Wednesday, April 12, 2017
"He probably listened to lawyers too much."
I apologize for this in advance, but as much as everybody, from the late-night monologues to the left-hand editorial column of the Wall Street Journal, is getting a nice piece of United Airlines right now (I like the clip from Airplane! used as a training film), I'd like to slip in a plug.
Oscar Munoz, United's CEO, has now done what he should have done straight, which is grovel publicly, but not until a full day after issuing what the Journal (see above) called a candidate for the Euphemism Hall of Fame ("re-accommodating," a word I believe is only properly used when the Ritz-Carlton puts you in Suite 304 rather than Suite 302).
It happens that, just yesterday, I was a guest professor in our business school's capstone class for the accounting degree, there to participate in a discussion about how chief lawyer officers and chief financial officers do and ought to interact, particularly in the management suite of a public corporation. One of the topics for the CFO-hopefuls was "how do you know if you are getting good legal advice?"
As if on cue, the Wall Street Journal reported this morning as follows:
Mr. Munoz "bent over too far to support his employees," said a person close to the discussions this week among United executives. "I think he got bad advice. He probably listened to lawyers too much."
Oy. Whether the reported statement is true (and we could unpack those seven words for some time), the situation and the sentiment are at the heart of Beyond Legal Reasoning: A Critique of Pure Lawyering.