Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bad customer service winner of the week--Ulta.com.

Apparently, Ulta, "we promise to answer your question in 24 hours" does not mean what you think it does.  Ten days and waiting, and you already shipped the order for which I had questions without first answering the questions.  BAD JOB.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Why doesn't Fitbit trust its customers?

I have a Fitbit Charge.  I have that, instead of the Jawbone, because my Jawbone broke repeatedly and had to have a soft restart about once every two weeks.  Now I have the Charge, which would be better, if it held a charge longer than 2-3 days.  It's supposed to hold a charge for 7-10 days.  Either Fitbit's engineers don't have the same understanding of "7-10 days" that I do, or mine's not working.

What I did like about Jawbone was, each time I needed a replacement, the company trusted me enough to send me out a new one before asking me to send back the old one.  Fitbit refuses to do that, even though the issue of the charge failure is well-known.

Bad customer service, Fitbit.  BAD.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dear Tim Cook: Steve Jobs wouldn't have bollixed up the Genius Bar this way.

So now, apparently, I can't just make a Genius Bar appointment.  I have to go through too many hoops, including having to override the Support Page itself and, well, lying to Apple to get to a human.

NOTE TO APPLE:   Moving things around because a techie thinks that a change might be cool is not a good justification for change.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Steven Davidoff Solomon's interesting take on why law schools won't close.

Here.  I especially liked his point about why incentives favor bailing out law schools rather than closing them:
[A] closed law school is worth little, or most likely nothing, to creditors. The value is only in the revenue stream it produces and perhaps its building. (You could say the books also, but these are increasingly fewer.) And these days, that revenue stream is down 20 to 40 percent, meaning that if law schools were for-profit businesses, most would be failures.
A troubled law school is like Dracula: hard to kill. Creditors will not do so because even keeping a struggling school alive means there is some possibility of repayment.
On the other hand, those closed law school buildings might be valuable to universities, as they can be repurposed for other uses, freeing up different space on campus for things like expanded research space.  So law schools that aren't free-standing should still be nervous if they're underperforming. Now is not the time for complacency.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Congratulations to the wonderful Kathleen Lyon!

Full story here, but here's my favorite paragraph:
The 10th and final Distinguished Service Award is presented to Tax Division Office of the Assistant Attorney General Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General Kathleen E. Lyon for her extraordinary work in drafting the Program for Non-Prosecution Agreement or Non-Target Letters for Swiss Banks (Swiss Bank Program).  The department has had ongoing investigations into the use of foreign bank accounts to evade U.S. taxes, and the Swiss Bank Program was designed to encourage Swiss banks not already under investigation to cooperate with the department’s efforts.  Ms. Lyon was instrumental in drafting the terms of the Swiss Bank Program.
Brava, Kathleen!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

For my friends who aren't on Facebook--a recap of a happy event last month.



Yep, that's 1st place in the USDC Rising Star Smooth, B Division.  YAY!

Dear Financial Times newspaper: you win; I give up; I will not renew my subscription.

I have tried--and tried, and tried, and tried, and TRIED--to renew my newspaper subscription.  I can't reach a human; when the "human" calls me back, the phone call abruptly terminates after a few seconds; and the website for renewals won't record my credit card, no matter how hard I try:

I give up.  I won't read my beloved Lucy Kellaway any more.  I won't enjoy the weekend section, or the reports on business schools, or the editorials.  (Well, I often didn't enjoy the editorials that much, anyway.)

Please note that THIS PARTICULAR [firstname] [lastname] is calling it quits with your newspaper. 

Assuming that what this professor says is true (and I have no reason to think that it's not), I'm standing with him in solidarity.

See here.  Universities are supposed to be places in which divergent views can be heard with respect and intelligent debate.  That means that BOTH sides of a debate must be heard, not just the "popular" side.  Hat tip to Instapundit for alerting me to this story.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Another wonderful Lubet post about the Salaita issue.

See here.  What I liked best about this post is the point about trying to see things from other points of view.  Too often, we assume that anyone who disagrees with us has to be wrong--and intentionally so.  I prefer to do what Steve Lubet does, and at least ask whether I might be missing something in my own take on an issue.

Friday, September 19, 2014

UNLV's State of the University Address.

It's hereAnd for my buddies, the stuff about me starts around 1:24:18 or so.

And another feel-good story....

See here.

Awesome young inventor....

See here.  And his mom's awesome, too!

UPDATE: Why I am no longer a Democrat (the short version).

There's a longer explanation having to do with feeling as though I no longer belong in the mainstream of Democrats, but the shorter--and more immediate--explanation is that I am sick of political calls on our home phone.  They're invasive, and they do nothing to change my political views.  I've heard that if I change my affiliation to "non-partisan," these calls will stop.  We'll see.

UPDATE (10/3/14):  My protest pales in comparison to this wonderful Bloggess post.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

If you're as opposed to the boycotts of Israel as I am, please read on.

From my friend Danny Sokol

Dear Colleagues:
The following statement is being circulated on numerous campuses to be released  in the next week or so.  We are trying to get signatures prior to it being posted, although people will also be able to sign up after it is posted.
If you are interested in singing, please drop a line indicating your approval to William Jacobson at Cornell Law, (waj24@cornell.edu) from your university/college email account. Note your title and affiliation. 
Also, feel free to share this with colleagues who might be interested.
The text of the statement cannot be changed at this point.  It is, by nature, a compromise statement intended to focus on core principles, not politics. I think it is very mild and broad. 
Here is the text of the statement:
We, the undersigned academics, vigorously support free speech and free debate but we oppose faculty or student boycotts of Israel’s academic institutions, scholars and students. 
 Our opposition is rooted in the following core principles. 

1.       Academic freedom:  The BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement discriminates against Israeli institutions, professors, and students for no other reason than their nationality and the policies of their government. Thus BDS violates the very principle of academic freedom.  Academic boycotts such as those promoted by BDS activists “are antithetical to the fundamental principles of the academy, where we will not hold intellectual exchange hostage to the political disagreements of the moment,”according to a statement signed by 300 university presidents in 2007, and additional statements written by over 250 university presidents last year in response to the ASA boycott of Israel. The American Association of University Professors, other academic organizations, and more than forty Nobel Laureates have opposed all academic boycotts for this reason. 
2.       Truth:   The factual record does not support the accusations and narratives of the BDS movement. Many are based on overstatements, cherry picked evidence, outright falsehood, or on disputed or highly biased data. 
3.       Peace: The two-state solution – which guarantees to both parties mutual recognition -- enjoys the endorsement of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and the Arab League. By demonizing and seeking to isolate one of the two parties to the peace process, the anti-Israel BDS movement sets itself apart from the global consensus for peace.
4.       Access to World-leading Scholarship:  BDS would have the practical impact of undermining academic cooperation and would deprive universities significant Israeli contributions in many academic areas, especially scientific research. It appears that such a loss is immaterial to the leaders in the BDS movement.
 This statement is not a response to any particular BDS effort on campus, but rather to the growing wave of such efforts by academic professional associations and so forth. The idea is to get out ahead of such efforts with a broadly subscribed statement.
Thank you.
Prof. Eugene Kontorovich
Northwestern University School of Law

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Am I a bit OCD about writing? Why, yes. Yes, I am.

Proof?  My latest proofreading affidavit for my students (here).

Dear Apple: fool me once, shame on you; fool me EIGHT TIMES, shame on me.

I give up.  I have owned eight of your Airport Time Machines.  Eight.  And the number of them that have failed catastrophically?  EIGHT, including the replacement one that the Apple Genius gave me yesterday (w/o a receipt, even though I asked).  I have no way of returning it for credit now, so you've cost me a couple of hundred bucks--or over a thousand bucks, if you count ALL of the ones I've purchased.  NO MAS.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Academic freedom for folks who don't yet have jobs at an institution.

I've been reading the back-and-forth on Professor Steven Salaita, and I've just finished reading a piece on David Frakt in The Atlantic.  According to the article, Frakt was the person who was thrown out of his deanship interview at Florida Coastal (by the President!) for talking about Coastal's students' likely success rate and the relationship of the success rate to the students' debt load.

From what I've read about Salaita (including reading his own tweets myself--some of which made me physically ill), his "uncivil" comments are not merely "uncivil."  Some of his comments are extremely vicious, and I think that some of the comments are also anti-Semitic.  So this professor is not a hero to me, by any means.  

Salaita has a complete right to say what he wants, thanks to freedom of speech.  I don't have to like him.  I don't have to listen to him.  But he has every right to say what he wants to say, and to say it in the way that he chooses to say it, even if I perceive some of what he's saying as exceptionally nasty.  The First Amendment protects him, and I'm glad that it does.

Whether academic freedom does, though, is not as easy a question.  (I've written a little something on this:  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1544932, which reviews Matthew W. Finkin & Robert C. Post, For the Common Good: Principles of American Academic Freedom.)  I think that the issue is complicated.  "Academic freedom" doesn't protect every outburst.  It protects statements that people make while teaching and writing in their fields, but (to take some extreme examples) it won't protect someone who insists on teaching that the world is flat or that babies come from storks.

The more I spend time on social media, the more I think that people show their real selves there, and they show their real selves yet more when they post anonymously (though, of course, it's impossible to track down who the anonymous posters are).  Salaita's "real self" seems to me to be that of a bully--and a bully who would make his Israeli and Jewish students very, very nervous about whether he could be fair to them.  I would be as nervous about hiring him as I would about hiring a professor who posted screeds against any other group:  Arabs, Catholics, Mormons, single mothers (the list goes on and on).

But what interests me more is the difference between the outcry about Salaita and the absence of much outcry about Frakt.  Both people were prevented from getting their jobs because certain people didn't like what they were saying.  Frakt was, from what I've been reading, saying some perfectly sensible things about law schools and should have--at the least--been allowed to finish his deanship interview.  Salaita was saying some horrible things, but because they were rants against Israelis and Jews, his statements were more "socially acceptable" to the people who are aghast that the University of Illinois didn't approve his hiring.  That's a pretty awful contrast, in my opinion.

So I have to wonder:  where was the anger about cutting off Frakt's interview, and what is the difference between the two stories?

UPDATE:  I really liked this commentary.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

LexisNexis must not want me to use its services.

I have changed my password seven times in two days.  It doesn't matter what password I use--LexisNexis will not let me log in.  I give up--I will never use that service again.

Monday, June 09, 2014

OK, it's throwback MONDAY today.

I was talking about the Rice T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project with some colleagues today and thought I'd share it with all of you.  My favorite test, of course, was the Turing test.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Two of my newest favorite things, both from my buddy Walter Effross.

Walter always finds me interesting and valuable things to read (and now I can thank you publicly, Walter!)--and here are two of my favorites.  One's a commencement address, and the other is a story about how the Rolling Stones refused to boycott Israel.  Both involve a discussion of courage.  (And, for what it's worth, both stories illustrate the power of standing for something bigger than yourself, rather than the cowardice of lobbing anonymous hateful comments across the Internet.)


Friday, June 06, 2014

Shame on you, anonymous commenters.

I read Above the Law pretty regularly, and I have to say that I'm saddened by the tenor of the comments overall.  I know that the comments are unmoderated, and I don't blame Above the Law for them (or any blogs that allow anonymous, unmoderated comments).  What I don't understand is the mentality of people who write hurtful, anonymous things about people they don't know (or, for that matter, people they do know).  What is it about anonymous commenting that gives people the license to be so horrible?  (I'm guessing that the commenters have never been on the receiving end of any of the drivel that they're posting.  I have been, and it's an awful experience.)

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bravo, Mayor (well, former mayor) Bloomberg--well done!

This whole idea of students protesting commencement speakers because they don't like the proposed speakers' politics bothers me, which is why I appreciated Mayor Bloomberg's commencement address so much.  I've experienced commencement speaker protests myself.  (Sarah Weddington was our commencement speaker during my first year of dean at the University of Houston Law Center, and I invited her because she was someone who was effective as a lawyer, in the Texas Legislature, and in the Carter Administration--and I consider her a friend.)

Law graduates who didn't appreciate her work as the lawyer in Roe v. Wade protested.  She had to worry about death threats at graduation.  (So did I.)  Even though she had recently been diagnosed with cancer, she came through and did a superb job at graduation.  The protesting students limited themselves to wearing gold lapel pins symbolizing baby feet, which was a perfectly legitimate and respectful form of protest.  I was proud of them.

Another commencement speaker at UHLC triggered a one-person protest by a student who believed that the speaker had insulted his family at a trial.  That particularlized protest, based on a personal interaction and not on a difference of philosophy, was different in kind.  We excused the student from commencement and gave him his diploma in a separate ceremony.

I know that there is a limit to the idea that students' protests shouldn't be taken into account when a university invites a controversial speaker--there are some speakers who are so reprehensible that giving them a public forum just seems wrong.  But for the life of me, I can't come up with the line-drawing that would make it clear when a speaker should be disinvited. Although I would likely know it when I saw it ("it" being the case for disinviting someone), my instincts aren't so superior that I would be comfortable using my own judgment as the appropriate benchmark.

Overall, though, universities can't be places where students learn to listen to others' viewpoints and learn to debate ideas respectfully, then where will they learn how to do that?


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Airline inconvenience insurance? Count me in.

The Wall Street Journal gave me the heads-up on this new insurance (here). I can't find the insurance on the company's website yet, but I'm intrigued.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I can't decide if this story is more ridiculous or horrifying.

I was going to make some flip remark about the events reported in this story, like how I'm too busy controlling the banks and Hollywood to control academia as well, but frankly I'm just tired of the coded anti-Semitism that so few people are condemning.

Life lessons for all of us--from the Navy SEALS and TaxProf Blog.

See here.  Worth reading all the way through.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dear Mr. Whelan of the National Review:

Wow.  Our faculty letter and our Dean's letter must have really struck a nerve with you.  (See also here and here.)

Before I respond to you, here's some background on me:  I'm a moderate--not liberal, not conservative.  Moderate.  I married into a military family (husband/father-in-law/brother-in-law are former Marines; sister-in-law was career Air Force; late mother-in-law was Army).  I interviewed for a Rehnquist clerkship.  I'm probably not what you envision when you think about liberal faculty members in law schools. 

I signed the faculty letter because I believe that it's important to remind the profession that we can have meaningful conversations about controversial issues--issues about which good-hearted and smart people can disagree--in a civil manner. Here's what our letter said:
RESPONSE BY MEMBERS OF THE BOYD SCHOOL OF LAW FACULTY AND
STAFF TO ALAN LEFEBVRE’S “MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT”

As members of the faculty and staff of UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law, we were dismayed to read the May 2014 Nevada Lawyer column by Alan J. Lefebvre, written in his capacity as President of the State Bar of Nevada. We fear that the tone of Mr. Lefebvre’s undignified column brings disrespect on the Bar and undermines principles of professionalism that we endeavor to instill in our students.

Mr. Lefebvre’s ostensible subject was Nevada’s prohibition on same-sex marriage. He disparaged the conclusion by Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and endorsed by Governor Brian Sandoval that the ban cannot be defended in federal court. There are reasonable debates to be had about how our state’s officials should respond to a rapidly shifting legal landscape. But such debates require a climate of mutual respect. The mission of the State Bar of Nevada is, in part, to “elevate the standard of honor, integrity, and courtesy in the legal profession” and “to promote a spirit of cordiality” among lawyers. In our roles as faculty and staff at Nevada’s only law school, we want to pass these values on to our graduates. It is thus regrettable that Mr. Lefebvre’s essay consists largely of insults, ad hominem attacks, sarcasm, and sectarian references that are simply inappropriate for the leader of an important institution in a vibrant and diverse state.

We recognize that issues like marriage equality naturally inspire passionate responses. But in the legal profession passion must be expressed with dignity and thoughtful analysis. Mr. Lefebvre’s column was lacking in the civility that should guide the behavior of every Nevada attorney. It is a serious disappointment for such indignity to emanate from the leader of the state bar.
What we were trying to convey in the letter is that it is perfectly legitimate to express disagreement--passionately but still politely--with our attorney general's position, but that we wanted to keep the discourse civil.  Our dean's letter, too, was respectful in its approach.  Your column?  Not so much, frankly, with its sneer about us being a "fourth-tier school" (not true, and also not very nice of you).

I'm not a "delicate flower," as your column suggests.  I'm happy to engage with you on this issue, publicly or privately.  Maybe we could come away from a conversation with a better appreciation of each other's point of view.

Oh, and your reference to "one well-informed source [who conveyed to you that]: 'Even by the standards of the modern American law school, the Boyd School of Law’s faculty is remarkably intolerant of dissent. Opponents to the Orthodoxy are either evil or ignorant, take your pick'"?  That's not been my experience.  I've found my colleagues to be exceptionally civil in their discourse, even when they disagree with each other (and including when they disagree with me).  So we have your anonymous person who blasted our school, and we have me, with a completely different take on Boyd's atmosphere.  That's an n of two, which is too small a sample size for an outsider to form an opinion. 

Let's see if you and I can engage in a sincere conversation that rests on a basic assumption:  you've thought long and hard about your views, and you have good reasons for holding them, and I've thought long and hard about mine, and I have good reasons for holding them, too.  Maybe a conversation might give each of us more fodder for thought.






Saturday, May 03, 2014

Cox Cable Customer Service--sigh....

So far today, I've spent almost two hours on the phone, on the web, and in live chat with Cox.  Things that went wrong today:
  1. The "plug-and-play" new wireless router didn't plug.  Or play.  At least not until I bounced my complaint up to a manager.  That took 40 minutes.
  2. The Cox salesperson who sold me the router said, "You can talk with Netgear and rename your router and change the password."  Netgear, on the other hand, said that I should talk with Cox.  Cox said that I should talk with Netgear.  Maybe the two of them have some sort of bet going as to which one can drive me crazy first.  Hint:  It's a tie.
  3. We're switching to Contour on Wednesday.  We were planning to watch the old DVR'ed shows before Wednesday, when suddenly the DVR said that we didn't have a DVR plan.  (Oh, and we don't have any cable channels, either, right now.)  We've rebooted, to no avail.  Ah, but I've been listening to beautiful classical music for, oh, 16:35 so far.
So all of the other services about which I've complained over the years?  I think that Cox has all of you beat cold.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Normally, Southwest Airlines is awesome at customer service (UPDATED).

Not this time, though:

UPDATE:  Verity Kugelmann at Southwest reached out to me, investigated, and gave me a much better feeling about Southwest in general.  Thanks, Verity, and thanks, Southwest!

Monday, March 10, 2014

My salute to George Carlin's partial score schtick, in light of the upcoming USNWR rankings.

This obit describes Carlin's joke about partial scores.  And in a salute to Brian Leiter's open letter requesting that deans not report overall ranks, plus the fact that I'm not a dean and I don't have early access to the rankings, here's mine:

Boyd School of Law:  ____.


Friday, March 07, 2014

The Dewey indictments and cognitive biases (updated).

This morning's NYT brings the story of the criminal indictments of some of the people at Dewey & LeBeouf (here).  If the emails referenced in the story are real, then the downfall of Dewey is even more Enronesque than I'd originally thought.  Here's an example:
In another exchange in June 2009, Mr. Sanders and Mr. Canellas joke about the law firm’s outside auditor, who was fired by his company for reasons unrelated to his auditing assignments. Mr. Sanders remarks to Mr. Canellas, “Can you find another clueless auditor for next year?” Mr. Canellas responded: “That’s the plan. Worked perfect this year.”
Today's WSJ brings more news of the emails (here):  
According to the complaint, Mr. Sanders emailed Dewey's then chief operating officer on Dec. 4, 2008, expressing concern about the firm's cash-flow problems. "I don't want to cook the books anymore," Mr. Sanders allegedly wrote in the message. "We need to stop doing that."
Why lawyers (and, for that matter, law professors) persist in emailing proof of unsavory words or deeds is a matter involving social science as much as it involves issues of character.  Why might partners at a law firm (1) decide to doctor the books or (2) ignore some clear signs of economic distress?  

I don't know the people who were indicted.  But I do know that there are a variety of cognitive biases that can cause very smart people to talk themselves into very dumb decisions.  The partners who may have been involved in a fraud and its cover up could have talked themselves into their actions because of a misguided belief that they were protecting the firm (cognitive dissonance).  The partners who could have put 2 + 2 together to ask some sharp questions of the law firm management ("why are we paying all of this money to get these laterals, and how can we afford this?") could have been waylaid by both social pressure and the diffusion of responsibility phenomenon.*  My point is that we need to watch cases like Dewey to study not the venality of people but the way in which cognitive biases affect their actions.


UPDATE (3/10/14):  Bernie Burk has a great post over at The Faculty Lounge about the indictments (here).
_________________
* I discuss Enron and Dewey in a forthcoming article, Nancy B. Rapoport, “Nudging” Better Lawyer Behavior: Using Default Rules and Incentives to Change Behavior in Law Firms, 4 St. Mary’s J. L. Ethics & Malpractice ___ (forthcoming 2014).

Monday, February 24, 2014

My husband's Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle experience with his U.S. Bank/REI card.

So my hubby and I are fine with credit cards monitoring suspicious activity and putting freezes on our accounts when something looks fishy.  That's great customer service.

What isn't great customer service is when a bank freezes transactions that shouldn't be frozen after specific instructions from the customer himself.

Jeff regularly flings himself out of perfectly good airplanes for fun.  He does this once a month, at the same place--and he has done so since Memorial Day Weekend.

Lately, US Bank/REI has decided that, wherever Jeff is, his credit shouldn't come with him--the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of Bad Customer Service.  Every month, he tries to charge something at the jump site.  Every month, his account is blocked.  He calls the bank and explains the situation; the bank agrees that the charges shouldn't be blocked; Jeff goes home.  (Of course, when he goes home and tries to pay for parking, the same bank blocks his credit there, too.)

This cycle of folly continues each month:
  • Jeff calls the bank to explain that there's no fraud on charges from these two particular sites.
  • The bank says that it understands and won't block the charges again.
  • Jeff goes to the jump site, charges something, and finds out that the charge was blocked.
  • Jeff calls the bank.
  • The bank promises not to block the charge.
  • Jeff comes home and tries to pay for parking.
  • The bank blocks the charge.
  • Jeff calls the bank.
  • The bank promises not to block the charge.
  • Repeat ad nauseum.
The cycle of folly has now ended after the bank, yet again, blocked the charges and then explained to Jeff that Jeff must call the bank ahead of time to explain that he is traveling and to ask--basically, with a "pretty, pretty please"--let his charges go through.

No more.  Now Jeff has a card with a different bank.  And we wonder why banks have such a bad rap.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Serious customer service problems at Premium Media Design.

Tried to order some software.  My tale begins thus:
  1. Clicked on website. 
  2. Put software in cart.
  3. Chose PayPal option.
  4. Logged on to PayPal.
  5. Paid for software.
  6. Returned to site to find nothing in my cart.
  7. Repeated steps 2-6.
  8. Nada.
  9. Wrote to Customer Service.
  10. Nada.
  11. Called the phone number, which referred me to Live Chat.
  12. Clicked on Live Chat.
  13. Nada.
  14. Wrote this blog post.
  15. Am sending a link of this blog post to Premium Media Design.
The best part?  I've figured out what the company means by "we will give you the best service POSSIBLE."

It's not possible.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Mixed thoughts about this post on Above the Law.

I do get what Above the Law is saying here, and I also take the point of Anonymous's comment about my screed against bad law review editing, but I've also seen the difficulty that some law students have in transitioning from college to professional school.  There has to be a good way to teach them that the little things matter.


And I'm now, after 20+ years on the job, at the point at which I require those who write papers for me to execute this affidavit.

Am I a curmudgeon?  Yep.  Do I think that some clear expectations might help students become more professional?  I sure hope so.

UPDATE (2/11/14):  Thanks, Above the Law, for including me in your non-sequiturs yesterday!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dear law review editors everywhere--a few words of advice.

I'm in the process of reading page proofs from two different journals, both involving symposia, and I want to explain why one journal did a superb job of editing my work and one didn't.  If you're a law review editor who follows this advice, you're likely to have very happy authors.  If you don't, you might end up being the focus of comments like this one.
  1. Respect the author's voice.  You're not the author.  The person whose article you accepted is the author, and every author has his or her own style of writing.  Don't futz with that style.  It's one thing to tell an author that something that she wrote is unclear, or that a transition doesn't make sense, or that you see a hole in her argument.  Those are wonderful things to do, and telling an author those things makes the article stronger.  Deciding to "fix" the way that the author writes because you don't like her style is not a wonderful thing to do.  (We're just going to change back all of your "fixes" anyway, so both of us will end up feeling frustrated.)
  2. If you do make changes, make sure that the changes are obvious when you return the revisions to the author.  It's annoying to see an article that's been revised so many times by various editors that the "track changes" feature has become worthless.  The failure to indicate what language was changed from the author's original language just delays your editorial process because it slows down the author's review of your edits.  Oh, and mere formatting changes?  Those are different--go ahead and "accept" those changes so that we don't have to spend time doing that ourselves.*  I doubt that any of us care how you format your footnotes or what font you use, as long as the substance of the article is correct.
  3. If you make changes, get them right.  Please don't "fix" the author's writing by inserting language that changes the author's meaning, or by mis-citing things, or by making mistakes in spelling or grammar.  Although it's possible that you write more clearly than does your author,  it's not probable.  We write for a living; you're learning how to write as lawyers.  The odds are in our favor that we were right the first time.
  4. Be timely.  If you need a revision turned around by a specific date, work backwards from that date and give the author plenty of time to look at your proposed changes--and make sure that the author has actually received your revisions.  If you don't hear from an author by, say, a week after you've sent out a draft, follow up.  Email glitches can happen.
  5. Be accurate.  Don't make mistakes in cite-checking.  One of the best things that law reviews do is train students to be anal-retentive about certain things.  We want you to obsess over whether cross-references match.  We want you to be disturbed when a quotation mark is missing or a parenthetical statement has an open parenthesis but not a closed one.  We want you to check to see if every footnote is internally consistent.  We want you to be master proofreaders.  Talent at obsessing over tiny details will serve you well as a lawyer.  If, though, you miss obvious things, or if you alter things that actually were correct, we lose confidence in your abilities.
  6. Help the author "plug" the final version.  Some law reviews tweet about their issues; some go so far as to send copies to other professors whose work figured prominently in the article itself.  These creative ideas go a long way toward making an author so happy with your work that he or she looks forward to placing another article with your law review.
When the collaborative process between an author and her editors results in a better article than the one that the author had originally drafted, everyone wins. 

____________________
* Better yet:  give us two versions.  One should be the "track changes" version with the formatting changes already accepted, and one should be the version that shows every single thing that you changed from the author's own draft.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Post Office website glitches continue.

Dear Post Office:  What a clever way to get people to buy stamps at the increased price!  Refusing to let us "select format" really does help us to appreciate how important it is to give the Post Office more money so that it can hire someone to fix a glitch that has existed for a while now.  Well played, Post Office.  Well played.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Post on Law Firm Job Survival Manual blog on cognitive biases.

We combined four different pieces (three from the Financial Times and one from TaxProf Blog) that relate to cognitive biases and the immense pressure that we put on ourselves--and that our jobs encourage) (here). 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Shameless self-promotion--ABA Webinar edition....

See here.  Ever since Enron fell, I've been fascinated with the issue of why people do, well, what they do.  This webinar is an offshoot of my study of this area, although I'm speaking for only about 10 mins or so of the whole thing.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

In addition to taking UNLV's president as its president, UNT is bringing aboard some pretty high-powered faculty members to its law school..

See here.  I've known David Epstein a long time and have enjoyed his BAR/BRI lectures (in my apparent quest to make multijurisdictional practice history).  I've also known Ellen Pryor for a long time, and she's impressive as well.  It'll be interesting to see who else comes aboard.