News & Politics

What Would Judy Do?

Judy Smith couldn’t go into details about past clients, so we asked how she would manage a few hypothetical crises.

Photograph by Vincent Ricardel.

See Also:

Judy Smith: Schooled For Scandal

Photograph by Vincent Ricardel.

Leslie is an associate at a major law firm. She sends an e-mail to her colleagues in which she calls their supervising partner—who is very difficult—“an egomaniac on a power trip.” After pressing send, she realizes she accidentally cc’d the partner.

E-mail can be a dangerous tool. I always say you should never write something in an e-mail that you would not want someone else to see. I would advise Leslie to apologize to the partner, stating that the e-mail was obviously intended for her colleagues, it was late, and they had been working around the clock. I don’t think I would apologize for making the comment because the attorney would think it was disingenuous. I’m guessing he has heard that characterization many times.

• • •

Dean Thompson works at a prestigious university. His son attends the school and was recently caught cheating on a final exam. The student body is up in arms, thinking he got off easy—just a short-term suspension—because he’s the dean’s son.

Well, of course Dean Thompson was smart enough to recuse himself from the decision-making process. If, after examining prior history of students in similar situations, the dean determined that his son was given a lesser penalty, I would advise him to reverse the decision and issue a statement saying the decision did not uphold the values both he and the school stand for, that policies should be enforced fairly and there is no exception. Then he should announce that his son is suspended, like all other similar students, for the entire semester.

• • •

Molly is a well-known Washington socialite from a prominent family. Recently, an old flame leaked a sex tape of her to a gossip blog, putting Molly’s and her family’s reputations at stake.

Unless Molly wants to make a ton of money like Kim Kardashian, I would advise her to address the issue head-on and tell the truth: At the time she did the sex tape, she was young, it was private, and she did not expect for it to be public. Young people sometimes exercise bad judgment, and this is one of those cases. She is of course disappointed that her ex chose to use something so private to make money and gain notoriety. The story is likely to be a one- or two-day hit, so I would give a statement as soon as possible once she has all the facts.

This article appears in the March 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 and was a senior editor until 2022.