You have heard about banks that are "too big to fail." Well, we are about to find out if some law firms are too big to make mistakes.
At least that is what Sidley & Austin is apparently hoping the Federal Circuit will conclude should it choose to excuse Sidley’s blatant failure to file a timely Notice of Appeal.
Oral argument on the case took place yesterday, December 3, 2014. It is fun to listen to as a disinterested bystander. It was probably also fun for the opposing lawyer who didn’t have to explain how he and seventeen highly paid legal colleagues somehow failed to read an order from the court dismissing their post-trial motion. But for the Sidley lawyer making the case, my guess is he, too, was wondering how such a large firm ever found itself in such a mess.
On a serious note, I will be highly disappointed, but not surprised, if Sidley is granted a "do over" on this. I expect a decision (1) castigating the lawyers involved for their lax approach, (2) expressing the usual platitudes about the sanctity of the law and the obligations of legal practitioners to abide by clear, absolute rules, and (3) citing "grave concerns" if an exception were to be made here. But, I expect such an exception nevertheless. Let’s just call it a sneaking suspicion.