I have owned two cars in my life, and both are Toyotas. I still drive a 2000 Toyota Camry. I planned that my next car would be a Toyota. Then the recalls happened. Now there are reports of more potential recalls, and the car that synonymous with reliability, is now synonymous with recall. I cannot think of a more damaging word association for a car company than "recall", and I cannot think of a more surprising partner with “recall” than Toyota.
There was a movie released in 2006 titled, "Who Killed the Electric Car?", which was a documentary of sorts, that at the end gave a mock verdict for the parties responsible for the death of the electric car. If they produced a movie titled, "Who Killed GM?” I can guarantee you that Toyota would be one of the main suspects. Now we may be seeing trailers for "Who killed Toyota?"
When I read something new about the Toyota recalls, I try to remind myself that what is happening to Toyota can happen to any business. Toyota spent years developing and cultivating a reputation for manufacturing cars that if properly managed would run for 200,000 miles. My first Toyota went well over 200,000 miles, and I anticipate my current Toyota will as well. That reputation has been injured, potentially fatally in the blink of an eye. Make no mistake; this can happen to any business, if employers and their employees become complacent.
For lawyers, what is happening to Toyota should be wake up call for any lawyer that just sits through a CLE because they are required to take CLE classes. Lawyers always need to be refining their practice and making sure they are knowledgeable about code revisions, recent Supreme Court decisions, and new ethical requirements. Lawyers work very hard to develop their practice and earn their reputations, and unfortunately it can be tarnished by simple mistakes. We should all learn from the Toyota recall, I know I have.