November 30, 2005
Study of Harvard JD/MBAs
Crossing the Charles: the Experiences, Networks and Career Paths of Harvard JD/MBA Alumni, by Justin Osofsky and Lynn Wood.
Law students and law school experiences have been extensively studied, critiqued and dissected, but until this study, no one had studied JD/MBAs separately. Thus, this study addresses a big gap in the literature.
The study makes three principal assertions:
1) "JD/MBAs, on average, prefer the HBS experience and have a stronger long-term emotional and financial relationship to HBS."
2) "JD/MBAs perceive that the HBS network has more meaningfully influenced their careers than the HLS and JD/MBA networks."
3) "While a majority of JD/MBAs in the 1970s initially pursued legal careers, JD/MBA graduates over the last two and a half decades have gravitated towards business careers."
While some of the supporting reasons are specific to Harvard JD/MBAs, these findings are generally consistent with my personal experiences at UCLA.
The study reports on some unique hassles that joint program students (especially JD/MBAs) face, such as each school scheduling classes in different time blocks (almost always ensuring that a class in one school knocks out two in the other). At UCLA, the problem was even worse because the law school was on the semester system while the business school was on the quarter system, so it seemed like I was constantly in finals.
Nevertheless, I had a great experience in my program. Among other benefits, the study notes that JD/MBA students usually get 4 years (instead of 2 or 3) to develop their career trajectory. In my case, I was able to use the extra year (and extra summer) both to redefine my career objectives and triangulate towards the right law firm for me. If I had a shorter graduate school career, I'm not sure I would have been able to make course corrections on a timely basis.
However, that extra year came at a cost. The study notes that "many JD/MBAs report feelings of isolation during their final year of the program." This was definitely true in my case. In both schools, I started out with the classes that graduated at the end of my third year, so I knew very few people in my 4th year--just a few joint degree program students like myself, and a few other classmates I met along the way. Sometimes I felt like a walking dinosaur, a relic of a prior era. Some joint degree students might find the last year frustrating.
While generally I had a good experience in the JD/MBA program, I would not recommend the program for everyone. In particular, the complexion of legal education has changed some over the past 10-15 years. When I was in graduate school, law schools offered a very small number of B-school-"esque" courses. Now, law schools offer a big chunk of the business school curriculum in-house. For example, at Marquette, students can take a variety of courses that overlap with the business school curriculum, including economics, accounting, finance, an entrepreneurship class (specific to starting a law practice) and other transactional courses.
Therefore, many law students can now get much of the same educational content without a separate degree. There are still plenty of good reasons to explore a JD/MBA program--the networking with a different student population, the credentialing, the extra time to explore and other benefits--but the cost is high (both time-wise and financially), so I can see the law school curriculum proliferation putting some pressure on the cost-benefit calculus of enrolling in a JD/MBA program.
While the law school curriculum has made important strides, the Osofsky/Wood study still suggests that the law schools have room for improvement. Among other things, Harvard JD/MBAs donate more to the business school than the law school and were more satisfied with their business school experience. Law schools who learn from business schools how to improve their student satisfaction may be able to reap donation windfalls in the future accordingly.
Hat tip: The Conglomerate
November 29, 2005
I don't get the ringtone phenomenon. I'm not a big fan of cellphones generally (I got my very first cellphone ever in August, and I've used it less than 20 minutes since then), and I don't care what the ring sounds like. Certainly I don't care enough to pay for a new ring. But a smart marketer may have come up with a way to potentially dislodge some of my money by offering a ringtone based on the Slinky theme song from its old commercials. See here and then search for "slinky." Unfortunately, the AG Interactive verison is like a bad Muzak knockoff--it's horrible! If you would like to hear a more listenable version of the song, try here.
Meanwhile, according to Clickz, the slinky ringtone is just the beginning:
"Slinky content for mobile devices and IM will include emoticons, backgrounds and wallpapers, winks, avatars, screensavers, video ringtones and clips from the toy's classic commercial."
More Family Photos
Lisa uploaded another batch of poorly-edited family photos to Kodak's EasyShare. These photos cover various events related to Jacob's 3rd birthday, as well as Thanksgiving. Watch out--some of the kids pictured are not Goldman products! I particularly like the second photo (where Lisa put a ribbon in Dina's hair) and the third photo with Jacob and his dragon.
November 28, 2005
Teaching Academy Chicago Publishers v. Cheever
At ContractsProf, I blogged on teaching the Academy Chicago Publishers v. Cheever case.
November 21, 2005
Thanksgiving and Vegetarians
I don't think meat-eaters fully appreciate how many Thanksgiving rituals revolve around the bird. The turkey determines when dinner is served. The turkey occupies the center of the table. The head of the household displays his or her carving excellence in cutting the turkey. Everyone fights over the wishbone. The turkey causes everyone to be sleepy after the meal. And then we talk about turkey leftovers for weeks afterwards.
Vegetarians often feel excluded from these rituals, so Thanksgiving often has different connotations for vegetarians. However, I'm not suggesting that meat-eaters shouldn't enjoy their turkey-related rituals. On the contrary, let me suggest three ways that meat-eaters can accommodate vegetarian guests like me at Thanksgiving:
1) Please don't do anything special for me. It breaks my heart when someone invites me to their home for Thanksgiving, cooks up a storm, and then feels like they have to something extra just for me. The ironic part is that there is always so much vegetarian food at the table that I don't need more. So don't fret about whether I've had enough to eat. I prefer not to be the center of attention, and as my expanding spare tire attests, I rarely go hungry.
2) Please give me accurate information about which dishes I can eat. Many Thanksgiving recipes unexpectedly contain meat, so I often don't know what dishes I can and can't eat. A quick narration of dishes helps immensely. But sometimes the narrator doesn't understand what on my verboten list; if in doubt, this should be discussed.
3) Please don't feel guilty about enjoying your rituals. The last thing I want to do is undermine the experience for you.
I'm often surprised how much the food distracts from the spiritual aspect of Thanksgiving. To me, Thanksgiving is about realizing how blessed we are and sharing that realization and the experience with loved ones. If this happens, I have a wonderful Thanksgiving regardless of who eats what.
November 18, 2005
Are You Hot or Not?, Academic Style
Slate writes about RateMyProfessor.com, one of the several websites designed to capture student word-of-mouth about professors. As the article points out, one dominant theme emerges--students want professors who are hot. Fortunately, I'm not listed (yet) in RateMyProfessor.com, a status I'm not complaining about. I've never considered hotness my strong suit (although I do try to glam it up for class).
I think the idea of capturing word-of-mouth is generally a great idea (hence, my stint at Epinions). If done properly, these websites could help decision-makers make smart choices in the marketplace. Unfortunately, I think these professor rating sites are usually not very credible. One of the lessons I learned at Epinions is that voting/rating systems need stabilization--not every vote deserves to be treated equally. Specifically, there needs to be some filtration process that prevents the jokey, deranged or vindictive votes from distorting the tally. Otherwise, the gamesters/fraudsters ultimately take over the system, and the resulting data is junk. The Slate article provides some nice examples of the inevitable degradation of the RateMyProfessor database.
Turkey Prices and Economic Inefficiency
This kind of stuff drives vegetarians crazy. Wholesale price of turkeys: $0.70/lb or more. Retail price of turkeys during Thanksgiving: $0.39/lb. The reason: grocery stores subsidize turkey sales as a loss leader to increase traffic.
I don't have a problem with people eating turkey on Thanksgiving (or at other times) so long as they pay the true social cost of turkeys. But if meat prices reflected true social costs, people would eat a lot less meat. Instead, subsidies and incomplete cost accounting throughout the manufacturing, distribution and retail chain lead to meat prices well below its true social cost. In turn, underpricing leads to overproduction and overconsumption of turkeys and other meats. So cheap turkey prices makes for an artificially happy Thanksgiving for eaters (and definitely not for turkeys).
Meanwhile, we've been reading "Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving" to Jacob. I'm not sure the ultimate conclusion makes sense (I wouldn't want a live turkey in my house), but it's a seasonally-topical yet vegetarian-friendly book.
UPDATE: Reuters talks about the heritage turkey phenomenon, where people can watch a webcam of free-range turkeys frolic before meeting the ax. I wonder why this website is treated differently than the SaveToby.com website?
November 14, 2005
Blogging at ContractsProf
November 11, 2005
Illegal Spyware Use Contributes to Attorney Discipline
In re Petition for Disciplinary Action against Kristine Katherine Trudeau, 2005 WL 3007005 (Minn. Nov. 7, 2005).
In matters not involving client representations, Trudeau "pled guilty to gross misdemeanor interference with a 911 call and misdemeanor unauthorized computer access by installing and using an email spyware program. Respondent also violated a harassment restraining order and orders for protection, made false statements to police officers while intoxicated, and filed frivolous litigation against one of the persons she harassed."
As punishment for these misdeeds, Trudeau's law license was indefinitely suspended (but for a minimum of 30 months) plus other assorted sanctions such as getting substance abuse counseling. The law license suspension is in addition to any punishment she received under the criminal law system (and there could be civil liability as well). I couldn't easily find any more information about the underlying spyware conviction--if you have any information on that, I'd be grateful.
November 03, 2005
Coase Theorem and Strip Clubs
The Coase Theorem applied to strip clubs: if moralists really object to a strip club but legal tools aren't available to shut it down, they can just buy the club and then shut it down.
(I've previously blogged on trademark law as a tool to shut down one strip club).
[I post this reluctantly because I'm fretful that I will get AdSense ads keyed to "strip club"--apologies in advance]
November 02, 2005
How to Get Started Blogging (Part 3 of a 3 Part Series on Blogs)
This is the third of a three part series about blogging based on my presentation at a Minnesota IP CLE in September. Today's question: assuming that you want to get into blogging, how should you get started?
I have a single succinct response to this question: start out as a guest blogger somewhere. Don't try to start up a blog from scratch on your own, at least not as a first-time blogger. Let me make my case to you why it's better to start as a guest blogger:
1) Blogging has high start-up costs. There are various start-up costs to blogging, including:
* picking the right vendor
* configuring the blog
* generating enough content to be noticed. In this respect, blogging is like a flywheel--you need to crank hard in the beginning to get the wheel turning. You can ease off a bit after the blog is established, but a strong and steady stream of posts in the beginning is critical to building the blog and its readership
* marketing the blog
Meanwhile, by joining an existing blog, there are zero start-up costs--someone has already incurred those for you.
2) Develop your blogging skills and preferences before you commit. By blogging somewhere else, you can learn what you like and don't like about various blog vendors. Switching after the blog is up is far more difficult than picking right from the beginning.
You can also develop your blogging voice. I stand behind all of my posts, but some of my early posts were, frankly, a little goofy, and there are definitely some posts I would handle differently now. It took me a while to establish my norms for what's blog-worthy and how best to present that information. In the context of a multi-person blog, you'll have some role models to emulate and some mentors to coach you.
Finally, as a guest, you can get a sense of the actual time it takes to blog on an ongoing basis. It's easy to underestimate this time, which is why I think so many blogs quickly fail. You can assess this time commitment without incurring start-up or wind-down costs.
3) Built-in readership. By joining an existing blog, you get access to an existing audience--readers on day 1. If you decide to launch your own blog or move to another blog, some of those readers will follow you.
You also get the blog's existing Google PageRank for search engine traffic. It takes some time for Google to assign a rank to a new blog, so your posts probably will get better search engine traffic by being at a site with existing PageRank. Further, if your co-blogger(s) has a good reputation generally, you can get the branding benefit of associating with their brand.
4) No wind-down costs. I think one of the best reasons to blog is to build a personal brand. Thus, you don't want to do anything with your blog that may undermine your brand.
Personally, I think there can be negative brand implications from stopping a blog mid-stream. (It depends on the circumstances, but there can be a taint to stopping an existing blog). In contrast, if you're a guest blogger, and you decide not to continue, there's no taint--by definition, the guest stint can be time-limited, so there's no consequence to letting the stint lapse.
How Do I Find a Guest Stint?
If you have good personal relationships with bloggers, just approach them. But if you don't, you might consider approaching some of your favorite bloggers and asking about an arrangement. Many bloggers are looking for good guest bloggers as a way to add diversity to the blog (and maybe lighten their writing load), so bloggers may be more receptive than you think.
[Note: I recognize that some of this post could be read as an implied request or encouragement to approach me for a guest blogging stint. That's not my intent. This blog tends to be fairly personal, so for now I don't plan to add other bloggers to this one. My other blog does have some guests, but I'm not sure how many more guests I'd like to add.]
Increasingly, we're seeing multi-person blogs, blog mergers and other consolidations. There are good reasons for consolidation: it's hard to bear the writing and operational responsibility of being a single-person blogger, a diversity of views makes the blog more interesting, and having multiple people marketing the blog tends to increase traffic for the blog across-the-board. As a result, I think the days of single-person blogs are coming to an end.
In my case, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see this blog (or my other blog) roll up into a larger structure in the future. I like blogging, but I also think there is such strength in numbers that I'll be better off combining my talents with others. Stated in another way, based on 9 months of solo blogging experience, if I had to do it all over again I would start out in a group blog rather than on my own.
One final thought: if you do decide to invest long-term in a joint blogger as an equal participant, make sure you lay out a deal with your joint bloggers in advance. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.