Thursday, December 30, 2010

Yep. I was a chump.

See here.  This TaxProf Blog post points out how much creative accounting folderol goes into reporting employment stats of law schools to U.S. News

As I've said before (see here), lying on these questionnaires isn't much different from the "earnings management" that went on at Enron and the other like-minded companies.  Refusing to lie puts schools at a huge disadvantage, but lying just results in a race to the bottom in accuracy while pursuing a race to the top in "100% employed" reports.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yet another good bankruptcy blog.

See here.  It's going on my Google home page, along with those other bankruptcy blogs (here).

Update:  Two more interesting bankruptcy law blogs:  the Charleston Bankruptcy Blog (here) and the Bankruptcy Law Network (here).  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A tale of two customer service approaches.

In today's Business Day section of the New York Times, there's one story about how Disney is able to reduce the frustration level of people who are waiting in lines at the parks (here) and another story about how difficult it is for the airlines to cope with all of the headaches about having to cancel flights during bad weather (here).

Disney has incentives to keep its guests happy.  Happy guests buy more souvenirs, come back to the parks, and tell their friends about their experiences there.

Airlines, on the other hand, have that new legislation -- the law that requires them to pay fines for staying on the tarmac for too many hours -- and their thin profit margins, which combine to reduce their ability (or desire?) to figure out how to reroute stranded customers when all flights are already filled to capacity.

Maybe it's a combination of company culture and outside incentives, but the juxtaposition of the two approaches is telling.  Disney wants to make people enjoy their time in its parks; airlines want to keep their costs low.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Shame on you, Pat Buchanan.

I always hesitate to read Pat Buchanan's columns, because I know that I'll end up with a eye-twitch from his invective.  On the other hand, I skim them because I want to know what people whose views differ from mine are thinking.  (Sometimes, their points can change my mind; sometimes, they can't.  But I like to keep an open mind.)

But today's column, "The Marines: Sacrificed for San Francisco values," took the cake, and not in a good "I-like-cake" way.  You can read this claptrap here.

First off, Mr. Buchanan, don't use my beloved Marines for your own nefarious purposes.  Sure, there were some Marines who opposed "don't ask, don't tell," and sure, people can disagree about DADT.  Other people, though, think that a person's sexuality has no bearing on his or her ability to serve.  Remember the high-profile change of heart that Colin Powell had about DADT (here)?

Here's the line in your op-ed that drove me nuts:  "Can anyone believe that mixing small-town and rural 18-, 19- and 20-year-old Christian kids, aspiring Marines, in with men sexually attracted to them is not going to cause hellish problems?"  Seriously????

If you really believe that homosexuality is a sin, that's your right.  But, then, be consistent.  Condemn all of the other sins that can occur in the military, too.  What about military personnel having affairs?  If adultery is a sin, where's your outrage about that behavior among opposite-sex military personnel?  And if you're upset about the potential sexual harassment, where's your indignation about opposite-sex harassment--or haven't you been paying attention to those reports over the years?  

To me, many of the arguments that people made about DADT smacked of the same logic that opposed integration in the military:  "It's too much."  "The nation's values disagree."  "Soldiers and Marines shouldn't be distracted by having to share quarters with people of other races."  Integration worked out pretty well, didn't it?

Oh, and don't assume that only the liberals rejoiced when DADT was repealed.  I support a strong military.  I think that this nation would be better off if we had some sort of compulsory service (military or public works) after high school--in part because I believe that we owe our country some payback for the benefits that we get and in part because I think that we're better off when we mix together people who might not normally meet each other.  (And I feel ashamed that I didn't serve.)  I think that the military can provide a wonderful career--and I'm delighted that, now, schools should be able to let the military recruit on campus because the recruiters can sign the anti-discrimination pledge.  

And I worry about the deficit.  I like the free-market (although, to be fair, I don't always trust that it works), and I don't think that "more regulation" is necessarily the best answer to our problems.  I don't think that everyone belongs in college.  I worry about too-high taxes.  So, no, I'm not a knee-jerk liberal.

What I am is a person who loves her same-sex friends, who has worked with gay and lesbian colleagues for her entire life, and who fears that the military was irretrievably weakened by jettisoning talented people because of their sexuality.

Shame on you, Mr. Buchanan, for assuming that homosexuals in the military will be some sort of bad influence on those small-town kids.  Some people in the military will be bad influences, but most won't be.  Blind prejudice, on the other hand, doesn't help our country at all.

Beware the unintended consequences of bad incentives.

What do these stories have in common?  From the Wall Street Journal (written by Liz Rappaport and Michael Rapoport--distant relations at best), "Ernst Accused of Lehman Whitewash" (here); from the New York Times and David Streitfeld, "Homes at Risk, and No Help From Lawyers" (here); and from John Stossel, "Uncle Sam Will Help You Buy an Alpaca" (here).

Each of these stories has the same subtext:  people behave according to the incentives that reward them.

If it is true that Ernst facilitated the bad accounting at Lehman (let's wait and see, but I wouldn't be particularly surprised), my guess is that the facilitation was due to the twin incentives of (1) rewards for pleasing clients (remember Enron?) and (2) no rewards for calling shenanigans on accounting tricks that--at the very least--violate the spirit of accounting rules, if not the technical wording of those rules.  (For the basic advice to avoid all actions that can be explained by, "Well, technically, it's ok," see the paper that Colin Marks and I wrote for the Fordham Law Review, "The Corporate Lawyer's Role in a Contemporary Democracy," which you can download here.)

Want to prohibit fraudsters from preying on distressed homeowners?  California tried, by enacting a law that prohibits lawyers from being paid for doing loan modifications until the modifications are approved.  Good for California for trying to squeeze out those businesses that took the modification money and ran, before getting their clients the modifications.  But give California a big "oops" for not exempting legitimate lawyers who just can't afford to float the entire fees for a process that might take years to complete (and which could be discharged in bankruptcy if, after the modification, the client still needs to restructure debt).

And those alpaca subsidies?  Tax credits can be great ways to shape behavior but, well, they shape behavior.  All regulation shapes behavior--again, by providing incentives or disincentives.  Much of regulation is important:  criminal penalties, pollution standards, food and drug standards, etc.  But lawmakers need to understand that regulation can create unintended behavior as well and to think hard about what might go wrong with a poorly written or ill-conceived regulation.  For example, rage at the bizarrely high pay for poor-performing executives and the revolving door for inattentive board members has created a backlash of irritation at all high salaries.  (Well, maybe not the high salaries of athletes, but the high salaries of non-athlete businesspeople.)  Redistribution of wealth from all high-earners to more low-earners wouldn't be the correct response to that rage.  (I still remember enjoying Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State and Utopia, which is actually available--yay!--here.)  Again, cutting too wide a swath will create more off-target incentives.

People are hard-wired to behave in certain ways.  If we're going to create incentives for behavior--and we will always create some incentives--we need to try to think those incentives all the way through.

Monday, December 20, 2010

New bankruptcy blog in Nevada.

See the link here.  I know Brian, and I'm really impressed with his work.  This blog should be great.

And if you want some other good bankruptcy and bankruptcy related blogs, to round out your collection, see:

WSJ:  Bankruptcy Beat (here).
Credit Slips (here).
A Texas Bankruptcy Lawyer's Blog (here).
A Clean Slate: The Bankruptcy Law Blog (here).

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Shout-out to Greg Duhl for some of his latest articles.

Greg Duhl gave me a heads-up about two of his latest articles, Divided Loyalties: The Attorney's Role in Bankruptcy Reaffirmations (available here) and Social Networking and Workers' Compensation: Law at the Crossroads (co-authored with Jaclyn Millner) (available here).

I've been enjoying both of them--although I haven't yet seen The Social Network, the ethics issues surrounding social networking have begun to catch my eye, and based on some pro bono work I've done, the ethics issues in consumer bankruptcy cases are huge.

Thanks, Greg!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Customer service warning for ballroom dancers: AVOID "www.dancerschoiceonline.com"

I ordered three pairs of shoes in mid-November.  On 11/18, the company informed me that one of the three pairs was out of stock, and that my refund would be "coming."  It's 12/4.  No refund yet.

One pair of shoes didn't fit.  It took six emails -- SIX -- to find out that returns went to the shoe manufacturer, not to Dancers' Choice.

The email response is spotty, painfully slow, and woefully incomplete.

No matter the temptation, stay away from this company.  It's got some of the worst customer service I've seen in a long time.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Radisson at LAX: best of times, worst of times (apologies to Dickens)

So I really like the California Star Ball--it's a fun competition with very generous scholarship money.  I also like the front desk staff of the Radisson @ LAX:  they're gracious and helpful, as is the bell desk and the BREAKFAST staff at the restaurant there

But seriously--the food service at lunch and dinner (and at the bar) is woefully short of decent.  30-45 minutes for a simple meal in an uncrowded room?  30-40 minutes for take-out?

Example:  last night, we finished dancing at around 9, and we wanted to get a to-go order at the restaurant so we could watch the rest of the competition.  (We tried seeing what was pre-made at the bar.  The pre-made case was completely bare.)  So we waited 5 minutes at the maître d’s station, only to be told that we should order take-out at the bar.  (Lunch takeout is at the maître d’s station.)  So we went to the bar.  After watching someone rinse wine glasses for another 5 minutes, we asked about how we could get a fast meal to go.  We explained that we just wanted to order the meal that would take the least time to prepare.  The person behind the bar (not the bartender, but someone else with a Radisson badge) snapped that anything would take 30-40 minutes.

Anything?  Sliced tomatoes with mozzarella would take 30-40 minutes?  A plain salad would take 30-40 minutes?

Yep.

Thank goodness for my roommate, who had the patience to stay.  I left, and Angela shared her meal (salad and fries) with me, after waiting 30 minutes for that order herself.

It's a shame that a basically nice hotel can have such a split personality when it comes to the restaurant.  I spoke to the hotel management, who told me that the restaurant isn't owned by the same people who own the hotel.  I also spoke to the restaurant's morning manager, who was (as always) very nice.  Everyone explained that no one had complained before.  Seriously?  No one?  Not even the person I'd seen complaining on Friday?

Here's the thing, Radisson:  I plan to make sure that I post a link to this comment on a lot of travel rating websites.  That old rule about customer service applies to me, too.  Do well, and I'll tell at least ten people.  Do poorly, and I'll make sure to tell many more people.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A fresh take on voting on Dancing With The Stars

I love DWTS, and I always have.  (I was able to go to a semi-final one year, thanks to my buddy Arnold Peter, who represents BBC America, among other clients).  And thanks to my buddy Jack Ayer, I can forward to you this NYT essay on how the voting really works (see here). 

Isn't it nice to understand arithmetic sometimes?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Best insurance agent--ever.

Recently, I had to make an insurance claim, and our agent, Perry Olson, did an exceptional job of dealing with some sticky issues of customer service (problems with a third-party appraiser).  We've had some good insurance agents before, but I have never seen customer service like Perry's.  He's wonderful!

Happy 235th birthday, Marines!

How many organizations do you know where you can count on the steadfastness of an entire group?  Where every member is trained to think of the honor of the members who came before him?  Where every member is trained to roll up his sleeves, "embrace the suck," and get the work done?

I know of one.

Happy birthday, Marines!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stop it. Stop demonizing the other side.

It's a few days until Election Day, and I'm already cranky:  every time our home phone rings (a sure sign that the caller doesn't know us--our friends use our cell phone numbers to reach us), I've been answering it with "if this is a political call, please hang up now."  I'm tired of being asked for whom I've voted. 

But I'm far more tired of hearing both political parties call each other names.  I'm not "stupid" if I vote for someone you detest.  You're not stupid for voting for someone I detest.  We should realize that smart, goodhearted people can disagree without being disagreeable. 

Demonizing people for their thoughts is a bad way to go, and it betrays the foundations on which our country was founded.  Cut it out.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The New Yorker: GREAT magazine; HORRIBLE web customer service.

I keep trying to fix a login problem at The New Yorker's website.  The site now keeps putting me into infinite loop.  I love the articles in this magazine, but I cannot abide the lack of useful help that the website provides when there are login problems.

AARGH!

Brava, Michelle Rhee!

Still a fan.  See here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanks, Hank's!

We just got back home after a wonderful dinner at Hank's.  Delicious food, attentive staff, and a lovely surprise dessert.  All in all, a great evening.  Thanks, Hank's!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

For those of you who like law review irony.

See here.  I especially liked the section on the right to bare claws, although the part about herd derivative suits was also classic.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

New "good read" article.

My buddy Bernie Burk and his co-author, David McGowan, have just posted an article on SSRN (here):  Big But Brittle: Economic Perspectives on the Future of the Law Firm in the New Economy.  It's going to be published in the Columbia Business Law Review. 

I've read the piece (of course), and I think that Bernie and David make some really important points about how BigLaw firms are likely to evolve. 

Here's the abstract:
This Article addresses the deceptively simple questions why, up to the onset of the recent recession, law firms continued to grow at the rapid rate and in the unusual configuration that they have exhibited for over 40 years; and whether lawyers, clients, law students and law schools should expect familiar trends to reassert themselves as the economy improves. We show that the copious academic theorizing addressing these questions (focusing on such notions as diversification, asset specificity, “tournament” theory, and reputational and agency-cost concerns at the level of the firm as a whole) has proved ineffective at explaining or predicting actual events to date, and thus offers little guidance for the future.

We suggest two perspectives that appear more consistent with the available empirical evidence, and thus more likely to predict future trends. The first perspective shows that the core members of a professional service firm can mutually increase the value of one another’s connections and reputation in a manner that can increase the mutual gain with the size of the core group, and thus stimulate firm growth and help bind the firm together – though only somewhat loosely – as it grows. This perspective is new to the literature on law-firm economics, and helps explain why law firms have long continued to get larger despite ordinary diseconomies of scale, though with a certain brittleness reflected in the lateral mobility common in this day and age. The second perspective brings long-established economic principles concerning technological innovation and transaction costs to bear in the context of the elite law firm, where they have been largely overlooked in the commentary to date. We argue that reductions in particular transaction costs and in the cost of certain key inputs are helpful in explaining a number of the trends in the staffing and pricing of legal services documented in recent years.

We apply these perspectives to derive a range of predictions for law firms and law schools in the years to come. We conclude that, despite rumors of the “Death of Big Law,” the large firm is here to stay, but in an evolving configuration with profound implications for practicing and aspiring lawyers, as well as the law schools that prepare them for the increasingly competitive and increasingly global markets for their services.
Don't take their (or my) word for it.  Read it for yourself.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another suggestion for dealing with the housing crisis.

See this New York Times op-ed (here).  We have to figure out some way to give banks an incentive to help the folks who can pay their mortgages but who are so underwater that they feel like shnooks for continuing to make payments.  Although I still favor the Van Niel proposal (see here), this one's not a bad start, either.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's a good day at the Van Niel-Rapoport household.

See here.

Focus, shareholders. FOCUS.

Yesterday's New York Times story on directors who presided over corporate failures being snapped up as directors by other companies (see here) did exactly what the authors (Susanne Craig and Peter Lattman) intended.  It frustrated the heck out of me. 

Yes, we should kick out C-level officers who plunder companies.  That's a no-brainer.  But we should also hold directors accountable when they should have known that something was going dreadfully wrong on their watch.   (Remember Andy Fastow's personal profit on deals with--well, against--Enron?  That was board-approved.)

Shareholders need to pay attention to who's running their company and who's monitoring those who are running their company.  And if the directors aren't doing what they should to watch over the CEOs, CFOs, and the like, shareholders should replace them.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

See? Clients want to push for fees calculated other than by the billable hour.

See here.  (Hat tip to my buddy Walter Effross.)  Law firms are thinking about how to stay profitable while figuring out new ways to value their services (good), but they may not have realized how much the legal landscape has changed (bad).

We're talking about a paradigm shift.  Lawyers are supposed to make a decent living, but if they're hoping for perpetual multimillion-dollar draws, they have (as Mom used to say) "another think coming."

Aspen will give you a taste of Law School Survival Manual by posting one free chapter.

And we think that the chapter's a doozy--it's on how to prepare for exams.  See here for the link to Aspen1L.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A nice feather in Boyd School of Law's cap.

One of the things I love about Boyd is how engaged our faculty is in research.  Now Brian Leiter has a post that recognizes how we're doing (see here).  It's also nice to see Ohio State in that list--not at all surprising, but nice nonetheless.

Thanks, Brian!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Another good column on Nevada's budget crisis.

I look forward to John L. Smith's columns in the Review-Journal, and today's column is no exception (see here).  Let's face it:  imposing taxes on tourists isn't working well for us, because there is a price point at which tourists will choose another vacation location, rather than paying through the nose for lodging.  Imposing higher taxes on food is more broad-based, but it's going to fall disproportionately on the poorest among us, who look to stretch every penny of their budgets.

Mining, on the other hand, probably hasn't reached its price point for taxes.  A couple of observations:  (1) the minerals are here, so as long as the mining companies want to mine here, they're captive; and (2) I'll bet that there are other businesses that aren't at the price point for leaving the state or laying off their employees.  That second point is tricky, because raising taxes on businesses across the board will hurt those smaller businesses with razor-thin profit margins.  And we don't want to go around killing more businesses.  They're dying left and right already.

We need more broad-based taxes, but let's try to levy them on sources that have a solid profit margin (so that the businesses are still left with a hefty profit), rather than on people and business that are struggling to survive.  Maybe it's time for a state luxury tax?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shameless self-promotion here: LexisNexis Top 25 Business Law Blogs voting begins now....

When I came back from class this afternoon, I saw this email:
Dear Nancy:

Each year, LexisNexis honors a select group of blogs that set the online standard for a given industry. I’m pleased to notify you that Nancy Rappaport Blogspot [sic, but I'm still flattered] is one of the nominated candidates for the LexisNexis Top 25 Business Law Blogs of 2010, featured on the LexisNexis Corporate & Securities Law Community and the LexisNexis UCC, Commercial Contracts & Business Law Community.

We are inviting the business law community to comment on our list of nominees. If you’d like to request that readers support your nomination, please ask them to comment on the announcement post at either of the following links:

Top 25 Business Law Blogs 2010 – Corporate & Securities Law Community

Top 25 Business Law Blogs 2010 – UCC, Commercial Contracts & Business Law Community

To submit a comment, log on to your free web center account. If you haven’t previously registered, you can do so on the Corporate & Securities Law Community or the UCC, Commercial Contracts & Business Law Community. Registration is free and does not result in sales contacts. The comment box is at the very bottom of the page.  The comment period for nominations ends on October 8, 2010.

Congratulations on your nomination. 
So, because it would be just lovely if this blog were to be included as a top-25 blog (even though all of the blogs are interesting, and many of them are remarkably good), if you have the ability to vote for my blog, please consider doing just that.  Thanks!

UPDATE:  As my buddy Brian Goldberg pointed out to me, the blog's been nominated, and now it's a matter of talking it up (if you're comfortable doing that) on the various LexisNexis communities.  Thanks!

SECOND UPDATE:  In order to post a comment to talk up a blog, register for one of the communities and click on this link (here) or this one (here).   In addition to voting for my own (think Hillel), I also voted for
The Corporate Library Blog,
Race to the Bottom,
The Conglomerate,
WSJ Law Blog, and
Credit Slips.

Best explanation of what Nevada needs to do to turn the state's economy around--EVER.

See here.  The whole "we don't have to raise taxes to fix the state's economy" problem brings to mind my favorite speech that Michael Douglas gives as President Andrew Shepherd in The American President (see here):
President Andrew Shepherd: For the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being president of this country was, to a certain extent, about character, and although I have not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I've been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character. . . .  America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free". . . .  We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. . . .
[pauses]
President Andrew Shepherd: I've loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer, and I lost the other 'cause I was so busy keeping my job I forgot to do my job. Well, that ends right now. . . .  We've got serious problems, and we need serious people, and if you want to talk about character, Bob, you'd better come at me with more than a burning flag and a membership card. If you want to talk about character and American values, fine. Just tell me where and when, and I'll show up. This is a time for serious people, Bob, and your fifteen minutes are up. My name is Andrew Shepherd, and I *am* the President.
It's time for our candidates to step up to the plate.  Stop going for the votes, and start thinking seriously about how to fix Nevada's economy.  I know that you don't have the scriptwriter of The American President there to make your words powerful, but let's see if you can show that you're serious about your responsibilities to Nevada's citizens.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why I like Steven Horsford.

Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone apologizes for them or takes responsibility for them.  When Senate Majority Leader sent out a fundraising letter that linked access to donations, the public was outraged (well, at least the part of the public that thought that donations didn't create access was outraged).  But Horsford then apologized (see here) and refused to blame anyone on his staff for the original decision to send the fundraising letter (see here). 

Personally, I like leaders who own up to mistakes and don't sacrifice staffers for them.  So my opinion of Horsford has gone up, not down.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Give the banks a monetary incentive to do the right thing.

Guilt doesn't work.  Shame doesn't work.  Threats don't work.  "Affordable homes" programs don't work (see here and here for some examples).  What might work to get banks to agree to modify mortgages quickly and reasonably?

The first thing to realize is that banks are businesses.  Some might not be run very well, but they're businesses.  And businesses respond best to financial incentives. 

I've blogged about some possible incentives before (see here).  Give the banks a reason to write down the principal due on underwater mortgages, perhaps by agreeing to take any profit above that write-down if the house sells in the five years after the write-down.  The homeowner gets a lower principal balance that's more in line with the real value of the house.  The bank gets any upside for a reasonable time after the modification, if housing prices rebound.

Of course, we'd also have to deal with the accounting and tax implications of such a change.  Banks don't have an incentive to write down the value of these underwater homes; without either a positive (benefit) or negative (penalties) incentives, banks are engaging in behavior designed to inflate the value of their collateral.  Too many banks are foreclosing but not selling homes, in part because selling would set a real value at odds with the book value.  Not only are the banks not selling the foreclosed homes, but they aren't keeping up the property or the payments on the HOA dues (see here).  Banks are dragging out short sales beyond all economic reason.  Unless we figure out a way to provide financial incentives to get banks to behave better, all of the shame and guilt and anger in the world won't get them to change.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Larry Temkin changed my life, too.

One of my favorite professors from Rice University, Larry Temkin, now teaches at Rutgers.  The Rutgers home page is featuring a salute to Larry (here) for the next two weeks. Although I hated to see Larry leave Rice, I was happy to see him courted by the best philosophy program in the country.  (Oh, and Harvard courted him, too.)

What made Larry so good, in addition to his obvious desire to get his students excited about using their brains, was his ability to tease out--even from shy folks like me (and yes, I was shy!) a willingness to sink our teeth into difficult material.  He didn't teach down to us, not even once.  And like anyone else who's at the top of his game, his talent made us want to be better students.  He was vibrant in class, engaging outside class, and downright inspiring.  I can still see him bounding into class each day (and "bounding" is the correct word), ready to get the discussion started.  Best of all, he put the lie to the fiction that really great teachers can't be great scholars as well.  He was superb in both arenas, and he made everything look effortless, even though it wasn't effortless at all.  Rutgers is very lucky to have him.

And while I'm thanking Larry for his remarkable contribution to my education, I should thank some other Rice profs as well.  (I owe Bob Weisberg, Tom Jackson, and Jack Friedenthal, among others, thanks for my education at Stanford Law School, too, but that's a post for another time.)

Larry, along with folks like Baruch Brody (here), Dennis Huston (here), David Lane (here), Hank Hudspeth (here), and Harold Hyman (here), kept Rice's promise to provide an excellent undergraduate education.

Baruch Brody did give me a scare during my first semester, though.  I'm from a small town in deep East Texas, and although my parents were from "up north" (New York and Toronto), I had never heard a rich Brooklyn accent before.  I spent the first month of Dr. Brody's lectures wondering what he was saying and hoping that I didn't flunk his course.  After I was able to translate his accent into "Texan," I figured out that I was getting what he was saying, after all.

Dennis Huston taught me that good professors could cuss up a blue streak without shifting our focus away from the material at hand.  I took every course that he taught, and I'm still a member of his unofficial fan club.

David Lane turned me into a statistics geek, to our mutual amazement.  He even let me take some graduate-level courses in statistics while I was an undergrad.  Through him, too, I got to design my honors thesis on the effect of time of day on teaching performance, which is my own personal explanation for why my students fall asleep in class when I teach in the 3-4:30 slot.

Hank Hudspeth, who was kind enough to hire me for my first summer law job, was demanding without being demeaning, and he modeled how a true gentleman behaves.  When I worked for his firm in the summer of (gasp!) 1983, I saw his commitment to professionalism first-hand and began to model my own professional life after his.  I wish I could find his book, A Baker's Dozen of Torts, somewhere, because I lost my copy and I sure loved that book.

Harold Hyman scared me to death at Rice.  He had an imposing presence and a booming voice, and his face reminded me of a real-life Sam the Eagle.  He's also the first person I told about my getting into Stanford, and I remember him coming out from behind his desk to congratulate me.  When Jeff & I came back to Houston in 2000, Harold and Ferne became our fast friends.

All of these folks contributed to my love of learning (which actually started with my mom and dad--there were more books in our house, and more time spent reading them, than I ever noticed in any of my friends' homes).  I owe them big.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Scott Bovitz ROCKS! (As does the Bovitz-Spitzer law firm....)

So I'm bugging my friends for some samples of stay relief motions to effect setoffs and for samples of objections to exemptions, and Scott Bovitz (one stylin' dude, BTW--see here) calls me to direct me to his portal (here).  That portal has all sorts of handy-dandy links, like the one to his law firm (here), which in turn led me to some form links for the Central District of California.  Thanks, Scott!

And, for the rest of my buddies who might have some such forms (hint, hint, folks like Marc, Billy, and others....), please let me know if you have some exemplars I can use.  I'm doing a pro bono representation of a creditor (Stop laughing! Creditors need love, too!), and I could use the help.  Thanks!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Shout-outs for new law professors

Thanks to my buddy Tim Zinnecker for mentioning the advice I've given to "newbie" law profs (see here), and kudos to my buddy Jeff Lipshaw (and his co-authors, Brandon Denning and Marcia McCormick) for their forthcoming ABA book, Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate's Guide (see here).  Brian Leiter mentioned this book on his blog today (see here). 

I'd call today a good day for law professors.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Newest guilty pleasure: everything "Jen Lancaster-y"

First, I picked up Bitter is the New Black.  Loved it.  Then I went straight to a Jen Lancaster trifecta:  Bright Lights, Big Ass; Such a Pretty Fat (with the world's best descriptions of working out w/trainers; and, like her, I too now have my own "strongs," thanks to my own trainer--our buddy Jeff Monroe); and Pretty in Plaid.  Loved 'em.  Now I'm reading My Fair Lazy and the Jen Lancaster blog, Jennsylvania.  I really like her snarky sense of humor and her way with descriptions. 

I know, I know.  Law professors are supposed to read highfalutin things in the summer.   Nope.  At least, not me.  Yes, I read stuff for the articles/books I'm doing; yes, I read other people's articles, especially when I've been asked to do a tenure review.  But for fun, I read things that take me out of my normal routine.

Now, back to my fun summer reads.  If you want to follow down the Jen Lancaster path, start w/Bitter is the New Black and go from there.

Billing judgment matters.

As I was reading this morning's Above the Law post about a federal court cutting legal fees because the law firm requesting fees failed to use good "billing judgment" (see here), I felt particularly vindicated by the Court's discussion of reasonableness.  I've been focusing on issues about legal fees lately (see here), and I think that it's much easier to rack up high fees and expenses when you're assuming that someone other than your client will be footing the bill.

Check out this language from the Court's opinion, which you can download here, thanks (again) to Above the Law:
The Court recognizes that the work performed on researching, drafting, and arguing the preliminary injunction motion provided important roadmap for Plaintiff with respect to its strategy in pursuing this litigation. However, spending almost 420 hours, which equates to almost 53 full work days7, on drafting and defending a preliminary injunction motion is unreasonable in light of Plaintiff’s counsel’s familiarity with the disputed issues. For the same reasons, spending approximately 50 hours on drafting and revising 11-page supplemental declarations and expending significant number of hours on post-Complaint research and preparation appear unreasonable to the Court.
(Opinion at 16.)  The opinion continues with a reduction, not just of fees, but of expenses as well:
Having considered the invoices submitted by Plaintiff and objections raised by Defendant, the Court finds that some of the expenses incurred by these Signature personnel were unnecessary and unreasonable. For example, it is difficult for the Court to believe, and Plaintiff does not explain how, that the faxing or internet charges incurred at the Westin, frequent “entertainment” charges in addition to meals, numerous first class plane tickets, limousine rides or pick-up service to and from the airport, and approximately $400 nightly stays at Hyatt were necessary and reasonable costs related to this litigation when cheaper more reasonable options were at the witnesses’ disposal. 
(Opinion at 36.)

When a lawyer speaks directly with a client about a high bill, there's that moment when the client is likely to ask about the reasons behind some of the charges.  When a lawyer doesn't have to look the client in the eye, so to speak, it's easier to lose track of what a "reasonable" fee or expense should be.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Reason number n why Andy Morriss and Bill Henderson rock.

Over at the Legal Profession Blog, Bill Henderson has posted an explanation of what it would take for Stanford Law School to overtake Yale in the U.S. News rankings (see here).  In this post, Bill explains that he and Andy Morriss create an annual simulation model of those rankings, and that this model has helped them figure out what Stanford would have to do in order to become #1 in the rankings.  The price tag for becoming #1?  Somewhere between $350 million and $1.8 billion.

Bill's conclusion?  No one could say it better:
The legal profession, especially our students, have some big problems at the moment.  And society's are even larger.  The best law school is one that prepares its students to solve these problems.  This requires a careful balance of innovative teaching and scholarship.  The U.S. News rankings don't capture these metrics.  In fact, they obscure them and create incentives for truly destructive behavior.  By and large the deans are trapped.  From my own perspective, I don't think even one law school in the US News Tier 1 has reached even 10% of its potential to educate and solve problems.  Too many one-professor silos.  Too much ego.

I am sorry to moralize.  But someone needed to say it.  Let's focus on some problems worth solving.  At the end of the day, it will be worth it.
Bill, I'm glad you said it.  BRAVO.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bravo to my cousin Tobi!

See this article (here), discussing Tobi's Sky and Water Meditation exhibit.  For more on Tobi, see here.  For more on my cousin Nessa, who married Tobi, see here.  


Not only do I love Tobi for appreciating Nessa and raising a wonderful family with her (and, of course, for his talent), but I remember how quickly Tobi and my hubby Jeff hit it off.  They're kindred spirits in a lot of important ways.


Bravo, Tobi!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Which Weapon of Choice video is better?

This new Kia commercial (see here) is great, but then, so's Fatboy Slim's original music video with Christopher Walken (see here).  (Yes, I know--one link has some delays, but trust me, both links are worth watching.)

For me, the win goes to Christopher Walken, who's an all-around amazing performer.  Jeff disagrees.

I want my commas back.

For years, I've been one of those truly obnoxious people pointing out grammatical errors and typos in signs.  Sometimes, I've even surreptitiously (and not so surreptitiously) erased such glaring errors as misused apostrophes.  When asked, I've explained that no one can make a noun plural by adding an apostrophe and an "s" and that "its" really does mean something different from "it's."  I know.  It's annoying for me to do that.  But--like Lynne Truss, the author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves--I believe that the decline in language ability is a precursor to the destruction of civilization as we know it.  I'm . . . a "wordie."

So when I see the latest anti-Harry Reid ad, with its "Really[,] Harry?" slogan (see here), I ask myself how an advertising company could manage not to insert the comma.  Would having a comma somehow scream "elitism" and fail to resonate with the voting public?  American Crossroads puts the comma in when announcing the ad (see here).  What happened to the missing comma in the ad itself?

Imagine how happy I was, then, to see an op-ed in today's Las Vegas Sun (I'd publish the link, but the Sun doesn't have it up) by Jan Freeman, my new favorite grammarian (see here).  The column discusses the history of various word pairs that supposedly connote distinctions (e.g., "authentic" vs. "genuine").  It's enough to make a wordie sigh happily.  Brava, Ms. Freeman!

Update:  For the opposite point of view, see here and here.   Hat tip to my buddy Bruce.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Why I love the Luxor Las Vegas

I had a gathering for some friends this week, and I talked with Felix Rappaport about how to make the event really memorable.  Felix introduced me to Jean George and Linda Kelly, both of whom took my breath away with the amount of spoiling they did:  a breathtaking room, two great cabanas, and champagne and snacks.  I felt like a VIP from the moment we arrived to the moment that we left.

Yes, the party was amazing, but I've always been impressed by the staff at Luxor.  Everyone from the valet to the bell desk to the folks at check-in to the folks at the shops -- all of them exceptionally nice and friendly.  (And all of them have said great things about Felix, Jean, and Linda.)

So thank you, Luxor, and here's to the next time I hang out with you!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Every now and then, one of my research areas crops up in other blogs.

See here.  Hat tip to original post (here) at Legal Ethics Forum.

Oh, and that whole thing about when conflicts counsel should or shouldn't be used?  See here, here, and here.

Having courts think clearly about conflicts of interest in bankruptcy cases?  Wonderful.

Someday reading a court opinion that cites one of my articles on the topic?  Priceless.

Best sign at a conference. Ever.


(Seen while walking through a hotel on the way to another conference.)  That is one enthusiastic registration desk....

More shameless self-promotion.

See here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Do law school grades mean anything?

This morning's New York Times has a front-page article (here) about law schools raising their curves to make their students more attractive as job applicants.  (Hat tip to Scott Unger and my dad.)

That change reminds me of Ellen Degeneres's routine about the difference between "upright" and "reclined" on airplane seats (here).  We can call something whatever we want, but that doesn't change the nature of the thing.  Even if the curve goes higher (say, a curve around a B+ instead of a B-), it's still an ordering of all of the people in the course.

Curved grades tell people how a given person did on a given exam on a given day, compared to the other people who took the exam that day.  It's rather like George Carlin's old joke about partial scores in sports ("Notre Dame, 6").  It's information, but it's not complete information.

Employers use grades and the U.S. News rankings of schools because they believe that those two data points are approximations of how "good" the job candidates are, even though grades are actually not such a good shadow variable.  Very few clients ask their lawyers to answer hypotheticals for three hours.  There are a lot of the intangibles that make a good lawyer good, such as common sense, emotional intelligence, and teamwork, and grades don't necessarily correlate with those characteristics.  I keep telling employers that taking a little more time on the front end (for example, by asking job candidates to talk about how they'd approach a particular situation) would pay off in the long run (retention of good candidates).

But until employers are willing to spend more time looking at more than mere transcripts, I can understand how tempting it is to raise a school's curve.

Why not go all the way, though?  Some schools make it downright difficult to get anything but As.  Playing with curves is just the start of something big--why not grade for mastery instead of for comparison purposes?  Instead of curving grades, establish clear standards for what performance would constitute an A, what lesser performance would earn a B, etc.  Then grades might actually be useful to the outside world.

In the meantime, folks might want to read Dan Keating's article on grades:  Daniel Keating, Ten Myths About Law School Grading, 76 Wash. U. L.Q. 171 (1998).  It's a fun read.

Update (6/25) (hat tip to my buddy Seymour Serebnick):  see the NYT's letters to the editor about the original story here.

Joe Nocera on the difference between two corporate cultures

See here.  This is a great illustration of why cultures can create crises or do their darnedest to prevent them.

Good commencement speeches...

Over at the New York Times (here).  My favorite?
Mike Moncrief
Mayor, Fort Worth, Tex.
Texas Christian University
Never be afraid to try something new. Remember: Noah had never built an ark, but it was a large group of professionals that built the Titanic.

For teachers everywhere....

Pearls Before Swine

(If you can't see the whole thing, click on the cartoon.)  Hat tip to comics.com.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My new favorite list: MSN's 10 Companies We Love To Hate

Sprint, of course, is on the list (and has been for years)--see here.  The full Customer Service Hall of Shame is here.  Bravo, MSN! 

Sadly, Sirius isn't mentioned.  But there's always next year....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Worst customer service so far.

Sirius "wins."  I tried to cancel my Sirius over the phone.  (I now have an XM radio and foolishly thought that the transfer to XM would be seamless.  Wrong.)  After being on hold for 20 minutes, I gave up.  I've sent a cancellation letter, but we'll see if Sirius honors that letter.

Why is it that companies don't realize how easy it's become for customers to broadcast their complaints to the world?

I love my Kindle, but . . .

It keeps turning on by accident, draining the battery.  Does anyone have any suggestions about how to prevent the accidental "on"?  Thanks!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Glenn Reynolds is right about the higher education bubble.

See here.

Hey, when A-Rod is one of the largest unsecured creditors, A-Rod gets to be on the creditors' committee.

See here.  Hat tip to the Wall Street Journal's Bankruptcy Beat blog.

Jim Milles's ethics course sounds fabulous!

See here for his description.  It sounds like a great course!

Fun discussion about anonymity.

See here.  Hat tip to Brad Sims.

Should a lawyer withdraw at the first indication that the client wants to lie?

My buddy Marc Stern forwarded this blog post to me (here).  My first instinct was "What the hey? Of course a lawyer should withdraw immediately."  I liked the blogger's observation below:
In short, the lawyer needs to make sure the client knows what the lawyer knows: the lie will eventually be discovered.  The client needs to confront this fact and agree to be truthful to the court.  It is a rare client whose force of personality cannot be overcome by his or her lawyer’s carefully presented arguments, especially where the client is clearly wrong, and the client is committing a crime by refusing the lawyer’s advice.
My problem with this concept is that I don't think that people who lie intentionally are going to be persuaded to become honest.  (See an earlier article I wrote about this topic here.  The Kaye, Scholer lawyers thought that their client, OPM--which was an acronym for "Other People's Money," always a bad sign for a client--was going to reform after being caught in outrageously dishonest acts.  Kaye, Scholer's mistake in trusting the stubbornly dishonest client is an object lesson for all of us.) 

Although it's possible that a lawyer's "force of personality" may help a client whose honesty is wavering to see the light, I think it's equally possible for a lawyer to persuade herself (wrongly) that she has won over the obstinately lying client.  That lawyer may well find herself the product of a disciplinary action later.

The well-meaning and honest lawyer faces many pitfalls.  (Alan Childress, Mike Frisch, and I are working on a professional responsibility textbook for Aspen based on the premise that honest lawyers can find themselves in all sorts of trouble even though they aren't hell-bent on lying, cheating, or stealing.)  Persuading oneself that one's client is going to see the light based on the lawyer's moral suasion is one such pitfall.

Welcome back from your sabbatical, Joe Nocera!

I've missed you--and I enjoyed your column yesterday (here) immensely!

Friday, June 04, 2010

Sprint "customer service."

I've been trying to cancel my Sprint account for a while now.  It's almost impossible, but I think I've done it--at least until I continue to get those darn bills.  Anyone have any clue about how to kill a Sprint account?

Calling all pre-law advisors!

Please email me at nancy.rapoport@unlv.edu if you'd like a review copy of our Law School Survival Manual.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Best bankruptcy law headline in a long time.

Over at the Wall Street Journal's Bankruptcy Beat Blog (here).  I couldn't have come up w/that Kinkade one all by myself, but I sure love the sense of humor of that headline writer.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We've learned nothing from Enron.

See today's Wall Street Journal article (here) about manipulating debt at ends of quarters to make debt "disappear."  We've learned nothing.

Shameless plug:  our latest Enron book (here) explores just why we never learn from prior corporate malfeasance.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"In" isn't a synonym for "during."

Today's New York Times has a story (here) about Richard Blumenthal's exaggerations about his military service.  He apparently didn't serve "in" Vietnam; he served "during" Vietnam.  The Times reports:
In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, he landed a coveted spot in the Marine Reserve, which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam. He joined a unit in Washington that conducted drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive. 
 There's nothing wrong with serving in a military reserve unit; what's wrong is misstating what one's service record was, especially for personal gain. 

Words matter.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Want to vent? I have a forum for you!

Over at our other blog, Law School Survival Manual: From LSAT to Bar Exam, I'd like to take questions and comments from those of you who wonder why some students might behave the way that they do.  (For an egregious example, see here.)

So I'm looking for such things as
  1. Question of the week.  Now's your chance to throw a question our way.  You can email me, or you can post a question by clicking here.  This is your chance to vent about behavior that puzzles you, frustrates you, or amuses you.  If the behavior horrifies you, then please send us . . .
  2. Horror stories.  These can be from legal employers, from faculty members, OR from law students themselves.  (I have a few of my own from my law school days.)  We'll post the best horror stories (or should we say the worst ones?) on our blog.
Thanks, and Jeff & I both look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Question for you Blogger programmers out there.

Do any of you know how to change the color of the banner background in our Law School Survival Manual blog from this:


to HTML color #335C33 or thereabouts?  I don't like the light green color, but I can't find a website that will teach me how to edit the HTML for the part of the blog that's above.  I'm officially out of my comfort zone.  Thanks!

Brava, Elena Kagan!

Some may disagree about the President's choice (see here), but there's no question that Solicitor General Kagan has a wealth of experience in different roles.

(Yes, I'm happy that the President chose a former law dean.)

We'll see what happens during her confirmation hearings.

Weekly tips over at our other blog:

We've started handing out some weekly tips for law students (this summer's theme is, not surprisingly, summer jobs) over at our Law School Survival Manual blog (see here and here).  Here's hoping that folks find them useful.  If you want to weigh in, either agreeing or disagreeing--or even adding ideas for us to consider--please take a moment to click over to the Law School Survival Manual blog.  I'd sure love your thoughts.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Darn it.

The Enron play is closing on Broadway, long before Jeff & I could go see it.  See here

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

More shameless self-promotion.

We now have a blog attached to the Law School Survival Manual (see here).  Our first post, about summer jobs, is here

Monday, May 03, 2010

A few updates about bankruptcy fees.

In yesterday's New York Times, Nelson Schwartz and Julie Creswell wrote a fascinating article about the magnitude of bankruptcy fees, especially in the Lehman case (see here). 

Look:  I know how hard lawyers work, and I also know how non-lawyers perceive many of us.  (As does Eric Van Horn--see a piece we wrote for the ABI Journal here or here about handling the misperceptions of bankruptcy lawyers in the media.)

In a world of still-rampant unemployment, we need to remember that we don't have a lot of friends on the "outside" (the world outside bankruptcy law).  If we're not careful, we'll lose the friends we have on the "inside," too.

Here's a plug for an article I'm publishing with the University of Maryland's Journal of Business and Technology Law, an up-and-coming journal with author-friendly editors and a great work ethic.  My new article's called Rethinking Professional Fees in Chapter 11 Cases, and it explores why there are so many problems with the moving parts that make up fee requests.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You've got to love this noir-ish YouTube clip about law school life.

See here.  Hat tip to Bernie BurkC'est merveilleux!

Best comment about the Goldman Sachs brouhaha.

Take a look at Steven Pearlstein's column in yesterday's Washington Post (here):
There was a time when issuers would pay a premium to have Goldman Sachs underwrite their securities, just as there was a time when investors would pay a premium to buy into a Goldman-sponsored offering.

Today, Goldman has fully monetized the value of its reputation, and anyone who pays such a premium is a fool. 
No one's said it better.  Just because something might be legal (and we don't know enough yet to know whether Goldman's acts were legal here) doesn't make it ethical--and being unethical has ramifications all its own.

Friday, April 23, 2010

And I thought that financial fraud was porn.

But apparently I was mistaken:  see here.

Ah, so many jokes, so little time.  Let's start with:
I guess that the SEC didn't know financial fraud when it saw it.*  But porn, on the other hand, was obviously easy to identify....
Just amazing.


* Cf. Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184, 197 (1964) (Stewart, J., concurring) ("I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description] [of pornography; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.").

The answer to hateful speech is more speech.

And there's some very hateful speech going on in Denver right now, along with some counter-protests (see here).  I'm glad that there are people out there countering the Westboro Baptist Church speakers (see here). 

And when I say that the answer to hateful speech is more speech, I don't mean that the people answering the hateful speech have to acknowledge that the hateful speech is somehow equally morally equivalent to the non-hateful speech.  It's ok to tell people with whom you disagree that what they're saying is wrong, or even that you find what they're saying to be morally abhorent.  But it's not ok to prevent them from airing their views.

After I post this message, I'm going to join the Facebook page (here) mentioned in the articles.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

A new social networking "first" for me....

So I'm taking a break from work by checking my Facebook page, and one of our Boyd law students IMs me to ask me to supervise his summer research paper.  I've got to say that's the fastest I've ever been asked (or have answered) such a request.

And it proves that our students are creative about finding ways to reach us.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A nice update about Nancy Temple's career

Legal Ethics Forum has posted an update on Nancy Temple's career (here).  Nancy Temple was the Arthur Andersen lawyer whom the jurors in the obstruction of justice case blamed (wrongly, I think) as the "corrupt persuader."  I remember how several of my in-house counsel friends shuddered when they read Ms. Temple's email warning David Duncan not to call a recurring expense a non-recurring one in a press release.  That's a normal email for a lawyer to send, but I think that the jury felt as if Ms. Temple was trying to do something other than clear up an accounting classification.  (I also think that the public's distaste for lawyers generally contributed to the verdict.)

I'm very glad that Ms. Temple's doing well.  I think she had gotten a raw deal.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Above The Law has an interesting post about the disconnect between what law schools do and what law firms want.

See here.

An intriguing choice to replace Justice Stevens

Sure, all of the folks who are front-runners are good replacements.  No one's arguing that.  But if President Obama wanted to pick someone who would be a superb Supreme Court justice and who would trigger no partisan blow-ups at confirmation, why not U.S. District Court Judge Lee Rosenthal (here)?  She's incredibly smart, well-educated, and well-respected.

Yes, I've known Judge Rosenthal for many years, and I know her parents, so (as we say in Texas) I have a dog in the hunt.  But even people who aren't as well-acquainted with her as I am think that she's a wonderful judge.

She's worth a look, Mr. President.

Monday, April 05, 2010

On the other hand, the secondary market for our SECOND edition of the Enron book is doing surprisingly well.

An above-market price on our second edition takes some of the sting out of the $2.18 price on the first edition.  And, thanks to Mythbusters (here), we can start a secondary market for our first edition.  Of course, the Mythbusters didn't try the test with OUR book....

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Too much time, or not enough? The annual Peeps contest....

Who can't love the Peeps dioramas (here)?  Hat tip to my buddy Kathy Carpenter for sending this year's contest entries my way....

Update:  another hat tip to my buddy Kathleen Lyon for the Washington Post's Peeps contest (here).

Thanks to (sorry for the pun) MY "peeps" for forwarding these to me!

The sky's not falling, but law firm economics sure are changing.

See this article (here) in today's New York Times.  I keep saying that the numbers don't crunch--someday, law firms will have to rethink compensation AND billing from the ground up.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One of my friends, Meredith Duncan, has written a great op-ed.

Read it here.  You can check out some of her scholarly work here and here.  If Jeff & I had had kids, we'd have wanted them to be like Meredith and Curtis's kids.

Brava, Meredith!

Thanks, Super Shag, for the videos!

SuperShag did some on-the-dance-floor videos of our Vegas Showdown 2010 Silver Smooth Scholarship (here), Bronze Standard Scholarship (here), and Open B Rhythm Scholarship rounds.  (The two in the ballgowns are tango, which is why I look more serious in those clips.)  For the Rhythm videos, see here (although I managed to kick the floor in a rondé), here, and here.  (Thank goodness that SuperShag didn't catch the Coppertone moment after that part of our routine!)  For more tiny videos, check this blog after this weekend.

Thanks to my teacher, Sergei Shapoval, and to my coaches, Felipe and Carolina Telona.  Y'all ROCK!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A salute to master teacher Jaime Escalante

Apparently Mr. Escalante is battling cancer (here).  My thoughts go out to him, his friends and family, and the countless students whose lives he made better by pushing them to excellence.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Wrong. Wrong on so many levels....

Hat tip to UNLV's own Matthew Stafford for pointing me to this Above the Law post (here). 

I count 7 independent ethically (and grammatically) challenged errors in this one business card.  Anyone care to list them?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Fearless prediction and a shout-out to Loren Steffy of the Houston Chronicle

My buddy Jessica Gabel of Georgia State pointed out Loren Steffy's latest column about Jeff Skilling's appeal (here).  The column is quintessential Loren, and it's absolutely correct.

But I still think that the Supreme Court's going to reverse Skilling's conviction based on what the Court will call a misinterpretation of the "honest services" doctrine.  Let's see if I'm correct.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Rest in peace, Will Kohn

Will, who was delightful, warm, funny, and extremely smart (see here), passed away suddenly last week.  I'll really miss him.  I met him when I was still at Ohio State, and we worked together on the American Board of Certification.  He was a natural leader and modest as all get-out.  His obituary is here.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The former University of Maryland law dean's current troubles

I've been following the stories about Karen Rothenberg's current troubles over some payments made to her while she was Maryland's dean, and two particularly good posts are here and here.  I don't know Karen that well, but I certainly saw her in action, and I found her to be extremely energetic and committed behavior. 

Were the payments authorized?  I'll bet that they were.  Were they vetted thoroughly beforehand?  Who knows?  Should academics get those big salaries?  Maybe not, but as the Feminist Law Professors post points out, Karen probably found herself in the crosshairs of all of those folks who are angry at Wall Street bonuses as well.

All I know is that being in the public eye is sometimes really, really miserable, and that Karen has my sympathy right now.