Scott Greenfield described it with clarity this morning:
In the beginning, this was a matter of a young lawyer who did what so many others would have done, reached beyond himself for the dollar at the expense of a murder defendant, Dontrell Deaner. At this point, most have forgotten that this was about saving the Dontrell Deaners, the defendants entitled to competent counsel because their lives depended on it. Instead, they got puffery.
But it now appears that Joseph Rakofsky isn't like the other young lawyers who want to be something they're not. Most of them would have learned something from the universal condemnation. Most would have grasped their horrible mistake quickly. A few would have taken longer, but eventually come to the harsh realization that they blew any chance at redemption.
This one, however, has enjoyed no epiphany. This one will fight to the death. He will add, and redo, and redouble, and fight. This isn't tenacity, an excellent trait in a lawyer. This isn't mere stupidity. This is pathologic obsession.
Mark Bennett had some comments on young Joseph's predicted assault on the only lawyer who would add his name to 2011's version of the Titanic:
By filing suit for his pal Rakofsky, Borzouye—whether he knew it or not—put his professional reputation and his bank account on the line along with his precious time. It wasn’t much of a favor to Rakofsky—a greater mitzvah would have been to dissuade Rakofsky from filing suit at all (I don’t know if he tried, but see “First,” above)—but it is not entirely out-of-line for a lawyer, when a friend is intent on destroying himself in court, to come along for the ride to try to minimize the damage.
Oh Joseph, I've seen this too often. I haven't seen it from lawyers in their infancy, but from lawyers well in to their careers who have decided that the world is against them, that attacking anyone with a heartbeat and voice will lead to some type of victory, somewhere.
It never ends well.
The lawyers I speak of are disbarred. The ones who felt attacked, and went on the attack, never knowing when to stop attacking, and continuing after the last interested person turned away - the last interested person besides a Bar prosecutor.
I think of Charlie Sheen.
Charlie had a problem, he took that problem and attacked anyone who spoke of the problem. He went on the attack, and made himself the story.
He lost his job, his kids, some friends, the respect of those who once respected him, and then all of a sudden, it all stopped.
Then it got quiet. Then we heard the sincere apologies, the evidence that he had moved on and was looking for a life away from the past.
So how did it happen?
I have to think someone put their hand on Charlie's shoulder and said "stop."
"You're not 'winning,' you're losing, badly."
While the story of Sheen's demise fades, the talk of his new life becomes the lesson for many. "Hey, look at Charlie Sheen," will be the phrase spoken to those who think they can't get out of their own way.
Which brings me back to Joseph Rakofsky.
Young Joseph could have been a popular speaker on the young lawyer circuit. I said from the beginning of his failed life as a plaintiff that had he taken his experience and turned it in to a teaching lesson - many of the young (marketing) lawyers may have learned something. Had young Joseph stood up and said "don't do what I did, don't take on a case unprepared, don't over-market yourself, don't be who you are not for the sake of building a practice," he would have been a strong voice in the "I speak from experience" camp.
Instead, he amended his complaint.
And so I wonder where is Joseph Rakofsky's mentor? Does he have one? Has he had some who he's now cast away? Are you one of them thinking "I tried to talk to him, but he knew better?"
Joseph Rakofsky claims he can't sleep, he's lost business, his life is the result of "internet mobbing."
But the last time I heard Joseph Rakofsky's name before yesterday, before he said "I'm back," was, well, I don't remember.
Maybe Joseph Rakofsky has a mentor. Maybe young Joseph is a bad mentee. Maybe his short time as a lawyer has taught him that becoming the poster boy for circus-type litigation is a road to success.
Young Joseph is on his way to nowhere. He doesn't know that, he'll never agree with that, but then again, I wonder if anyone is telling him that.
Nothing he is doing will accomplish anything positive in his life, or career.
But I'm not the one to tell him that.
Maybe someone else knows better.
Non-anonymous comments welcome. Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.