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3 Lessons From Paula Deen For Your . . . Law Firm?

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By Betty Wang, JD on June 20, 2013 12:58 PM

Well-known television personality, businesswoman, and chef Paula Deen is arguably one of the most famous (she’s certainly one of the highest-paid) and beloved food personalities out there.

Though it looks like, these days, the bubbly Southern grandma is known less for her penchant to coat everything in butter and deep-fry it, and more for her impending issues with the law.

With that said, let this be an appropriate time to actually take in some lessons from Deen. Because, despite her being in an industry vastly different from the legal one, you can still learn a thing or two from her recent troubles and apply them to your firm.

Lesson 1: When Paula hid her diabetes, and then only came out because she was a paid spokeswoman for an insulin company.

Deen came out a few years ago as diabetic, and this certainly split opinions, from applauding support from her fans, to many a boo-hiss from her critics, including another famous TV personality and chef, Anthony Bourdain.

Paula had been diagnosed with Type II diabetes for almost three years before she came clean about it to the public. That caused many to view her being a proponent for unhealthy foods as hypocritical.

The ABA has strict rules when it comes to client representation -- this involves both sharing updates and keeping our clients reasonably informed (and especially not waiting years to report something that is known), and avoiding any potential conflicts of interest by divulging all relevant information. This is especially something to be careful of when you are representing two different clients with conflicting interests -- for example, a pro-abortion case vs. a pro-life case. Much like baking heavy cakes on TV while diabetic, this could pose a problem, and unless you receive both clients written consent, you may often have to reevaluate your case load.

Lesson 2: When Paula cooked ... anything

It has to be said, when taking lessons from Paula Deen: be cautious of what you eat. This is especially relevant in the legal field, where it has been reported that there may be a propensity for weight gain.

This should go without saying, especially considering the stress and the often sedentary lifestyle, it's easy to reach for that second (or third) doughnut. But, keep in mind that not only is there an image issue to be concerned, but health issues that stem from weight gain can bleed directly into your energy levels, work ethnic, quality of life, and therefore the quality of representation you give your clients.

Lesson 3: When Paula allegedly (and confirmed to have) spewed a racial slur

Deen's most recent scandal involves accusations of sexual and racial harassment (some of which have now been confirmed in the deposition -- namely the use of the N-word).

This one should be fairly straight forward -- be cautious at all times of all forms of discrimination in the workplace, especially gender and racial. Strict federal laws under the Civil Rights Act apply to all employees, including attorneys, in the workplace.

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