: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at

Robert Sutton, the No Asshole Rule

I was talking about this with Andrew Smith at Pub Fiction the other night and he suggested I blog it. I’ve never done a request before, but I guess it’s not a bad idea. Got a suggestion? E-mail me.

Robert Sutton, a Stanford professor of management science, knew he hit a nerve with the response to his article “Breakthrough Ideas for 2004: More Trouble Than They’re Worth.” Harvard Business Review, 83(2): 19-20. That article would later turn into The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (Amazon).

Sutton defines a jerk as one who oppresses, humiliates, de-energizes or belittles a subordinate or a colleague, causing that person to feel worse about him or herself. Tactics include personal insults, sarcasm, teasing, shaming or treating people as if they were invisible. He distinguishes between “temporary” jerks, those with the potential to act like jerks but who don’t do so all the time, and “certified” jerks, who are routinely nasty. The certified jerks are the ones who pose the greatest threat to an organization’s culture. (SF Gate)

Guy Kawasaki did an informal poll on Google and generated the telling graphic below. The practice of law, one might surmise, has more than its fair share. It may be no small coincidence that Sutton’s wife is a corporate lawyer in Silicon Valley and encouraged Sutton in writing the book through her own experiences at the office.

Guy Kawasaki: The results of an informal ‘google poll.’

It’s not uncommon to hear the idea expressed in legal circles that being known as an asshole is either synonymous with or an unavoidable consequence of doing ones job. Sutton takes care to point out the true cost of assholes to their organizations and notes that even rainmaking assholes often ultimately cost the firm more than they bring in. For a in-depth description, check out his interview with Moira Gunn below.

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Interview with Moira Gunn on IT Conversations

Further reading: Robert Sutton article in, Chuck Newton, Stay Violation, Robert Sutton Video, 50 LessonsRobert Sutton’s Blog.

Are you an asshole? Take the ARSE test.

Fundraising Ideas for a new Law Building

Tell John O’Quinn he’s buying a really, really nice car.

Department of Education recognizes reality

I ran into this at orientation. You have a list of ethnicities and you’re supposed to check one. I left it blank as usual.

As immigration and intermarriage are redefining race across the country, a growing number of people who cannot easily place themselves in one category have become increasingly frustrated with having to do so. The 2000 census allowed people to circle multiple racial categories; 2.4 percent did so.

With its proposal, the Education Department is also seeking to capture that population. But the move raises intriguing questions on how educational progress among different racial groups will be monitored, and how the new categories may skew long-term studies of the racial achievement gap.

Proposal Adds Options for Students to Specify Race

MicSpics of the world unite.

Blogging in Higher Education, The Invisible College

Bradford DeLong has a great article, The Invisible College, in the Chronicle for Higher Education.

The hope of all of us who blog is that we will become smarter, do more useful work, be happier and more productive, and will also impress our deans so they will raise our salaries. The first three hopes are clearly true: Academics who blog think more profound thoughts, have a bigger influence on the world — both the academic and the broader worlds — and are happier for it. Are we more productive in an academic sense? Maybe. We will see when things settle down.

Are our deans impressed? Not so far, but they should be. A lot of a university’s long-run success depends on attracting good undergraduates. Undergraduates and their parents are profoundly influenced by the public face of the university. And these days, a thoughtful, intelligent, well-informed Web logger like Juan Cole or Dan Drezner is an important part of a university’s public face. Michigan gains in reputation and mindshare from having a Cole on its faculty. Yale loses from not having an equivalent.

Are deans in general impressed? I doubt it too. Why not? I worry that the weird name – DeLong calls it ‘web logging’ in places, shades of ‘series of tubes’ there – doesn’t properly serve the simple proposition it represents, namely, making the flow of ideas that circulates in an institution publicly available. An outwardly focused institution allows professors to reach an immediate and interactive audience, it allows students to maintain interest and participation in the discussion beyond the single semester in which they have a given class, it allows alumni to keep tabs on the flow of ideas beyond their matriculation, it allows incoming students an opportunity to get the lay of the land intellectually, it allows communities to form, ideas to cross-pollinate, names to be made.

I have hope though. U of H has an interim Dean who himself blogs. That has to bode well.

UPDATE: Maria Kantzavelos has an excellent article in Chicago Lawyer LAW-RELATED BLOGGING STARTING TO SEE A COMING OF AGE which cites the interesting case of Douglas Berman:

Law professors are mindful of where their scholarship lands, particularly when it’s in a court decision. Douglas A. Berman, who focuses on criminal sentencing law at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, is no exception. He considers citation counts the “currency of a law professor’s work.”

While Berman has penned more than 50 law review articles and commentaries, he estimates that only about a half-dozen of those traditional forms of published scholarship have been cited in judicial opinions.

His popular Sentencing Law & Policy Blog, on the other hand, has been cited in more than a dozen cases, including a dissenting opinion in a 2005 landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (United States v. Booker).

“My blog is my most-cited work, by far. Certainly, it is more widely read than any of my scholarship,” said Berman, who has been blogging about advancements in federal sentencing since 2004. “It’s all part of the power of the blog.”

How many sips does it take to get to a heart attack

I wondered more than once over the course of the past semester if it were possible to overdose on caffeine. Meeting at a starbucks to carpool didn’t help. Not surprisingly, it is. Energy fiend’s Death by Caffeine allows you to calculate the exact level of excess you’ll need to do the deed – in my case 120.63 cups of caffeinated goodness to bring me down. (via BoingBoing)

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