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February 27, 2007

Charon QC interviews Patten: keen advice and insights, if questionable taste in US bloggers.

Charon QC (Mike Semple Piggot) has interviewed fellow Brit lawyer-blogger Justin Patten of Human Law in a short but interesting podcast on the state of the legal blogosphere. In blogging, Justin notes, "less is more"--so be succinct. Don't miss it: a sane, to-the-point and articulate discussion between two very engaging lawyers in Charon's London studio. Justin discusses some of the better UK law sites--such as Binary Law and Geeklawyer--and is discerning enough to favorably flag Kevin O'Keefe and his Real Lawyers Have Blogs as an exemplary US blawg. After a few Riojas (presumably at Charon's insistence), Justin was also kind enough to mention WAC?

Posted by JD Hull at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2007

Atlantic Review: Black History Month In Germany?

Well, yes. In the past four days, the Atlantic Review, the press digest by German Fulbright alumni, has covered that story, the Oscars, and even "English Language Blogs about 'Nutty Germans'".

Posted by JD Hull at 12:32 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2007

American law, globally: fresh glances from a distance.

"The study of law is one of the great intellectual adventures of our time. True, there are many who mire it in the rote, the mundane and the simple-minded. Yet for those who look past the shallows, the depths of law offer excitement and wisdom. Those who learn these nuances gain a particular authority in modern culture. They become effective citizens in the modern state."

Permit me to be consistently serious for a few paragraphs:

Ever since I left a staff job with the US Congress in the 1980s, and reluctantly started to practice law, I've been challenged, stimulated and stretched. There have been times of being tired, frustrated, overworked and underappreciated--but no two days have ever been the same. Maybe I've been lucky, even a bit spoiled. I love what I do.

I bought and am reading American Law in a Global Context - The Basics, a 650 page volume by George Fletcher and Steve Sheppard (Oxford 2005), which is based on course materials at Columbia University's LLM program which (like other US law school post graduate regimes) offers a one-year course of study to non-US students who have already trained as lawyers in other nations. But this book may have charms and powers other than its first-rate "survey" value at good American law schools for non-US lawyers.

If you are an American lawyer who is (i) burned out from too much work, (ii) disillusioned with the quality of clients you serve, (iii) disturbed by the lack of imagination, lethargy or jaded nature of the lawyers you work with, or (iv) bored to tears or depressed by the cookie-cutter engagements you keep drawing, take heart--and please don't quit before the miracle occurs. Parts of American Law in a Global Context may very well make you appreciate your profession for an inspired moment or two. It's about the big picture--which some of us either missed or forgot along the way. The book may remind you that it's a privilege to work in the law. Or it may merely "remind" you to find something new--in or out of the law--to do for your life's work. It begins with the wonderful and defining passage above (at page vii).

Posted by JD Hull at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2007

Presidents Day Edition: Blawg Review #96

From Greenville, South Carolina, once known as the textile capital of the world, and where WAC? as a young Duke student and some classmates fell into serious disfavor one weekend with local saloonkeepers, South Carolina Appellate Law Blog is hosting BR #96. SCALB is the creature of Bill Watkins at Womble Carlyle, one of the American South's oldest and better known law firms.

Posted by JD Hull at 09:14 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2007

French blawgers: Dites-le en anglais, s'il vous plait.

Law is the ultimate backstage pass. There are more students in law schools than there are lawyers walking the Earth.

--John Milton/Satan/Al Pacino in the 1997 Taylor Hackford movie The Devil's Advocate (L’Associé du Diable)

Blawgs from or about France in English: you out there?

Posted by JD Hull at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2007

Dan Harris: "China: Where Even The Jews Are Fake", and....

I continue to be amazed by how prolific, honest and dead-on Dan Harris is over at China Law Blog (subtitled "China Law for Business")--and by how many comments his posts regularly generate. Genuinely client-centric, Dan has emerged as a major guide in the mine field of China: its business, law, politics and culture. See two recent posts which received a total of 64 comments: "China: Where Even The Jews Are Fake" and "So You Want To Be A China Lawyer?"

Posted by JD Hull at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2007

The Times on Charon QC

The Times, the UK's national newspaper since 1785, has done a succinct and glowing review of British blawger and pundit Charon QC. "Compelling" and "admirable", The Times says.

Well done, Mike. Riojas are on WAC?

Posted by JD Hull at 07:49 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2007

Golden Volver: "Few Firms Get the Point of Differentiation"

For more on law firm differentiation/branding in the post below, see this 2006 post by Michelle Golden at Golden Practices called "Few Firms Get the Point of Differentiation".

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Free Man in Paris

I'll spend seriously frivolous days there next month after stops in London, Kent, Munich and two towns in Austria. After one legitimate meeting at an old dude's club, there is zero for me to do for 3 days except hope my cell phone doesn't ring too much with questions about clean coal technology, the doctrine of repose and the holy surprises of Rules 30 and 45. Here is my 10 point plan for each day in Paris:

1. sleep late on Ile St Louis
2. run on Seine quay
3. drink coffee
4. eat bread/baguettes
5. smoke Marlboro Mediums
6. walk
7. pick up women my age or half my age (you must chose)
8. Hotel de Cluny, my favorite place on globe
9. dinner
10. repeat next day

Re: item 7, don't get the wrong idea, by God. Paris is a kinder, saner place, and has its advantages. Right Bank, Left Bank, train station or the bakery, it's perfectly okay in the City of Light to look admiringly at a woman's form, her legs, gait (that's "git-along", if you're from southern Missouri or Tennessee), sway and the subtle changes in the curve of her back as she moves along the avenues or over the ancient bridges. You can even stalk her a bit. You can do this whether or not she's with her boyfriend (amused and flattered, she will always smile anyway...). And you can do all this without having Anita Hill, Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio and the French version of N.O.W. camped out with a camera crew in front of your hotel the next morning. No PC, no paranoias about being caught red-handed at real life--just playfulness and pure fun.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2007

St Petersburg, Russia: Horse Country

It's Valentine's Day. And one of WAC?'s this year is the Empress of Russia, who ruled for 34 years. See this review in Salon on the new biography book about Russia's German-born empress: Catherine the Great: Love, Sex and Power, by Virginia Rounding. There is much more to this great woman, Catherine II of Russia (1729–1796), than the palace rumours circulated about her.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:52 AM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2007

Flintshire, North Wales: Sheep Heavan

"It was a frosty morning", and the sheep, they wur' sweet, on the Flintshire 'roods.

From a video report in the "North Wales Living" section of the Evening Leader, Chester edition. Wool hat tip to some Brit maniacs.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Paris weather report

From The Economist, here's "Heating Up", a summary of the assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in Paris on February 2nd.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Happy Birthday, Ms Bry, Renaissance woman.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:37 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2007

Redux: Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 16 : Ask WAC? about...Using The Media.

Trial lawyer Jack Carson (not his real name) from Shaker Heights, Ohio, writes in:

Dear WAC?: I'm 8 years out of school, I just made partner, and I try cases in federal courts. I know my evidence, and juries love me. But I'm new in town--in what you call a LawyerTown, not a ClientTown--and none of the lawyers in town outside of my firm, and none of the the judges, seem to "like" me yet. To the courts, I am "Mr. Carson"--or "what's-his-name"; the town's mainstay lawyers (who have, by the way, raised being obsequious to an art) are addressed as "Larry", "Moe" or "Racehorse". So my clients and I sometimes get shortchanged on the law and procedural matters--"townies" like Larry, Moe and Racehorse can win on some issues just by showing up. The law here seems to mean very little. Before arguments, I feel that my time would be better served picking out the right bow tie that day. What should I do? Respectfully yours, Shaker Jack

So we give Shaker Jack this somewhat cryptic, but useful, client-oriented response:

Dear Jack: LawyerTown Townies and their good 'ole boy cultures are in all but the largest US cities, and they are a big-ass problem. The law and clients become less important, and insecure judges often look to townies for cues. First, lose the bow ties for a few months. Second, stay in federal courts--and demand jury trials in all your actions. Third, just keep the client as the main event, and keep lawyering the right way. Finally, you should make journalists your friends. Start today. Generally speaking, be like Bob Strauss, the non-litigating Washington, DC lawyer legend. Make reporters, broadcasters and writers your friends before you need them. Journalists love to watchdog courts and other lawyers. Use the media sparingly and in the right way. And, hey, journalists are fun. You follow? Sincerely yours, WAC?

Posted by JD Hull at 12:59 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2007

Of Rioja, Drinking and Snow.

London's Charon QC (Mike Semple Piggot) is for Saturdays. Soon, I'll make a couple of trips to London--a good town for serious topers of all nationalities. These days, I let Mike and a few mainly English and Welsh friends do my drinking for me. But, when I did drink, I often ran amok in the snow. Here are two recent Charon posts: "Rioja is good for you", and "And it came to pass...the plague of snows...".

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Tom Kane: Stop Procrastinating - Fire Those Bad Clients


Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2007

An evolving new rejoinder to beefs about imperfect client service?

Re: chilling effect on complaints about mediocre, lame and/or bad lawyering or "Well, dang, we weren't that bad--so we'd like $1 million, dirtbags." See at Overlawyered "Chew out your lawyers, get sued for defamation". Apparently, in the NY state case, the qualified privilege--which the Manhattan trial court insisted was "absolute" instead (WAC? questions that, but it's a good result)--won the day. Still, whoa.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2007

Get off your knees: "Law Firm Pay Rates And The Domino Effect"

"We want to attract and retain excellent lawyers." Blank Rome, Philadelphia, USA

See the article at Law Fuel--The Law News Network re: starting associate salaries between $135,000 and $160,000. I'll give the NYC white shoe firms a pass on this; NYC is expensive, especially if one values the pleasures of the flesh it offers, so what the hell. And, folks, I get competition and place-holding for talent. But, dudes, you ever hear of the "value movement"--which my firm started a few years ago. We pay first-years well, very well, and anyone with the credentials, a work ethic, real class and a passion to learn things the right way can go to www.hullmcguire.com/recruit.htm and take a shot......but $135,000 for brilliant kids who are marginally productive for 3 years and will get way more from you than they will ever give back in those years? Get off your knees, be part of a solution, start acting like business people, and do yourselves, the associates, me and your clients a favor: cut it out. Your associates (and partners) think you guys are chumps. Stop it. They'll respect you more and still sign up if you promise to teach them how to be great lawyers.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:06 AM | Comments (1)

February 06, 2007

"Joe, me Mariko...me love you long time"

Not. Recently I met a well-known and beautiful Asian-American journalist on an airplane, tried to get her to talk to me like that--but she caught on, smiled patiently, wouldn't take the bait... Anyway, the point is that Mariko and Nigel and Hans and Vlad and Sasha "no love Joe" since the Spring of 2003--when the US invaded Iraq. And coincidentally when I started 3 months of travel in western Europe--from London and Ipswich to Prague and Budapest and several cities in between.

I started that year to learn suprising things about the nature of anti-Americanism: where it does and doesn't flourish in Europe floored me. E.g., our educated French cousins "like" and tolerate America way more these days than do our hand-wringing British kin. Brits think that, as a nation, we have gone and remain hopelessly insane. Over at the Berlin-based Atlantic Review, the press digest edited by 3 German Fulbright alums, see BBC: "World View of US Role Goes From Bad to Worse".

Posted by JD Hull at 09:27 PM | Comments (0)

February 05, 2007

Diane Levin's "Mediation Channel": Blawg Review #94

If you want to see both exemplary blawging and a great ad for blogging all around, see Diane Levin's "Mediation Channel" Blawg Review #94, collecting last week's best posts. A Boston lawyer and mediator, Diane Levin publishes Online Guide to Mediation. Diane's been a model for me and many others who blog/blawg and, like WAC?, she seeks to reach bloggers, lawyers and business people outside of the often-insular U.S. She's thoughtful, skillful, outspoken and (gulp) fun.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:23 PM | Comments (0)

Redux: Deming's 14 Points

W. Edwards Deming, who died in 1993, was a statistician and consultant credited with the rise of Japan as a manufacturing power, revitalizing the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement and creating interest in management systems of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In 1982, he published his 14 points so that American business could effectively compete in the new global marketplace. The 14 points can apply to a law firm delivering services as well as to a multi-national manufacturing company selling products world-wide. And they can certainly apply to the operations of a law firm's business clients:

1. Create constancy of purpose for the improvement of product and service with the aim to become competitive, stay in business, and provide jobs.

2. Adopt the new philosophy of cooperation (win-win) in which everybody wins. Put it into practice and teach it to employees, customers, and suppliers.

3. Cease dependence on mass inspection to achieve quality. Improve the process and build quality into the product in the first place.

4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag alone. Instead, minimize total cost in the long run. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.

5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production, service, planning, or any activity. This will improve quality and productivity and thus constantly decrease costs.

6. Institute training for skills.

7. Adopt and institute leadership for the management of people, recognizing their different abilities, capabilities, and aspiration. The aim of leadership should be to help people, machines, and gadgets do a better job. Leadership of management is in need of overhaul, as well as leadership of production workers.

8. Drive out fear and build trust so that everyone can work effectively.

9. Break down barriers between departments. Abolish competition and build a win-win system of cooperation within the organization. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team to foresee problems of production and in use that might be encountered with the product or service.

10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets asking for zero defects or new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.

11. Eliminate numerical goals, numerical quotas and management by objectives. Substitute leadership.

12. Remove barriers that rob people of joy in their work. This will mean abolishing the annual rating or merit system that ranks people and creates competition and conflict.

13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

Luntz's Words That Work: Orwellian, Machiavellian or just a tool?

It's likely all three and I am going to buy it. It appears to be a book for anyone who pitches and persuades. Republican consultant and pollster Frank Luntz has written Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear, which is already controversial (see here, here , here, and here) on the power of words. But it's not a "Republican" book. Luntz advises politicians on the language they should use to win elections and promote their policies. Luntz is all over the media--and there's no stopping him. So far the book sounds worthwhile--even when the detractors sound off.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2007

"Get lean, get talented and hunt BigClients".

Let's review, shall we?

Get off your knees. Stop bottom-feeding. Be a man, or woman.

But be somebody. Now, and in the future, law firm size may matter--but only if at your core you are smaller, agile, muscular and can do most (90%) of the work traditionally done by large law firms (250-3000+ lawyers). And smaller (up to 150) firms, for most GCs on most projects, will be (a) preferred and (b) cool. Bigger firms, for most GCs on most projects, will be (a) suspect and (b) not cool.

So below, per our "usual rant", as the mysterious anonymous all-powerful Editor of Blawg Review once termed it, are 9 WAC? (nine, count 'em) posts over the past few months on why and how you can have BigClients in boutiques or clusters of boutiques(5-150) setting if you have the talent, a true client service culture and the discipline to keep it:

In Praise of Structure (10/30/06)

Real Elitism: Toward Building A Client-Centric Culture (6/10/06)

The 7 Habits of Highly Useless Corporate Lawyers (6/27/06)

SRO: "Stealing and Keeping BigLaw Clients" (7/28/06)

"Give Me Your Tired, Your Rich Abused Fortune 500

Do BigClients need BigLaw more than 10% of the time? (9/22/06)

Work-life balance is a dumb-ass issue. (10/20/06)

GCs: Do you really want Big, Clumsy & Unresponsive in 50 cities worldwide? (10/21/06)

And: "Clientwork": The 12 Rules Of Client Service (4/3/06)

Posted by JD Hull at 06:59 PM | Comments (0)

NYC, Venice and Sargent's Venice

John Singer Sargent's (1856-1925) "Venice", which Sargent loved and painted passionately, is still at the Adelson Galleries on 19 East 82nd Street. "Sargent's Venice" stays until March 3. If you are going to Italy this year, the exhibition will be at Museo Correr, in St. Mark's Square in Venice, March 24 through July 22, 2007.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

46 nations support France’s appeal for a new global EPA

The French do have a long history of embracing correct, civilized and humanitarian ideas. From the Associated Press, see Climate Report Builds Support for World Body. Chirac: "a borderless world".

Posted by JD Hull at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

February 03, 2007

"Do You Run a Belief Tank?"

Well, do you? From Chuck Newton's Spare Room Tycoon, see this one and think about the Kool-Aid you bottle and sell to yourself, your employees and your clients. Bravo. I'd love to see Chuck expand on this one. The question, put in WAC?'s more pedestrian way, is: are we really thinking through the solutions we offer to our clients? Or just "mailing it in"--like the unhappy and unimaginative mechanics so many of us have become? Can we make it habit to regularly challenge our assumptions, our procedures, our ways of doing business?

Do we ask: "Are we sure that really works?"

Posted by JD Hull at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)

Reuters: "Chewbacca arrested for head-butting in California"

WAC? loves both journalists and the Japanese--but prefers this headline: "Preez, to take picture [crick, crick] of American movie star, Chewie":

LOS ANGELES - A Chewbacca impersonator was arrested after being accused of head-butting a Hollywood tour guide who warned the furry brown Wookiee about harassing two Japanese tourists, police said Saturday.

“Nobody tells this Wookiee what to do,” “Chewie” from the “Star Wars” movies said before slamming his head into the guide’s forehead, the Los Angeles Times newspaper reported.

Our careers--clients, lawyers, writers, politicians, Wookiees--have ups and own. But Chewie, say it ain't so.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2007

...and up to Hell's Kitchen.

So I go to NYC and have two meetings in Midtown Manhattan--and then I have an attack of dreaded W-L balance, which is for slackers and people under 35. I lie down in my hotel for a while, hoping the feeling will go away. It doesn't. So I escape The Business of Law, take a cab to America's First Hood and, as James would say, "do the walk" in Hell's Kitchen:

Near Times Square, but still worlds away, Hell's Kitchen was for 150 years an uneasy mix of poor and working class Irish along with Everyone Else. It got yuppie-fied 15 years ago but still has the strong feel of the "old neighborhood". It's on the west side of Midtown: 34th Street to 57th Street, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River. Like the equally notorious but now cemented-over and gone Five Points to the south, another Irish Hood with a gritty past, HK means poverty and crime to most of us--or maybe we remember "West Side Story". True, Mafia enforcer Mad Dog Coll was from Hell's Kitchen and killed here in the 1920s and 30s like hundreds of other mobsters for generations. (Remember the brutal "Westies" of just 30 years ago?) But Robert De Niro and Alicia Keys grew up here, too. The Actors' Studio is on West 44th Street. For years, the Studio and cheap housing had drawn actors to HK.

Posted by JD Hull at 01:20 AM | Comments (0)