Blawg Review #34
Here it is, Blawg Review #34 - The Tryptophan Overdose Edition!
As I was preparing this week's edition of the Blawg Review (while finishing my 180th piece of pumpkin pie), I began reminiscing about all the wonderfully themed editions that have come out these past many months - there was Denise Howell's "spooky" edition and the Patent Baristas "dog gone hot" edition, as well as many fine other creative compilations.
"Self", I said to myself, "we need to come up with a humdinger of a creative angle or we will forever be chased, tarred and feathered by a stink-bomb of a Blawg Review."
So I thought a little bit. I ate some pie. I took a nap. I reorganized my sock drawer. I reorganized my wife's sock drawer. I walked around the yard making mental notes of all the work I will have to do in the Spring. I thought a little bit more and my head hurt. I counted the number of lady bugs on our window screens. I ate some more pie. I took another nap.
"Self," I then said to myself again, "I am just too doggone busy and tired to be able to come up with a creative angle for Blawg Review. What am I gonna do?" And then, to my amazement, the empty pumpkin pie plate spoke to me in a calm and pumpkiny kind of voice....
YOUR CREATIVE ANGLE IS THAT YOU HAVE NO CREATIVE ANGLE!
Brilliant - talking empty pumpkin pie plates always have the best answers to life's little problems - even if their suggestion is spookily similar to a line from the 1990s movie Singles that I was watching the other night. But, ya gotta take inspiration from wherever it comes these days.
So, in deference to the talking empty pumpkin pie plate, here is Blawg Review in a "no creative angle" type of format.
Obligatory Terrorism (or “Terrorism-like” since everything is terrorism, these days) Section
From the annals of expanding employer liability . . . this story (from Rod Satterwhite) of an employer who was sued by an employee who was allegedly abducted and almost killed by terrorists in the Philippines (where the employer had sent the employee for job purposes).
The Rule of Law and Secrecy: CIA Prisons and the Plame Affair - Jerry Monaco comments on one of The Washington Post’s articles on the CIA secret prisons. According to Jerry, the story proves that for the ruling class of the U.S. "the rule of law" and "due process" is applied selectively.
From the Law Practice Management Blog :: Attorney Brian F. Labovick thought his comments posted on the Trial Talk web site, started by the Palm Beach County Trial Lawyers Association five years ago, were secure from prying eyes. He was wrong!
I really feel bad about putting the Adam Smith, Esq. blog in the ‘terrorism-like’ section, but since I am a small firm kinda guy, anything that has to do with the AmLaw 100 and especially about the fact that “two tier” partnership firms have lower profits per partner is automatically a “terrorism-like” subject. Sorry, Bruce!
My wife and I are expecting our first child in February, so The Mommy Blawg’s post about C-section rates hitting an all time U.S. high of 29.1% is scary enough to be included in the “terrorism-like” section as well. Of course, who you gonna blame when something is as`screwy as this percentage - the lawyers, of course!
Some may argue that setting legal fees may be “terrorism-like”, so I will include Blog for Business’ post on setting professional service fees. Mind you – I am not necessarily included in “some”.
Sorry for the diversion, there…. Back to real terrorism subjects -- All Deliberate Speed debates whether the government's failure to prosecute Jose Padilla in a timely manner requires that the indictment be dismissed. Grits for Breakfast wonders whether requiring two eyewitnesses might keep the government from convicting and even executing the wrong people?
The Rethink(IP) guys (well, really just mostly Steve) whine and moan about how terrible the US patent and trademark office website really is - this time, however, the government listened to a complaint and made a change.
Business Pundit points to a great Peter Drucker tribute in Fortune Magazine. I too love the quote dealing with “gurus” and think it is highly applicable to those in the law and legal practice consulting as well.
“That means he was guaranteed fun to talk to on any subject. As it happened, we had something in common, since Drucker had been a journalist as a young man in Germany. He thus had license to be scathing on the topic, as he was also when it came to management consultants who are low on substance but high on marketing pizzazz, of which there are always a few. He had a brilliant line that skewered both groups: “The reason reporters call these people gurus is that they’re not sure how to spell ‘charlatan.”
CCUCEO celebrates failure in a post titled, strangely enough, - Celebrate Failure. Zane agrees with the authors and goes on to say that “it's not that failure happens it's what happens afterwards that counts towards being a success. What do you do? Well...if you're a success you've always got back up and moved forward until your next failure. Again and again until you have it right.”
Common Craft posted on Learning to Listen (Again) – while it is geared for bloggers (not “blawgers”), the advice applies to all and especially those of us in the business of law – listening and writing.
A couple of posts made me long for the Socratic Method… so, y’all lose.
A question: is your firm/practice more like Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts?
Follow up: does it matter?
Moreover, do your actions match your words? Do they match your firm’s advertising?
Follow up: does it matter?
Finally, to round out the “listening category” I really really really want to stay in one of these hotels. What if a law firm/practice were to implement some of these techniques – what could your receptionist tell you about your clients? An even better question – what if your receptionist can’t tell you anything about your clients? (… but then again, the [non]billable hour will always know what your clients want…) In a similar vein, Decent Marketing highlights Typepad’s service troubles and asks yet another interesting question: “should you let your customers [(er… clients)] choose their remedy for bad service?”
Really, you are kidding me – only the lawyers “win” in litigation?
Point of Law focuses the spotlight on the recent opinion in Budget Rent A Car System Inc. v. Consolidated Equity wherein the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote:
"The opinion exhibits a fundamental problem with much of the judiciary: a complete lack of understanding of how much litigation actually costs clients. (This problem is exhibited most frequently in discovery disputes, where judges weighing costs and benefits of permitting broad discovery to go forward regularly and consistently underestimate the side of the equation reflecting burdens.)"
I bet the Anonymous Lawyer couldn’t care less about them “wussy” 7th Circuit judges – and at the very least, Jeremy has the first draft of his book out to the editors! The dough should be rolling in soon enough.
While some blogs entertain, some blogs actually try to educate.
Minor Wisdom tries to get lawyers to listen in a post entitled "Contractors teach lesson in marketing". Raymond Ward, a New Orleans lawyer who recently returned home, needed his roof repaired. His business dealings with contractors offer a valuable business lesson for lawyers.
Online Guide to Mediation made me rethink (sorry, shameless link) some of my inaccurate assumptions about conflict resolution -- Test of Character: Using instruments to probe conflict styles and moral intuition
Observers of human behavior are intrigued by the ways in which people respond to interpersonal challenges or moral dilemmas-those times when we are in conflict with others or with ourselves. The choices we make reveal much about who we are. Researchers have developed instruments to help us survey our inner landscapes and to make sense of the contours and borders of the moral and social self. Let us consider two such instrumentsone that illuminates conflict styles and another that measures moral intuition.
My Shingle has a great post about the fact that big companies are starting to “pin point” smaller firms for more and more legal work. It is another great example of insourcing being applied to the practice of law.
If you give it, they will come in droves… Legal SEO Blog pointed the way to free Web Statistics with Google’s new analytics service. Unfortunately, too many people followed the advice and the service is currently closed for new users – Google be a fickle lover – she giveth and she taketh.
Finally, Professor Bainbridge asks an interesting question - Why not shareholder activism?
Maybe Darwin really was right?
F/K/A - David Giacalone never ceases to amaze me with the stories he finds, and this is a gem.
"During a traffic stop on various violations, [the motorist] told an officer that there was a gun on the back seat of his vehicle, but it didn't work and he was repairing it for a friend. Tests showed that the gun was inoperable, and thus could not be the basis for a charge of criminal possession of a weapon. However, the innovative Assistant Schenectady County District Attorney, Martin Burke, decided to seek an indictment based on [the motorist's] intent to repair the weapon and thus make it operable."
Can you lose a customer (er… client) by using only two words? Holly Buchanan at the Marketing to Women Online blog offers some lessons that attorneys can also use to overcome the little things that undercut marketing and client development efforts.
I knew pumpkin pie was the answer to everything, rather than chocolate – and now it is confirmed by May It Please The Court:
"Earlier this month, the USEPA declared a new enemy in its fight against air pollution: chocolate. That's right: the sweet smell of chocolate can apparently lodge particles in your lungs, supposedly to your detriment. Blommer Chocolate Co. has been targeted by the USEPA in response to a singular complaint, and has instituted installation of abatement equipment to eliminate the chocolate (dare I say?) odor."
At CrimLaw, Ken Lammers sarcastically mentions the EU's recent experiment with the federalization of criminal law. I wonder how long it will take for the EU to institute “trois grèves”.
How crazy are your customers (er… clients) – and how does it apply to you? Check out Seth’s Blog and the post The inanity of the American consumer:
“It seems as though we've marketed ourselves into a corner, where the only way to grow is to find increasingly narrow niches of decreasing utility. The consumer portion of our economy is now dependent on a four-week long debt-fueled race to buy the useless.”
B.L. Ochman points to Media Law Resource Center's online list of libel and related lawsuits against bloggers. In the “this is absurd” category, the case of Ohio v. Baumgartner is highlighted wherein two bloggers were held on charges of intimidation, retaliation and possession of criminal tools (i.e. a computer).
Over at the Signal vs Noise Blog there is a great story entitled Citibank Horrors: How hard is everyday banking? What do you make your customers (er… clients) do to work with you? Does your practice have the same horrors as Citibank? You may be surprised at the lessons you can learn at Citibank’s expense.
‘Wait until the Markman hearing hits em, then see what happens.’ PI attorneys are filing patent infringement cases in light of Texas’s limits on pain and suffering awards. What’s next – patent attorneys filing slip and fall cases? (hat tip Chris Rush Cohen)
Beyond Management Blog -- How Entrepreneurs Should Choose Investors – Play a little game with this entry, substitute the word “lawyer” for entrepreneur and “client” for the investors. Pretty spooky.
“The investor-entrepreneur relationship is vital to the success of a budding company that has acquired private equity capital. The relationship - as any other relationship - must be based on trust, honesty and integrity.”
White Bread Leftovers
“Reid has been spanning the globe to find the best gifts for lawyers. Practical gifts, fun gifts, outrageous gifts, and more. Whether you are buying for your partners and associates, or are looking for ideas for your favorite lawyer, here are 10 recommendations that will please even the most discerning barrister.”
Meanwhile, the Servant Leadership Blog reminds us that Thanksgiving is not only about pumpkin pie, it’s also about reflection and introspection. Similarly, George M. Wallace of "a fool in the forest" is Still Thankful After All These Years.
Amazingly enough, Ernie is thankful for Hurricane Katrina.
Grand Rounds, affectionately known as "the Carnival of the Caregivers" and leading weekly medical blogosphere roundup, has some news. Medscape.com will be featuring each week's Grand Rounds host in a column to run on their site, called "Pre Rounds" (in the hospital, pre-rounding is what med students and interns do before formally rounding on patients...) The column will feature the best posts from each host, the story of their blog, some anecdotes, and a link to that week's edition of Grand Rounds. The "Pre Rounds" column (registration required -- there's the rub) is up and there's more on the Medscape collaboration here.
It is the beginning of seminar season planning and Jason Womack is on the case for us with an article entitled Seminar-ing for success.
“Attending a seminar differs from other kinds of learning, such as: group discussion, computer-based-trainings, or reading. Asking questions, listening carefully, imagining and visualizing yourself experimenting with the information back in the real world are great methods to enhance your learning experience. Here are several ways to maximize the time you spend in seminars.”
Dennis Crouch at Patently-O: Patent Law Blog, points to some of the patents and trademarks related to Thanksgiving Day that are recognized by the USPTO.
Diane Pfadenhauer, at Strategic HR Lawyer, wonders if anyone will be working on "Black Monday", the day after the Thanksgiving long weekend. Also, known as "Cyber Monday," it has become the biggest shopping day of the year - online.
If you aren’t shopping on Monday, here are a couple of online diversions for you to enjoy :: Evan Schaeffer's Legal Underground has links to "Lawyer, Lawyer" a well-done animated film by Kahye Hwang of the Vancouver Film School; Andrew Raff, at IPTAblog, has an interesting post about Fair Use, Films and the First Amendment; Ross Dannenberg, at Patent Arcade, has news about intellectual property sales in Entropia (an online game); John Lambert across the pond – writes about Branding for the Bar; Brandy Karl at bk! tackles the idea of a Blue Thanksgiving; A Fool in the Forest is Still Thankful After All These Years; and Patent Baristas explore “What's A Reasonable Royalty Rate?”
Ok – I threw in that last one just to see if you were still paying attention.
While I must confess a love of pumpkin pie, others in my family would rather sing the praises of Stove Top Stuffing – that is why we must say our respects to Ruth M. Siems, the first-named inventor on U.S. patent 3,870,803 and also one of the creators of Stove Top stuffing which was introduced in 1972. Thanks go to PatentHawk for bringing this to our culinary attention.
That’s All Folks! If anyone is interested, I am always “thankful” for home made pumpkin pies. Please send them to my work address – my wife would surely not approve.
Next week’s Blawg Review will be hosted by Colin Samuels over at the Infamy or Praise blog. According to Colin, Thanksgiving is the best of times and the worst of times… if you are a turkey, that is.
Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions on how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues. So head on over!