Monday, January 17, 2011
That's the topic discussed in this very interesting post from the blog Attorney at Work. What if, for example, your Google search of a job candidate turned up that she won a wet t-shirt contest in college? Would it disqualify her in your estimation? Our students will confront these scenarios with increasing frequency in the years ahead as background Google searches become the norm (if they aren't already). Here's how the authors of AAW worked through the issues:
- Did the found information matter? Was it relevant to the job?
- Would clients actually care, if they ever learned about it?
- Was the behavior representative of poor judgment? Or was it just the posting of the information and photos that was reckless? And could we really hold them responsible since it was posted by someone other than themselves?
- Since there was now no way to “unknow” this information, would it result in a hostile work environment? Could we, indeed, work with “someone like that”?
- Were we being hypocritical? Did we really believe that no one already in the firm was currently living (and posting) similar experiences?
The bottom line seems to be that while some employers will reject a job candidate who's done some unconventional things in their past other employers will view it as an attribute. Be yourself, live life - but don't do anything too wacky (and if you do, don't post it online).
You can read the rest here.
If you are looking for solid, practical and thoughtful commentary and suggestions on law practice management issues, you can't go wrong starting at Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog.
Jim's post today, The Dark Side of Technology, is a great example.
Jim considers some of the issues raised by information overload and being "always connected." He points you to some excellent resources, highly recommends a CNBC show called "Crackberry'd" and offers some sage advice of his own.
The money quote from Jim:
I encourage all lawyers to think about how much time they allow themselves to deeply focus on the work. It seems like a good time management tool to check e-mail while waiting for a dentist appointment. But I have concluded that the same thing is not a good idea when waiting to take a deposition. Then you need to be focusing on the task ahead and not run the risk of being distracted by an e-mail on an entirely different matter.
Finding an approriate balance between time for focus and reflection and time for availability and being connected is quickly becoming one of the most important skills everyone in law must learn.
Law schools don’t do much to give students skills in dealing with people in the office. Yet, it is so easy for inexperienced young people to make missteps without even knowing it. Here is a 16 minute video from the Harvard Business Review online that offers some very hard nosed advice about building constructive relationships and dealing with difficult situations in the work environment.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Law prof recycles old exam questions on mistaken belief they were no longer accessible to students searching the web
Above the Law is reporting on a Penn Law prof who found himself in an embarrassing situation when his students discovered that some multiple choice questions on the final exam had been recycled from a course he taught at another school. Bravo to a group of students who were forthright enough to alert a dean about the recycled questions. Here's the law prof's email to students after the snafu was discovered:
Last Monday’s Corporations examination utilized a set of multiple choice questions that I had used previously at Georgetown. I reused the questions in reliance on an understanding I had with the authorities there pursuant to which multiple choice questions from my exams would no longer be posted absent my express permission. It now turns out that, unbeknownst to me, the questions were posted on the Georgetown Law website.
It has come to my attention that the some but not all students who took the exam had access to copies of the questions. Indeed, a group of five students notified Dean Clinton that they had copies of the questions within minutes of the conclusion of the exam. It is clear that other students also saw the questions.
And here's how the prof in question is handling it:
We are left with a problem concerning the results of the exam. I have discussed the matter with Deans Fitts and Clinton.
We have agreed on the following protocol:
A) The results of Monday’s test will be graded based only on the essay question. Each of you will receive an email in the middle the next week that reports this grade to you.
B) Once you receive this report of your grade, you will have three choices as to how to proceed: 1) Accept that grade as your grade in the course; 2) Take the grade of Pass for the course; or 3) Take a retest to be administered on Friday afternoon, January 14, 2011.
C) If you choose to take the retest, your grade for the course will be the higher of your grade on the retest and your grade on the original test. The retest will follow exactly the same format as the original test—one-third multiple choice; two-thirds essay; time of three and one-half hours.
The registrar’s office will be processing your choices.
The protocol does not get us back to Square One, because that just cannot be done. But I hope you find it a reasonable and fair way to proceed under the circumstances.
You can read the rest here.
Yet another reason to be careful about what you post on your Facebook page. From our sister publication the Adjunct Law Prof Blog:
Can employers get access to your Face Book account? Increasingly, the answer may be yes. In a New York case, where the plaintiffs physical condition was at issue, a lower court judge ordered that a defendant be granted access, Romano v. Steelcase, Inc., ___Misc.3d____(Suffolk Co. 2010) [subscription required]. See also, Law.com discussion. There are also some cases granting disclosure of Face Book accounts in the context of attorney disciplinary proceedings as discussed in Legal Prof Blog.
Moral of the story. Beware what you post on the internet. It can come back to haunt you.
One of the most controversial topics today is how law schools should assess what they do. The American Bar Association is planning to require law schools to assess themselves or risk problems with accreditation. Unfortunately, the ABA has not given much guidance on how to proceed with the task.
At the January AALS meeting, the most profitable session for me was sponsored by the Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research Section: “How Legal Writing Faculty Can Contribute to Their Law School’s Assessment Plan.” Leading the discussion were David Thomson (Denver); Sophie Sparrow (New Hampshire), and Lori Shaw (Dayton). As a continuing contribution, they have created a valuable web page packed with links to many resources. They invite readers to contribute further resources to the web page. If your school is trying to figure out the assessment puzzle—and I am sure it is—this is worth your time.