The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Friday, July 19, 2013

O Tempora! O Mores!

If you are, as I am, a lawyer of a certain vintage, this scene is one you will remember:

Teh point of it, of course, is that while Hart thinks he's being a free spirit, Kingsfield thinks he's violating the contract between them and all the members of the class--to engage together in study and discussion, as orchestrated by Kingsfield. (I think it's fair to say that, while the novel and the film, to a lesser extent, side with Hart, the subsequent series draws ever nearer to Kingsfield's viewpoint.)

Which brings me to this rather extraordinary little story:
J.K. Rowling's initial regret at the revelation of her secret identity as a critically acclaimed debut crime novelist has now turned into anger. It was her lawyers whodunnit.

Just days after she was outed as Robert Galbraith, author of the Cuckoo's Calling, the author revealed that a partner at Russells law firm was the cause of the disclosure by telling his wife's best friend who Galbraith really was.

The novel, billed as the first of a series of mysteries to be unravelled by private investigator Cormoran Strike, was published in April but the nom-de-plume of the bestselling author of the Harry Potter books and the adult novel The Casual Vacancy only emerged after the The Sunday Times followed up a message posted on Twitter by a user called JudeCallegari.

Rowling, who initially spoke of the "liberating experience" of adopting an alias, said in a statement: "I have today discovered how the leak about Robert's true identity occurred. A tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know.

"To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced."

Russells told Rowling's agent when the truth emerged. The company said in a statement: "We, Russells Solicitors, apologise unreservedly for the disclosure caused by one of our partners, Chris Gossage, in revealing to his wife's best friend, Judith Callegari, during a private conversation that the true identity of Robert Galbraith was in fact JK Rowling.

"Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly. On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified JK Rowling's agent. We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither JK Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved."
(My italics.)

Seriously? Her lawyers breach confidentiality and then have the face to blame the person whom one of them told--a person who herself has no duty of confidentiality--for the resultant exposure?

Speaking as a lawyer, that is, quite simply, breathtaking in its abject lack of professionalism.

Kingsfield would have let him just walk out.

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