Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fascinating video on the changes in legal practice.

Here.  Hat tip to The Legal Whiteboard.

For my law faculty colleagues--something free.

Jennifer Robbennolt & Jean Sternlight's book, Psychology for Lawyers, is a marvelous way to introduce students to the way that people (yes, including lawyers) perceive the world.  It's useful for students who plan to be litigators and for students who want to do deals.  Like every other ABA book, though, it's pretty pricey.  But here's the good news:

The ABA will provide you with some individual chapters for FREE to you and your students.

If you're interested, contact Jean at

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

A "user manual" for a person is a great idea. Here's a first draft of mine.

This piece in Sunday's NYT (here) got me thinking:  most people are mysteries to each other, except maybe to their loved ones (and, even then, there's still some mystery left).  So here are some random thoughts about my working style, and my friends and colleagues are more than welcome to tell me that my opinions of my working style bear very little resemblance to reality.  Of course, I'm a lame duck dean at this point, and perhaps this manual would have been of more use at the beginning of my term.
  1. My favorite colleagues are the ones who keep me from doing dumb things (at least without thinking things through first).  Please give me your real opinion, not what you think that I might want to hear.  Make suggestions, both about ideas and about how I might communicate them.  I promise you that you'll get my deep loyalty in return.
  2. I am much happier with "direct" and "blunt" than with communication that beats around the bush.  I'm tougher than I look, so direct and blunt language will not bother me.  Waiting for 30 minutes for you to get to the point will bother me.
  3. A sense of humor is a wonderful thing.  I love being in a workplace that can produce a belly laugh at least once a day, even if the laugh is triggered by being in the middle of a crazy situation.
  4. If I've worked with you for longer than a month, it's because I'm happy with what you're doing.  It's totally OK to make decisions without checking with me, but it's also OK if you want to bounce ideas off me.  I operate on a "clearly erroneous" standard on most decisions--even if it's not the choice I would have made, if you made a reasonable choice, then I'm going to support it.
  5. I prefer email to telephone conversations.*  I like in-person communications, too.  I've just never been much of a "phone" person; phone conversations make me antsy.  I think that texting is brilliant as a communications medium.  (Note to students:  I don't think that texting professors is a good way to communicate.)
  6. I believe that meetings should have a purpose beyond presenting data.  Meetings are for brainstorming or for making decisions (or for keeping me from making a dumb mistake--see point #1 above).  I'm not a fan of folks going around the room in a meeting to tell me what they're doing.  That information is for day-to-day, talk in the hall stuff.
  7. One of the things that I've loved about my colleagues this year is that everyone in the administrative suite recognizes that we're all on the same team, and there's not one complainer in the bunch.  Everyone here is busy.  Everyone here is trying hard.  Everyone here is overworked.  And yet, each morning, people come in cheerful, with their sleeves rolled up.  It just doesn't get better than that.
 Part of me wonders what would happen if I asked the folks with whom I worked to come up with their list of what I'm really like.  Hmmm....

* Except with my friends and relatives.  I love hearing their voices.

I am so proud of my dad!

See here.  I'm proud of Dad for about a million reasons:  his career as a talented chemist; his wonderful parenting skills (he and Mom were amazing); his love of current events and of the written word; his sense of humor; his ability to try new things and get out of his comfort level.  This link gives you a glimpse about Dad and his background.


Monday, April 01, 2013

I so wish this were an April Fool's Day story.

Last week, I received a notice from SiriusXM radio saying that I owed $4.52.  Given that I thought that I was paid up, I checked my account.  Yep--my account showed a zero balance.  So I thought that I'd scan the dunning letter with a note saying that my online account said that I was paid up, send that letter to customer service, and be done with the issue.

Nope.  The email from the customer service department reiterated that I had a $4.52 balance.  I responded that I had checked my account online, and that I had a zero balance.

You know what happens next, right?  Several emails and phone calls later, I've figured out that:
  • SiriusXM's snail mail and email customer service folks never speak to the online or phone folks.
  • "Use this reference number when talking with the email customer service people--that will help" comments from other SiriusXM customer service reps don't actually help.
  • SiriusXM appears to want to cancel the account associated with my current car, rather than pay attention to the fact that I closed my old account several years ago, when I sold my old car.
  • SiriusXM's email that it had, for the purposes of making a long-time customer happy, had credited my account for the $4.52.  This notice was followed an hour later by an automated phone call saying that I had a balance due on my account.
  • This morning, I received a phone call from SiriusXM's customer service folks (some sort of ombudsman escalation) that gave me a phone number to call.  Well, it gave me nine out of the ten digits to call.  I suppose that I could try ten different last-digit numbers, but I don't want to spend any more time dealing with this issue today, other than recording this whole experience in today's blog (and then tweeting about it).
Is it any reason that I went to SiriusXM's 10-Q, looked up its corporate address, and sent a letter to its General Counsel?  He should get the letter on Wednesday.  Maybe he can do something about SiriusXM's customer service.  I sure can't.