My home is cluttered with career advice books that I didn’t ask for but which it was strongly implied that I should read. Because these two were shorter books, I’m pairing them together in a single review:
- Safe and Effective Practice by Jean Cote: Lawyering is easy says an old white man.
Ah, hindsight, that vaunted mountaintop that the experienced get to judge the rest of us from. Jean Cote was previously a judge on Alberta’s Court of Appeal, the highest court in the province, and so I do not disagree that he is smart and experienced. Neither do I disagree with much of the advice in Cote’s handbook, especially now that I have nearly a decade of legal practice behind me. My real issue is with the tone of and the recommended audience for this book. Tone-wise, Cote presents his advice in a manner that suggests it is not only easy to do as he says, but that if you do it otherwise you’re an idiot. Recommended audience-wise, this is the book that is presented to all new law school grads who are slogging their way through articles (read: hell) by the profession’s insurance branch, and it was strongly encouraged that we read it. Together, this tone and audience almost guarantees that the message is lost. Almost all new lawyers join established law firms with established ways of doing things- if we made some of the suggestions Cote recommends we would at best be ignored and at worst risk jeopardizing our employment. Nothing in Cote’s advice tells you how to follow his guidelines under great pressure from your bosses to do it otherwise (and do it faster, while you’re at it). His advice presupposes that a new baby lawyer will not only have time to read his text while also billing 80 hours a week (wrong), but also that she will be able to have input into her new firm’s organizational systems (also wrong) and, finally, that she will be dealing with reasonable bosses who would appreciate input from their bottom level grunts (wrong again).
Given all this, who is this book really for? As it is published by our (mandatory) lawyer’s insurance company, I suspect this is a CYA book that allows those experienced lawyers who have time to write this advice some book publishing rights. I’m not sorry I didn’t read it when I was supposed to, and I’m not sorry its leaving my shelves now. Not a keeper.
- Attracting, Selecting and Retaining Great People by Dr. Denis L. Cauvier:
It is really hard to remember where this dated gem came from, but I assume someone in HR who I worked with? Or someone who knew I worked with HR and thought it would be helpful background? Either way, this was another dud, but for reasons that differ from Cote, namely: 1) hiring practices have changed considerably since this book was published in 2004, with recruitment heavily influenced by technology; 2) a lot of the recommendations on hiring and motivation are very general and vague; and 3) I think this book is geared towards someone in management who has the ability to make the decisions required to achieve good leadership and sadly I am not one of those people (all I can do is identify places where leadership could be improved, which is very frustrating).
CbrBingo11- Back to School [I was supposed to read the Cote book during legal articles. The best part about these books is that they give me a blackout bingo!]