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Law firms everywhere, here's some unsolicited advice: Don't throw a Halloween party that makes light of your firm's work. This is especially true if your firm deals with serious legal actions like foreclosures, such as Steven J. Baum's New York law firm.
It can cost you goodwill and your reputation.
Baum's firm specializes in foreclosures. It's what many describe as a "foreclosure mill." Surprisingly, in 2010 some of the firm's employees decided to throw a Halloween costume bash that poked fun at foreclosed homeowners. They put together a homeless-themed party.
The party featured decorations like cut-out foreclosed homes and party-goers dressed as homeless individuals.
Some of the photos from the ill-fated party were sent to a New York Times columnist who wrote a scathing opinion about the costume bash.
It was, as the columnist said, simply in bad taste.
Imagine this: if you run a criminal defense firm, would you throw a Halloween party where your employees dressed as battered, bruised and murdered victims?
What about a District Attorney's office that decides to throw a jail-themed event?
Whatever your views are of foreclosures and homeowners, it seems logical that a homeless-themed party would be considered offensive by at least a few onlookers.
Foreclosures are inevitable in certain situations. But they are perfectly legal and part of the written law. When homeowners are unable to make payments on their home and have exhausted all options, it's the bank's right to foreclose on the home. There's no doubt about that.
But perhaps some sensitivity to the individuals who have had their homes wrenched away from them would do a firm some good. Shouldn't firms like Steven J. Baum's be more careful? His firm has been investigated by the Department of Justice for its questionable legal practices according to The New York Times. They even admitted they made some errors, and settled to end the investigation for $2 million.
They say any publicity is good publicity, but just ask Steven J. Baum. Some publicity just tends to darken an already tarnished reputation.