Sports

Is there a Tiger Woods at your firm?

Tiger Woods is back on the green stroking it into the hole, his face no longer in the rough, for the first day of the Masters.

Beyond a flyover involving a terrible pun and controversy over Nike’s resurrection of Woods’ dead father’s voice, the first day was a smooth one. Tiger the Superstar is back.

Last weekend, Jonah Lehrer wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal about “The Superstar Effect,” suggesting that Tiger will make other golfers play worse just by showing up:

According to a paper by Jennifer Brown, an applied macroeconomist at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Mr. Woods is such a dominating golfer that his presence in a tournament can make everyone else play significantly worse. Because his competitors expect him to win, they end up losing; success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ms. Brown argues that the superstar effect is not just relevant on the golf course. Instead, she suggests that the presence of superstars can be “de-motivating” in a wide variety of competitions, from the sales office to the law firm.

Brown analyzed PGA Tour data from 1999 through 2006, and discovered that Woods’s presence in a tournament resulted in other golfers taking more strokes. Brown suggests that in situations where success is based on relative performance, a known superstar causes everyone else to give up and step down their game.

We thought that superstars made mediocre associates swing with malice aforethought. But Brown suggests that the “up and out model” at law firms results in great performance from the Tigers bound for partnership, and halfhearted efforts by the rest of the associates who know they’re on their way out…

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The Major League Baseball Season started last night and gets underway in earnest today. Football might be the biggest sport on the American landscape, but baseball is still America’s pastime. It’s a favorite of lawyers and judges — and according to a recent poll, baseball is the sport that draws a nearly equal percentage of liberal and conservative fans.

If you’ve actually been to a baseball game in the past decade, you know that the experience is ridiculously expensive. My first baseball game cost my dad $55 all-in (Mets/Padres, 1987, Straw hit one out). My last game cost my wife and I upwards of $200 — and we saw the pitiful Nationals in bad seats.

Duke law professor Richard Schmalbeck and Rutgers business professor Jay Soled think they know why the price of attending a baseball game has skyrocketed. They blame the tax code and the money generated from corporate ticket buyers. Have you ever gone to a game on your firm’s dime? If so, you are part of the problem …

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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 … double red triangle arrows Continue reading “1Ls at Northern Kentucky Law Are Not Very Professional”

Washington Law logo.JPGWe’ve seen judges grant continuances to lawyers who wanted to go to the BCS Championship game and the SuperBowl. So we know that the legal community takes notice of important sporting events.
One student at the University of Washington School of Law feels that exams shouldn’t get in the way of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament. UW is in the tourney this year — getting a bid out of the dreadful PAC-10. And the student just wanted to participate in the fun. One of his finals conflicted with the tournament, and he sent a very polite note to the registrar asking to reschedule. Deadspin reprints his email:

The first weekend of the NCAA Division 1 basketball tournament occurs on March 18-21 this year. This is, by far, my favorite weekend of the year, specifically Thursday and Friday, in which the first round takes place. I am not a member of any church and have no children, so I consider this my “holiday,” the most important day of the year. For the past several years, a couple of friends of mine, who are in similar position in life, and I have spent the weekend enjoying this “holiday” in Reno, NV. It is a central location for the gathering and meeting there for this weekend has become a tradition that has become very important and dear to me.
I understand that this is not a typical request, but I’d like to move my Compensation and Benefits final to the following Monday (3/22) or earlier in finals week. This is so important to me that I wouldn’t even mind it if it were rescheduled during a day that I already have a final.
Please give my request ample consideration. I appreciate your time.
Reschedule class: Fri. March 19 – 6:00 PM T521B Comp & Benefits (Thorson)
Requested date: Wednesday, March 17
Requested time: 1:00 PM

The humorless registrar was unmoved….

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Maryland Terrapins logo.jpgAs Scott Van Pelt is fond of saying: “fear the turtle.”
We all know that University of Maryland basketball fans are a strange bunch. Some might call them the red-headed stepchildren of the ACC. I prefer to think of them as a litmus test for how strong Duke and UNC are in a given year. If you can beat the bag out of the Terrapins, you’ve got Sweet 16 talent. If not, it’s upset city, my friends. Maryland’s often in contention, but rarely pulls it out.
Of course, occasionally slow and steady does actually win the race. The team won a National Championship in 2002, beating the last relevant Indiana team in the finals. It’s the kind of thing Maryland fans live for, and with the team being second in the ACC this year, Terps fans are losing their minds. Even Terps fans currently in law school. One such law student fanatic is desperately trying to get tickets to tonight’s headline Maryland-Duke match-up. From Craigslist:

trade of services for md-duke ticket(s) – $1 (college park, md)
I am a Terp fanatic, but as a law student I am in the unfortunate position of not being able to afford tickets to Wednesday night’s game against duke. In exchange for tickets, I am willing to sign a contract that will guarantee a TBD number of billable hours of attorney services fully redeemable upon my passing of the Maryland bar.

The poster is a 1L at the University of Baltimore Law School, so this may just be a clever attempt to get somebody to give him some work.
An UPDATE after the jump.

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Thumbnail image for Cooley law school logo.jpgOkay, the legal economy is in the tank. Recent law graduates are having a tough time finding jobs. Graduates from lower tier law schools are getting squeezed as top tier law students and deferred associates compete for jobs and opportunities. You get the picture.
Now enter Thomas M. Cooley Law School. The school that’s ranked 12th by Thomas M. Cooley Law School and is considered fourth tier by everyone else. With over 3,500 full- and part-time students, Cooley gives new meaning to the term “diploma mill.” Despite the terrible economy the school is expanding, ensuring that even more law students will know what it feels like to pay off post graduate educational debts with extra shifts at McDonalds.
What is Cooley Law School doing to improve the lot of the students suckered into a 4th tier law school? It’s buying the naming rights to a minor league baseball stadium. I’m not joking. Cooley is taking the tuition dollars of its students and buying naming rights. Naming rights. I guess replacing all the desks and lecterns with steaming piles of dung was just a little bit too expensive for the bigwigs at Cooley. Buying naming rights gets the same message across to students.
More details on Thomas M. Cooley’s new glory project, after the jump.

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Thumbnail image for Bobby Herbert dress.JPGI lived in Indiana for 13 months and 9 days (not that I was counting), so last night’s Super Bowl was a little bit disappointing. The night featured the return of the Manning Face, the ads were pretty boring (I did like the Auto-Tune one, Kash liked Google). A game between the two best offenses in the league came down to a defensive touchdown and (arguably) the best special teams play of all time.
Oh yeah, and the New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl. That warm fuzzy goodness you feel about the Saints winning for their city totally redeems every slightly annoying thing that happened last night.
The Saints get back to town tomorrow, and it should be obvious that the city will shut down to celebrate. And chances are, they’ll not really be getting back to work until Ash Wednesday.
Tulane Law School knows that its students like to party. And the administration won’t stand in the way. Tulane is shutting down tomorrow.
I just hope the Tulane Law students don’t try to make off with the Lombardi Trophy.
Check out the beautiful message from Tulane’s president after the jump. And Geaux Saints!

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[Brett Favre] decided to play the game at his age and all that goes with it, and the effect he had on Minnesota and on that team and a lot of sports fans was enormous. I think the excitement and the challenge is something that is very alluring, and if I can play a small part in paying the taxpayer back…then I will look back at this time and say, for all the knockdowns that I will inevitably have, it would have been worth the experience and the knowledge that I was helpful.


Thomas Russo, 66, former chief legal officer at Lehman Brothers, discussing his departure from Patton Boggs to become the new general counsel for American International Group Inc.

Bobby Herbert dress.JPGThis whole “the New Orleans Saints are in the Super Bowl” thing is starting to get a little out of hand. First of all, that picture to the right is of a man in a dress. Not just any man, that’s Bobby Hebert, former Saints quarterback and current Saints broadcaster, in a dress. It’s a tribute to bats**t craziness legendary Saints broadcaster, Buddy Diliberto, and there were hundreds of men dressed in drag to celebrate … football.
And this craziness has been well documented by a New Orleans legal system that has garned national attention. Remember the judge who took judicial notice of “Saintsmania”? That’s the kind of story that is pretty standard for Above the Law, but you can imagine our surprise when producers for ESPN called us asking for a copy of the order.
Then we had a story about the NFL claiming ownership of the phrase “Who Dat.” I figured that would garner some attention, but I didn’t expect Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, both Louisiana U.S. Senators, and most of Louisiana’s Congressional delegation to all start screaming at the NFL.
In a rare move, the NFL caved under the enormous pressure. WDSU 6 reports:

Initially, the NFL said shop owners would have to pay for the right to sell Who Dat stuff. But now it seems the NFL has backed off the position, saying they don’t own the right to “Who Dat” when it’s by itself. The issue is when the phrase is paired with an NFL or Saints logo. …
U.S. David Vitter also chimed in again Monday, sending out a statement.
“The Senator is pleased that the NFL is already coming off its original position. However, he is continuing to demand that the NFL drop any claim on the phrase Who Dat under any circumstances and will be sending a more detailed letter to the NFL Monday,” said Joel DiGrado, Vitter spokesman.

You know, if we could harness this kind of uprising, we could probably get the NFL to do something about its horrible overtime system.
The lesson is that the people in New Orleans take partying with the Saints very seriously.
And today we’re learning that this didn’t just start with the Saints Super Bowl appearance. The legal system was cowering to Saintsmania during the NFC Championship game as well.

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Who Dat chips.JPGBack when I used to practice law, I had the opportunity to do some low-level IP work for the National Football League. As Biglaw work goes, it was pretty fun. And I remember the staff lawyers at the NFL as a very nice and engaging group of men and women.
But sometimes, the IP gurus at the NFL really know how to act like an immense turd in a punch (super) bowl. Remember when the NFL cracked down on the “unlicensed” use of the term Super Bowl? Then there’s the NFL’s ongoing ridiculousness with American Needle. For the overlords of a sport that claims to be “America’s passion,” the NFL has a curious way of crushing the life out of anything that could even slightly siphon a dollar away from their clever system of unlimited revenue potential and fixed labor costs.
But the latest example of the NFL blitzing small entrepreneurs is arguably more ridiculous than everything that has come before. The NFL is claiming ownership over the phrase “Who Dat.” According to WWLTV in Louisiana, the NFL wants to own a chant:

As the Saints’ appearance in their first Super Bowl gets closer, the marketplace is being flooded with Saints merchandise and memorabilia as businesses are looking to cash in on the euphoria, but the NFL is cracking down on the use of their trademarks, including the iconic phrase “Who Dat.”

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of taking in a football game at the Superdome, the full chant goes: “Who dat? Who dat? Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?” So let’s be clear — the NFL claims it owns a chant of ungrammatical pidgin English that can’t even be pronounced properly without using a Bobby Boucher accent. The NFL doesn’t have what they call “the social skills.”
More details after the jump.

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