You are currently browsing the archives for the Law Office Management category.

Follow me on Twitter

Blog archive

We Participate In:

You are currently browsing the archives for the Law Office Management category.

ABA Journal Blawg 100!

Subscribe to The Jury Room via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Login

Archive for the ‘Law Office Management’ Category

This is a really disturbing and yet, so intuitively predictable article about what happens when you are a Black, Brown, and/or Female manager in your workplace. While past research has blamed the high achiever for acting as gatekeepers and keeping other minority members out of positions of leadership—today’s research has a more empathic explanation for why that gatekeeping happens. Essentially, these researchers say that successful minority managers “know it could spell disaster for their own careers” if they support diverse candidates for management positions. Regardless of how many male or White managers promote the candidates most similar to themselves, it often spells trouble for a minority manager who does the same thing.

Today’s researchers wondered if minority status (being an ethnic minority or female) made a difference in how diversity initiatives proposed by managers were received. So they recruited 350 executives from a variety of American organizations (10% were non-White and about 30% were women). These executives represented 20 industries and 26 different job functions. Their bosses and up to three colleagues were asked to rate their competence and performance, how ready they were to be promoted, and whether they valued working with a diverse group of people.

According to Alex Fradera, who summarized this article over at the BPS Digest blog, there were findings consistent with earlier research about the importance of valuing diversity—but there were also some more disturbing findings we have not seen before.

“Promoting diversity” is seen as important in many organizations and findings in this study were consistent with earlier work—those who were rated higher for diversity-valuing behavior also received higher ratings for performance and competence.

But. And this is a big but. For non-white executives and for female executives, the more they were seen as valuing diversity, the lower the scores they received on competence and performance. (And those in this group who did receive higher scores on competence and performance, also were rated as showing the least interest in diversity.)

The researchers saw this as reflecting attitudinal biases where minorities who value diversity are negatively perceived since they are seen as favoring “their own” rather than maintaining the status quo. So they did a second study to ensure this was an accurate interpretation. You likely know what the results of that study were.

If a female or non-White manager, hired a female or non-White Vice President and mentioned promoting diversity in the hire—research participants gave that hiring manager poor ratings.

However, much like the first study, when a White male manager made that same decision with the same explanation of promoting diversity—they were not negatively rated by research participants.

So, no wonder past research has found that high-achieving non-White or female employees do not advocate for others “like them” to move ahead in the organization. Perhaps, rather than wanting to serve as a gatekeeper and avoid competition—they simply realize the career cost is too high for them to stand up and welcome in diverse others. Additionally, it seems that they will have less organizational influence —in minority hiring and more generally—than if they said or did less. In other words, as the researchers say, “ethnic minorities and women who engage in diversity-valuing behaviors tend to be negatively stereotyped, and thus, receive lower competence and performance ratings”.

It’s  a research finding that is clearly disturbing, but these researchers actually have some ideas to successfully develop a diverse workplace without harming anyone’s career path. Some of their recommendations may seem odd at first, but they also make sense given these research results.

Here are their recommendations:

Stop focusing attention on diversity-valuing behavior and focus instead on leaders’ “homogeneity-valuing behavior”.

Why? This puts the burden of proof on those trying to maintain the status quo rather than on those trying to change it. The researchers acknowledge that this is likely often an unfair standard and suggest it is more practical to follow their second and third recommendations.

Reward any hiring manager who hires someone demographically different from the hiring manager.

Why? The researchers say this will automatically increase minority numbers in the organization because White hiring managers are going to be looking for good minority candidates.

Also, non-White and female employees who seek to hire White males are going to likely avoid the negative ratings they would receive if they hired more diverse candidates. The researchers go so far as to say that hiring White males may be a “beneficial career strategy” for non-White and female hiring managers.

Consider putting a White male in charge of your diversity initiatives.

Why? The researchers say these positions in organizations are usually staffed by women or non-White employees who—based on these research results, will be suspect for supporting diversity.

If, for example, the CEO of the company (or the senior partner of a law firm) is a White male, that person may be a good choice to lead a diversity-valuing committee since it will help all employees see diversity as a legitimate goal. A White male leader will not be suspect and the diversity messages may be more successful because of it.

One simple example was the manager Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner) in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures”, a film about the astonishing contributions of three African-American women during the Apollo program at NASA. Harrison was as blind to the institutional racism these women faced as anyone else, but when he realized the negative effects on the women and his program, he aggressively sought to desegregate his workforce.

Hekman, DR Johnson, SK Foo, MD Yang, W. 2017. Does diversity-valuing behavior result in diminished performance ratings for non-white and female leaders? Academy of Management Journal, 60(2), 771-797.

Image

Share
Comments Off on Are you a non-white or female manager? Be careful before you promote diversity efforts! 

It’s time again for another combination post featuring fascinating tidbits you may have missed were it not for our eagle eyes and constant efforts to keep you informed. And yes, we’ll start at the end since we know you are wondering if smart-phone blindness is really a thing. Would we steer you wrong?

Smart-phone blindness (Yes. It’s really a thing)

You can think of this as a public service announcement meant to protect you from lying in bed and reading your phone when you should be sleeping. Or at least making sure you are looking at your phone with both eyes rather than just one. The condition itself is “transient smartphone blindness” which doctors say is caused when you lie on your side and look at your smartphone in a dark room with one eye inadvertently blocked. Apparently the condition only lasts a few minutes but it is frightening enough that (at least two) people sought medical treatment for it. Let that be a lesson to keep your hands off the phone at night.

Bias at work and at home

Many of us are speaking up when we see or hear bias these days and here are two good resources to help you do that effectively. First, from Harvard Business Review is an article on speaking up when you see bias at work. They offer a three-step process to confront bias that will not embarrass the biased speaker and will not leave you feeling ineffective. It’s a face-to-face process for confronting difficult topics. [Note: The internet is not a face-to-face environment.]

Second, you may wonder how kids are taught social biases and researchers think they learn biases from the adults around them. A recent Scientific American blog explains how the nonverbal behavior kids observe from adults is contagious when it comes to transmitting social biases. So it is not enough to simply not say biased things. When we send mixed signals, kids pick up on them and learn who we like and don’t like, who we think of good and who we think of as bad. The researchers say, in fact, that the nonverbal behavior of adults is especially powerful and formative for kids since they are looking to us to understand their world.

Who judges you if you do not change your surname after marriage?

This research comes from a study of data collected in 2010 from 1,243 US residents. According to this study, done based on reactions to Hillary Rodham Clinton, women and highly educated men do not think about this issue much. However, men with lower levels of education have a more negative view of women who do not take their husband’s name after marriage. According to the research, men with lower education think a woman who does not change her last name is less committed to her marriage and that her spouse had more grounds to divorce her!

We think it quite possible that this study is confounded with attitudes toward Hillary Rodham Clinton since she is something of a lightning rod—and likely especially so among men with lower levels of education.

Share, EF (2017). Hillary Rodham versus Hillary Clinton: Consequences of surname choice in marriage. Gender Issues

Image

Share
Comments Off on Changing your name after marrying, bias at home and  work, and smart-phone blindness

Today, we want to take a moment to highlight the Civil Jury Project at the NYU School of Law. This group examines how the civil jury trial became a vanishing feature of the American legal landscape and looks at the consequence for the legal system and society more broadly. The Civil Jury Project includes practicing attorneys, academics, trial consultants, and others interested in the future of the civil jury trial.

Recently, a nationwide attorney survey was completed by members of the American Society of Trial Consultants in an attempt to gather information on what is causing the decline of the civil jury trial and what recommendations practicing attorneys have to help save the future of the civil jury trial.

Here’s how the survey is described in the free report:

This survey addressed the current involvement by attorneys in jury trials, how they viewed the decline in jury trials, their perceptions of the causes for this decline, their experience with jury trial innovations, and what (if anything) they thought could be done to increase the number of jury trials.

We encourage you to read this initial report from the Civil Jury Project and the ASTC and see what this interdisciplinary group is seeing, recommending, and planning.

Here is the full text of the announcement from the ASTC:

“We are pleased to announce and provide original research produced by ASTC members for a worthy cause. ASTC would like to recognize the following members who recently completed an important survey on the current state of civil trials for CJP at NYU School of Law.

Charlotte A. Morris, M.A. (Project leader)

Tara Trask

David Barnard

Jeffery T. Fredrick, Ph.D.

C.V. “Pete” Rowland, Ph.D.

Susan Macpherson

With a special thanks to Stephan D. Susman Esq. and Richard Jolly.

The Civil Jury Project is engaged in an empirical assessment of the current role of the jury in our civil justice system, the reasons for its decline, and the impact of that decline on the functioning of the civil justice system overall. The basic question is whether jury trials continue to serve the role anticipated by the Framers of the Constitution. Relatedly, it is important to examine the consequences of the decline and what other institutions may currently fill the void.

To help understand the current state of civil jury trials, the American Society of Trial Consultants (ASTC), as part of the Trial Consultant Advisory Group of the NYU School of Law Civil Jury Project, conducted a survey of lawyers who try cases in state and federal courts across the country.

This survey addressed the current involvement by attorneys in jury trials, how they viewed the decline in jury trials, their perceptions of the causes for this decline, their experience with jury trial innovations, and what (if anything) they thought could be done to increase the number of jury trials.

Learn more about CJP/NYU and our work with them in their monthly newsletter.

Citation: Civil Jury Project. (2016). Summarized Results and Recommendations 2016 Attorney Survey: Declining Civil Jury Trials.”

We at Keene Trial and The Jury Room blog hope you will read this report and stay abreast of this important work to address the shrinking civil jury trial and, ultimately, improving our litigation advocacy.

Share
Comments Off on The Civil Jury Project and an important new attorney survey

We have written a lot about how women are treated unequally (which can, sometimes, make it hard to be a woman). Initially, we illustrated these posts with various photos of Tammy Wynette but we decided to stop picking on her for one song (“Stand By Your Man”). So this post illustrates a rough truth (that still exists today) and we are illustrating it with an ironic cross-stitch project.

Researchers wondered if being agreeable (aka ‘nice’) versus being disagreeable (aka ‘nasty’) would make a difference in salary treatment for either men or women. (You know how this works out already.) We should note that the study (using 375 men and women randomly drawn from 1,390 employees) only sampled one company. So, it may not be entirely generalizable. Mmm-hmm—we’ve blogged about this issue before and that study had the same results.

For those that want to know these things, the researchers looked at both objective (e.g., tenure, education, performance reviews) and subjective (e.g., how the individual perceived the fit between their education, experience and performance with their income and professional rank). They also used several research measures for dominance and agreeableness. The researchers compared the objective and subjective data with actual income and promotion statistics within the company.

Let’s just cut to the chase (and you may hum Tammy’s musical lament as you read) and spell this out for you courtesy of a nice summary over at Science Daily.

Dominant and assertive woman (aka nasty) who clearly express their expectations and do not retreat from their demands, are compensated better than their more accommodating (aka nice) female peers.

The same goes for dominant men versus their more conciliatory male counterparts — (wait for it) but even dominant women earn far less than all of their male colleagues, dominant or otherwise.

So, be a dominant and assertive female (aka ‘nasty’ among other things) and you will earn more than your less assertive female colleagues, but the most milquetoast of men will still out-earn you based on nothing but gender. The researchers said something else that was somewhat shocking:

The nice women we polled in our study even believed they were earning more than they deserved. This blew our minds. The data show that they earn the least, far less than what they deserve. And they rationalize the situation, making it less likely that they will make appropriate demands for equal pay. [In comparison, nearly everyone else—nasty women, nice men, and nasty men reported they felt dissatisfied with their compensation.]

From a law office management perspective, this research has much to say about equity, understanding gender bias and gender differences, and how to evaluate, compensate, motivate and retain attorney-associates. The researchers suggest organizational management strategies (thankfully) as follows:

Design evaluation and compensation systems so they are structured and based on objective data (and less dependent on negotiation skills). This may actually help you retain and motivate employees of both genders with varying levels of experience.

Consider being more transparent about compensation so that employees (the nice, the nasty, the male, the female) know what will need to be done to progress in status and compensation within your organization.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from this article is that ‘nasty’ women who complain they are not being treated fairly may very well be accurately assessing their situation. There have been many articles on the exodus of female attorneys from law firms. The ABA Journal, Law Practice Today, law.com, the Washington Post, researchers from Stanford University, and countless blogs have written about the issues. The two recommendations from these researchers (indented above) may well help you staunch that (out)flow when it comes to your individual organization.

Biron, M., De Reuver, R., & Toker, S. (2015). All employees are equal, but some are more equal than others: dominance, agreeableness, and status inconsistency among men and women European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 25 (3), 430-446 DOI: 10.1080/1359432X.2015.1111338

Image

Share
Comments Off on Nasty women earn more money (but it isn’t all roses) 

It is still so early in 2017 and yet, it is time for another installation of tidbits, miscellany, odds and ends, and accumulated wisdom with which you can amaze your friends and impress family members. And that we don’t want to just toss disrespectfully into recycling when it could bring so much joy to your life. So here we go.

Internet commenters: Why they do the things they do

We blogged a while back about people who comment on the internet (and why it might be a good tool for voir dire). Now we have a very readable piece from 538.com telling us what 8,500 internet commenters said about why they post comments online. It is a fun read (and if you read many online publications you will recognize the reasons behind much of the commenting) on why some people (mostly men in this sample) feel a need to comment on internet stories. You will probably not be surprised that most internet commenters do not actually read the entire article before commenting. Go take a look.

Psychiatrist behaving badly (before trial and during trial)

This is a very weird story. And it’s true—which makes it even weirder. A psychiatrist who’d been convicted of raping one of his patients put on a disguise to sneak into the courthouse and post bogus jury instructions in the jury room that were “designed to tamper with the jury before they reached their verdict”. He was caught on courthouse videotape, wearing a “disguise of a leather jacket and baseball cap” and “no longer using the walker he had used during the trial”. The psychiatrist was found guilty, lost his medical license, and was sentenced to three years in prison. If you follow the link to this story, you will not feel at all sorry for this physician-defendant. He has a long history of bad behavior.

Big boys don’t cry (with apologies to both the Four Seasons and Lucky Dube)

Maybe we should also apologize to John Boehner but we won’t. Instead, let’s get right to this: when men cry, it violates cultural norms that men should be emotionally contained and controlled. The researchers (cited below) found that when men cried in response to performance evaluations (which sometimes occurs) they are evaluated more negatively for the crying behavior and are more likely to receive future negative references from the evaluator. The researchers believe that because crying in men is seen as atypical, observers downgrade their assessment of the man and crying can therefore harm the man’s future career mobility.

This might make you cry: Software to analyze your online personality in less than a minute

If you have an online Twitter presence you might want to take a deep, cleansing breath before you read further. Oh—and you’d better sit down. There is a new company (Scale Model) designed to analyze online personalities of organizations or networks or “influencers”. Business Insider says the software can describe your online personality in a “frighteningly accurate” manner. The idea is to identify who your listeners are (so you can market more effectively) and to identify new target groups to whom you can also market. There really is no privacy online and marketers are becoming increasingly savvy about how to approach us.

Are you a good boss? 

While most managers tell interviewers they are terrific people managers, at least half of US adults surveyed by Gallup had left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their lives. Somewhere there is a pretty big disconnect! Forbes has a tool for you to see if you are a good boss. It is only five questions so you might want to go assess yourself.

Motro D, & Ellis AP (2016). Boys, Don’t Cry: Gender and Reactions to Negative Performance Feedback. The Journal of Applied Psychology PMID: 27808525

Image

Share
Comments Off on Internet commenters, crying men, psychiatrists on trial, and good  bosses