"I don't care what the newspapers say about me, as long as they spell my name right." -- quote attributed to P. T. Barnum

The idea that any publicity is good publicity may hold true for rock stars and movie stars with carefully cultivated bad-boy and bad-girl images, but, for almost everyone else, bad publicity is just bad.

It can wreck a career. It can damage a life. Just ask Tiger Woods and Charlie Sheen.

But it wasn't bad publicity that played havoc with their careers. It was self-destructive behavior that they tried - or didn't try – to conceal. If bad publicity hadn't brought them up short when it did, they might have gone on to become even greater fools.

But the dirt came out and the damage was done. How many merchandisers are lining up to secure Tiger's endorsement now? How many producers are scrambling to sign Charlie for a leading role?

It seems popular today to pretend to believe that personal moral failings are irrelevant or inconsequential. Will the day come soon when one might hear: "Chef Aubergine may have stabbed her husband with a salad knife, but she makes a delectable eggplant casserole?"

We hope not, but we do wonder.

For instance, would you hire a law firm where some attorneys have quit and sued each other for alleged fraud? What about a law firm whose founder and one of its partners were both accused of sex crimes and are now in federal prison?

Fraud's a personal moral failing. So are sex crimes. Is a law firm burdened with lawbreakers, a law firm to avoid?

Unfortunately, as we detailed in a recent article, it's the type of question being asked about a law firm in our community. How the Lakin Law Firm, thus far, has managed to weather such a horrendous storm of bad publicity is a story in itself.

Our continuing task will be to tell that story and to spell the names right.

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