So I was a guest at a Professional Responsibility class at my law school today. The topic was "Technology + Confidentiality = Trouble." I used some of your examples, so thanks to those who commented. The general theme was inadvertent disclosure, and how technology makes that easier, and what an attorney should do when on the inadvertent end and on the recipient end of such a slip-up.
Anyway it was a very good discussion. I was generally impressed with the students. At one point the prof asked me to what extent reputation, and my concerns about my own professional reputation within the community of people I tend to practice with and against, plays into my analysis of the hypotheticals. I said it seemed to me a very big consideration. I said I think an attorney with a good reputation, with a collegial relationship with other attorneys in the marketplace and a general reputation for fair dealing and reasonableness, brings an asset into a client's representation that is very valuable, and if you screw up that reputation you're compromising your ability to help your clients.
And then I said this to the law students: "You guys, your professional reputation has already started. It started at the beginning of your 1L year, maybe even before. You are being watched and judged right now by the people you will be practicing with and against when you get out of here -- your classmates, your professors, people in the classes above and below you. Even if you go to another legal market, people will ask around to find out about you. You don't know who it's going to be saying, "Sure, I know her, and let me tell you my impressions," but you can be sure someone will be responding to inquiries about you. I am practicing law against people I went to school with, and people who went to school with friends of mine from undergrad, and my professional impression of them today includes the impressions they made while they were students." The professor corroborated this (and piqued my interest by saying something like, "I can remember some of the incidents and the people I imagine you are talking about" -- wowsers, wonder what dirt she's thinking about?).
It's not something I ever thought about, much, when I was in law school. It doesn't mean you can't get drunk or skip class or wear sweatpants to class or flub up the answer to a professor's question or otherwise act like a student (at least, I hope not). It just means that people's impressions of your academic talents, your attitude and enthusiasm, your respect for others and for the profession, your ethics, your reliability, your articulateness, and your general aptitudes and interests, are forming now. These people are going to go out into the world at large and one day someone's going to ask them if they've heard of you and they're going to say, "sure, she always struck me as a real _____." What do you want that word to be?