f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

May 22, 2004

Career Advice: Be Hands-On Problem Solvers

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:00 pm



A new book by economists Richard Murnane and Frank Levy confirms the guidance Prof. Yabut’s been giving lately to job seekers and students: find a career that’s hands-on and challenging (to avoid both outsourcing and obsolescence).   Of course, the Harvard and MIT professors use fancier language (and a lot of charts), but reach a similar conclusion in The New Division of Labor: How Computers Are Creating the Next Job Market (Princeton University Press and Russell Sage Foundation, June 2004).


no u turn neg  You can find a good summary of their findings (and even an important chart), in a Harvard Monthly Q&A (May 2004).  Their insights include:

  • We will eventually return to full employment. But it will be full employment with a different set of jobs—the jobs lost to computerization and to other countries are not coming back. This is the essence of the book—how computers are driving long-term change in the U.S. job market and in the skills the job market now demands, and how the right kind of education creates the essential skills for success in future job markets.
  • “Check red”  We argue that the jobs growing in number share two general skills that computers cannot replicate. One is expert thinking the ability to solve new problems that cannot be solved by rules. (If the problem could be solved by rules, a computer could do it.) The second general skill is complex communication, the ability not only to transmit information, but to convey a particular interpretation of information to others in jobs like teaching, selling, and negotiation.

    • Carpenters, plumbers, and mechanics and other craftsmen can’t be off-shored—they have to work at the site of the problem. But more important, their work can’t be automated because they constantly encounter new problems for which they have to construct new solutions—they are constantly applying expert thinking skills.

  • Lliteracy and math are critical skills necessary to acquire the knowledge to be an expert thinker in any field. The skills needed to be good at complex communication and expert thinking can be taught in any subject area: English, history, science, etc., and need not compete for space in the curriculum.

The professors have a lot of ideas on how to educate and train a workforce for these high-end, challenging jobs.  As usual, Prof. Yabut reminds the squeamish to stay away from law.

Welcome to Samuel!!

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:01 pm

new arrivals  The law firm of Lamere & Schaeffer put the finishing touches on some excellent work product early this morning — and as usual, senior partner Andrea did virtually all the labor.

Congratulations Andrea and Evan on the birth of Samuel Lamere Schaeffer.  As Evan reports:

Vital statistics: 8 lbs., 4 oz.; 21 inches long. In reviewing a draft of this post, Andrea said I should also be sure to add that Sam is “very beautiful.”

Surely, there will be nothing “standard” about Samuel.

Update (05-24-04):  Speaking of long-expected, eagerly-awaited work product, congratulations to Bob Ambrogi on the completion of the second edition of his classic: The Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web, Second Edition, which is due in June, but available to order right now.

Doesn’t Woodward Read Yabut?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:40 am

plan of attack. . plan of exit?


Plan of Attack author Bob Woodward just reminded Charlie Rose, and his Friday night chat audience, of Colin Powell’s statement last Sunday:  The U.S. would pull out troops, if asked by the incoming Iraqi government after June 30th.  Woodward stated that the press hasn’t given that statement enough coverage.  He must mean the mainline press.

  • Hasn’t Woodward been reading Klau, or Dow, or thou?

  • I hope John Kerry and his advisors are thinking hard about Sovereignty As Exit Strategy, and just what it would mean for our nation, our politics, our allies, and the people of Iraq and the Middle East.


Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 12:51 am

subway car neg . . 

The very visible NYC law firm of Wilens & Baker — known for its 1-800-DIVORCE, 1-800-BANKRUPT and 1-800-IMMIGRATION subway ads — has received public censure “for engaging in a pattern of rude, neglectful and demeaning conduct toward clients.”  Partner Lawrence M. Wilens was also censured individually.  (NYLawyer/NYLJ, High-Visibility NY Law Firm Censured, 05-21-04)

According to the NYLJ article:

“The violations arose in connection with the firm’s representation of several immigration clients between 1998 and 2002. When these clients or their relatives, many of whom spoke little English, visited the firm’s offices to inquire about their cases, employees would refuse to discuss the cases unless overdue or additional fees were paid. Those who were unable to pay were often yelled at and ordered to leave.”

newspaper  In its unanimous, per curiam decision, the Appellate Division, 1st Department, was unmoved by WB’s arguments that the censure should be private, due to the efforts made by the firm to improve its behavior — including anger management classes — and procedures; its sending of (rather vague and circumspect) apology letters; the refunding of fees to the complainants; and the garnering of character references from prominent corporate and criminal lawyers .  In Matter of Wilens and Baker (2004 NYSlipOp 04077, May 20, 2004) the court stressed:

“In our view, it would be particularly inappropriate to impose private discipline against an attorney or law firm that engages in a pattern of misconduct involving rude and discourteous behavior to clients-conduct that strikes at the very heart of a lawyer’s or law firm’s relationship to the public.” 

The court also noted:

The Referee found that the respondents had “conducted themselves offensively with their clients… and also acted in intimidating ways to obtain additional or due fee payments,” and that consequently, “[they] should face the consequences of public knowledge of what they have done, notwithstanding their real and sincere efforts at reform.” The Referee also found it appropriate to impute to the WB firm the misconduct of its name partner.

It rejected an argument that being rude was not worthy of public censure, because it isn’t neglect of legal matters in the “classic sense.”  The court retorted: “this argument overlooks the prejudice and anguish caused by their pattern of threatening to cease working on their clients’ cases until additional legal fees were paid.”  Significantly, the court also stressed that (emphasis added):

Disciplinary sanctions serve both deterrent and punitive functions . . . and although respondents’ reforms of their office procedures likely will assist in preventing future violations, they do not serve the punitive purpose of demonstrating that such unbridled misconduct will not go unpunished.

The pyj gang agree with the 1st Department — public censure is most appropriate, and “respondents’ misconduct likely would have warranted the more severe sanction of suspension,” had WB not taken such significant reform efforts.   We hope other firms are duly deterred.

  • subway car  We disagree with the Referee, however, to the extent that he suggests that public censure is more appropriate for high-volume law practices than for classier firms.  Per NYLJ, the Referee stated “All of us at the bar who practice in more discrete [sic] realms, subject to far less exposure, are in a sense ‘represented’ by our colleagues who choose to take on such a volume of clients, advertise on subways and in other ways reach out to the public.”    Okay, but the public (and the non-elite bar) would like to see that “more discreet” law firms are held accountable, too.
  • Afterthought (05-22-04):  We try not to be catty around here, so we didn’t directly mention the Referee’s malaprop “discrete” last night.    But, we do have to chuckle at the fact that “discreet” means both showing self-restraint and “Free from ostentation or pretension; modest.”

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