Older Lawyers, Be Transformational Leaders with GenY

An undergraduate psychology class taught me that good leaders should be “transformational.” If I remember correctly, it means you should change your management approach to address any and all diverse leadership challenges.

Lately, many of you complain about the state of GenY lawyers, and they present a unique leadership challenge. However, I know you’re up to it.

GenY lawyers are unique. You can’t treat them the same as previous generations. Fear doesn’t work. Direct mentorship falls short. Bullying is a capital offense in their minds. They require you to think “outside of the box” and expect you to be a “thought leader.” They require incentives (and sometimes bribes) to accomplish most tasks. You, as the leader, must adjust.

To help (as you know, I’m always here to help), I present you with an incentive that should do the trick for 98% of your GenY motivational needs. It is attached below. You’re welcome. Oh, and don’t be stingy. GenY isn’t waiting for you to find excellence and merit. Nope. This will be needed for even the most routine tasks.

Finally, don’t forget to regularly exclaim how you find them to be “totally awesomesauce.”

With apologies to the wonderful folks at Pizza Hut.

More About Valor

Before I begin, a quick recap on what Websters says about valor:

strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery

This morning, I received a comment from SHG regarding his hesitation in addressing the Stolen Valor Act:

Never having served, and therefore by definition never having been awarded a military honor, I felt that my opinion on the Stolen Valor Act was somewhat compromised.

First, let me state that I have never committed an act that demonstrates valor. Sure, I received a few medals, but they were termed as being for “merit,” at best. Websters defines merit as follows (edited to omit the definitions of merit that do not apply in this case):

character or conduct deserving reward, honor, or esteem

I never did anything deserving or fitting that definition. Yet, I received two Meritorious Service Medals (among others). They are merely proof that I did my job, rose to the rank of Major, and that the Army’s perception of merit has been severely eroded. They sit lumped in my sock drawer with the other awards and devices I received.

But, to my original point. Look back at the definition of “valor.” Does it say anything about military service? No. Hazardous duty as a police officer or firefighter? Nope. Particularly noteworthy service during clandestine operations? Not even close. A 7-year-old Cub Scout is just as capable of displaying valor as anyone else. They are also fully capable of developing their own perception as to what constitutes valor. By extension, so is SHG.

This reminds me of a problem in our nation for the better part of 25 years. Any criticism of something that purports to help service members is interpreted as a slight upon the same service members. The most horrible tag we can give someone in this country (aside from being racist) is that they “don’t appreciate service members.”

Things that purport to help service members and veterans can still be completely asinine. They can still lack logical foundations. They can be stupid. The same goes for members of the military and veterans. Service does not inculcate superior wisdom or abilities. How you regard someone should be based upon who they are, and what they’ve done is but a small piece of that. Never be afraid to call a spade a spade.

Consider now the name of the act: The Stolen Valor Act. That sounds terrible, doesn’t it? They are stealing the fact that someone else has done something brave and heroic! They are taking credit for amazing acts in the face of unbelievable odds! They are taking what someone else earned through bravery and heroism and claiming it for themselves! Wait. Perhaps the name of this act is hyperbole.

As I stated previously (which I stated at the spur of the moment before going to bed last night), you can’t steal valor. Look at the definition again. You can’t steal that. Just like you can’t steal when I’m sad, or that you can’t steal the fact that I graduated from college. It’s impossible. It is an idea. It cannot be stolen.

So, how do we appropriately name this act?

The Lying About Military Service, Falsely Claiming the Awarding of Military Honors, or Wearing of Unearned Military Ribbons and/or Devices Criminalization Act.

How about that name? That’s got you punching-mad, doesn’t it?

Oh, not so much? But, you’d agree that it is a much more appropriate name, right? After all, that’s really what is being criminalized–someone lying about service and/or wearing military doodads.

Are we really that protective about military flair? The type of stuff I have wadded in a corner of my sock drawer? Is this an aggravated form of lying? Isn’t all lying bad?

So, how about the awards the Boy Scouts have regarding Valor (awarded scrupulously when someone saves someone else’s life or commits a heroic act). How about claiming to be an Eagle Scout? Girl Scout Gold Award? Police service? Service as a firefighter? Heroic acts as a police officer or firefighter? Service as a smoke-jumper?  AV preeminent on Martindale? 10.0 on Avvo? Top tomato project at the 4H fair?

Oh, the slippery slopes we slide upon.

Frankly, I think some folks have been doing an admirable job in exposing and humiliating the fakers. Believe me when I say that Veteran networks across this nation are thick, and when they discover a liar and faker, they let him/her have it. This is a very efficient, self-policing community. Thanks to the advent of databases and the internet, their job is infinitely easier.

They won’t benefit from over-criminalization. Nobody ever does.

You Can’t Steal Valor

Via Wikipedia

You can’t steal valor. It is impossible. Consider what Webster’s dictionary says about the word Valor:

strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery

You can’t take it from someone, just as you can’t take their wisdom from them.

You can’t take a bit of valor from the government, because it, as an entity, has none to give.

Getting a medal doesn’t give valor. It is simply a symbol in recognition of someone with perceived valor.

If someone wears a medal, but never earned it, they are not imbued with valor. They are who they are. No piece of cloth or plated piece of metal changes that.

The vast majority of people who have valor never receive recognition for it. That’s just life.

So, Stolen Valor Act. I don’t like the law. I wish it were gone. It doesn’t help.

I like to think that those who have legitimately received medals for valor are deserving.

I also know that those who falsely wear them will be revealed, humiliated, and marked as being the farthest thing from a person with “valor.” These situations police themselves. Organizations and groups exist to observe and investigate these things. They don’t need the government. They don’t need the act, and there are better things for our government to be doing.

I know what they meant by the Stolen Valor Act. The thought is nice, and a lot of veterans I talk-to are grateful for the efforts. Yet, it is not worth the 1st Amendment slippery slope.

Reclaiming Manhood: Thank-You Notes

Real men write thank-you notes. The notes are handwritten. They are put into a mailbox after affixing correct postage. They are sent within 3 days of the thank-you-able event.

You keep a stack of them handy in your top desk drawer, ready to spring into action when needed.

No need to tell me I’m a dinosaur and dwelling in the last century. On this point, I am immovable.


Getting a Masters Helped Me A Lots

Oh, Norwich University. You have such a wonderful history as the birthplace of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. You’ve existed for nearly two centuries. I realize that things get tough, and you’ve embraced online degrees to account for hard financial times. I understand. I really do.

However, could you have at least put Jennifer (who I assume is a fine nurse) in touch with someone in the English department?

Also, out of respect for Jennifer, I’ll refrain from my usual penchant to embrace obvious double entendres.

Inserted here for informational purposes only (just in case Norwich decides to get cheeky with me).

Manning Arraignment

Some of you have asked for a brief description of what is happening with the US v. Manning court-martial.

I’ll let you in on what I suspect. Please note that I have never talked to either counsel or reviewed evidence. I base my assumptions on what I’ve seen in the news and my own experiences with the court-martial process. In no way is it comparable to the insight possessed by his current counsel. They know tons more than I do.

This week, he is being arraigned. What is that, you ask? I could tell you, but, instead, I’ll show you by providing an annotated script from the Military Judges’ Bench Book (PDF format). My assumptions are in red.

MJBB Arraignment

As for future motions, I expect the following, at a minimum:

  • Speedy Trial
  • Illegal Pretrial Punishment (for the stuff that happened at Quantico)
  • Compel Discovery (I can’t imagine how horribly voluminous this must already be)
  • Unlawful Command Influence (for comments by the POTUS some months ago)
  • Sanity Board (under Rule for Court-Martial 706) for both his current mental state and his mental state at the time of the alleged offenses.
  • Compel the production of witnesses.
  • For a new/reopened Article 32 Investigation.
  • Requests for Depositions
  • Suppression (potentially of a variety of things)

And Today in Spam Mail

Spam mail is bad.

Spam mail from my potential clients is worse.

Spam mail from my actual clients is worseriest.

Today, I received one from a relatively intelligent young man. The title exclaimed:

I am finally became Boss!

Fantastic. Congrats, Boss.