Goldman's Observations 2017-04-20T20:07:46Z hourly 1 2000-01-01T12:00+00:00 Santa Clara Law Alumni Magazine Coverage of the Privacy Law Certificate 2017-04-20T20:07:46Z The most recent edition of our alumni magazine has extensive coverage of our Privacy Law Certificate:

* the feature/cover story: “Santa Clara Law Trains Privacy Law Professionals.” Among other highlights, the story captures some of the 2-decade-long bromance between me and Scott Shipman. The article includes two sub-features: (1) a spotlight, “Privacy Pioneer,” on my colleague Dorothy Glancy, who has been teaching and working in the privacy field for over 4 decades, and (2) featurettes on three of our superstar certificate alumni: Emily Yu, Joe Mazzella and Sona Makker. As I say in the featurette, “The real heroes in this story are the students.”

* To close out the issue (the “Closing Arguments” feature), I wrote a short article, “What Makes the Privacy Law Certificate Special?,” about the differentiators of our Privacy Law Certificate.

I’m proud of the Privacy Law Certificate, my role in its development, and the results we’re seeing for students and alumni. I think these articles do a great job telling the certificate’s story, so I hope you’ll check them out.

The issue also has some great coverage of our IP program, including:

* “Colleen Chien Awarded Young Scholar Medal by The American Law Institute

* “Santa Clara Law Graduate Azadeh Morrison Receives National Award in IP

I feel lucky to be associated with these talented individuals and to be part of such a dynamic community!

A Teenager’s View of the Seattle Vegetarian Scene (Guest Blog Post) 2016-11-14T19:46:21Z [Eric’s introduction: today I’m turning the blog over to my 13 year old son for his first-ever guest blog post]

In October, my dad and I took a short trip to Seattle. I had never been to Seattle before, so it was exciting to learn about the city’s history, see great views, and try new vegetarian and vegan restaurants. In this post, I will share a vegetarian teenager’s thoughts about the restaurants we visited (my dad helped edit this post). I hope you enjoy!

Travelers (south side of Seattle)

We first stopped at an Indian restaurant called Travelers Thali House. The restaurant was indeed in a house. It also contained a small store of Indian food supplies, and it had hundreds of Indian spices lining the walls.

We ordered the “Full Thali” to share between the two of us. If you do not know, a Thali is a collection of many dishes on a circular platter with tastings of each. The Full Thali contained Sweet and Sour Pumpkin, Nine-Jewel Korma, a potato and tomato curry, a yogurt sauce, rice, dal, fruit, a fried dough ball and an Indian dessert. We also ordered a side of garlic naan.

On the plus side, the food tasted really good. My favorite dish of the Thali was the potato and tomato curry, because it was spicy and the potato added texture to the dish. I also really liked the dal and the crunchy-chewy naan. The meal might have been too spicy for some, but the yogurt sauce and naan helped cool down the spiciness of everything else. My dad thought the spiciness was great. One thing I did not like, though, was the dessert because it did not have much flavor. It mostly tasted like coconut. The mini fruit salad was okay.

Unfortunately, I had a big problem with the service. We sat down around 1:30 p.m. on a non-rainy Saturday afternoon and we ordered our food at 1:45 p.m. The food did not arrive until 2:50! In fact, a couple even left before they ordered because they obviously knew more than us about how long it would take for them to get their food. The whole time I waited, I was starved and it was hard to focus, and each minute felt like three. To sum it up in one word, the wait was painful. For us, our enjoyment of the food was overwhelmed by the unacceptably long service times.


Speed: F (It took way too long to get our food–over an hour–and they did not adequately warn us of the ridiculously long time it would take).

Quality/Presentation: B+ (A bit spicy to me, but overall I enjoyed most of the food except the dessert, which only tasted like sugar and coconut).

Overall: D+ (Despite the good food, the time it took to get it was not nearly worth it. Waiting over an hour was really bad).

Chaco Canyon (West Seattle)

For Saturday dinner, we met some friends at Chaco Canyon. I got the lentil burger with marinated onions, a sauce, and sprouts. My dad got an off-menu item called the Hippie Bowl, with sprouts, quinoa, carrots, tofu, and a sauce. We also sampled a Thai Peanut Salad and the Elvis smoothie. As takeout for the next morning’s breakfast, we ordered the breakfast burritos.

The wait to get our meal felt short. I enjoyed my burger because it was filling and healthy, and I enjoyed the taste of the patty itself along with the fresh condiments on top. I also liked my dad’s bowl with the fresh vegetables and the protein from the tofu. The Thai Peanut Salad had good greens and cabbage and the right spiciness level. I really liked the Elvis, a smoothie with bananas and peanut butter, because it tasted sweet and creamy and had a good nutty punch to it.

I would recommend Chaco Canyon to almost any vegetarian or vegan. It was probably my favorite restaurant we tried in Seattle that weekend.


Speed: A+ (The food got out to all of us within 15-20 minutes of ordering, nothing got screwed up, and the waitress was nice).

Quality/Presentation: A+ (The food was presented as it should, the bowls looked like bowls, the veggie burger had all the elements of a great veggie burger, and when it came to taste, I enjoyed everything).

Overall: A+ (There was no more I could ask for from this restaurant. The food tasted great and the timeliness and friendliness was as good as I could want at any restaurant. There were no flaws of this restaurant in any aspect).

Cafe Wylde (Everett)

My dad and I toured the Boeing factory in Mukilteo (north of Seattle), so we decided to make the quick drive to Everett to check out a vegan restaurant called Cafe Wylde. When we got in the cafe, no other customers were there, even though it was around 12:15 on a Sunday afternoon. It was a troubling first sign that this place might not be great.

True to its name, the restaurant was casual and cafe-like. The front case displayed many fruits, and there was a circular staircase to an upstairs loft. The speed was good.

About half of the items contained jackfruit. I got the peach habanero tacos, which contained three tacos, each with a taco shell, avocados, peach sauce, lettuce, jackfruit, and habanero peppers. Yet, neither of the two advertised flavors really hit me in any bite. The peach sauce was covered up taste-wise by the other parts of the dish, and the habaneros were not spicy at all. I also did not like the taste of jackfruit, which felt like a weird meat substitute for me. My dad got a BBQ sandwich, which also contained jackfruit inside, and it was similarly unremarkable. While the speed was better than Travelers, this was my least-favorite stop on our trip, and I would not go here again.


Speed: A (Nothing fantastic about the waiters or the service time, but it was pretty quick in getting our food prepared).

Quality/Presentation: D+ (The food tasted okay, but I would have rather eaten something at home, and the two main flavors that were supposed to be the stars of the dish failed to come home to my taste buds at all. Since it did not make me feel sick and was definitely edible, it did not deserve an F).

Overall: C (This restaurant was better than Travelers because the waiting time was above average, and the food was okay, but the food lacked a depth in flavor and left me expecting more from each dish).

Pizza Pi (University District)

1/2 Mac-and Yease, 1/2 BBQ Chicken

1/2 Mac-and Yease, 1/2 BBQ Chicken

For Sunday dinner, we visited Pizza Pi, which serves vegan pizzas. Who does not enjoy a great pizza?

We ordered a medium pizza to share. Based on the server’s recommendation, we got half BBQ Chicken and the other half “Mac ‘n’ Yease.” Both versions used a white garlic sauce rather than a more traditional tomato sauce; the server told us he did not prefer their tomato sauce and we followed his lead.

The BBQ Chicken pizza had garlic and BBQ sauce, vegetables, and fake chicken. The Mac and Yease pizza was made of macaroni and fake cheese, garlic sauce, and faux Canadian bacon. It tasted just like Mac and cheese except the vegan cheese tasted a bit different and some good Canadian “bacon” was added.

We both agreed that the Mac and Yease pizza was better, both because it tasted good and was an unusual combination. I mean, who does not like either pizza or Mac and Yease? However, the BBQ pizza did not live up to the same standards. It had a weird combo with garlic and BBQ sauces, and the faux chicken tasted a bit weird to me. It was fine but not great like the Mac and Yease pizza.

I liked this place very much and would consider going back.


Speed: A (Nothing spectacular about it, and since it was pizza it took a bit longer, but a normal wait time that you would expect for pizza to take).

Quality/Presentation: A (The Mac and Yease tasted great and was nice and funky. The BBQ pizza was still good but had some flavors that fought each other for control and did not fully work with each other).

Overall: A (The service was pretty good, and the pizzas tasted pretty good overall, so just below perfection).

Eltana (Seattle Center)

We decided to keep breakfast quick on Monday morning, so we went to Eltana in Seattle Center. I got an everything bagel with cream cheese, and my dad got a sesame seed bagel with peanut butter. It arrived pretty quickly. The bagels were pretty flat, and not that big either, so not a lot of bang for your buck. Also, it tasted like they put extra salt on mine, and I really noticed it in every bite I took. Otherwise, it was pretty good.


Speed: A+ (It took five minutes or so to heat up and put the toppings on, and then we were eating).

Quality/Presentation: B (In terms of looks, the bagel did not look aesthetically pleasing as it was very flat. When I tasted it it was bit too salty, and there was nothing super special about this bagel relative to any other I have tasted).

Overall: B+ (If you want a big breakfast, you might want something more fancy and filling).

Araya Kitchen (Madison Valley)

For Monday lunch, we went to Araya Kitchen for their all-you-can-eat Thai lunch buffet. As a buffet, the dishes were prepared earlier, so it may not have been as fresh as if we had ordered off the menu.

I had two plates of food, so it definitely was filling enough for me. Some foods that I tried included rice, a spicy mushroom soup, curry with vegetables and tofu, spring rolls, and a few different salads. I also saw something that looked like kimchi, and a rice pudding for dessert. I enjoyed the curry the most, somewhat because I share my dad’s appreciation of curry. I liked the vegetables and tofu, and the slightly spicy curry did not overpower the dish and fit nicely with the rice. The mushroom soup, on the other hand, was a bit too spicy for me and possibly overpowered other flavors in the dish. Spring rolls are always good because it is a nice crunch with vegetables inside; nothing bad about that at all.

It was pretty filling and I would recommend it to anyone with a big appetite and anyone who enjoys good Thai food.


Overall: A (Everything tasted pretty delicious to me, but the soup was a bit spicy. The buffet was presented nicely and made me want to start chowing down).

Sugar Plum (Capitol Hill)

For a special treat, my dad and I visited a dessert shop, Sugar Plum. We ordered a scoop of vegan salted caramel ice cream. Unfortunately, the coconut cream was a bold flavor in the ice cream (at least to my taste buds) and covered up the taste of saltiness or sweet caramel flavor you expect. I still enjoyed it, but it had the potential to wow me and enjoy it more.

Bamboo Garden (Queen Anne)

Bamboo Garden was right next door to our hotel. When rain made it difficult to get to our dinner destination, we decided to get takeout and relax at our hotel.

I got a Corn Chowder soup and a Golden Baked tofu dish that had many chunks of fried tofu stuffed with vegetables and broccoli on the outside and a sweet sauce. Dad got Kernel Corn Chicken soup and an appetizer of potstickers. We ordered everything vegan.

Dad’s soup looked pretty good to me and I enjoyed the potstickers that we shared. I don’t normally get corn chowder and it had a weird texture for my taste, but dad enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the tofu dish because of how it tasted and because it was fairly filling. I especially enjoyed the contrasts in texture; the tofu with the vegetables inside and broccoli for the “crunch” outside of it. The sauce also went well with this entree because of the sweetness compared to the other flavors present inside the dish.

Overall: A- (I enjoyed the tofu and vegetables and dad’s potstickers, but the corn chowder was not my favorite, though dad liked it because he ate most of it. The dish was plated nicely).

Sunlight Cafe (University District)

For Tuesday breakfast, we went to Sunlight Cafe. It was a homey cafe, with honey on the tables and ceiling fans.

I ordered the Huevos Picante, a breakfast burrito. They gave me an option of green or red salsa, or I could get it “Christmas style” with both. I tried that. I liked the green salsa better because the red one tasted funny to me, while the green one tasted a bit spicy and just good. Inside the burrito was beans, eggs, onions, salsa, tortilla, and sour cream. However, the sour cream seemed a little on the heavy side. The salsas were not really that spicy, so I did not need the sour cream to reduce the spiciness, and I do not love sour cream *that* much! Everything else I really enjoyed, especially the nice, beans and well-cooked eggs. It was filling to start my day off strong.

My dad got the Vegan Highlander, which was only on the brunch menu, but the waitress recommended it to him. The dish was like a tofu scramble with an english muffin on the side.

The service wait was not too long either and the waitress was nice enough.


Speed: A (Nothing spectacular, but the food did not take too get to the table).

Quality/Presentation: B to B+ (I enjoyed my meal, but there was a bit too much sour cream on my dish, and the red salsa tasted a bit funny to me. I would still go there again next time. The food was plated nicely with beans on the side, and everything else inside or spilling out of the tortilla).

Overall: A- (The service was pretty good, but the taste of the food had a few minor errors that got it away from getting a great grade).

Plum Pantry (Seattle Center)

Our last stop was Plum Pantry for lunch. This place was very casual. We ordered it to go and ate it in the sun at Kerry Park, overlooking downtown Seattle and Puget Sound.

I got a chipotle grill sandwich. I enjoyed it, with the spiciness of the chipotle sauce and the tomatoes on two slices of bread. Dad got a make-your-own-bowl with quinoa, chickpeas, vegetables (yams and broccoli) and a basil pesto. Dad’s bowl looked pretty appealing. However, it looked overpriced at $12 for a small bowl. Both dishes definitely felt like you could use ingredients you may find in most or some pantries to make the dish–just as advertised. Not too filling, but still a nice way to finish up my eating spree in Seattle.


Speed: A (Pretty good).

Quality/Presentation: A (I enjoyed what I ate with the freshness of the nice tomatoes, and dad’s bowl looked fresh and like something I would definitely eat at home, or really any time).

Overall: A (I would go there again, but not one of my main go-to restaurants)

Announcing the Publication of a New Book: “Find Kitty Nala” 2016-10-29T15:56:09Z find-the-kitty-book-coverIn November 2013, we adopted a kitten we renamed Nala, though we often call her “Kitty” for simplicity and lack of creativity. She is both photogenic and a furball of personality, so we take a lot of photos of her.

Unlike some cats, Kitty Nala doesn’t have just a few favorite places to ply her kittycraft. Instead, because she views the entire house as her royal domain, she often enjoys trying out new and different resting spots–and sometimes she blends into the setting or otherwise becomes difficult to see. We began posting photos of her to Facebook, asking if our Facebook friends could “spot the kitty.” This became a popular game in our Facebook circles, so I decided to compile the photos together into a book which challenges you to find her in the photos. The book is like a “Where’s Waldo?” book, but with a cuter protagonist, and you’ll marvel at Kitty Nala’s cleverness and silliness in finding new hideouts. The photo “puzzles” are organized so they start super-easy to warm you up and become progressively more challenging. Every photo comes with an answer key in case you’re stumped. See a couple of sample photos (#1 and #2), and check out her Flickr gallery.

The book is available as a DRM-free PDF download at Gumroad and in hard copy format from CreateSpace. The hard copy makes a fun holiday gift that the whole family will enjoy together. We also created a Zazzle store for kitty tchotchkes; if you have a favorite photo and want it on an item we haven’t set up in Zazzle, let me know and I’ll set it up.

We hope you like getting to know Kitty Nala. Enjoy the book!

Spring 2016 Trips to Israel, England and Death Valley 2016-10-27T18:50:45Z [Whoops, this got stuck in the blog queue. Posting now despite its datedness.]

In April, I spoke on online trademark and marketing issues in Israel, legal education for high tech law in London and Section 230 in Brighton. Lisa and I (without the kids!) spent 4 days in Tel Aviv, 2 days in Jerusalem, 4 days in London and 2 days in Brighton. It was a remarkable trip, made even more meaningful because Lisa could successfully make the trip. We mostly focused on mainstream tourist destinations and classic landmarks, and we also saw some old friends, visited other folks with ROS1 lung cancer, and ate lots of vegan food. Photo album from Israel. Photo album from England.

I’ve posted several reviews from the trip to TripAdvisor. I’m reposting them here:

Rehovot: Ayalon Institute Museum

This is a tour of the “kibbutz on the hill,” also home to Machon Ayalon, a secret bullet factory for the Israeli independence movement done right under the noses of the British Mandate. You get to see it all: the kibbutz, the underground factory, and some of the equipment used in both. The tour guide answered all of our tough questions, ranging from “why here?” to “why this particular type of bullet?” to “how in the world did they keep it a secret from the British and everyone else?”

My wife and I found everything about this place fascinating:
– the courage and idealism of the factory workers
– how many people were involved yet it remained a secret
– the thoughtful planning, patience and cleverness of the independence movement leaders (the process of getting this factory running took many years and lots of clever moves)
– that no significant industrial accidents occurred despite the suboptimal working conditions and explosive materials. As the tour guide noted, we celebrate the miracle of Chanukah and oil for one day lasting for 8; but it’s REALLY a miracle that they manufactured 4.5M bullets without a mishap.

Regardless of how you feel about Zionism, this tour gives you fresh and thought-provoking material to consider the issues.

This is a destination better known by tourists than locals. When we told Israelis we went to Rehovot, they had no idea why; and many of them had never heard of the tour. It’s a mild schlep from Tel Aviv. It took a full afternoon, including $40 taxi rides each way; and there won’t be any taxis waiting to take you back, so keep your taxi driver or plan on calling a local Rehovot cab. Despite the logistics, the time and money was totally worth it. This visit was a major highlight of our Israel trip.

Jerusalem: 7Kook Boutique Hotel

I consider this hotel a real find. The location was terrific: a block away from Jaffa Road and less than 20 minutes to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate. Because the hotel is set back from a quiet side street, our room was remarkably quiet. It is rare to find a quiet room in such a great location. At $100/night, we thought the hotel was a very good deal.

London: Norman’s Coach & Horses

As a vegetarian, I love the idea of getting traditional English pub food vegetarian-style. Plus, the restaurant was just down the street from our hotel, so we had to go!

We were confused about arrival about where to eat. The downstairs bar is a little more crowded and rough-edged than we were looking for. When we told the bartender we planned to eat, he directed us to the upstairs dining area, which was more to our liking. The room wasn’t large but it was calm and quiet (there was only one other group eating there) and charming in a typically precious English way (the pink wallpaper is a little much).

We met a foodie friend for dinner, and I instantly became nervous that he would hate me forever for dragging him to such a funky place. Surprisingly, he seemed to enjoy his chef’s special (a savory pie), and he cleaned his plate. My wife tried the black bean burger with a stack of onion rings on top and barely ate half of it. She also tried the french onion soup and stopped after one bite (I finished it off and thought it was fine for what it was). At the waiter’s recommendation, I got the tofuish and chips. I loved the concept of a vegetarian fish and chips, but the taste was a little bland.

I’m glad we tried the restaurant, and I really enjoy vegetarian adventures like this regardless of how good the food is. But given the high level of vegetarian restaurant competition in London, I wouldg prioritize other options over visiting this place again.

London: St Martins Lane London Hotel

St. Martins Lane Hotel met or exceeded all of our expectations. The room was tastefully decorated, fully equipped and spacious enough. Despite its central location, it was remarkably quiet; we didn’t hear any internal noise and minimal noise from outside. We slept well each night. The breakfast was excellent, and my picky wife even praised her options. And the location! Right in the heart of Covent Garden, it was an easy walk to restaurants, shopping, tourist attractions and the Leicester Square tube station. We would gladly stay here again. We paid about $330/night including breakfast for 2, which we felt was a nice price given its location and quality.


Separately, I took my son on a quick father-son trip to Death Valley. My photo album. So photogenic!

At TripAdvisor, I wrote this review of Darwin Falls:

I love desert oases. I never get tired of the contrast between the hot and dry desert and a cool and lush oasis.

Darwin Falls is a great example. There are other riparian areas in the Death Valley area, but most of them are shadeless and salty. In contrast, Darwin Falls has it all: trees, mossy and grassy areas, flowers and cooler temperatures from the mist and shade. The hike starts in a hot and shadeless canyon, then you’ll start to see some greenery, then hear burbling from the creek, and eventually reach a small but lush riparian area framed by the bone-dry cliffs. The falls themselves are lovely, and they feel like a wonderful reward after the short hike. My 13 year old son ranked the Darwin Falls hike as one of his top 3 moments in Death Valley.

Access is via a gravel road that’s easily passable by passenger cars. Just drive carefully. There are no services at the trailhead, Route-finding is easy–just stay in the canyon (or follow the water pipes). Watch out for slippery rocks, and it may take some careful maneuvering to keep your feet dry on the hike once you get into the riparian area.

Santa Clara Law Alumni at Silicon Valley Companies 2016-10-24T16:12:28Z Our alumni magazine had a little feature about the number of Santa Clara Law alums at various Silicon Valley institutions. Unfortunately, the way they presented the data wasn’t intuitive to me, so I reorganized the data. Our school prides itself on having a pipeline to in-house counsel departments at local tech companies, and I think this chart helps illustrate the point:


I’ve Been Bobble-ized…And You Can Win “Me” 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!

New Essay: ‘Writing Tenure Review Letters’ 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.”

PROJECT COMPLETE: I’ve Finished Selling My Mom’s Real Estate Portfolio 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

Selling Real Estate? Some Suggested Interview Questions For Prospective Brokers (LinkedIn Cross-Post) 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.

Talk on Evolving Trends In High Tech Legal Education (Cross-Post From My Other Blog) 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.