I am not an ethicist. Thus, unlike the New York Times column, I do not purport to know the answers. I will post my own as well as those submitted. From time to time I may say what I think but this Blog is primarily for the contributions of others.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I Want My Bloody Mary or I Will Sue

I have copied this from the ethicist column of the Times (which, I suppose, raises another ethical issue) because I am wondering which law professor lives in Locust Valley, New York. This also makes me recall my Scrooge post over on Classbias.

A local restaurant advertises Sunday brunch for $10, including a complimentary Bloody Mary, mimosa, house wine or draft beer. I dined there with my wife and two teenage children. My wife and I each enjoyed our free cocktail. Then, during the meal, I told the waitress that I wanted the additional free Bloody Mary that came with one of my children’s brunches. She obliged. But when I received the check, there was a $7 charge for the second cocktail. She said that the owner had instructed her to charge me. I inquired with the owner, who told me that each brunch comes with a complimentary cocktail, but because the children were not of legal drinking age, their cocktail could not be served. Was the owner ethically obligated to serve me the cocktail that my teenager could not have? NAME WITHHELD, LOCUST VALLEY, N.Y.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stop Using the B Word.

Dear Law School Ethicist:

At some date prior to this date you  began a discussion of ethics dealing with Law Faculty behavior. In that post you used demeaning language with respect to a dog with no trigger warning. After that, a commentator noted your insensitivity but in the process referred to you as a Bozo, hereinafter the B-word. As you know the B word evokes imagines of clowns, a dying but honorable profession. For years these dedicated professions have brought joy to millions of people all over the world. I fondly remember seeing 234 of them spring from the back seat of a 1966 Volkswagon Beetle. (I will not go into the insensitivity of using the Beetle -- a critical element in our ecological future -- as the moniker for an automobile.) There is perhaps nothing to be done, in the wake of the Obama administration, to bring back the clowning profession although some will be satisfied with the far less thrilling mime. Nevertheless, please do not publish items that demean these hard working people, at least not without a trigger warning first.

Pokey the Clown

Friday, June 20, 2014

You Insentive Bozo

Dear Mr. Law School Ethicist:

Now you have gone to far. You are the unethical one. In your most recent column you printed a question about which type of person is less ethical. In the course of the question, which is somewhat intriguing, you included an image of a canine and then referred to a canine in a less that positive way. This was all done without any trigger warning at all. None. Where is your sense of sensitivity, of decency. What about the hurtfulness and trauma to dog owners and lovers to say nothing of that to their canine companions who may read and find this upsetting. Please be more careful.


Which is the Dark Side Mr. Smarty Pants?

Dear Law School Ethicist:

Which person is less ethical? I can only give you examples of what I mean.

1. In the midst of considering a new course that is proposed to be a 3 credit course, a faculty member proposes labeling it a 4 credit course so it would fill an entire  semester of teaching obligations. He does it without any sense that this would not be a logical thing to do because, after all, we would all work less. He has so thoroughly absorbed the view that we should always cut the best deal possible that he is not being evasive, sneaky, or, from his perspective, dishonest.

2. In the midst of a discussion about hiring a new faculty member in a fully staffed area, someone asks the person most familiar with enrollments in the area what the enrollments are. The answer: "Oh, I'd have to look into that." Possible the person did not know but the person not knowing is intimately familiar with enrollments and pushing the new hire very hard. If this example does not convey the message,  I could supply an infinite number of examples of "not techically a lie" or other examples of knowing evasiveness.

I guess the first person is like a big dog who sees an unguarded piece of meat in the butcher shop and gobbles it down. The second is someone who notices it unguarded and figures no one is looking so what's to lose.

Which type is more worrisome. Can the first one be unethical at all.

Thank you so much for sharing your views.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Even the Best Deal Can be Screwed up

Dear law school ethicist:

 I'm currently at a conference in a hot, unpleasant city that I generally avoid like the plague, especially in summer. It's a two-day affair, chock full of substantive discussion among people from law, other academic fields, and actual humans who have something called "jobs". I'm partying my own way, so my accommodations are pretty meagre: no pool, no spa, no stylish lounge with cocktails and soothing music. What am I doing wrong?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Resume or Letter?

Dear law school ethicist:

I hope your day is going well. I have a question not so much about ethics but about professional advancement. I have notice lately that when I get an email from someone, or even the rare letter, it is signed and then comes not just "Professor, U of Whatever" but what could only be called a resume. It will list directorships, blogs. book, recent articles and so on. In fact, it appears that the message itself is of secondary importance. I'd like to take the next step on this and leave out the message completely and just send my resume out to random people. Will this help move me up the ladder of this profession.



Harvard, Yale, Exeter
Ph.D Princeton.
Blogging: Self Promotion and the Law, Law and Goodness, Law and Getting a Deal. Taliban Fashion and the Law
My first book: Why I am the Law
My latest book: Why I am Still the Law
All books in between: Why Law: Parts 2-17
Head Drum Major: Dewitt High School
Picked as Best Looking and Most Likely to Get a Black Eye; Dewitt Middle School
Spelling Bee winner: final word "unctuous" (actually old family name, so was I cheating)
Latest Conferences: Highest Level with Highest Level People all of Who I know by their first names.
Law School Office Suite Crier
Best Teacher Award, Contracts, Second 2, 2002-2008

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Threat to Academic Freedom

Dear Law School Ethicist

As you know law professors never, ever pay for vacations. Since they are always working, their employers are happy to pay. In the past I have simply said I was going to wherever -- Paris. London, Sydney, Cape Town, Rio -- and reported that I was conferencing with people at the very highest level. When I get there I go to a lawyer's office and hang out for a couple of hours. This time, while in Geneva, I had trouble gaining access to an actual office but I know, as a matter of ethics, I needed proof of my conferencing. I found the addresses of a couple of local lawyers and located their trash. In the trash I found some electric bills. I returned home and submitted by claim for reimbursement and included the electric bills. (Man, those attorneys sure hog the electricity.) The official in charge here at my school says I need proof of an actually meeting. I am insulted that she has called my honestly into question and I believe not to reimbursement me is a threat to my academic freedom and to that of every other law professor. What to do think?