29 Apr 11

Some of you likely know that Summit Law Group is a little different. I get bug-eyes from people whenever I discuss our lack of a general policy manual, our lack of dress code, our Value Adjustment Line allowing the customer to set the end price, and that minor detail of EVERY person having an outside office with no corner office real estate. Yes, these are ALL very remarkable cultural marks of Summit Law Group.

Recently, I took advantage of one more remarkable cultural marking, our pet friendly office space!

I’m sure there are many smaller firms that offer pet friendly work space, likely due to a main partner in the firm setting that rule from the get-go because of their own dog. However, I’ve never met a 30ish attorney firm who had an open policy allowing employees to bring pets to work.

So, I know, this all sounds great and fun and all, but how does it really work out?

First off, my initial concern was that even though it’s SAID that Summit is pet friendly, what’s the reception going to be like when I first bring her to work? Will relationships change? Well, although there are a few folks who have always disagreed with Summit’s pet tolerance, I’m finding 90% of people here get great joy from taking a few minutes to visit with this little love monster. It’s really helped enhance many of my office relationships, giving different angles of personal engagement and conversations that would never have otherwise come about.

So, that’s the good part…

There are some draw backs.  First and foremost, even in a pet friendly office not EVERYONE is pet friendly.  And even though they smile and say, “Oh how cute!” know that they may be complaining to someone.  I’ve been fortunate enough that I believe all the concerns have been completely legitimate and no one has complained from a point of “joy stealing”.  With that said, here are my own rules I’ve applied to allow my experience as a pet owner to be as freeing and joyful as possible:

  1. Although you might think EVERYONE wants to meet your pet and play with him/her, you shouldn’t take her EVERYWHERE in the office with you.  I’ve learned that it’s quite a distraction for people when you walk in with a Lucy in tow and try to discuss complex (or even simple) business matters.  Leaving her in my office allows me to conduct “business as usual”.
  2. Pets aren’t meant for meetings… of any sort.  For the same reason parents rarely bring their children to work, it’s a good idea to not bring your pets to business meetings.  Imagine someone bringing their child into a business meeting.  It does change the conversation dynamic and likely even the focus of the meeting.
  3. Pee pee pads are necessary, even for the most well behaved dog.  You don’t want to be THAT employee who gets the “pet friendly” title taken away because you haven’t properly trained your pet.  This can go for bathroom habits just as well as chewing habits!  I would be mortified if Lucy caused damage in my office.  Granted she’s 4 lbs of cuteness, but she COULD still cause some damage.  The Pee Pee Pad reference is a general one. Doesn’t have to only insinuate bathroom habits.  Think about making sure your pet can remain entertained in your office without having to “engage” the local fixtures.
  4. Have a backup plan! Sometimes meetings pop up unexpectedly (and by sometimes, I mean all the time), so have arrangements with others in your firm who are willing to watch your pet if an unexpected meeting should make it necessary to leave him/her for an extended period of time.  I’m not saying a 15 minute meeting.  Most pets can handle that.  But for meetings that may run longer, your pet likely isn’t really interested in spending that much time alone.  If all else fails, have a kennel either in your office or in your nearby car.  Neither of these are ideal, but will certainly due in a pinch.
  5. Not every office can be pet friendly.  Some buildings don’t allow pets at all (unless under ADA rules for service animals).  Keep this in mind for YOUR office if you’re thinking about converting to a pet friendly office OR if you’re considering moving your office.  Think your culture could be enriched by adding pets? Make that deal with your landlord even if you THINK it MIGHT be a possibility!  You can always not allow it, but if you don’t have an arrangement with the landlord, you’re sunk!
  6. The office should not be an off-leash area at any time. There are a couple good reasons for this, first, because there may be other pets in the office.  Keeping yours on the leash will prevent any potential “run ins” between them. Another reason is that no matter how well behaved your pet may be it’s VERY difficult to train the humans in the office!  So, some people will LOVE bringing your pet to their office where they have treats and kibble!  Once this starts and you let your pet off the leash OFF they go down the hall making rounds to the treat-holders society.

Those are my pieces of feedback for now. Please drop questions in the comments.  I’d love to examine any ideas you have.

If you have more interest in Lucy than in my firm you can always follow her on Facebook!

Filed under: Cultural,Legal,Management

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18 May 10

I’ve had a few interactions with friends recently about the Arizona Immigration Laws and thought I’d publicly share my thoughts.

Three things of interest to me that I haven’t seen being said is:

  1. Employers have a significant responsibility in enforcing immigration status.  And if employers can’t do it, I’m not sure how local police forces can be expected to do any better.  I’ve heard of the fake birth certificates and work credentials that are being presented to employers by illegals, but we don’t have a resource to verify the validity of such documents.  We just have to ask for them.
  2. If this issue truly is about crime, then police already arrest criminals that they catch.  Criminals get a background check already to determine citizenship status, don’t they?  Passing laws like this only provokes a mass revolt by real citizens who are falsely detained because they aren’t carrying legitimate paperwork.  Again, what paperwork would be sufficient? A driver’s license? A fake birth certificate?  Have the police been trained on how to verify birth certificates?  What about green cards?  Personally, I’ve never even seen one, let alone could I verify if one is legit or not.  Or is blond hair enough?  Are we going back to a “paper bag test”?
  3. Isn’t it the Federal Government’s responsibility to enforce border controls and immigration?  I’m curious if the states even have a right to intervene.  That’s not to say the states aren’t affected by it “more than the federal government”.  But I’m curious where the separation of state/federal responsibilities and rights come in.  If the feds aren’t doing enough to patrol our boarders for the criminals, then that’s an entirely different problem to address.  The crime issue and border patrol are related by funding.  Want more?  Increase federal funding for it.

I don’t think running a “police state” or essentially a Martial Law State can correct the problems Arizona is facing.

Are any of these three issues being addressed already?  Am I completely misunderstanding issues?  I’m sure I’m missing lots of facts, but these are the issues rolling around in my head telling me these AZ laws are troubling.

Filed under: Cultural,Legal

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1 Nov 09

Just in case you haven’t seen the Stephen Colbert “The Word – Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.  Very funny!

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Religion

Filed under: Cultural

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16 Sep 09

Was that title confusing? At first I wrote “Political Statement to Follow”, but then decided political statements generally DO require apologies on blogs where they are COMPLETELY off topic, but I think every blog should dedicate a bit of space to human rights, feeding hungry children, fighting world malaria, and LOTS more worthy causes.

So, I’m gay.  I’m pretty sure I’ve covered this in previous posts.  My partner and I have been together for 9.5 years.  Earlier this spring the Washington State Senate, House of Representatives, and Governor Christine Gregoire signed part 3 of the Domestic Partnership Rights.  This last part is casually known as the “Everything but Marriage” bill.  Normally, that would have meant that it would go into law 90 days after signed by the Governor.  However, a group of concerned citizens gathered enough voter signatures forcing the bill to go to a public vote in November.  So, you’ll be hearing more about Referendum 71.  In order for the original bill, passed by our state legislators and governor, the citizens must vote APPROVE.

So, blah blah blah… let’s put this really simple.  There are a handful of VERY important rights for domestic partners (gay couples and heterosexual couples with one partner over 62, it’s NOT just a gay thing):

  1. Death benefits for partners of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty – currently, they are simply abandoned by the government to not only mourn, but also to fend for themselves.
  2. Right to use sick leave to care for a seriously ill partner – doesn’t this sound like a basic right? Currently, I can’t take sick leave to take care of my ailing partner??? Crazy.
  3. Pension benefits for partners of teachers and other public employees – similar to the death benefit for police and firefighters, currently any state pension can’t be passed on to a domestic partner.
  4. Victim’s rights – I’m a little unclear about this one.  Please leave your comments to help me understand this one.
  5. Right to workers’ compensation benefits if a partner is killed in the course of employment – I had never considered this point in the past.  I had never realized that if I were killed at work, my partner would receive nothing.  But if a straight married colleague lost her life while at work, workers’ comp would pay benefits to her husband.

Anyway, hope this helps clarify some of the issues.  I was warned that I would get emotional about this topic, but I think it’s worth expressing the reality of the situation.

PLEASE give me some feedback here.  Particularly on the Victim’s Rights issue.  And, I really want to hear some sort of legitimate opposing views.  All I’ve heard so far is the same lies that were spread in California about Prop. 8 that “this bill would force schools to teach homosexuality”… whatever that means!  Got a valid argument? Do share!

Filed under: Cultural

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