Thursday, October 19, 2017

Law and Leadership: These Boots were Made for Walking Not Resume Writing ;-)

Almanac: Donald E. Westlake on ideas vs. plans
“He had a whole lot of ideas, but a whole lot of ideas isn’t a plan. A plan is a bunch of details that mesh with one another, so you go from this step to ... read more

The man who can tear shreds off political opponents and questioning journalists, says he wants a kinder capitalism.
"Far too many New Zealanders have come to view today's capitalism not as their friend but as their foe, and they are not all wrong," he said.
"Capitalism must resume a human face."

LETTERS: If it's billionaire vs. billionaire, I'm sitting election out ...

Strobe Talbott, The New York Times, October 18, 2017: “A hundred years ago, a malignant form of governance, both modern and barbaric, slouched towards St. Petersburg to be born. As it grew, it swept across Eurasia, enveloping the largest territorial state on the planet and cloning itself elsewhere. As the decades passed, the monstrosity was given a name: totalitarianism. Its original Russian manifestation had two German connections. One was historical and ideological: Russian revolutionaries claimed to be the founders of the promised land prophesied by Karl Marx, a 19th-century Prussian-born philosopher. The other was contemporaneous and geopolitical: In a vain effort to win World War I, Emperor Wilhelm II’s high command helped Russian Marxists seize power and make peace with Berlin. Looming in the future was Germany’s own experience with totalitarianism: the emergence in the early 1930s of a predatory police state that initiated the Holocaust and a world war, more cataclysmic than the first. While the blame for this carnage can be parceled out to myriad murderers, psychopaths, toadies, cowards and, of course, those who were “just following orders,” the twin evils were, ultimately, the work of two individuals: Stalin and Hitler. They are exemplars of a villainous version of Thomas Carlyle’s Great Man Theory

Robert W. Gordon, The Return of the Lawyer-Statesman?, 69 Stanford L. Rev. 1731 (2017).
Reading Robert W. Gordon’s Essay The Return of the Lawyer-Statesman?on Ben W. Heineman Jr.’s book, The Inside Counsel Revolution(an introduction and link to the book can be found here) reminded me of three virtues. One is of the review essay, the ability to luxuriate in another’s work and allow it to be seen through one’s own ideas. This is something I confess I have never attempted, fearing the reflex to critique or the urge to self-publicize would surface too strongly. The second is of the need to return to familiar but central ideas. Gordon has written on the themes in this essay many times before (see for example, Corporate Law Practice as a Public Calling and A New Role for Lawyers: The Corporate Counselor after Enron). His arguments are the more elegant for it and, importantly, our reading of Heineman is more rewarding too. But the third is the one that struck me most forcefully, which is the wisdom to be gained from well-told legal history.
The central virtue of Gordon’s essay is the historical contextualization of Heineman’ book. Gordon gives us a taut, rich, and informative narrative on the importance of political context. In seeking to answer whether General Counsel can be both [business] partner and [public] guardian as Heineman puts it, we are reminded how we have been here before: the tensions in the General Counsel role—and their currently high status in corporate affairs – are not peculiarly modern. Most importantly we also see how lawyers’ ethics are shaped by far larger forces than law schools and bar associations. So the influence of inter-war industrial relations, Reagonomics, the politics of corporate leaders, and latter day skepticism of the corporation post-financial crash may all play a role. Continue reading "Against Babbitry: What Legal History and Practical Leadership can Tell us about Lawyers’ Ethics"
Return Receipt 2
Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate (as if you did not know), had a great blog last weekdescribing a really cool study her office conducted on how to improve taxpayer compliance with the Earned Income Tax Credit (ETIC ... again, as if you did not know).

The basic idea was to see if a simple letter mailed to taxpayers who had demonstrated some identifiable error in their 2014 EITC claims would result in them making fewer errors in their 2015 EITC claims. Not only that, but the study compared that group to a control group of similar taxpayers who made similar errors but who were not sent a letter explaining where they went wrong.

20 of America’s top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They’re scared. Vox

Former Goldman Sachs banker announced as new ASIC boss

Mayo 3Kevin O’Keefe (CEO & Founder,LexBlog), Law Schools Need To Introduce Social Learning:

Little question that some law school students are using social media and blogging to build a name for themselves. ... But how many law students are blogging and using social media for learning? How many law professors and law schools are promoting its use for learning?

Sadly, not many — and that’s a loss for the students, as well possible malfeasance on a law school’s part for failing to do so.

ZDNet’s Dion Hinchcliffe recently reported that though technology has long been used to improve how we learn, today’s digital advances, particularly with social media, have taken learning in a powerful new direction:

[The digitization of learning] allows learning — for better or worse, depending on the critic — to be far more situational, on-demand, self-directed, infinitely customized, even outright enjoyable, depending on the user experience, all of which leads to more profound engagement of learners.

In addition, the rise of social networking technology has allowed people with similar learning interests to come together as a group to share knowledge on a subject — and perhaps even more significantly — to express their passion for an area of learning. This can create deeper, more intense, and more immersive educational experiences within a community of like-minded learners. ...

“Social learning” is more than theory, the use of digital platforms and social networks to bring together communities has proven to work. ... Hinchcliffe suggests organizations lay a foundation for social learning. In the case of law schools, a foundation means creating a positive environment for social media and blogging.

Stanford 2
Symposium, Raising the Bar: Lawyers and Leadership, 69 Stan. L. Rev. 1593-1853 (2017):