Basketball, Law Schools, Sports

1Ls at Northern Kentucky Law Are Not Very Professional

We don’t do a lot of reporting on the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. But when an 1L community gets smacked down by one of their own deans for following the best NCAA opening weekend ever, one can’t help but take note.

The set up is simple, as this tipster explains:

This “professionalism” lecture, a mandatory event for 1L’s, consisted of a very conservative attorney/judge/sheriff from Cincinnati talking about the need to return prayer and spanking to schools, and a very liberal ACLU attorney stressing the importance of pro bono representation of child molesters. Event titled “Lawyers: Agents of change, or Preservers of the status quo?” And yes, the entire class of 1L’s were playing on their iPhones during the entire event, following March Madness.

A mandatory “professionalism” lecture during the first night of the NCAA tournament? Isn’t this precisely why God invented the iPhone?

Sadly, Associate Dean Lawrence Rosenthal didn’t seem to enjoy living in our modern age …

Apparently, NKU Law students didn’t meet their dean’s standard of professionalism:

Dear First-year Students:

It was good to see all of you at last night’s professionalism program. After reading many of the comment sheets, it seems that most of you enjoyed it. This, of course, I was happy to learn.

I was not, however, particularly pleased with some of the behavior I witnessed last night. Most students were paying attention to what our speakers were saying, and I commend those students for behaving in an appropriate, professional manner. However, I noticed several students, both men and women, watching the NCAA tournament on their laptops; constantly looking down at their iPhones or other electronic devices; and texting messages to fellow classmates or to people not at the presentation.

While I understand that people are interested in the NCAA basketball tournament, and that they might not have agreed with the viewpoints expressed by the speakers, this conduct was patently rude and inexcusable. The ironic thing about this situation is that these presentations were supposed to teach students about “professionalism,” and I could not think of any behavior less professional than what I saw last night. Would you act this way in front of a judge? Would you act this way in front of a client? I can only hope the answer is “no.”

We all have things we would rather be doing at certain times (for example, I would rather be watching the Union / St. Lawrence hockey game tonight than teaching a make-up class), but as a professional, I know that my responsibilities as a faculty member and administrator come before my desire to watch the game. I know that when my class is over, I will be able to find out who won. Similarly, all of you would have been able to see the results of the basketball games after the 1.25-hour presentation last night. I don’t think there would have been any significant consequences had you actually listened to the entire presentation rather than focus on your iPhones, your laptops, and your other electronic devices.

Thankfully, I do not think that the speakers were able to see what was going on in the audience. That does not, however, make rude behavior any less unprofessional. I can only hope that as you progress throughout your law school careers, you will learn what “professionalism” truly means.

Lawrence D. Rosenthal

Associate Dean for Academics

NKU – Chase College of Law

I’ve got a few points:

* People aren’t “interested” in the NCAA Tournament. Some people are obsessed.
* The Union/St. Lawrence hockey game? I don’t even have a joke here. How can you compare upstate New York hockey to the NCAA tournament – to a bunch of students in Kentucky, no less?
* Would you schedule a court hearing on the Thursday night of the NCAA tournament? Would your clients care what you had on your television while you were working on their matter? I can only hope the answer is “no.”
* If you can’t think of anything less professional than checking sports scores on an iPhone, you have the most boring imagination in the world.
* Sorry, I had to Google this: Union defeated their Eastern College Athletic Conference rivals St. Lawrence 3 – 1 Friday night to reach the ECAC hockey finals. But they lost on Saturday night to Cornell. Yeah, it’s been that kind of weekend for Cornell athletics.

Look, we go through this every year: some people think that the tournament is just not very important. But if you ask for people’s attention during the tournament — or the Super Bowl, or the World Series, or any number of other major sporting events — then you’d better have something really interesting to say. Because we live in a world where getting a person’s undivided attention is pretty hard.

Maybe instead of a class on professionalism, NKU you should do a lecture series on “multitasking.” They can start by teaching their associate deans how it’s done.

(hidden for your protection)

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