt, think about things from the perspective of the partner and the client.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby favabeansoup » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:47 pm

Plagiarizing good language you find at a law firm is 100% the preferred result instead of muddying it up to put it in your own words.

No one is going to give you a bad grade for failing to have original thought.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:04 pm

favabeansoup wrote:Plagiarizing good language you find at a law firm is 100% the preferred result instead of muddying it up to put it in your own words.

That's a dangerous way to phrase it. Copying and pasting large chunks of text is fine in some contexts, but not in others.

If, for example, you've got to draft responses and objections to rogs, there's nothing wrong with "stealing" your laundry list of objections from another document. But if you're writing a memo, I wouldn't copy and paste all or most of a published article and then pass that work off as your own. There are risks in doing this that could hurt your firm or your client.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:16 pm

Yeah, I think there's a difference between using language already created by your employer, as an employee of that employer, and taking language directly from an actual external publication. (Especially if the person requesting the memo didn't know where the language came from and put it in a filing or such - it's one thing to decide for yourself to copy the language in something you file/give to a client, but you don't know what the person you give the document to is going to do with it.) For a lot of bog standard issues it will probably never matter, but a summer probably isn't in the best position to judge that yet.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby snowball2 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:38 pm

If you're going to plagiarize anything, start with the spelling of "plagiarize."

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby rpupkin » Fri Jun 09, 2017 4:03 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Yeah, I think there's a difference between using language already created by your employer, as an employee of that employer, and taking language directly from an actual external publication. (Especially if the person requesting the memo didn't know where the language came from and put it in a filing or such - it's one thing to decide for yourself to copy the language in something you file/give to a client, but you don't know what the person you give the document to is going to do with it.) For a lot of bog standard issues it will probably never matter, but a summer probably isn't in the best position to judge that yet.

Agree with all of this. And the bolded is exactly what I had in mind when I mentioned risks. Here's an example of something that could easily happen:

1. Partner asks for a memo on a topic. You copy and paste an article you found without telling the partner about the article.

2. Partner loves "your" memo, and copies and pastes large chunks of it verbatim into a brief.

3. Opposing counsel recognizes the copying. Why? Because, as it turns out, you copied and pasted an article written by their expert witness. (You didn't know this--you're not involved enough to know who the expert witnesses are in the case--but of course the partner knows and would've evaluated how to use the article accordingly, had he known about the existence of the article.)

4. In a footnote in the opposition brief, opposing counsel points out that you copied and pasted their expert's article.

So now you have damaged your credibility with the court, bolstered the credibility of the other side's expert, and led your client to suspect that your firm is overbilling.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 09, 2017 4:07 pm

OP here thanks for the advice, the research memo is largely non legal mostly relating to steps someone should consider before they choose how to monetize their IP.

I never had in mind copy and pasting the whole article and turning that it, just a couple of sentences that are a lot more clear than I could write largely because I know nothing about the subject. I'll just play it safe and put it into my own words and cite the article.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby jd20132013 » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:21 pm

I feel like u didn't read the thread

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby landshoes » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:45 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here thanks for the advice, the research memo is largely non legal mostly relating to steps someone should consider before they choose how to monetize their IP.

I never had in mind copy and pasting the whole article and turning that it, just a couple of sentences that are a lot more clear than I could write largely because I know nothing about the subject. I'll just play it safe and put it into my own words and cite the article.


If it's a couple sentences just quote or block quote.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby Nebby » Fri Jun 09, 2017 5:48 pm

landshoes wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:OP here thanks for the advice, the research memo is largely non legal mostly relating to steps someone should consider before they choose how to monetize their IP.

I never had in mind copy and pasting the whole article and turning that it, just a couple of sentences that are a lot more clear than I could write largely because I know nothing about the subject. I'll just play it safe and put it into my own words and cite the article.


If it's a couple sentences just quote or block quote.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby jbagelboy » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:43 pm

rpupkin wrote:
Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:It takes a particular kind of stupid to bypass the ethical and really easy choice in order do the thing that's not only completely out of bounds but also would take you ten times longer.

In defense of the OP, I think it takes awhile for young summer associates and junior associates--particularly those without prior work experience--to get the point of their role. A request for a memo is not like an assignment you get in a Legal Writing class in law school. When a partner asks you to research a question, it's not a test to see how well you do something. The partner just wants an answer to the question. If you can answer that question quickly by pointing to the work of another, you have done a great job: not only does the partner have an answer, but you have spared the client the expense of hours of research and writing.

When in doubt, think about things from the perspective of the partner and the client.


This *kind of* depends on the firm for a summer associate specifically. At some firms if a summer associate is given a writing assignment like a memo requiring legal research, the expectation may be that they actually write something, with the pedantry of the exercise as much a part of the purpose as the utility. As an actual associate with real billables yeah don't waste anyone's time just provide an effective answer.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:04 pm

OP, you should send the article to the partner and summarize key points. If this is a writing exercise, the partner will tell you to write it up in a memo (and maybe do additional research or expand on certain points). Sending it to the partner is not going to get you in trouble.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby favabeansoup » Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:45 pm

rpupkin wrote:
favabeansoup wrote:Plagiarizing good language you find at a law firm is 100% the preferred result instead of muddying it up to put it in your own words.

That's a dangerous way to phrase it. Copying and pasting large chunks of text is fine in some contexts, but not in others.

If, for example, you've got to draft responses and objections to rogs, there's nothing wrong with "stealing" your laundry list of objections from another document. But if you're writing a memo, I wouldn't copy and paste all or most of a published article and then pass that work off as your own. There are risks in doing this that could hurt your firm or your client.


Yeah my apologies. I was referring more towards like taking the language of drafting a particular deal section or a sample draft of a motion or something.

For a research **memo**, I agree. Instead of copying/pasting the language in the memo just send the memo itself with a concise summary.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby Night_L » Sat Jun 10, 2017 6:49 am

Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:It takes a particular kind of stupid to bypass the ethical and really easy choice in order do the thing that's not only completely out of bounds but also would take you ten times longer.

It takes a particular kind of raging asshole to fail to see that a student can struggle to navigate difference between school work and firm work in her first weeks at the job. But I bet you knew everything from day 1.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby cron1834 » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:23 am

Night_L wrote:
Monochromatic Oeuvre wrote:It takes a particular kind of stupid to bypass the ethical and really easy choice in order do the thing that's not only completely out of bounds but also would take you ten times longer.

It takes a particular kind of raging asshole to fail to see that a student can struggle to navigate difference between school work and firm work in her first weeks at the job. But I bet you knew everything from day 1.

Which school teaches you to plagiarize again? I forgot.

Seriously, it takes 30 seconds to cite something. This is a bizarre question.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:32 am

Sure, it's an uninformed question, but a genuine one, and there's no need to rip the OP a new one.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby jarofsoup » Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:19 am

Don't trust law review articles. But if you are doing legal documents or pleadings plagiarism doesn't really exist

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby Night_L » Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:22 am

People are also acting as if inefficiency weren't a fundamental aspect of the law firm business model.

I have spent hours researching case law and drafting memos when a half-hour edit of an on-point secondary source would have sufficed, perhaps updated with one or two cases. Guess what, those 8-20h hour get billed, I get my time and the partner gets his $$$. Everyone is happy.

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Re: Plagerizing internal research memo during SA?

Postby GreenEggs » Sat Jun 10, 2017 10:33 am

What about cases? Not someone's already secondary work, but supervisor says, "we might want to object to this getting in, give me a survey of where the lines are here." How particular are you with re-phrasing the case language/summarizing, instead of just mostly copying and pasting fact-specific findings?
Last edited by GreenEggs on Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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