A lawyer responds: “it sets my spidey-sense tingling”

Thank you so much for your thought-provoking piece of 2 October [Dear Bureaucrat, How can I win arguments against lawyers?]. I saw much to remind me of the need for “judicial restraint” and active listening when counseling clients.

If I may take exception to one small point – lawyers recoil when a client argues, “But we have always done it that way,” or the milder version, “No one complained last time.” Indeed, even if the individual advancing this (specious) argument is an attorney, it sets my spidey-sense tingling.

If I must say “what the law is,” I must acknowledge the fluid (i.e. living) nature of jurisprudence and law. That is, what may have passed muster on previous occasions may not this time. I also can affirm that lawyers, like everyone else, are willing to accept certain levels of risky behavior. We want to align with our client in some instances and other times we steer him or her away from even the perception of malfeasance.

Thank you once again for your column. I frequently share it with colleagues and clients alike.

Elliot S. Avidan

Beyond Guerrilla Government: Intrapreneurs, Cuff Systems, Side Projects and Hacks

Click for PDF, doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.1067.2803

Public administrators often pursue their public interest aspirations and personal aspirations by taking initiative independent of their supervisors. Rosemary O’Leary (2006) called this “guerrilla government”, and provided real-life examples ranging from whistleblowers to “a state department of transportation employee who repaired a train gate where children were playing against the wishes of his superior.” (O’Leary 2010, 12)

O’Leary examined such behavior as a predicament for supervisors—should they “nurture, tolerate, or terminate” their guerrilla employees? (2010, 8) But independent initiative is not only a predicament for supervisors, it is a vital part of the public administrator’s toolkit. Whistleblowing is one form of independent initiative, but Continue reading “Beyond Guerrilla Government: Intrapreneurs, Cuff Systems, Side Projects and Hacks”