Wednesday, January 18, 2012

LWOW Kicks Off in Switzerland!

 (thanks to

One of my favourite questions for someone is "Do you open Finder/Explorer in icon or list view?" It tells you something about how you approach life, rationally, intuitively, or that you don't know how to change the way it opens.

Law Without Walls is primarily icon although you better have your list ready. LWOW exercises both hemispheres of the brain and for those in the program engagement means being ready to switch, add, multiply, synchronize and synergize.

Law Without Walls started its second year with a KickOff at St Gallen this last weekend (14-15 January). Michele De Stefano and Michael Bossone organized a program that brought together students from 12 universities straddling 19 time zones. LWOW has doubled in size and multiplied in richness.

I've written about LWOW's beginnings but then it was only 6 schools. But the beginning of the beginning is a story in itself and shows how LWOW works. When we arrive at the KickOff we may know some of the people involved but in fact we hardly know anyone. So we have two days in which to bond into a group such that we can work together over the following three months. It's a tough call.

This is where Michele and Michael (hitherto aka "M&M"s [which colour and flavour, you decide]) work their magic and also why we come away exhilarated yet exhausted. Before we arrived we had to complete a short survey based on DISC assessment to see how we placed on the Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance spectrum. Of course you need a range to build a good team.

Our first task at St Gallen was to conduct interviews of our group members with whom we were sitting. We had to form a football team so we had to identify whether our subject was a forward, midfielder, defender, or goalie. In addition we had to name our team and give each other a nickname. This was tied in with the DISC assessment results.

In the interests of disclosure and confidentiality I'll only talk about my own results. According to my interviewer I was definitely a forward and my nickname would be "GoGetter". I liked that. Next the DISC result said I was an influencer and that I worked best persuading others and this is the way I get results. I'm sociable and good at solving problems that deal with people, but maybe overly trusting.

Now I admit to some skepticism when I did the survey for DISC, but as I read the results I'm struck by just how uncanny the results were, almost frighteningly so. It definitely means I like to work with people who willingly participate. (God, I can think of a number who fall way outside that.)

At lunch M&M sat us by DISC results. Among the tables was one a little different from the others. It contained 8 people who scored a perfect 100% on the "I" (influence) range. This meant no one could get a word in edgeways, of course.

Throughout the weekend we heard from various entrepreneurs including Ajaz Ahmed who started Freeserve and now, Moray McLaren of the Iberian Legal Group, and Natalie Campbell who runs a social innovation agency, A Very Good Company, as well as Hugh Totten of the Valorem Law Group and James Peters of LegaZoom. This gives the students another perspective on how to do projects, one they typically don't receive at law school.

They were also inflicted with an unPanel on what was right or wrong with the law and practice which included me, Chris Kenny, Rob Rosen, Elizabeth Chambliss, Wu Fan, and Laurel Terry. We argued a lot.

I should say Sunday's lunch had a picaresque theme: we had to state two truths and one lie. You need a good poker face for this.

The finale was the students preparing presentations based around interviews of interesting people. Two hours max to interview, prepare and present. Startling, witty, intriguing and great fun. We went home satiated and ready for the next three months while the students begin their real projects of worth.

As the late, great Sherlock Holmes would say, "The game's afoot!"


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