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News Briefs—Trading Sex for Good Grades; Joni Mitchell Today; Peer Performance Reviews

Vivia Chen

August 3, 2012

©Konstantin Yolshin-Fotolia.comSome quirky news items from near and far:

Wasn't the sex good enough? Wow, I know the legal job market in the U.S. is tough these days, but it must be even worse in Singapore. How else to explain what law professors can extract from students in return for good grades?

Tey Tsun Hang, a law professor at the National University of Singapore, has been charged with “corruptly obtaining gratification”—that means having inappropriate sex, if you need a translation—from a former student. (Hat tip: Above the Law.)

You would think that pleasuring your law professor should be enough to secure decent grades, right? Well, apparently not for professor Hang. Besides the sex, the student had to dish out other gifts, including a Mont Blanc pen, an Apple iPod, and two custom-made shirts. Plus, she paid one of his bills in the amount of $1,278.60!

I guess professors in Singapore just get more respect.

Not even Joni Mitchell looks like Joni Mitchell anymore. This is the last thing I'm going to say about hair for a while. Honestly.

Joni Photo by Lester CohenPoor Joni. Just the other day, I used her long, straight blond hair from her Court and Spark days as a cautionary tale of the kind of look that middle-aged women in corporate America might want to avoid. I don't know why, but I had always assumed that Mitchell still wore the same waif do.

But as my colleague Brian Zabcik recently pointed out to me, Mitchell has moved on. She's still blond, but she now sports a neater look (on left). Well, what do you know?

 Do you really have to be nice to everyone? Associates barely have time to kiss up the partners in their own deparment. So let's hope this latest corporate trend won't spread to law firms. The Wall Street Journal reports that some companies are eliminating the "traditional top-down, manager-led performance reviews and leaning more heavily on the rank-and-file for evaluations."

That means peer reviews, or what's often called "crowd-sourced" feedback. "The thinking is that more people can provide deeper insight into an individual's performance than a single manager," reports the WSJ.

The article focuses on Hearsay Social Inc., a San Francisco–based social-media software company that is using this technique. The way it works is that each employee chooses the reviewers; department heads also pick coworkers to give feedback. Then it gets really messy:

In addition, any employee who wants to give feedback about another worker can chime in, says Steve Garrity, the chief technology officer. To help make the reviews more candid, the feedback presented to the employee is anonymous, he adds.

Anonymous reviews by peers? That doesn't sound good to me.

But don't worry, it will take years for law firms to catch up with this trend—or any trend.


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That is an unfortunate thing that is happening at schools all over the world. Students should fight it and report teachers that are like that.

Professor Tey' Tsun Hang's last name is "Tey".], not "Hang".

At my BigLaw, we had associates review partners one year. I was skeptical at first but it proved to be beneficial.
I was surprised to hear associates found me "intimidating." Given how many partners perched ahead of me on a very long ladder, I had forgotten how powerful any partner seemed to those on the associate ladder. The feedback helped me change.

When I was the general counsel of a Fortune 300, we did 360 degree reviews. Each executive was reviewed by their supervisor, their peers, their direct reports and their customers inside the corporation. It, too, was helpful.

I think high-achievers get so wrapped up in their egos, the idea of being reviewed can be threatening. However, I understand your suggestion that in a competitive law firm an associate might try to undermine a peer.

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The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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