Failure

Here’s a management technique for you to consider for legal (or any) projects: Specify the person whose head will roll if the project is not accomplished.

If you’re on a committee of twelve people assigned to a project, the project won’t get done. No one will read the background materials before the committee meets; no one will think hard about how to move the project forward; no one will particularly care if the project concludes. If, months or years later, someone asks why the committee didn’t meet its goals, each member of the committee will point to the others and say, “It wasn’t my responsibility to do anything. We had a committee, and I figured the other guys would do it.”

To avoid this problem, identify the single individual who is responsible for accomplishing each specific task. If everyone knows whose head will roll if the project isn’t finished, then the designated person will take control, move the project forward, and preserve his or her head.

The “whose head will roll” theory of management applies to projects big and small, for lawyers both in-house and outside….

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Staci here. A scene like this must have played out in the past few weeks at the law library while everyone was studying for the upcoming bar exam. Someone who is a repeat bar taker tries to explain a legal concept that you’re having trouble with, and everyone around you is looking at you like you’re insane for listening to him. Come on, that guy failed the bar exam. He obviously doesn’t have a clue…. or does he?

Should you give credence to a repeat bar examinee’s advice, or take it with a grain of salt? Can you really trust someone who’s failed the bar exam?

Mr. Bar Exam will give you his thoughts, and he may be sharing the screen with an attractive study partner….

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Is Snooki in charge of grading bar exams in New Jersey?

If I turned on MTV and found out that the cast from the Jersey Shore had been given the “challenge” of grading the February 2012 New Jersey bar exam, I wouldn’t be surprised. I’ll say that again: SNOOKI COULDN’T DO A WORSE JOB THAN THE NEW JERSEY BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS RIGHT NOW!

They don’t respond to emails. They don’t meet deadlines. They told people that they failed the bar when they did not. Jon Corzine didn’t mess up MF Global as much as New Jersey has botched the administration of this freaking test.

The incompetence is so intense that it’s hard to believe it’s an accident. It seems like the NJ BOLE should have to try to be this bad. Well, maybe they are. Last night, a tipster offered up a possible economic motive for all of the “issues” that have come up with the last administration of the New Jersey bar.

It’s petty and short-sighted, but I’m not sure there’s any level of corruption that you can confidently say is too low for the Garden State….

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I had my first biopsy yesterday. Now, I have to wait ten days to hear whether my life will change dramatically, or whether worrying for a week and a half was a waste of time. This is one time I surely won’t mind “negative” feedback.

As I have contemplated this situation, it struck me that fear is an unnecessary component of our work lives from the time we apply to law school. Fear can drive us to obtain top grades, or to over-study for the bar exam, even though we’ve been specifically advised by BAR/BRI — as well as countless other attorneys who’ve been there and who we trust — that you only need to follow the program and you’ll pass. Fear can cause us to take jobs we don’t want because we just need a job, and fear can implicate itself into our daily work routine, so much that we cover our asses out of fear.

The fact is, as attorneys, we’re “maximizers” — folks who know fairly quickly, and usually correctly, that there may be a perfectly good solution to a question, but we can’t stop the obsessive, “What if?!”

Those what-ifs can metastasize into an ungodly blob of fear that resides in the pits of our stomachs. Especially at smaller in-house shops where counsel are expected to know everything all at once. That type of pressure is a breeding ground for all kinds of fear. The best practice when you’re faced with a task of knowing it all is to admit defeat at the outset. You cannot possibly know everything required of you. Your duty is to the company, and to do the best job of which you are capable. Beyond that, have the wisdom to seek assistance, internally or from outside counsel, and to know when to put your foot down and say “enough”….

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