I am an attorney. That much you probably know. What you dont probably know is that with few exceptions (my mother, Johnny “The” Bruce, the boys (and Vanessa) at Bahe, Cook, Cantley, a few of my old FBT colleagues and those of you who have my phone number) I do my best not to hang with lawyers. They are in general, a pretty boring and at times, infuriating bunch. But, we can say one thing for them. The ones in Kentucky that are UK fans are dedicated UK fans. Case in point, this story from a legal blog this week.
Apparently, the folks at Northern Kentucky’s Law School (Chase) decided to schedule a professionalism conference during UK’s NCAA Tournament game. Now think about that for a minute. You are in the state of KENTUCKY…where basketball is king. How in the world could you believe that holding ANY event on the Thursday night of the best four days of the year (the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament) was a good idea? Professionalism or not, that is simply poor planning and shows the shortsightedness of those in my dork-filled profession.
So what do the great NKU students do? Oh yes, they show their true UK spirit by watching the game on their computers and iPhones during the lecture. Good for you…we must have priorities in society and you have yours correct. But the powers that be at NKU were not happy and Lawrence Rosenthal (pictured above in all his grandeur) sent out this student body message:
Dear First-year Students:
It was good to see all of you at last night’s professionalism program. After reading many of the comment sheets, it seems that most of you enjoyed it. This, of course, I was happy to learn.
I was not, however, particularly pleased with some of the behavior I witnessed last night. Most students were paying attention to what our speakers were saying, and I commend those students for behaving in an appropriate, professional manner. However, I noticed several students, both men and women, watching the NCAA tournament on their laptops; constantly looking down at their iPhones or other electronic devices; and texting messages to fellow classmates or to people not at the presentation.
While I understand that people are interested in the NCAA basketball tournament, and that they might not have agreed with the viewpoints expressed by the speakers, this conduct was patently rude and inexcusable. The ironic thing about this situation is that these presentations were supposed to teach students about “professionalism,” and I could not think of any behavior less professional than what I saw last night. Would you act this way in front of a judge? Would you act this way in front of a client? I can only hope the answer is “no.”
We all have things we would rather be doing at certain times (for example, I would rather be watching the Union / St. Lawrence hockey game tonight than teaching a make-up class), but as a professional, I know that my responsibilities as a faculty member and administrator come before my desire to watch the game. I know that when my class is over, I will be able to find out who won. Similarly, all of you would have been able to see the results of the basketball games after the 1.25-hour presentation last night. I don’t think there would have been any significant consequences had you actually listened to the entire presentation rather than focus on your iPhones, your laptops, and your other electronic devices.
Thankfully, I do not think that the speakers were able to see what was going on in the audience. That does not, however, make rude behavior any less unprofessional. I can only hope that as you progress throughout your law school careers, you will learn what “professionalism” truly means.
Lawrence D. Rosenthal
Associate Dean for Academics
NKU — Chase College of Law
Oh Lawrence…how misguided are thee? You must not be from around these parts. You ask if the students would act this way in front of a judge or client, but if you were familiar with the state in which you teach, you would know that no judge, attorney or client would EVER schedule an appearance during a UK game. The first rule of being a strong advocate is to know your audience and in this state, basketball comes first. In order to teach “professionalism”, isnt it first important to have some notion of your surroundings and the world in which your future students will inhabit. Having looked at your biography on the NKU website, it seems that you have been an academic since the day you graduated law school and have never practiced in this state. Fair enough…but I would have hoped your Georgetown/Vandy education would have at least give you SOME indication that knowing your surroundings and having some perspective outside of your Prosser on Torts treatise would be beneficial.
But lets not act like Lawrence is a stuck in the mud. He likes to have fun too. He mentions in his letter that he wishes he could be watching his beloved “Union-St. Lawrence hockey” match, but a makeup class awaits. Now one might first wonder what channel in Kentucky shows upstate New York small college hockey (possibly the “Atrociously Boring Channel”), but if there is one, Lawrence will be there…but ONLY if he doesnt have a class. Lawrence likes fun as much as the next chap, but not at the expense of a good lecture.
Look, I am a fan of Chase Law School and NKU. My mom went there, one of our writers goes there and I am told there is a strong KSR fanbase there. But my man Lawrence and the NKU staff needs a little perspective. This is KENTUCKY and this is the NCAA TOURNAMENT. There wasnt going to be one thing said at that lecture that couldnt have been saved for another day. But seeing Boogie dunk on a random ETSU/Wake Forest/Cornell player…well that Lawrence, lasts a lifetime.
And by the way Lawrence, Union-St Lawrencesportsradio.com has all the info you need about the “Thrilla in Vanilla” you missed for the class.