Royal Mail Coach, photo by DanieVDM, via Wikimedia Commons

What does a Royal Mail Coach have to do with the law? Our book reviewer tells all!
(Photo by DanieVDM, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

I was considering what takes a book review to a whole other level recently when an email arrived from Judge George Anagnost. And I was all, “Now I remember.”

Do Great Cases Make Bad Law? book by Leland Bllom Jr. The great book that was our reviewer's launching-pad.

The great book that was our reviewer’s launching-pad.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for book reviews (and of books). But too many reviewers think of their task as the same that confronted them in grade-school book reports: Tell what the book is about, in order, and then say if you’d recommend it (or not).

Drafted that way, the grade-school report is far superior, for at least it came with a hand-drawn cover.

Judge Anagnost’s approach is far more—and less—than that. He explains what the book is about, but not in enervating detail. More important, he sets the book in a context of others, and he sets the book’s subject in the context of its times, whether it is present day or the Revolutionary War.

Add to that his need to think discursively, wonderfully so. It is that narrative arc that yields magazine pages that are not a forced march from A to Z. No, his article is dotted with sidebars that illuminate and entertain (and give our Art Director the fun and sometimes difficult task of locating appropriate images that are high resolution and either in the public domain or reasonably priced!).

I post the pages below simply so you can see how his approach enlivens our magazine issues (though you can click to make them larger). But to read the Judge’s latest great review, go here.

And on Wednesday, September 17, Judge Anagnost again moderates one of his successful updates of the past Supreme Court Term. More detail is here. I plan to be there, and I hope you can make it, too.

 

Would I take professional advice from this woman? Um, yup, in a heartbeat. The smart and hilarious Roxie Bacon (on right) with a friend in New Zealand.

Would I take professional advice from this woman? Um, yup, in a heartbeat. The smart and hilarious Roxie Bacon (on right) with a friend in New Zealand.

What equals success? Do old measures of success still apply, especially in a tradition-bound profession like the law?

Those were a few of the questions raised recently in a brief book review by the so-very-talented Roxie Bacon.

Roxie is a great lawyer, as well as a former President of the State Bar of Arizona. She climbed the ladder of big-firm partner success, so when I spotted a book about women lawyer leaders, I thought immediately that she should review it.

So before February passes into history, I wanted to be sure you saw her review in our February issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

The book she was charged with reviewing is a publication of the American Bar Association titled Learning To Lead: What Really Works for Women in Law.

learning to lead book cover v2

Maybe it was the title’s “really” that initially set Roxie off. But she ultimately offered her not-entirely-salutary view of the book’s messages. Yes, she said that the suggestions were good, as far as they went—if you still buy in to the success measures adopted a generation ago. But Roxie points out that huge numbers of lawyers—men and women—are voting on those measure with their feet, as they decide to tread hallways other than those covered in the most expensive hand-knotted rugs.

You can read Roxie’s whole essay here.

I’m sure the review did not please the ABA. But since publication, I’ve heard from a number of people who enjoyed her view very much. They also compare the ABA book to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, which some also believe sends dated messages to young women professionals.

What are your thoughts on how women (especially) may best succeed in law firms? Do the old measures of success still apply? Should they?

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Professor Kingsfield may not be viewed as today's "model" law professor.

Professor Kingsfield may not be viewed as today’s “model” law professor.

In the category of “you never know where a good idea may come from,” I point you toward the review of a book on what makes a great law professor.

The review was pointed out to me by a very wise person, and she thought I’d be intrigued by the concept. She was right, just as I am intrigued by the location of the review: In the Teachers College Record, “a journal of research, analysis, and commentary in the field of education. It has been published continuously since 1900 by Teachers College, Columbia University.”

At TCR, they concern themselves with all kinds of teaching, even that dispensed at law schools. So always keep your eye peeled.

(And if you missed my recent coverage of a great article about law school, head over here to read it.)

what-the-best-law-teachers-do book cover

The new book is aptly titled What the Best Law Teachers Do, and the review is written by Marjorie Heins, “a former ACLU lawyer, the founding director of the Free Expression Policy Project, and the author, most recently, of Priests of Our Democracy: The Supreme Court, Academic Freedom, and the Anti-Communist Purge (NYU Press, 2013). She has been a visiting professor at both the law school and undergraduate levels. She currently teaches ‘Censorship in American Culture and Law’ at New York University.”

Here is how she opens her review:

“In popular imagination, the typical law teacher is the notorious Professor Charles Kingsfield, immortalized in the novel, The Paper Chase. Imperious, tyrannical, and a master practitioner of the Socratic method in its most rigorous form, Kingsfield aims to intimidate if not terrorize. But in one famous scene, the old codger turns out to be human: he shows approval, if not respect, to a student who has the temerity to talk back to him.”

Marjorie Heins

Marjorie Heins

“Well, we can say goodbye to the era of Kingsfield and to the joys of combat in the law school classroom. As the stories told and teachers celebrated in What the Best Law Teachers Do make plain, today’s model law professor is a nurturer, not a tyrant: loved, lovable, and passionately devoted to helping every student not only to understand the material but to enjoy it, to become a better person, and to embark on a future as a dedicated servant of the law.”

“The 26 law teachers highlighted in this book are indeed paragons. If I am sounding just a bit cynical, it is not because I don’t respect the amazing talents and commitment that these 26 evidently possess, or the impressive results they achieve: students uniformly rising to the challenge, inspired by affection and respect to work hard so as not to disappoint their charismatic teachers’ expectations. Instead, I remain skeptical because I suspect that there might still be room in the academy, if not exactly for pedagogues of the Kingsfield variety, then at least for professors who are not particularly student-friendly, are not interested in inviting them to lunch or hearing about their personal troubles, but are simply brilliant lecturers, inspiring scholars, or, indeed, skilled practitioners of the dread Socratic method.”

Read the complete review here.

Is your own favorite law professor described in the new volume? (or at least someone who shares the same sensibilities?) You may have to get your hands on the book to find out.

Do you agree with the description of what makes an ideal law professor? Does that match your own experience?

Former Arizona Chief Justice Lorna Lockwood

Former Arizona Chief Justice Lorna Lockwood

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy a good book review. And as January is about to close, I point to another great review in this month’s Arizona Attorney.

The author this month is esteemed lawyer (and past State Bar President) Mark Harrison. He is a good writer, but to make his task easier, he wrote about a great woman—Lorna Lockwood.

Arizona’s first woman Chief Justice is described well in the book Lady Law, by author Sonja White David. Here is how Mark opens his review:

Lady Law Lorna Lockwood book cover“In 1960, Lorna Lockwood became the first female Justice on the Supreme Court of Arizona. In 1965, she became the first female Chief Justice of any state Supreme Court in the nation. Justice Lockwood’s remarkable story is beautifully captured in Lady Law, a book written by Sonja White David, a resident of Mesa. In a way that Justice Lockwood surely would have appreciated, the author describes how a small-town girl from Douglas and Tombstone, Arizona, defied the odds and blazed the way for women in the law. In the process, Justice Lockwood left a significant and indelible mark on the law of Arizona.”

“Lady Law would be an enriching read for all Arizona lawyers, but it will be an inspiration for young girls and women. As Ms. David describes Justice Lockwood’s journey, she explains how Justice Lockwood was rebuffed and discouraged, not surprisingly by the male establishment, from pursuing her ambition to become a lawyer. As we now know, the pioneering role of Justice Lockwood was a harbinger of things to come; in the half century since Justice Lockwood was elected to the Supreme Court, the percentage of women in law schools has equaled and occasionally exceeded the percentage of men. In addition, women have come to play an increasingly influential role in the profession and on the judiciary.”

Read the entire book review here. And if you’re interested, the book is available here.

Today, a book review, of sorts. And boyoboy, when I cracked that spine, did I ever expect to dislike that book (more on why in a moment). But I found I liked it, quite a bit.

Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

The book is titled “Enchantment,” and it came across my desk a few weeks ago (it goes on sale beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, March 8). Like all such unsolicited offers, this one came with a request: Review, please.

My first inclination was not to do that very thing—and not just because the subtitle had an unnecessary comma.

No, a better reason made me skeptical of “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions,” by Guy Kawasaki.

You see, there are a few sections I tend to ignore in Borders (when they used to be open): self-help, or management, or marketing.

I do understand that there is much to be learned in all of those segments of a store—and of our minds. But most of the offerings are so cripplingly bad, it makes your teeth hurt.

Message to authors: The bullet point is a tool to be used occasionally; it is not a magical roadmap to your entire volume. And unless you are James Joyce, the sentence fragment is a painfully bad mashup of a conversation and a written volume; it is a brain fart, not a stroke of genius.

So Kawasaki’s text had to overcome my own long-held prejudices, before he even got to his message.

And I’m pleased to say he did just that.

But first, for those who prefer to learn visually, here’s a neat infographic provided by the publisher. Charming, that. 

Enchantment Infographic

The “former chief evangelist at Apple” achieved success from the get-go, with a cover that is striking and evocative. In fact, the story of the cover’s evolution warrants its own epilogue, where he explains “how it took 260 people to make this cover.” If you decide to get this book (and you should), read that first.

The book’s structure takes you on a natural progression toward what he calls “enchantment,” the skill and art to alter someone else’s views and beliefs—and therefore actions. As he writes, it “transforms situations and relationships. It converts hostility into civility. It reshapes civility into affinity. It changes skeptics and cynics into believers.”

Is it “marketing”? Sure, that’s part of it. But it’s marketing + delight.

The book makes even us cynics recall what it is that we find alluring about our jobs and professions. It examines trustworthiness and likability (the deep kind, not the Facebook variety). It talks about sustaining enchantment once you’ve fostered it, and how to marshal technology in that effort.

Guy Kawasaki, who could enchant a brick wall.

The last few chapters explain “how to enchant your boss” and “how to enchant your employees.” And for me, some of that writing resonated the most of all. Here are two examples in regard to your employees.

First, Kawasaki talks about empowering your employees to do the right thing:

“Your best employees want to serve and delight your customers. … Let your employees do the right thing, and you’ll enchant them. And then they will enchant your customers.”

Easy to say, but how about a specific or two? He provides just that, in regard to performance appraisals.

“People often judge their intentions against the results of others: ‘I intended to meet my sales quota, but you missed yours.’ By doing this, they seldom find fault with their performance and almost always find shortcomings in the performance of others.

“If you want to enchant employees, you should reverse this outlook: Judge yourself by what you’ve accomplished and others by what they intended. This means that you are harsher on yourself than others and embrace an understanding attitude like ‘at least his intentions were good.’”

This passage put me in mind of an excellent article titled “Why Your Boss Is Wrong About You” that ran in the New York Times.

In the op-ed, Samuel Culbert, a management professor at UCLA, dissects all that is wrong with the typical American performance appraisal. Among other things, he argues that they only masquerade as being objective, when in fact they often are self-serving (and not in favor of the employee).

He offers an alternative: the idea of a “performance preview”:

“Instead of top-down reviews, both boss and subordinate are held responsible for setting goals and achieving results. No longer will only the subordinate be held accountable for the often arbitrary metrics that the boss creates. Instead, bosses are taught how to truly manage, and learn that it’s in their interest to listen to their subordinates to get the results the taxpayer is counting on.

“Instead of the bosses merely handing out A’s and C’s, they work to make sure everyone can earn an A. And the word goes out: ‘No more after-the-fact disappointments. Tell me your problems as they happen; we’re in it together and it’s my job to ensure results.’”

Kawasaki’s book also is focused on ensuring results, and I’ll leave you with one anecdote he describes in his book. It is about the power of welcoming the devil’s advocate to your business or organization.

“From 1587 to 1983, the Catholic Church appointed people to argue against the canonization of particular individuals who were being considered for sainthood. The advocatus diaboli, or devil’s advocate, role was to find fault with candidates to ensure saintly saints.

“When the practice ended after the election of Pope John Paul II, an explosion in the number of canonizations occurred. During his reign the church canonized five hundred people, compared to ninety-eight during the reign of all his twentieth-century predecessors.”

Are we all doing all we can to focus on results, and to show that rocking the boat is acceptable—and may even lead to sailing into more profitable streams? Probably not. Have we allowed too many sacred cows to be enshrined in the way we do business? No doubt.

Read this new book. It is practical, whimsical, readable, and occasionally enchanting.

Here’s where to get the book.

And here is the book detail:

Name: Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
Page count: 224
Suggested retail price: $US 26.95
Year of first printing: 2011
ISBN: 9781591843795

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