January 2003

This issue contains the following articles:
  1. Fee Sharing: O.K. or Not?
  2. Definition of marketing
  3. Stress: Is it good or bad for us?

Fee Sharing: O.K. or Not?

The California Supreme Court (Chambers v. Kay) at the end of 2002, did a number on several lawyers, to the tune of $800,000 and more. The Court, according to the press, said "No contract, no fee." When lawyers share a fee, or do work together (while not in the same firm), the client must be informed ... and must consent in writing. The Court said that in this case, that was not done and the provisions of California Rules of Professional Conduct (2-200) were not followed. Most states have similar rules. The net result was that the plaintiff lawyer (who obviously was "stiffed" by the other lawyer) could not recover – NOT EVEN in quantum meruit! (Though the Court said any quantum meruit claim would need to be addressed by the trial court.) Factors such as sharing office space, jointly performing work on the matter and similar "joint efforts" were insufficient where the lawyers were separate law firms ... and the client was not informed of the fee sharing relationship between the lawyers. "Public confidence" in the integrity of the legal process concerned the Court the most.

Definition of marketing

Recently, I came across a great definition of marketing, suggested by Ami Petter-Lipstein of Littler Mendelson, P.C.: If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying "Circus is coming to Fairgrounds Sunday," that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk him through town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the Mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. If you can get the Mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations. And if you planned the whole thing, that’s marketing!

Stress: Good or Bad for Us?

Q: These days it seems to be on everyone's mind…what is "STRESS" anyway?

STRESS DOC: Many people have a somewhat misguided, one-dimensional notion of stress. Stress, in fact, is a series of mind-body reactions that:

  1. identifies a stimulus, challenge or threat,
  2. assesses the degree of difficulty of the potential stressor, including whether one has the resources to cope with the problematic situation,
  3. a problem-solving or tension reducing response is made to regain control of one's environment and emotions and
  4. one's heightened state of arousal and alertness either returns to a normal, pre-threat state (Normal or Acute Stress) or if the tension is prolonged, without sufficient rest or relief, one is susceptible to exhaustion and other mind-body stress symptoms, including burnout (Chronic or Distress).

Sometimes, we may engage in "heroic" coping under extreme conditions, and get through the trauma. However, there may be delayed effects -- generalized anxiety, sleep disturbance, nightmares, weepiness, etc. -- weeks or months after the tragic event, for example, the September 11th terrorist attacks, when our guard is down (Post-Traumatic Stress).

Q: Stress doesn't sound very good…but is there such a thing as "good" stress?

STRESS DOC: Yes, there is good or "Eastness," the optimal level of mind-body activation and alertness that facilitates peak performance, e.g., when those butterflies in the stomach align and transform into a soaring squadron of eagles. We've done our homework, are up for the challenge and flow with the experience. Sarah Hughes' gold medal skating performance in the 2002 Winter Olympics, after landing her first difficult jump, totally tamed her butterflies. The sixteen year old was definitely into "good stress" the remainder of her routine. The smiles and radiant joy while skating were proof positive.

But one doesn't have to be a gold medalist to achieve "good stress." Create some activity in your life for which you have a sense of purpose and passion (and try adding a little playfulness, as well.) Mix in disciplined practice and patience and voila…you too will experience the fulfilling flow and golden glow of "good stress."

(More can be found at www.stressdoc.com)

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