CYBERSPACE — Participants in an online class on corporate taxation received far more than they bargained for when one of the students inadvertently flashed the entire class during the scheduled questions and answer period. The incident sparked a discussion over the use of video chat in continuing legal education (CLE).
The course, “Recent Issues in Corporate Taxation”, is offered to attorneys looking to meet their CLE requirements and maintain their license. As the class date was close to the license renewal deadline for several states, including California and Texas, the enrollment was higher than normal. At the time of the incident, the number of logged in viewers was 2,319, excluding the moderator and five panelists and moderator, which included noted corporate tax expert and Harvard Law Professor Michael K. Lepow.
“To be fair, this was an online CLE”, pointed out participant and corporate attorney James McIntyre, “so perhaps only a several hundred people were paying serious attention to the screen when it happened.”
The attorney who flashed the audience, identified as David Dennison, was a junior associate at major Dallas law firm Schutts & Ladhers. He is no longer with the firm.
After the panel concluded its initial discussion, the audience question period began. Dennison, who logged into the CLE from his home computer during a sick day, did not plan on activating the video chat function as he asked the first question. The question started innocently enough, but after one of the panelists asked for further clarification, Dennison turned to look at a document. At that moment his cat, Mr. Winkers, jumped onto the keyboard and toggled the video function, revealing far more about Dennison than he planned.
Several attendees recorded the CLE and provided copies to this publication on condition of anonymity. The following is a transcript of the incident:
DENNISON: “One second, let me just consult my notes.”
[a cat appears on screen and quickly moves to reveal Dennison's derriere. Various exclamations and gasps, along with laughter.]
McINTYRE: “Dave, we can see your butt!”
DENNISON: “Oh, [expletive deleted]!”
[UNKNOWN MALE]: “No, don’t turn arou–”
[Lots of grunts, squeals and general commotion.]
[UNKNOWN FEMALE]: “Good heavens!”
DENNISON: “Where’s the [expletive deleted] button to shut it off?!”
PROF. LEPOW: “I think we should move along to the next question.”
Both censored and uncensored video of the incident appeared on YouTube a short time later. As of the time of this writing their views total 392,155. Dennison left his firm after his identity became public. Attempts to contact him for this article have been unsuccessful.
Despite the surprised nudity, most CLE attendees found the incident to be more amusing than annoying. One such viewer, who asked to remain anonymous, captured the spirit of most attendees interviewed: “It honestly doesn’t matter. As long as I get CLE credit for the full hour, I’ll be fine.”
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