Monday, October 31, 2011

HOW CLOSE is too close


Getting close to people - Do you find that sometimes, when you get too close to a person and become close friends with them, both of you ended up hating each other eventually?

This is what happened between me and my close friends. Initially, we get along very well. But when we get to know each other better and become closer, we ended up getting annoyed with each other and eventually we fall out with each other. It's really strange how the people who are closest to you are the ones who judge you the most harshly.

I don't feel like getting close to people anymore, I feel annoyed by most people. Or maybe I just haven't meet the right person for a close friendship yet. Does anyone feel the same way as me?
People Are Like Vegetables, Or Bad-tasting Medicine!-I've seen people I care about get hurt by people, which has made me very hesitant to trust others.  It's kept me safe emotionally, but it has made me very lonely.  Unfortunately, humans are social animals, and as much as I hate to admit it, I need a certain amount of human interaction, or I start to go crazy.  My overactive mind goes into overdrive, I get paranoid, & my social anxiety gets worse.  So, I force myself to be as sociable as I can, & try ignore the anxiety & discomfort bcos I know it's good for me.  In other words, people are like vegetables, or bad-tasting medicine!  You just gotta swallow it.
Well basically there's this girl I know. She has a boyfriend who she describes as caring,bla bla bla but lately I see her always sitting extremely close to a boy (best friend, she claims).Extremely close as in leaning onto him,leaning onto his breast and then sleeping basically on him,sitting on his lap and leaning on him face very close to his, etc..also she describes that boy also as sweet and caring,etc. Worst thing is she and he have both crushes on each other. Personally I think she's going too far as she does have a boyfriend..and she did look kinda flirty and easy. When I told her she needs to tell her boyfriend - she overreacted and told me that she loves him and that she will not leave him. When I told her not to get too physically close to that boy then she sees nothing wrong with that. As they are "best friends" but she does have a crush on him. Well, she tells me that she's quite committed to her boyfriend so flirting around like that shouldn't be good. She's 18 - an "adult" but in this small city or barangay where she's in. Everybody know everybody and who wants to be labeled something bad esp. if you know how fast it would spread?

Also she did say she loves her BF but she has a huge crush on her friend (and he has too).It's not really my problem but I do care what others think of her, esp. within the own family!

Leave her alone? I would if I weren't "in-charge" of her. I'm the one who pays all her bills cuz I'm like her parent (I'm not but I'm a relative of hers). - Anonymous

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

HIRE THE LAWYER, Not the Law Firm

After hearing yet another general counsel tell me, "We hire the lawyer, not the law firm," it seems an appropriate time to step back and dissect this apparently simple statement and see what it really suggests. Clearly, this statement is not as simple as it appears -- as a matter of fact, it is complicated, multifaceted and multipurpose.
This statement has been used for years, and will probably continue to be used, but why? When general counsel say they hire the lawyer, not the law firm, what are they really saying? Is it nothing more than posturing?
We can safely say that no in-house counsel is going to hire a lawyer, no matter how competent and successful he or she is, if the lawyer does not have the capacity, resources and backing of a law firm that can properly represent a multibillion-dollar business.
There are deeper implications to this statement -- implications for the lawyers facing the client, lawyers working on a client team and ultimately the law firms who employ these lawyers and serve these clients. As my colleague Bruce MacEwen, aka blogger for "Adam Smith, Esq.," observes, "I think it's one of those 'too cute by half' remarks that obfuscates much more than it reveals."
So what are the implications? How can we all better understand what appears to be so precise and clear -- and is used so often? To better understand this issue, I solicited input from general counsel and my consulting colleagues. To dissect the statement, let's break it into its two obvious parts: "We hire the lawyer," and "We don't hire the law firm."
This is it. This is what the general counsel want you to believe; and much of it is absolutely true. To a great extent, in a personal service business, it is personal chemistry and relationships that matter. William B. Lytton, who now serves as senior counsel at Dechert and was previously executive vice president and chief legal officer of Tyco International Ltd. and other corporations, told me, "What you want to know when you hire a firm is who will be on the other end of the phone when you call with a question, and whose professional judgment will be guiding the work done and the decisions made."
In an informal survey I conducted for this article, on a scale of one (lowest importance) to 10 (perfect chemistry) the importance of personal chemistry and relationship is ranked an eight to 10 by most general counsel. We are not talking about chemistry in the sense of friendship, but professional chemistry defined by an ability to effectively communicate, as well as a common sense of judgment and fundamental values. Of course, most people want to work with people they like, trust and feel comfortable with, and general counsel are no different in this respect.
We have also found that personal relationships are a major factor in determining how sympathetically a request for proposal response will be read by a prospective client, as well as the openness of engagement discussions, and how the ultimate agreements are negotiated. Chemistry also rates a "10," if "the lawyer" actually is the client relationship lawyer and others will be doing the work and funneling the work product upward through the relationship lawyer.

As my Altman Weil colleague, Ken Bunge, former managing attorney of United Technologies Corp., pointed out, "The relationship with the individual partner is the key and is based on a proven track record over time. For example, a successful outcome on an important company matter will not only build confidence within the legal department but also with senior management."
Bunge went on to point out that success means "the CEO, CFO, etc. will identify that partner by name for future matters." In short, it becomes very personal at that point.
Many of today's law firms are huge organizations with far-flung offices and many faceless lawyers working on complicated and expensive matters. Making the client relationship personal is critical. A single lawyer must be in a position of ultimate accountability. The general counsel must have someone who he or she holds responsible for the success or failure of a matter, the quality of the services, the way a matter is handled and the cost of the services. This is why they hire the lawyer.
Well, frankly, yes you do hire the law firm. There is more to the client relationship than trust in the legal competence of an individual lawyer.
Of course the lawyers must have a sterling reputation in the field for which they are selected. Very often, they have already proven themselves to the company or are referred by a trusted colleague. The lawyer's legal talent and skills are essential, but the lawyer must also have a bench strength behind him or her that can get the job done, and be able to bring these resources to bear on client matters in an effective and efficient manner.
For most corporate clients today, matters are large enough to require a team of lawyers to address the needs.

This point is exemplified by the comments of James Gass, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Osram Sylvania, who said, "For me the perfect world would be that we hire each lawyer who works on our matters. But the reality is that we cannot get away from the impact that the firm has on our relationship. Even though we hire the lawyer, that lawyer depends on the law firm staff. And the billing rate of all the lawyers is dictated to some extent by the law firm's rates. The same is true for other details of the retention, such as staffing, expenses, etc. So even in cases where I like a particular lawyer, I struggle to hire that person if he or she is associated with a firm whose costs are too high or whose back-up talent pool is not good enough."
Dennis Schoff, the general counsel of the Lincoln Financial Group, framed hiring the law firm issue succinctly and precisely, saying, "We hire specific legal talent, but a firm can cause us to terminate our relationship with even those lawyers we know and trust -- billing practices, for example, could be a cause for termination."
Both Gass and Schoff clearly identify the lawyer/law firm relationship and the effect the connection can have on selection and retention.
According to the Altman Weil client survey database, which compiles feedback from hundreds of law firm clients, "hiring the lawyer" is still the most important reason for selection. However, over the years, "hiring the law firm" has gone from No. 3 in importance to No. 2 and is only one point behind No. 1.

There are probably several reasons for this, including the following:
• Clients want to make sure that they are working with a well-informed, experienced team, not a lone wolf.

• The whole team must know the client's business, not just the lead lawyer.

• Firm branding and differentiation efforts may be having an effect on the GC's choice.
This raises interesting issues relative to the concept of branding. Along with the tangible, fact-based question of adequate resources, there are the more fluid, intangible issues of image and reputation. Many people -- and especially lawyers -- feel that they are too smart to be influenced by marketing. However, most people, including general counsel, are more influenced by brands than they think they are. This is especially true when the board of directors of the company recognizes the brand of top-tier firms.
If we conclude that general counsel hire both lawyers and the law firm, each firm must concern itself with multiple brands: the firm's overall brand, as well as that of its practice groups and individual lawyers.

This tiered approach to branding -- and influencing purchasing decisions -- is no different than that exemplified by major global corporations. For example, PepsiCo markets its overall brand Pepsi, but also sells many Pepsi varieties (Diet, Caffeine Free, Caffeine Free Diet, etc.) that have been launched from the parent brand and take strength from it. Whether recognized or acknowledged, branding is an underlying influencer when buying a soft drink … or hiring a lawyer.
However, branding is separate from marketing. Lincoln Financial's Schoff made this point clearly when he told me, "I don't really get a great deal out of dealing with a marketing department of a law firm. If I am going to be 'marketed to,' it is best coming from someone I know: the attorney with whom I have a trust relationship."
Smart marketers will recognize the importance of relationships in the hiring equation and find ways to help individual lawyers build personal rapport as well as confidence in the firm.
In some cases, the company's goal is to affiliate itself with a specific law firm. Here, it is the law firm that is hired, and not the lawyer. The lawyer is secondary, albeit important, in the retention decision.
If influence and power are the company's objectives, a well-positioned mega-firm might be the company's choice. A general counsel may select only one or two of these law firm relationships reserved for this special status. In these cases, the general counsel wants the law firm thinking about the company and identifying ways to help advance the client's business. The loyalty factor in these relationships is high and reciprocal. While holding a special status as a legal service provider, these power-broker law firms may not be selected to handle all of the company's legal work.
So, do general counsel hire lawyers and not law firms? And if the answer is no or not entirely, then why might this be such a popular mantra for them?

First, this statement puts pressure on the individual lawyer to perform and to ensure that the rest of the members of the firm perform as well. Second, it keeps the message in front of the law firm that which lawyers work on the company's matters is important. Third, it makes the business of law personal -- it puts a face on an impersonal organization.

By having an identified lawyer responsible and accountable for the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective services, GCs can feel a level of comfort that someone, and someone good, is paying attention to their needs. - Anonymous, Male.

Monday, October 10, 2011


When we first moved to Charleston, which was at the very beginning of 2003, we moved into the ground floor of a large grey house downtown, a house with a wrought-iron gate that made up for the fact that the kitchen was essentially just a countertop and an oven in the living room, and that the only electrical sockets in the whole apartment were, bizarrely, halfway up the wall.

A few months after we'd moved in, my mother sent me a package containing some pearl earrings. I'd been saying for a while, I guess, that I'd like some pearl earrings, that they might be good for job interviews---my reasoning being, since I was 22, that what I lacked in experience, I could make up for in tasteful jewelry---and so she sent me a pair as a surprise. They arrived in the mail and I wore them for a few months, and then suddenly one day I couldn't find them.

I looked everywhere. I mean, seriously, I looked everywhere. At first, I looked in drawers and cupboards and jewelry boxes and makeup bags, in the obvious places where I could certainly be forgiven for thinking a pair of pearl earrings might hide. Then I got a little desperate and searched the freezer and the garbage cans, between the pages of novels, the barrel of the washing machine, the laundry hamper, the insides of all my shoes. I couldn't understand it: one day I took my pearl earrings off and laid them on my bedside table, the next day they were gone.

The searching went on for two or three weeks, until I finally gave the earrings up for dead. I'd lost them forever, I figured, one of those things you eventually just accept and stop obsessing over. They were great earrings while they lasted, I told myself folornly. Maybe they'd impressed a job interviewer or two.

One morning, about three weeks to the day after I'd first noticed them missing, I got up, made some coffee, and took a shower. Upon entering the bedroom from the bathroom, cucooned in a towel with hair wet and that slight squint particular only to short-sighted people who haven't yet put their contact lenses in, my gaze was immediately---and I can't express how immediately, how urgently---drawn to my bedside table. There sat my pearl earrings, plain as day.

And here's the really weird part: they looked so carefully placed there, so perfectly positioned, like someone had measured the distance between them with a ruler, making sure that both backs faced in the same direction, that both pearls faced forwards. They were at the front of the table, right in the middle, and they looked like they'd been put there, for lack of a better word, lovingly.

It was one of the most surreal and bizarre moments of my entire life. Ten minutes before, I'd woken up and they hadn't been there---hell, for three whole weeks they hadn't been there---and yet mysteriously, while I was in the shower, they'd reappeared.

Sean had left for work early that morning and I called him immediately. "Did you find my earrings?" I asked him. "Did you find them while I was sleeping and put them on my bedside table?" No, he said, he hadn't.

So how had they got there?

That's up to you, Internet; you can decide whatever you want. My own theory is that some sweet Southern belle who'd died years before had needed to borrow something pretty to wear, perhaps because her husband had just passed away and she was about to be reunited with him. I like to think she saw my earrings, thought "ooh, I'll just borrow these for a little while," and then came and put them back---like a good Southern belle would do; in fact, it's a wonder she didn't leave a thank you note on monogrammed stationery---once she was done with them, making sure to leave them in the exact place I'd be sure to find them.

"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know"

So, feeling a little silly, I said a quick but effusive thank you out loud. I like to think that she heard me. "Curiouser & Curiouser" - Anonymous, Female