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I recently wrote a post called By all means copy me

Now I’m going to get quite specific. We are talking about so called professionals here. “Professional” attorneys and accountants who have no principals and no pride and bring their peers into disrepute.

I have in front of me two trust deeds. One prepared and sold to their client by a banking institution (let’s call it the “mother”) and another by an accountant (let’s call it the “child”).

I received the child for review first and after a read through, decided that it was such rubbish that I could not fix it up and would have to completely replace it. There’s nothing unusual about that.

Then a few weeks later, I received the mother, also for review, from an entirely unconnected client. I immediately recognised the mother/child relationship. The mother is a well crafted trust deed with which I differ more on style than on principal.

So what had happened here?

Clearly a version of the mother had been copied and adapted to create a child which was then “fixed up” by the accountant to suite his particular client and then sold to the client as if it was his/her own creation. The problem was that a tweak here and a modification there introduced unintended consequences within the document itself, duplications, contradictions, conflicts with law, gramatical nonsense and generally what my previous partner called a matza pudding. And of course, this gets worse when the grandchild and the great grandchild are copied, pasted and modified. And you, dear client, are paying for this!

I suggest that you resolve that whenever you obtain a document that an attorney claims to have drafted for you and for which he is charging you, you insist on a written undertaking that this is his original work or that of his practice. Also when you read the document look out for the tell-tale signs of plagiarism – duplications, contradictions, missing words or phrases etc. None of these on their own confirm plagiarism because the best of us draft our own master documents and then tailor them to the needs of the particular client.

Gentlemen and lady “professionals”, have you no pride?

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