Pro Bono and Community Service

Sonja Lyubomirsky, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, admits being surprised by the results of the research she conducted on how to permanently increase happiness, funded by a 5-year million-dollar grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.  She conducted a meta-analysis (a "study of studies"), along with Ed Diener and Laura King, two

At a time of some idling in the legal industry, a good use of lawyer time may be to spiff up the old pro bono program.  Davis Polk & Wardwell recently announced the addition of Ronnie Abrams, former Manhattan US Attorney’s Office prosecutor and daughter of renowned First Amendment litigator Floyd Abrams, as its first

Shedding additional light on earlier explorations in this forum of the subject of happiness is a new book written by Arthur Brooks that distills mountains of data on the subject.  For one thing, politics and happiness turn out to be clearly correlated.  But the correlation may not be what you think.

For starters, conservatives are happier than liberals. 

Washington and Lee University School of Law has announced a plan to replace all third-year academic classes with hands-on "experiential" learning.  Recently approved unanimously by faculty, the new curriculum will be phased in over 3-4 years and teach practical skills by using simulations and real-client interactions.  It will also emphasize non-traditional topics like attorney-client communication, working

On Thursday, September 21, at 2:00 pm EST, Ronda Muir will lead an audio conference on Associate Compensation: Where Do We Go From Here?  Included in the discussion will be a review of current trends and out-of-the-box ideas for dealing with the impact of escalating associate compensation, how to find the best strategy for

Burnishing an image that is bankable is what every professional tries to do–both for him/herself individually and for the profession as well.  Doctors take bed-side manners lessons, the NYPD are being instructed on common courtesies.  What about lawyers?  What do they do to bring out the gold?

From the looks of things, not much.

A Harris

Ronda Muir, Senior Consultant, led a two and a half day retreat at the end of May for UNICEF’s 22-person Armenia office to help them better serve the country’s children.  She was engaged to improve teamwork, communication and conflict resolution and to assist in the office’s preparation for upcoming reviews and its transitioning to potential structural and policy changes. 

Should lawyers “do the right thing” in addition to “being right”?  A favorite cartoon depicts two lawyers at a desk evidently discussing strategy. One lawyer says to the other: “Is it right?… Is it fair?  Get a grip, Carlton—we’re a law firm!”

Integrity

In an interesting study issued recently, the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence found that financial advisors who demonstrated high levels of “moral and emotional competency” nearly doubled the S&P 500 return on their client portfolios in the years 2001 through 2004, delivering an average return of 25%. 

Of the various attributes studied, integrity had the single strongest impact on client returns. “Results showed that Integrity was the key behavioral competency which predicted the most positive returns for clients." 

Integrity was defined as acting consistently with what one says is important, in other words “walking the talk.”  An example was an advisor willing to give up a lucrative client rather than compromise his/her principles, such as ultimately recommending that a client seek advice from another advisor because the advisor could not in good conscience implement a plan believed to put the client at significant financial risk.

Ethics

In the process of updating his 1996 book The Honest Hour: The Ethics of Time-Based Billing by Attorneys, William George Ross determined that lawyers in 2007 are significantly more likely than a decade ago to pad their bills with unnecessary hours or bill two clients for the same time. Almost 55% (up from 40%) of associates and partners surveyed report performing unnecessary work, and 35% (up from 23%) say they bill two clients for the same time. The number of lawyers who believe double billing is ethical also rose from 35% in 1996 to 48%, and more than two-thirds of lawyers say they have specific knowledge of bill-padding by others.   

Morals

In a May 2, 2007 Law.com article entitled “From Moral Partners to a Moral Firm”, Gregory S. Gallopoulos, the managing partner of Jenner & Block, suggests that the integrated enterprise model that many successful law firms are adopting now, in which strategy and vision belong to the entity as a whole rather than to individual partners, risks producing a vacuum in the area of firm morals. 

“Under the entity model, as individual attorneys cede decision-making authority to the firm, including authority for decisions regarding professional responsibility and ethical behavior, they tend to renounce (at least implicitly) personal responsibility for moral decision making. Law firms as entities, however, have no inherent mechanism for replacing personal moral responsibility with institutional moral responsibility. In consequence, morality can fall through the cracks, allowing corruption to ooze into the enterprise.“


Continue Reading What’s Morals Got To Do With It?

Ronda Muir, Senior Consultant, has been asked by UNICEF’s Armenia office to lead a two and a half day retreat at the end of May to help improve teamwork, communication and conflict resolution. Through the use of individual and team MBTI reports and emotional intelligence assessments, Muir will help the team identify personal and office strengths and challenges

Ronda Muir, Esq., Senior Consultant at Robin Rolfe Resources, was featured as a speaker at a conference on Risk Management for the Modern Law Firm, sponsored by ARK Group. The conference was held in Chicago on April 17 and 18, 2007. 

Muir’s presentation was on the risks that arise in managing a law firm’s greatest asset: its people. She