Archives - September, 2008

16 Sep 08

I was just thinking about all the conflict checking systems I’ve ever managed and don’t recall any system or process which screens vendors who provide services to the firm.

Imagine a firm’s service provider is named as an opposing party in a major litigation case.

Of course there are all kinds of possibilities that this wouldn’t really cause a conflict, but when a conflict system doesn’t provide that information it can’t even be considered by the “powers that be”.

Imagine that your firm uses an IT solution like… Postini (web based software that scans all incoming email for signal/signs/known spam). Granted, I don’t know exactly how Postini (now owned by Google) works, but I do know that it sees all my email. Now imagine that your firm is handling an anti-trust case against them. Who’s to say they won’t be reading your emails and attachments? Ahhh yes, in order for something like this to happen that would have to mean that your service provider was unethical.

Second piece of hypothetical, is it normal practice at any firm for the IT Manager (or staff) to consider responding to conflict checks about products and services the firm uses? Who else in the firm would know all the hundreds of IT solutions that run our infrastructure? I think it’s quite likely that we assume that if we use a vendor’s product or services this means it can’t possibly be a conflict.

Well, even though ALL of our attorneys are ethical, that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to implement proper conflict procedures and protections for our clients.

Is this an issue that has been discussed and solve elsewhere? Am I being naive (admittedly, quite possible)?

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10 Sep 08

I recently have been preparing for my newest challenging: volunteering at Lamber House.

For the longest time, I was happy simply giving money to my favorite charities.  Then, in April of this year, my ALA Chapter chose Lambert House as one of their designated charity partners (along with Seattle Education Access).  When our PSALA Community Service Committee presented their choices to the Board (on which I sit as the Director of Communications).  I was quite pleased.  However, when the committee started telling the Board why they chose Lambert House I was struck by memories of my past personal experiences as a gay youth along with the idea that I’ve been very selfish with my time over the years.  As I recollect, it’s been at least 10 years since I actually volunteered for something JUST because I wanted to.  Sure, there were those times when my firm was raising money for a charity or a community service event for ALA, but it had been a long time for… just because.
So the Community Service Committee explains to our Board that Lambert House is a community center for LGBTQ Youth (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning).  It’s a sort of safehaven for young people from 11-20 years old.  A place where they can go and be themselves.  A place they can go to feel like they are not in the minority.  And often this is the only place they can go to feel accepted in life, in their family, in their community.  Some are homeless (either having been expelled from their homes, or chosing to set out on their own feeling abandoned in the world).  And then, of course, some are “just normal kids” who want to come play pool, piano, games, have a meal with friends, attend a creating writing group, an art group, or just sit and chat with friends new and old.
Ok, well, I’m hooked.  When I first moved to Washington, I joined a gay youth group similar to this called Oasis in Tacoma, WA.  Though I only attended a couple meetings (they only met on certain evenings during the month) it affected me.  I felt I had missed out on a lot of my youth having been segragated in a world that wasn’t like me… or at least I hadn’t really had a chance to “commune” with people like me until then.
So, after praying on the volunteering idea for a month or two, I decided I would contact Lambert to offer my soul (on Thursday evenings from 4-7) to help them accomplish their mission.
Though I haven’t actually started yet, my heart is changing already.  I went through an entire weekend of training last weekend and look forward to my last day of training this coming Saturday (a total of 20 hours of training!).  They are so thorough.  So caring.  They really have a dire need to serve this desperate group of minorities… minor minorities!
Find a charity you love and take the plunge.  Even if only a few times per year, you start to understand there’s something more out there in the world than just a paycheck, a job and a mortgage.  You start to truly experience the fact that so many people in the world are worse off than you.
Enjoy.  Live life for everyone.

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