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Nancy Rapoport's Blogspot



Blogging about all sorts of things--governance in higher education, in businesses, and in law firms; bankruptcy ethics; popular culture & the law; Enron & other corporate fiascos; professional responsibility generally; movies; ballroom dancing; an



Updated: 2017-12-17T04:01:18.955-08:00

 



OK, Blogger. I give up.

2017-09-12T18:28:51.264-07:00

You're not letting me update my links, so I'm not posting to this blog any more.  My new site is here.



Why the Westin Cincinnati is likely the very worst Westin in the country.

2017-04-28T04:38:30.446-07:00

How do we count the ways in which the Westin Cincinnati is a very, very bad hotel?

First, the good news:  friendly staff and great location.  That, however, is the only good news.

1.  Let's start with safety.  There should be at least one telephone in the room that works.  It would be nice if it's by the bed, but let's not quibble.  The phone should work.  Mine didn't when I arrived, so I used my cell phone to call the front desk.  After a four-minute wait, a staffer said that she'd send someone up to fix the phone.  The person who came up was quite nice.  I now have a phone that doesn't make odd sounds.  It does connect to humans.  But the volume can't be adjusted, so the humans sound as though they're on a different continent.  One expects working phones in a hotel, especially at a solid chain like Westin.

2.  It takes a very, very long time to reach anyone on the staff.  It's about a 5-minute average, no matter what time of day I call.

3.  Room service is delicious, and it should be, given the extraordinarily high prices of any off-the-menu things like a side of fruit.  That side of fruit, at $14 for a bowl, was mighty tasty, except for the bad taste in my mouth that the overcharging created.

4.  And the winner for why staying at this hotel is never, ever going to be worth it:  there were a lot of us milling around in the lobby last night, because none of the elevators worked.  That makes it difficult for guests to get to their rooms.  I understand the importance of staff members staying calm in the face of angry guests, and they were calm--and as I'd mentioned before, very friendly.  What they weren't doing was getting repair people out to fix the elevators.  After hearing again and again that the repair people were coming (and I'll find out later today if they came, of course), I climbed the 12 flights up to my room.  In the dark.  In a back stairwell.  It's a good thing that I always carry a flashlight.

Here's the thing:  Westin says that it cares about customer service, and I've been assured repeatedly that management will do something to make amends for its many failures during this stay.  I'm still waiting.

This is a very, very bad hotel.  Not as bad as this other hotel, maybe, but bad nonetheless.  There are so many great hotels within a block of this one that I can honestly stay that staying anywhere else within this block would be better than staying here.  If Westin cares about its brand as much as I hope that it does, then it should figure out how to fix the many things that go wrong.

Oh, and by the way, when the front desk calls (on that sounds-like-long-distance phone) and says that a manager will call me at 7 a.m., it's probably a good idea to call me then.  Otherwise, this happens.

P.S.  It was lovely to see a treadmill in my room.  It really was.  But there is no way to get the plug out so that the treadmill has electricity.

UPDATE:  The manager called me at 7:40 a.m.   He was very nice, and he addressed my concerns.



Predicted this in 2012.

2017-04-20T10:04:53.259-07:00

The story on Whittier in the NYT is here.

As I said in 2012, "[t]he world doesn’t need as many ABA-accredited law schools as it has already, just as the world has figured out that it doesn’t need as many U.S.-based BigLaw firms as it once did, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if some law schools closed over the next decade or so."  Nancy B. Rapoport, Changing the Modal Law School: Rethinking U.S. Legal Education in (Most) Schools, 116 Penn. St. L. Rev. 1119 (2012).



Well, Jeff now gets to use a Satan emoji to describe me.

2017-03-18T07:23:45.145-07:00

Here's why:

I was at the Burbank airport earlier this week, returning my rental car, and I heard a running sound.  The next thing I knew, a man (whose weight I've estimated at over 200 lbs--he was a big guy) had tripped, fallen into me, and caused me to drop my phone.

Let's just say that I used most of the words that Jeff has taught me over the years.  Yes, I cussed him out.

Then he got angry at me, because I wasn't sympathetic to his plight.  I wasn't as concerned that a big man had run toward me, tripped, and fell on me as I was that he could have hurt me.  Heck, he had scared me, and my first instinct was to defend myself.  I'm 5'2.5" (yes, that half inch counts), and he was a six-footer.  Here's a hint, folks:  you fall on me, and my first reaction will be self-defense.  So I yelled at him some more.

He got up, complained to everyone that I wasn't very nice because I wasn't concerned about him or his problems, and then followed me to the terminal, referring to me as "Satan."  I finally said, "Look--I'm sorry you ran and fell, but you're over six feet, and I'm 5'2" (I left out the half-inch), so how do you think I felt when you fell on me?"

He kept muttering.  So I think I'm still Satan, at least to him.  And now Jeff gets to use this emoji when texting me:

But why stop there?  He could use this one:





Or this one:


And I can't get this earworm out of my head:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62Qfbrc1jdo.



How NOT to collect a legal bill.

2017-03-05T05:17:38.641-08:00

We used a friend of ours, Mike Cenatiempo, to update our wills.  Mike used to work at Shannon Gracey, which is now defunct.  We paid our bill in December 2016.  We got a "past due" notice from the defunct Shannon Gracey law firm yesterday.  So....
Dear Shannon Gracey Collections Office:

The best way to ask a client about a past-due bill is NOT to start with a past-due notice.  The best way is to ask, "hey, we can't seem to find your check--was it ever cashed?"  That's especially true when the law firm has cratered.  After all, dying law firms often have problems with their business operations, which can involve losing checks while closing a practice.
So now I'm an irate former client who has no intention of losing a pristine credit rating.  I tried to find former Shannon Gracey managing partner Richard A. Lowe to complain, but the My Texas Bar site is down.  Let's see what happens when the collections person gets our letter, showing a copy of the check. 





I have managed to alienate Blogger.

2017-01-03T13:04:58.743-08:00

After I got hacked, I tried to change my administrative login credentials to my new email address, but Blogger doesn't believe me.  Let's just say it's hard to survive a hacking.



Lessons from being hacked.

2016-12-04T05:33:57.250-08:00

  1. Criminals are smarter than I am.
  2. Criminals are more dedicated to their jobs than I am--and I'm pretty darn dedicated.
  3. Computers can be used for E-VIL as well as for good.
  4. I have very smart, computer-savvy friends.
  5. People who have been hacked temporarily lose their senses of humor.
  6. People who have been hacked stay stressed for quite a while.



I love the First Amendment (and I can still deplore hateful speech).

2016-11-28T04:19:45.848-08:00

Of course I'm angered and saddened about the increase in hateful speech across campuses (see today's latest story here).  I don't respect the people who say such awful things.  But I respect their right to say them.  Such speech reveals their darkest instincts, and acts as an early warning sign for me ("don't get too close to this person").

Someone asked me last week if I was going to interfere with hate speech.  I don't think it's appropriate to do so.  We could act on hateful actions that threaten other people's safety.  (Don't forget, though, that some actions are protected speech.)  We can act on actions that are against the law.  But sunlight is still the best disinfectant to reveal those people whose internal thought processes demonize others in an apparent, and probably unsuccessful, attempt to improve their own self-image issues.  And I refuse to demonize those whose political views are different from mine.

I'm getting a bit tired of being told that I have no idea what it's like to be yelled at, cursed, spit on, etc.  I actually do know quite a lot about what that's like.  I grew up in deep East Texas as a Jew.  I got hit, shoved, spit on, yelled at, cursed....  So I know that such actions are horrible to experience and very, very frightening.  But I love the First Amendment (and the rest of the Bill of Rights) so much that I don't want to see it curtailed.  I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU.  I can recite parts of this speech almost from memory.  And I believe that we can provide succor to those who are hurt and frightened without sacrificing our Constitutional rights--especially the right to say stupid things.





Why I am frustrated with B of A.

2016-11-11T05:37:37.575-08:00

In October, a B of A ATM ate a check that I was depositing.  I called Customer Service, and B of A  gave me a credit for the check while it was investigating what had happened.  (That was the last good part of this story.)  The representative explained that the bank would crack open the ATM, retrieve my check, and take care of the deposit.

That was in late October.

It is now November 11.  The claim is still "pending."  B of A's social media people have left me two messages.  I've left them two messages.  They won't email me because it's "not allowed."  They won't send me an email on B of A's own website because, well, they don't have a good explanation for that.

B of A, do you not service your ATMs regularly?  Do you not service them after a customer says that your ATM ate her check?  Do you not want to fix this problem?

Is it time for me to complain beyond B of A itself?



Happy 241st birthday to my beloved Marine Corps.

2016-11-10T05:29:12.838-08:00

So grateful to you and your fellow servicemembers for all that you do.  Here's today's birthday greeting.



About closing more law schools....

2016-11-04T05:02:29.678-07:00

Yesterday, TaxProf Blog posted a story about the closing of Indiana Tech and raised the question of whether other law schools might close as well.  I think more will, and I said so in 2012, in Changing the Modal Law School: RethinkingU.S. Legal Education in (Most) Schools, 116 Penn St. L. Rev. 1119 (2012):

The world doesn’t need as many ABA-accredited law schools as it has already, just as the world has figured out that it doesn’t need as many U.S.-based BigLaw firms as it once did, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if some law schools closed over the next decade or so.

Id. at 1150.  For more about what in legal education needs to change, see, e.g., Rethinking U.S. Legal Education: No More .“Same Old, Same Old,” 45 Conn. L. Rev. 1409 (2013).



Lucy Kellaway is correct.

2016-09-19T04:36:09.144-07:00

In today's Financial Times piece:

If one employee offends against a bank’s vision and values, it is [his or her] fault. If 5,300 do, it is the bank’s. Wells Fargo has proved that its culture is a hopeless safeguard to anything. The people who have really transgressed are not the rank and file, but the top managers who set up the wrong incentives and who looked the other way as customers were stitched up.
It really IS about the incentives.



Urban Meyer is one of my heroes.

2016-09-14T06:03:53.487-07:00

And here's why.



Stephen Fry and depression---a great read.

2016-09-14T06:04:08.187-07:00

Here.  For those of us who have lived through depression, it's hard to explain to those who haven't.  Thanks to folks like Stephen Fry, the Bloggess, and Hyperbole and a Half, it's possible to get an inkling of this particular disease.



Dear Hilton Corporation:

2016-08-05T11:29:21.076-07:00

Why is it, that at least one Doubletree, you have set the systems running the televisions (according to the repairperson I met yesterday) to change, at random times, from the channel that I want to watch to the Movie Promo channel, thereby interrupting my viewing preferences?  The repairman told me that he is powerless to prevent the channel-changing.  Did you set this channel-priority-programming in place because:
  • You believe that your guests have no idea that they can rent movies in your hotel rooms?
  • You dislike the fact that I prefer news in the morning to the repeated loop of Mario Lopez (who was, in fact, a very good dancer-contestant on Dancing With The Stars, so I have nothing against the guy) touting movies that I will be able to get later on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon?
  • You think that I am too old for Adult Swim at night?
  • Movie Promo channel is the sole source of your profitability?
  • You bought too many batteries at one time for your remotes and want to make sure that you use them all before they expire, and therefore you've decided to encourage your guests to use their remotes more--by making sure that they keep switching back to what they wanted to watch and away from the dreaded Movie Promo channel?
  • You have stock in the Movie Promo channel?  Lots of stock?  The amount of stock that requires you to file something with the SEC if you sell it all at once?
  • You've seen Gaslight and think it's an extraordinary movie (which, really, it is)?
Whatever it is, let's just say that you're winning the social science wars here.



Last-minute advice for bar exam takers.

2016-07-24T03:58:06.437-07:00

On one of our other blogs (here).



Why I quit LVAC and switched to Lifetime Fitness, and why I'm really happy about the switch.

2016-07-11T07:55:09.156-07:00

There's nothing wrong with LVAC.  It's a nice gym, and it's reasonably priced.  But I love Lifetime Fitness, even though there's a huge price differential.  So why did I switch?

The fundamental reason has to do with my chosen sport, which is ballroom dancing.  When I started at LVAC, I practiced in empty racquetball courts, until people outside the courts complained that my movement was distracting them.  (I offered to pay for the court time, and I wore shoes that wouldn't scuff the floors, but the management said no.)  Then I practiced in the hallway downstairs.  That was fine, but I had to keep starting the walls of my routine over and over, because of the restricted space.  So I started getting up early to use the empty group classrooms.  One day, though, the front desk said that I couldn't practice there, even when the rooms were unoccupied.  I felt like Milton in Office Space.  And I went off to tour Lifetime Fitness in Henderson.

Yes, it's pricey.  It's the cost of two dance lessons a month.  But:
  • The staff members are very, very friendly.  Some of them even ask me how my dance practices are going.
  • There are dance rooms, including one with a ballet barre wall.
  • If the dance rooms are locked, the front desk will get someone to unlock a room for me so that I can practice my routines.
  • The facility is immaculate.
  • I never have to wait for cardio machines, and the machines have some fun bells and whistles.
  • Bottom line:  Lifetime Fitness recognizes that dance is an athletic activity, and it has fulfilled each of the promises that it made to me when I signed up.  I'm very happy that I switched.
I'm in the process of healing fully from my foot surgery in January.  Thanks to the talent of Dr. Michael Monroe, this weekend I was able to do a small Smooth competition (Viva Las Vegas--World Promotions) to test-drive my stamina and my ability to use my right foot.  (Yes, someone at the Lifetime Fitness front desk wished me luck last week.)  I owe most of my thanks to my teacher, Sergei Shapoval, and my coaches, especially Mariusz Olszewski, who's been working with me on a regular basis.  But I owe more than a little to Lifetime Fitness.  (And I came in first in a 7-couple straight-to-final Open B Smooth Scholarship event.)


Now, I'm off to the gym to prepare for USDC.  Thanks, Lifetime Fitness!



Why I quit LVAC and switched to Lifetime Fitness, and why I'm really happy about the switch.

2016-07-11T05:09:24.130-07:00

There's nothing wrong with LVAC.  It's a nice gym, and it's reasonably priced.  But I love Lifetime Fitness, even though there's a huge price differential.  So why did I switch?

The fundamental reason has to do with my chosen sport, which is ballroom dancing.  When I started at LVAC, I practiced in empty racquetball courts, until people outside the courts complained that my movement was distracting them.  (I offered to pay for the court time, and I wore shoes that wouldn't scuff the floors, but the management said no.)  Then I practiced in the hallway downstairs.  That was fine, but I had to keep starting the walls of my routine over and over, because of the restricted space.  So I started getting up early to use the empty group classrooms.  One day, though, the front desk said that I couldn't practice there, even when the rooms were unoccupied.  I felt like Milton in Office Space.  And I went off to tour Lifetime Fitness in Henderson.

Yes, it's pricey.  It's the cost of two dance lessons a month.  But:
  • The staff members are very, very friendly.  Some of them even ask me how my dance practices are going.
  • There are dance rooms, including one with a ballet barre wall.
  • If the dance rooms are locked, the front desk will get someone to unlock a room for me so that I can practice my routines.
  • The facility is immaculate.
  • I never have to wait for cardio machines, and the machines have some fun bells and whistles.
  • Bottom line:  Lifetime Fitness recognizes that dance is an athletic activity, and it has fulfilled each of the promises that it made to me when I signed up.  I'm very happy that I switched.
I'm in the process of healing fully from my foot surgery in January, and this weekend, I did a small Smooth competition (Viva Las Vegas--World Promotions) to test-drive my stamina and my ability to use my right foot.  (Yes, someone at the Lifetime Fitness front desk wished me luck last week.)  I owe most of my thanks to my teacher, Sergei Shapoval, and my coaches, especially Mariusz Olszewski, who's been working with me on a regular basis.  But I owe more than a little to Lifetime Fitness.  (And I came in first in a 7-couple straight-to-final Open B Smooth Scholarship event.)


Now, I'm off to the gym to prepare for USDC.  Thanks, Lifetime Fitness!



R.I.P., Steve Zamora

2016-07-10T05:23:54.490-07:00

Steve passed away suddenly, and my heart goes out to his family.  Steve was the dean at UH Law Center immediately before I came on board, and his graciousness and kindness showed what a mensch he was.  Always willing to pitch in and help in any way possible, he created a legacy in terms of international law that took advantage of Houston's own international flavor.  R.I.P., my friend.






Great minds think alike -- about compensation models for law firms.

2016-06-28T13:52:34.042-07:00

I came away from Liane Jackson's ABA Journal article, $10K prize-winning hackathon team dreams up new compensation model for law firms, doing a happy dance:  not just because I liked the ideas put forth by the winner but also because I've been writing about this issue for a while, both by myself and with co-author Randy Gordon (see Nancy B. Rapoport, 'Nudging Better Lawyer Behavior: Using Default Rules and Incentives to Change Behavior in Law Firms, 4 St. Mary's J. of L. Ethics & Malp. 42 (2014) and Randy D. Gordon & Nancy B. Rapoport, Virtuous Billing, 15 Nevada L.J. 698 (2015)).  The short version?  People do the activities that their organizations reward.  If you don't like the behavior, take a good look at your reward structure.






The passing of a true mensch: Ira Shepard.

2016-03-29T06:14:55.655-07:00

To get a glimmer of this amazing man, see here and here.  May his memory be as a blessing.



Great advice for dealing with tiresome people.

2016-03-22T15:31:21.756-07:00

From Above the Law and LawProfBlawg (here).



So proud of Rice University and of Rice's Jewish Studies Program.

2016-03-12T14:56:19.204-08:00

See here.  I'm really glad that this program is thriving and that Dad, Jeff, and I have the opportunity to support its growth!