Thursday, May 22, 2008

MRI and House

I've decided I must stop watching "House" because it's too discombobulating. I went for an MRI of the head this morning because the doctor at Miami hospital who is examining my hearing thought I should have one.

They ask a huge number of questions, one of which is "are you claustrophobic?" To which I say "no". But then of course one starts to think about it. This is when the past episodes of "House" come back to haunt me since usually whosoever is in the MRI goes bonkers at some moment and they have to drag them out, screaming, puking or having a seizure.

Because they were looking inside my head I had these very tight headphones jammed on (still have sore ears!) to keep out the noise (god, the noises that machine makes--loud, long, and very discordant!), and then a cage put around my head. (At least I asked how long it was going to take--40 to 50 minutes and rushed to have a pee--otherwise I would have been gritting my teeth, etc.) The cage was to prevent me from moving.

Then I'm slid into the machine. A small tube, dark and confined. I close my eyes. And, oh yes, I have an IV in my arm (at least this guy found my vein first time) to inject me with dye. Then the noise starts, louder and louder, clangs, bongs, rattles and more. I'm trying not to think of "House", nor claustrophobia, and instead Edgar Allan Poe pops into my brain, "The Premature Burial"

To be buried while alive is, beyond question, the most terrific of these extremes which has ever fallen to the lot of mere mortality. That it has frequently, very frequently, so fallen will scarcely be denied by those who think. The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?

Fearful indeed the suspicion- but more fearful the doom! It may be asserted, without hesitation, that no event is so terribly well adapted to inspire the supremeness of bodily and of mental distress, as is burial before death. The unendurable oppression of the lungs- the stifling fumes from the damp earth- the clinging to the death garments- the rigid embrace of the narrow house- the blackness of the absolute Night- the silence like a sea that overwhelms- the unseen but palpable presence of the Conqueror Worm...

At this point, I'm ready to press the panic button to be released. I feel my breathing getting quicker and I can't or won't open my eyes. For a moment I almost believe I'm underground. (It's going to be bloody cremation, I say to myself.) I try to change my thoughts but it's difficult--holidays, people, animals, anything--but the dreadful noise brings me back to where I am.

Then a voice says, "Only 12 more minutes and you'll be out of there..." Good, I can't wait to get these wretched headphones off. Then it's over and I'm thinking what was all that fuss about?

I shall be watching "House: with a different (3rd) eye this time...

Oh, and here is the inside of my brain


But of course it kept mutating in the machine


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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Summarizing Miami

During my time in Miami I've been living on South Beach--a great place to be. One of its pleasures to me is going for a run in the morning on the beach. I see the sun rising, the ships leaving port, and I have an opportunity to let my mind float free.

So I have been thinking what has my experience been at Miami? This is good thing to do as I am presently grading exams, so one must always accentuate the positive. Rather than just say I've had a great time, which is true, I want to list the points that have made being away from home so worthwhile.

First and foremost has been my good fortune to be part of an exciting and stimulating faculty. I have written about the quality of the faculty seminars. It was the best introduction to the intellectual life of the law school a newcomer could have. To benefit from a large number of people focusing on your work for more than two hours is a real boon. You get to know them and they get to know you. It is the "Big Bang" of introductions, and it's effective.

For me it put me into a good group of colleagues and as a result I formed some valuable friendships.

Subsequent seminars enabled me to learn more about my colleagues' work and of those outside the law school and the university. Each was conducted with same rigor and dedication that I experienced.

I was lucky to be asked to teach a new subject, Professional Responsibility. Ethics was one of those areas I tended to sideline. But since teaching this course, I've gained a new respect for this subject and now lament that it isn't taught, at least properly, in English law schools. Through my experience of this course, the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics has asked me to review the second edition of the casebook I used, Lerman and Schrag's Ethical Problems in the Practice of Law (disclosure time: it contains two pages of my comments on the future of the legal profession post-Clementi).

I felt for the students having a teacher from outside the US teaching them a subject that was mandatory and part of the bar exam. I was constantly thinking would my students pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)? I saw my students after they had taken my exam and was overjoyed to hear them report that everyone who took the MPRE from my class had passed. A big relief.

I was also asked to participate in some other classes, talking about my research.

In addition to the classes I had about five students who elected to do independent writing projects with me. Unlike a class where one moves from topic to topic week by week, here there is one topic which is examined minutely and refined over the weeks. It is immensely satisfying to see a paper get better and better. The result is that one maybe two of the papers are potentially publishable. I hope we can get them into print: they deserve it.

My research received a boost while I was here. I expected to work on research in progress. I had an article that had been reviewed by a journal which needed revising and at least two research grant proposals to work on.

The Law School, however, had put together a seminar on the regulation of the legal profession in the EU and the UK and I was asked by Caroline Bradley if I would like to present a paper. I took this as an opportunity to plan out ideas that I could also use at the Georgetown Symposium on the Future of the Global Law Firm. Knowing one is to give a paper in a short time truly concentrates the mind. Nevertheless, it allowed me to experiment with some new approaches (one of which came out of work by my colleague, Rob Rosen). The result was that I was able to refine my ideas in time for the next presentation. The result of that being that the Georgetown ethics journal invited me to publish my paper with them.

Even though I was in Miami, the UK reached out to me. I am a member of the Peer Review College of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). And they seemed to have an unusually large number of law grant applications and I found myself reviewing six or seven of those over the semester, which was in addition to requests from journals to review articles and former students to write references. A friend at LSE has suggested I might like to be involved in a new research project and another colleague has proposed a new collection for us to edit.

One of the most pleasant and surprising aspects of my visit was a new research project I started. After my first presentation, I got talking to Peter Lederer, a Visiting Practitioner and member of the Law School's Visiting Committee. He had been a partner with Baker & McKenzie. We talked about the firm and his role in it and as we did so I realized here was someone whose career spanned the globalization of law. Why not capture this experience and tell the story of the globalization of law? Peter and I then began a joint project with me interviewing him. So far we have done about 15 hours of interviews with more to do. It's a new venture for both of us. We are booked to give two papers, one at the International Institute of Sociology's 38th World Congress in Budapest and the other at the Society of Legal Scholars meeting in London. To gain a new research project and a new friend together in this way is good fortune indeed.

There are about two weeks of my visit left. Most of it will be taken up with grading. I have also revised the Miami Summer Program course on Global Lawyering which will start not long after my return.

So, it has been a full semester full of new experiences, and surprises, that I have found quite revitalizing. I shall miss Miami, but I don't think it will be the last time I visit. Moreover, I hope it wasn't a one-sided visit and that I was able to contribute to Miami.
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Clementi Paper on SSRN--Redux

There has been a software glitch at SSRN which made my Clementi paper appear to be there but be absent on download. My apologies for this: it has been rectified. So here goes once more:

I have put my Clementi paper from the Workshop on Law Practice in the EU and the US at Miami Law School and, later revised and reprised, at the Future of the Global Law Firm Symposium at Georgetown Law Center on SSRN for download.

The paper is currently published in the Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series by the Miami-Florida European Union Center.

It is: "Will There Be Fallout from Clementi? The Global Repercussions for the Legal Profession after the UK Legal Services Act 2007"

And the abstract reads:

The paper presents the historical arguments that led to the Clementi review of the legal profession and its culmination in the Legal Services Act 2007. There were two strands: one based on consumerism (too many complaints about lawyers’ services); the other based on a sustained investigation by the competition authorities into professions’ restrictive practices (anti-competitive unless proved in the public interest). These led to the abandonment of traditional forms of organization for lawyers’ practices (alternative business structures) and the imposition of a new regulatory structure for the profession (oversight and frontline regulators).

In the second part of the paper I examine the trends in lawyers’ practices as currently pursued and as envisaged by the Act as aligned with our conceptions of professionalism. Using two hypotheticals: Tesco Law, and Goldman Sachs Skadden, I chart a move from professionalism to deskilling and proletarianization in the legal profession, not unlike that which existed in the 19th century.

This dystopian view, which is essentially a top down conception of the legal industry, is contrasted with a more optimistic view based on the changes in the idealization of careers and life as represented by Generation Y. This is augmented by the changing nature of work, ie, post-Fordist, within organizations which in a number of ways escapes control and measurement because the distinctions between production and consumption, work and leisure allied with distributed network forms of production blur the boundaries that we have taken for granted. In contrast to the socio-economic approaches, I argue that we must examine conceptions of career, inclusion and exclusion, vocation, and community in order to understand how the professions will adapt to the postmodern condition.
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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Another Thing of Beauty

It's just beautiful....



(with thanks to meine kleine fabrik)

Here is a link to the same ray flying in an exhibition hall.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Just Beautiful

Occasionally one sees something that is beautiful--just that.



(thanks to meine kleine fabrik and stumblng tumblr)
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Friday, May 02, 2008

Clementi Paper on SSRN

I have put my Clementi paper from the Workshop on Law Practice in the EU and the US at Miami Law School and, later revised and reprised, at the Future of the Global Law Firm Symposium at Georgetown Law Center on SSRN for download.

The paper is currently published in the Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series by the Miami-Florida European Union Center.

It is: "Will There Be Fallout from Clementi? The Global Repercussions for the Legal Profession after the UK Legal Services Act 2007"

And the abstract reads:

The paper presents the historical arguments that led to the Clementi review of the legal profession and its culmination in the Legal Services Act 2007. There were two strands: one based on consumerism (too many complaints about lawyers’ services); the other based on a sustained investigation by the competition authorities into professions’ restrictive practices (anti-competitive unless proved in the public interest). These led to the abandonment of traditional forms of organization for lawyers’ practices (alternative business structures) and the imposition of a new regulatory structure for the profession (oversight and frontline regulators).

In the second part of the paper I examine the trends in lawyers’ practices as currently pursued and as envisaged by the Act as aligned with our conceptions of professionalism. Using two hypotheticals: Tesco Law, and Goldman Sachs Skadden, I chart a move from professionalism to deskilling and proletarianization in the legal profession, not unlike that which existed in the 19th century.

This dystopian view, which is essentially a top down conception of the legal industry, is contrasted with a more optimistic view based on the changes in the idealization of careers and life as represented by Generation Y. This is augmented by the changing nature of work, ie, post-Fordist, within organizations which in a number of ways escapes control and measurement because the distinctions between production and consumption, work and leisure allied with distributed network forms of production blur the boundaries that we have taken for granted. In contrast to the socio-economic approaches, I argue that we must examine conceptions of career, inclusion and exclusion, vocation, and community in order to understand how the professions will adapt to the postmodern condition.


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