Monthly Archives: May 2012

Corporate Minutes and Marcel Proust

I reprised the presentation on Marcel Proust’s lessons for drafting corporate minutes for the North Carolina Bar Association’s Paralegal Division about a week ago. (Thanks to Jonah Lehrer for pointing out that Proust was a neuroscientist.)

What a deal: I’ve given this presentation now a number of times and I get a fresh load of CLE credits every time it’s a bar group. (Not all are.) The paper has been downloaded a lot.

Winslow’s First Law of Board Dynamics found a ready audience. See À la recherche du temps perdu:The Art and Science of Corporate Minutes, page 4. Paralegals who are called upon to keep corporate minutes agree that corporate directors really want to see their names and contributions in minutes, even though the purpose and law of minutes suggest otherwise …. The other 6 laws appeared to get their own measures of approbation as well.

This time, I was persuaded to use the title: “The Art and Science of Corporate Minutes,” leaving off the reference to Proust. Something about search engines. Also, some hint that there was arrogance in making the reference at all.

But – in the event, they got a dose of Marcel. And CPE and CLE credit to boot.

Page one or two of the materials points to the marketing and leadership facets of knowing about corporate minutes.

Good Podcast Series to Make You Better

I stumbled upon The Look and Sound of Leadership while browsing among the podcasts up at  ITunes one day. It is a good series of podcasts. Each one takes about the time to listen to that it takes me to drive to work. (Takes me a bit less than 15 minutes to get to work.)

As always, the word “leadership” doesn’t tell you much. This is a series of tips or advice about how to communicate, how to present yourself and how to relate with other people, mostly within organizations. The topics are short, practical, accessible. But, fresh withal.

Some of his stuff is original. Much of it is drawn from other people’s books and articles. It is useful. He’s good about providing references.

The guy, Tom Henschel, puts things in context, bite-sizes and delivers it. He has a formula that he follows in every installment. That actually makes what he says the more accessible.

Self-improvement for the knowledge worker.

I found it in the business section of podcasts at the ITunes store, but you can get the same stuff at the website.

Oh – and it’s free.

The Grisly Pieces — When Law Firms Break Apart

That law firms break apart – and even why they do – are not the compelling topics they once were. I’m more interested now in the chunks that firms break into. (Oh, I’m still interested in why firms collapse, too.)

Law firms are not like other organizations. Fewer ties bind them together. Professor Bernie Burk at UNC Law School has written a big article about this. Big But Brittle: Economic Perspectives on the Future of the Law Firm in the New Economy (with D. McGowan), 2011 Colum. Bus. L. Rev. 1 (2011). So, when law firms (large or small) hit a bump, they’re more prone to come apart than other kinds of organizations.

I have started to wonder whether law firms are organizations at all.

I’d like for somebody to look at the chunks that law firms break into and see what’s to be learned. Where groups split off intact, what keeps the smaller groups together? To what degree do firms break up into groups and to what degree do the lawyers go in ones and twos? Who ends up not leaving? Who gets left high and dry? Why?

I’d love to have explanations for what happens in each case. That would tell us something about what holds lawyers together (a “stress test”).

My theory is that big law firms are really little more than networks, except more expensive. With social networking and other technologies, the partnership form becomes less and less necessary. Other structures may be more efficient than multi-hundred-lawyer partnerships; and those structures may be more natural and more consistent with professionalism.

So, I want somebody to take a look at the pieces that firms break apart into – sort of like they do on these TV autopsy shows – and hold up the grisly pieces for analysis.