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More Ways to Happiness in the Workplace
Most law firms don't have a chief happiness officer, but as Arnie Herz points out in this recent post, you can still benefit from a CHO's advice at the Chief Happiness Officer blog. Herz points us to CHO Alexander Kjerulf's recent post on why, more than any other incentive, happiness is the "ultimate productivity booster." Here are the reasons:
Herz also points out that there's scientific backing for these conclusions. Referencing blogger Kathy Sierra, he writes:
Too Bad This Bill Wasn't an April Fools' Joke
Two thousand-dollar dinners, a four thousand-dollar-plus bill for cell phone roaming charges -- all buried in a 112-page invoice for over $600,000 in legal fees. Sounds like some kind of an April Fools' joke about greedy lawyers, but it's not. To the contrary, as this TMZ article reports, those charges appeared on California attorney Debra Opri's invoice for services provided in connection with her former client Larry Birkhead's efforts to gain custody of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter, whom he claims to have fathered. [Hat tip to Crime and Federalism for the article].
Opri's bill serves as a template for what lawyers shouldn't do when invoicing clients. The bill includes multiple, extravagently priced meals that Opri shared with other lawyers, where Birkhead wasn't even present. And while presumably, Opri and her colleagues at least talked about Birkhead's case at these meetings, most clients will wonder how much business is really discussed in the course of a fancy dinner.
In other cases, Opri's bills reflect poor inefficient business choices that clients are unlikely to continue to subsidize. For example, Opri billed for $4,000 in roaming charges for time spent in the Bahamas. Surely, in this competitive market, less expensive cell plans were available. And what about VoIP options or Internet as a more cost-efficient means of communicating? In an era where investment in technology can substantially reduce costs, will sophisticated clients remain willing to pay for costs like messenger service (where e-mail or e-fax is available), roaming charges and voluminous paper copies?
Opri also billed for less extravagant meals as well as laundry. From my own perspective, I've often wondered about the propriety of charging every meal on travel. After all, unless you work at a place that pays for all of your meals, you still pay to eat even when you're not on travel. So why should clients pick up the cost of every food item simply because you're away on business?
Back in mid-March, when Birkhead and Opri first parted ways, Opri explained that the relationship ended because Birkhead had developed a friendship with Howard Stern and was negotiating a settlement to the custody issues. She explained:
After seeing the size of Opri's bill, however, I now wonder whether she was interested in protecting Birkhead's interest or her own cash cow.
Do 'U.S. News & World Report' Rankings Pressure Law Schools to Ignore the Solo Option?
Predictably, the recent announcement of the U.S. News and World Report's law school rankings has generated observations about some of the factors underlying the rankings, from bar passage rates and faculty scholarship to whether the rankings are at all meaningful. But Susan Cartier Liebel has a different take entirely. In this provocative post, Cartier Liebel contends that the myopic focus on rankings deters law schools from offering meaningful training or support to lawyers who seek to start their own law firms, either directly out of law school or shortly thereafter.
Commenting on the recent National Law Journal article entitled When Hanging a Shingle, Solos are Reluctantly Solo (full text available in Cartier Liebel's post), Cartier Liebel writes:
In Cartier Liebel's view, limiting students' options in the name of retaining rankings, is wrong, and she advocates immediate change:
Readers, what's your opinion on this topic? Are law school rankings responsible for the paucity of law school curriculum offerings and counseling services that would help lawyers start law firms straight out of school? And do we need to change the system in response?
Blawg Review #102
Blawg Review is celebrating April Fools' Day in a big way, with an announcement of a name change to the Law Blog Review, a partial sighting of Ed. and a specialApril Fools' Day Blawg Review prequel, fittingly sponsored by a Fool in the Forest, George Wallace. And, no fooling, that's all just a big lead up to the actual Blawg Review #102, hosted by Wallace at his alter ego, Declarations and Exclusions blog.
Take some time to meander through both the prequel and BlawgReview #102, and you'll find that they're also thematic of April: They shower readers with links to what's fresh around the blogosphere.
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