Goldman's Observations 2016-10-18T17:57:56Z WordPress Eric Goldman <![CDATA[I’ve Been Bobble-ized…And You Can Win “Me”]]> 2016-10-18T17:57:56Z 2016-10-18T17:57:56Z When I directed the High Tech Law Institute, slinkies were my schwag of choice. With the peaceful transition of HTLI leadership to Brian Love, our schwag of choice changed to…bobbleheads. Two years ago, the HTLI produced a bobblehead of Federal Circuit Judge Randall Rader. Last year, it was USPTO chief Michelle Lee. And this year…well, it’s me.


Before we celebrate the bobblehead, I do need to clarify the backstory and my (lack of) involvement in choosing the bobblehead’s subject. I can’t claim to be completely modest, but it would be Trump-level self-aggrandizement (i.e., more than I have) to direct or ask my organization to make a bobblehead of myself. Instead, Brian and the HTLI team cooked up the scheme while I was out of the office on sabbatical last year. As a result, I first learned about the bobblehead when I saw the final product about 2 weeks ago. Also, the prior two bobbleheads were produced with the permission and cooperation of the subjects, which didn’t happen here due to the secrecy. When I first saw the bobblehead, I joked that I should sue the school for publicity rights violations; and Brian ran with the gag by drafting a mock complaint. (I trust most of you know me well enough that it would take a lot more than this to turn me into a plaintiff). We thought about including the mock complaint as part of the bobblehead announcement, but Brian instead added the “unauthorized” legend to the bobblehead annotations and I’ve dropped my litigious threats (for now…[cue ominous music]).

Now that we’re past the self-referential implications, I can’t tell you how honored I am to be bobble-ized–and to join the ranks of Judge Rader and USPTO Director Lee, two true legends in our field who have been an inspiration to me. My mom would have been so proud!

The bobblehead itself is a delightful treasure. Brian and the HTLI team did an awesome job capturing the real me–with the obvious exception of the bobblehead’s full head of hair, a flattering homage to an earlier phase of my life. The bobblehead’s features and annotations reflect Brian’s characteristic wit and whimsy. I didn’t get the chance to veto any details, but I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

While the world might be a better place if everyone had their own personal Eric Goldman bobblehead to enjoy, bobblehead production was extremely limited. Not only is the bobblehead special, but it’s very, very rare. If you want your own personal mini-me, you’ll have to win it by following the instructions here. (Bonus caveat: I’ve not been involved in doing the legal clearance for this promotion, and it might provide fun facts for a future Advertising Law exam). GOOD LUCK!

Eric Goldman <![CDATA[New Essay: ‘Writing Tenure Review Letters’]]> 2016-09-20T15:11:26Z 2016-09-20T15:11:26Z I’m pleased to announce the publication of a new essay, Writing Tenure Review Letters, 19 Green Bag 2d 357 (2016). The essay abstract:

Tenure review letters are a crucial part of the tenure process, but academic communities don’t often discuss how to write them. This essay offers my top 10 suggestions for how to conceptualize and write helpful tenure review letters.

Ross Davies of the Green Bag said he plans to have a “micro-symposium” about the essay in the near future. Green Bag micro-symposia consist of *very short* written responses to a Green Bag article, so participation will require a trivial fraction of the time required to write a traditional symposium contribution. If you think you might want to be a part of the micro-symposium about this essay, please email me and I’ll make sure you get the call for papers when it’s issued.

Because this essay is probably most helpful to professors who recently received tenure, I see it as a complementary piece to my 2013 essay “Top 10 Tips for a Newly Tenured Professor.”

Eric Goldman <![CDATA[PROJECT COMPLETE: I’ve Finished Selling My Mom’s Real Estate Portfolio]]> 2016-09-15T21:26:16Z 2016-09-15T21:26:16Z In addition to the emotional consequences, my mom’s death in April 2015 put a big workload onto my plate–including managing and liquidating her portfolio of 15 real estate properties. That has proven to be one of the most complicated and challenging professional projects of my career. So I’m sure you can appreciate my excitement to share the good news that we just closed the final real estate sale, thus completing the project 16 months after her death. Some stats:

The portfolio:

Real estate spreadsheet

Brokers interviewed: over 30
Different brokers (individuals or teams) used: 9
Range of commissions paid: 5%-7%
Highest number of offers on a property: 14
Times a buyer dropped out of escrow: 3
Times a downed tree needed emergency removal: 2
Shortest turnaround from selecting broker to closed deal: about 3 months
Longest turnaround from listing to closed deal: about 7 months

Eric Goldman <![CDATA[Selling Real Estate? Some Suggested Interview Questions For Prospective Brokers (LinkedIn Cross-Post)]]> 2016-05-17T15:52:52Z 2016-05-17T15:52:52Z My mom was a real estate investor, and after her death I assumed responsibility for a portfolio of 15 real estate properties to manage and sell. This is the first of a series of posts where I’ll share some lessons I learned from selling 11 of her properties in 11 months.

In this post, I’ll discuss how I chose a listing broker. In some cases, my mom had a solid existing relationship with a broker that made them the obvious choice. In most cases, however, I started from scratch. Often, I could generate a list of broker candidates through personal referrals from my personal network. Also, I sometimes got helpful referrals from the property manager (where there was one) or from the property appraiser we needed to hire (they know who is moving properties in the area). I interviewed no fewer than 3 brokers per property.

Here is the checklist of questions I used in my interviews:

* Describe some of your recent transactions similar to this one. [Note: for example, if I was trying to sell a condo, I wanted to see recent condo transactions.]

* Is there a better or worse time to sell? (i.e., is there a seasonality to the market that will affect sales price and listing duration?)

* Describe the types of buyer segments you think are likely to want to be interested in the property. [Note: this is just marketing 101. Who are your target customers, and what do they want?]

* What steps will you take to market the house, and do you do anything unique to make sure the target buyer segments know about the listing? [Note: I rarely got great answers to this question. No matter what they say, most brokers depend heavily on the Multiple Listing Service as their primary marketing tool. Still, just asking the question signaled to the broker that I expected them to up their game. Also, I found some brokers are more comfortable with social media marketing than others; it’s a good way to judge if a broker is trying to stay ahead of shifting marketing trends.]

* What work do you recommend we do to prepare the property for sale? Will you help coordinate getting that work done?

* What is your commission rate and what services do you include as part of your commission? [Note: commissions are totally negotiable. Even if a broker doesn’t budge on commission percentages, they may be willing to absorb some expenses (e.g., cleaning, inspections, closing costs) out of their share. If your broker sources the buyer, they might also be willing to take a discount because they don’t have to share the commission with a cooperating broker.]

* Do you have a preliminary estimate of a recommended listing price? [Note: I found the answers to this question surprisingly insightful. It told me a lot about how the broker viewed the property and the competitive properties. In some cases, it was clear that some brokers planned to recommend a below-market price to get a quick sale even if it left money on the table; and other brokers tried to “buy” the listing by promising an above-market price that they could never deliver.]

I don’t have any guidance about how to sort through the brokers’ answers to these questions. A lot will depend on your intuition. If I didn’t like the answers I got after interviewing three brokers, I kept adding new broker candidates until I found someone I could trust and who matched my work style. Choosing a sub-optimal broker candidate will inevitably lead to months of frustration, so don’t settle!

A final thought: I prefer to communicate with emails rather than phone or texts, so I needed to ensure that each broker was comfortable with email (not all of them are!). Thus, I required each broker candidate to follow up with me by email after the interview (usually, I asked for a Comparative Market Analysis). You’d be amazed how many brokers didn’t follow up with me or took weeks to do so, and that immediately ruled them out.

Eric Goldman <![CDATA[Talk on Evolving Trends In High Tech Legal Education (Cross-Post From My Other Blog)]]> 2016-05-13T16:31:36Z 2016-05-13T16:29:14Z [Note: I don’t often cross-post to both of my blogs, but this topic cuts across both so I’m making the exception.]

University of Hertfordshire Law School. Photo by Pete Stevens -

University of Hertfordshire Law School. Photo by Pete Stevens –

In April, I spoke at the British and Irish Law Education and Technology Association (BILETA) annual meeting at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, England. BILETA is an academic work-in-progress conference series for British/Irish cyberlaw and IT/IP professors, so I felt at home with the group even though I had not previously attended one of the conferences. If you teach those topics and are looking for additional work-in-progress presentation opportunities, I encourage you to get on the BILETA email list.

The conference organizer asked me to speak about high tech legal education. As it turns out, for the past 6+ months I’ve been doing a skunkworks project for the law school to think more deeply about next-generation options for high tech legal education, so the topic was timely and personally relevant. Indeed, the last iteration I discuss in the talk will give you a preview of my current proposed direction, something that I haven’t vetted with my faculty colleagues yet (so let’s keep it between us!).

Audio recording of my talk–a svelte 25 minutes!–and my presentation slides (which won’t make much sense without the narration). Photos from the talk (start here and click right) and the photo album from my week in England.

Eric Goldman <![CDATA[Newly Listed: Well-Located Palm Springs Condo]]> 2016-05-05T15:06:03Z 2016-05-05T15:06:03Z Our latest listing is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo in Palm Springs. This condo has played an especially important role in my life.

View of the San Jacinto Mountains from the balcony.

View of the San Jacinto Mountains from the balcony.

When I lived in LA from 1985-94, I would frequently visit this condo on weekends and school breaks. It was only a 2 hour drive from West LA without traffic (ha ha). The condo was my escape/respite from LA’s craziness (and my roommates). Plus, who doesn’t love hanging out in Palm Springs? Blue skies, smogless air, lovely vistas and lots of quiet. When I had time, I loved hiking in the mountains, including the Santa Rosa Mountains, the Garner Valley/Desert Divide and Joshua Tree.

In the summer of 1991, I couldn’t find a 1L summer job anywhere. My mom suggested that I could stay in the Palm Springs condo for free–I’d just have to pay the air conditioning bill–so I redirected my job search to Palm Springs and found a receptive job market. I got hired at a firm then called Sanger & Stein as a law clerk. Later, on my trips back to Palm Springs, I would sometimes visit with Howard Sanger socially. During winter break 1993, I visited the condo to hike and relax, and Howard graciously invited me to join his family for a New Years eve dinner. At dinner, I met Howard’s daughter, Lisa, who was applying to law school and had some questions about the process. We continued our conversation on email…and fell in love, got married, had kids and built our lives together….

I can’t promise you’ll find the love of your life because of this condo, but I can say you’ll find a wonderful getaway. It’s located on the second/top floor of the building with staircase access and a 2nd floor balcony. It has 2 master suites, each with an en suite bathroom, so it’s great for 2 couples or a family. There are pretty views of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains. We just redid the carpet and paint.

The condo is located in the Desert La Palme development. I visited the development in November and was impressed at its condition; the HOA is doing a fantastic job maintaining the place. The common areas include an inviting pool and hot tub just a few steps from the unit.

The condo is conveniently located in town. It’s virtually across the street from the Palm Springs airport, and you could easily walk to/from the airport terminal to the condo. Downtown Palm Springs is 2 miles away, and there are several shopping centers and other services within walking distance. When I worked at the law firm, I even walked to work. Often, when I’d come out for the weekend, I would walk everywhere and leave my car parked the entire time.

The MLS listing. I believe there will be an open house this Sunday noon-3.

Eric Goldman <![CDATA[Newly Listed: Dreamy Santa Barbara Riviera Home With Views You’ll Never Forget]]> 2016-02-25T22:24:33Z 2016-02-25T17:08:41Z My mom owned numerous beautiful homes over her lifetime–homes that many of us would classify as “dream homes.” Among this elite collection of real estate, her Santa Barbara home remains my clear all-time favorite. It wasn’t the largest home she owned, or the most expensive, and I lived there only two years while I was in high school (and it’s not like high school brings back fond memories. Cf. the John Hughes movies). Yet, more than 30 years later, this is the house I still dream about.

20160225153612174743000000-oWhy? It’s simple: the views. The house has unobstructed panoramic views of the city, the harbor, the Santa Barbara Channel and the Channel Islands (Santa Cruz Island dominates the horizon). As a bonus, the loft has a west-facing view of the mountains, and I nostalgically recall watching sunsets from there. Compared to Montecito or Hope Ranch, Riviera homes typically have better views and way more convenient access to downtown, shopping and other services.

The house itself is a tri-level Spanish contemporary (the loft is a fourth level), nestled in a lush, private, garden-like and mostly usable half-acre with a semi-private circular drive. The house has 3 bedrooms (plus the loft), 2.5 baths and over 3,100 square feet. We recently did extensive renovations, including a new roof and gutters, new carpet, new paint, new water heater, pest work and more.

When my sister and I discussed whether to keep or sell my mom’s properties, deciding to sell this property was the hardest choice we made. I’ll almost certainly never live in such a nice house or have such amazing views again; and Santa Barbara is heavenly. When I visited the house in November, enjoying its jaw-dropping views and seasonably warm temperatures after a great vegan lunch at Mesa Verde, I wondered once again if we were making the right choice to sell the house. But I’m decades away from retirement and there’s no ABA-accredited law school in Santa Barbara; and realistically I couldn’t see using it as a vacation home frequently enough to justify keeping it. And so, despite my affection and nostalgia for this house, we’re putting it on the market so one very lucky buyer can live this dream.

* * *

The brokers’ description of the house:

Panoramic views surround you from every direction with the southern exposure toward the ocean, islands & harbor to the gorgeous western exposure with year-round sunsets and the city views of the landmark buildings of downtown Santa Barbara. Even mountain views are captured here! For those buyers who want the BIG ocean views, Spanish-style and a red-tile roof, this light and bright 3 bedroom + house has it all with over 3100 sf.

Located on a .58 acre parcel with quite a bit of useable land, this residence also has a new roof, new rain gutters and downspouts, new interior paint and new carpet. The rooms are large, the floor-plan is open and the tongue and groove ceilings are enhanced with wood beams.

A beautiful ancient oak tree graces the driveway turnaround in this mostly flat location. The off-street parking is excellent for the Riviera and the generously sized 2-car garage even has a window to the ocean view!

This is an excellent value in today’s hot Riviera market!

The full MLS listing and the dedicated website, both including more fabulous photos.

Eric Goldman <![CDATA[Newly Listed: Fabulous Los Altos House In Incredible Location]]> 2016-02-24T19:28:37Z 2016-02-24T19:28:37Z In 2014, my mom relocated from Sacramento to Los Altos to help our family cope with Lisa’s cancer. (As I’ve mentioned before, the plan unfortunately didn’t work out as we’d hoped). Given her situation, most people would have expected my mom to downsize and maybe find a lower-maintenance residence like a townhouse or condo. Nope. My mom always prided herself on having a fabulous principal residence, and she wasn’t going to let Bay Area real estate prices deter her. So my septuagenarian mom bought a 5 bedroom, 3300 square foot home on 1/3 of an acre that she occupied all by herself (well, and her Sheltie dog). No, it didn’t make any sense to any of us either, but it was her home and her decision, and we were glad to have her close-by.

523 Deodara, Los AltosWhile we might question my mom’s logic, there’s no question at all about my mom’s exquisite taste in homes. This home will satisfy the most discerning expectations for what a luxury home should be. It’s a single level home plus a bedroom suite upstairs that would be perfect for an office, au pair or in-laws. The rooms are spacious and most have lovely views of the park-like grounds that includes mature redwood trees, fruit trees and a cute-as-a-button playhouse. The house was tastefully remodeled by the prior owner and includes most of the amenities you’d expect in a first-class home. I spent some time working out of the home over the last 10 months, and I found it a peaceful yet productive place to be. My wife and I love the house so much that we seriously considered buying it for ourselves and selling our house in Mountain View. (We ultimately decided against it because it would require a change of school districts and we couldn’t justify the disruption for the kids).

While I love the home, I love the location even more. It’s in the Highlands district of Los Altos, a neighborhood you probably don’t know much about–but it will pleasantly surprise you. Even though the neighborhood is rustic (no streetlights or sidewalks, lots of redwoods) and feels millions of miles away from the craziness of Silicon Valley, it’s an easy walk to a Lucky’s supermarket, Trader Joe’s, Rite Aid, the Foothill Produce store, restaurants, Wells Fargo bank, and the Woodland Library. Yes, WALKING DISTANCE to all of the above. (Cue the “Nobody Walks in LA” jokes–indeed, I don’t think my mom walked to any of these amenities).

And the driving convenience is also remarkable. It’s a 2 minute drive to the 280/85 intersection, and from there, all South Bay, Peninsula and East Bay destinations are easy to reach (my time estimates are for off-peak hours, but some of these destinations are reverse commutes). Apple’s headquarters? 5 minutes. Google HQ? 15 minutes. Facebook HQ? 20 minutes. Downtown Mountain View? About 10 minutes. Santa Clara University? 15 minutes. Downtown San Jose? 20 minutes. And via Foothill Expressway, downtown Los Altos is less than 10 minutes and Stanford is 15 minutes.

A word about the price. If you live outside of California, the price will seem comically stratospheric. But in the tight real estate markets of Los Altos, Palo Alto and Mountain View, you’d expect to pay a lot more for such a large house, so tastefully updated, on such a large and lovely lot. There’s no such thing as a “bargain” Los Altos house, but this house is a good value compared to other mid-Peninsula options.

The house is listed by David Troyer of Intero. He’ll hold open houses Friday through Sunday. If you know someone interested in buying a mid-Peninsula luxury home, please spread the word. For more details:

The house website.
Video tour.
3D walkthrough.

Eric Goldman <![CDATA[A Collection Of Protips From The Last Half-Decade]]> 2016-02-06T19:19:07Z 2016-02-06T19:19:07Z According to KnowYourMeme, a “PROTIP is a term often used in forums and comments to preface snarky, obvious, counterintuitive, or sometimes genuine advice for the novice.” I have offered numerous protips over the past half-decade, ranging from snarky to genuine. Here, for your edification, are my protips to date:

* Protip: the “I automatically delete my emails after reading them” defense rarely works (Twitter 2016)

* Protip: don’t try to intimidate witnesses, especially if your Instagram handle is “snitch_killa305” (Twitter 2015)

* Protip: you’ll never match up with Mr. (or Ms.) Right if you don’t enter your email address correctly #millennials #TextingPreferred (Twitter 2015)

* Protip to personal injury plaintiffs: don’t Facebook-checkin at courthouse with the status “becoming a millionaire” (Twitter 2015)

* I just signed a 14 page law firm engagement letter. Protip: if your engagement letter is 14 pages, it’s probably 12-13 pages too long (Twitter 2015)

* Kozinski used the term “neutral tools” five times, but he never defined the term or explained if online tool ever can be “neutral” (protip: the answer is no). (Blog 2015)

* Protip: usually when a disciplinary authority enforces the lawyer oath, it’s because they didn’t have a very strong case of misconduct (Blog 2015)

* Protip to lawyers: be careful signing online petitions, especially if they possibly relate to a matter you’re working on! (Blog 2015)

* a protip we knew even before Google’s critics shat on the first three settlement proposals: Google’s critics will *NEVER* be happy with any settlement proposal that Google would voluntarily accept (Blog 2015)

* protip to griping bloggers: even though it’s surely fair use, please don’t include headshots on your blog (Blog 2014)

* Protip: save your “I hate my job” gallows humor and workplace venting for your diary or happy hour at the local bar, not your Facebook timeline. (Blog 2014)

* another protip to griping bloggers: even though it’s surely fair use, please don’t include headshots on your blog. It’s avoidable litigation-bait (Blog 2014)

* Protip: before buying a digital song or movie, I check eBay and to see how much it costs to buy the same CD or DVD used (Blog 2013)

* Protip: Kegstands and Vertigo Are Inconsistent With Each Other–Johnson v. Ingalls (Blog 2012)

* A protip of general applicability: never allow sharp objects at family reunions. (Blog 2012)

* a new protip: if you’re involved in a fight, check with your lawyer before discussing said fight on Facebook (Blog 2012)

BONUS: My co-blogger Venkat Balasubramani has blogged some protips as well:

* Pro-tip: if you’re going to let someone borrow your phone, make sure you don’t have any sexy selfies that can be freely accessed by anyone who accesses the phone. (Blog 2014)

* PRO TIP: I presume the temptation is strong to monitor your soon-to-be-ex-spouse’s email, but resist it at all costs! (Blog 2014)

* Pro-tip: First Amendment merits aside, as a lawyer, I would avoid the “I have an absolute right to contact my ex” argument. (Blog 2014)

* Protip: Don’t Send Emails Threatening to “Inflict the Maximum Amount of Financial Pain” Allowed By Law (Blog 2014)

Eric Goldman <![CDATA[Announcing the Helen B. and Lewis E. Goldstein Scholarship Fund]]> 2016-02-01T23:27:53Z 2016-02-01T23:27:53Z Helen and Lewis Goldstein Sept 1974We’re pleased to announce a new scholarship fund, the Helen B. and Lewis E. Goldstein Scholarship Fund. Helen and Lew were my mom Gail Schlachter’s parents (i.e., my grandparents), who died in 1984 (Lew) and 1988 (Helen). Before her death, my mom set aside some money to create a scholarship in their honor, and I contributed some money as well. We’ve established the scholarship with the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, and the first award will be made this year. See the description and application process on the Jewish Federation’s website. The total scholarship amount will be at least $6,800 per year, and here are the eligibility requirements we specified to the federation:

a Jewish full-time student enrolled in an accredited undergraduate or graduate school (i.e., incoming freshman to graduate student) in the United States. Other criteria the scholarship committee may consider as “plus” factors: (1) recipient is an immigrant, or (2) recipient is enrolled in a professional school, especially law, business or library/information science.

All scholarship recipients will get the following statement:

Lewis Goldstein’s family emigrated from Russia, with stops in England and Canada before arriving in Detroit. Helen Goldstein left a shtetl in what is now Poland, traversed on foot across Europe to escape World War I, and arrived in Detroit.

Lewis obtained a law degree from Detroit College of Law and eventually became a civilian government contracts specialist for the U.S. Air Force in California. The Goldsteins had two children, Larry and Gail, who earned advanced degrees and achieved substantial professional success as a lawyer and librarian/publisher. The Goldsteins believed deeply in the value of education (even though Helen never had the privilege of completing her schooling); and though their lifetime earnings were modest, they set aside money to help their five grandchildren pursue their educations.

Their story might sound similar to the stories of thousands of other Eastern European Jews who emigrated to the United States, but it’s a powerful story that deserves retelling. The Goldsteins fled persecution, anti-Semitism and war violence in Europe to find tolerance and economic opportunity in the United States; and through their hard work and investments in education, they provided a better life for their descendants. It means a great deal to the Goldstein family that Helen and Lewis’ legacy includes an investment in your education with the hope it will provide long-term benefits to you and your descendants.

If you are interested in contributing to this fund, please let me know.