Archive for the “The Law Project” Category

I teach all of law school in 90 minutes tonight

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

Heather with law books

I’ve got a work-in-progress run through of my new show–The Law Project–tonight at The Marsh in SF.

Buy Tickets

All the details and some video are here. This show has already persuaded 2 applicants not to go to law school. That’s over $240,000 saved!

These workshops are really key to my writing process. Tonight I’ll be trying different audience interaction modules (I like to have pieces of every show that change every time) and integrating the lessons and my story. People have been asking me for years how I got from law student to comedian and this show is the answer. Living your life because you’ve “sunk costs” into something is just a recipe for more heartache and new unpredicted costs with decreasing upside. If “decreasing upside” makes no sense to you, congratulations on being happy and human. That sentence wasn’t for you.

If you’re in San Francisco, come to The Marsh tonight at 8pm.

Jury selection

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

I wasn’t picked today, but it was interesting watching the process. I’m not all thrilled with the legal system as you’ll see in my upcoming show The Law Project, but I loved the way each prospective juror meant as much as the next. Other than the DMV and Mitchell’s ice cream (and shows of course), it’s the only place in San Francisco in which I’ve experienced a true diversity of people being together. One propsective juror is an older Chinese woman. Like every other prospective juror she had stated the ages of her children. The Associate DA presumptuously began her hypothetical: “You know when you’ve had to make a decision between her daughters….”

“No,” the prospective juror interjected in her accent.

“Haven’t you had to make a decision?” asked the young woman prosecutor


“Who made the decisions for your daughters.”


It was hilarious and sad too. She was later excused.

Caring is the new “competitive advantage”

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

So why is caring the new “competitive advantage” ? (which is now an outdated phrase since it implies needing to beat someone else in order to do well).

  1. You can’t fake it.
  2. It comes from an honest place.
  3. If you truly care about what you’re doing, then you can keep on doing it. It becomes humanly sustainable.
  4. It’s the thing that is the opposite of what “corporate” now culturally means.
  5. It’s what is working about all the “web 2.0” or live web businesses and media vs corporate media.
  6. It’s what works about working governments.
  7. It is linked with our empathy and vulnerability. That’s the channel that allows energy and ideas and action to flow quickly between people and entities.
  8. It’s what makes things relevant and sometimes viral.
  9. In the exploding number of media options, it stands out and cannot be manufactured by formula.
  10. Your caring is unique to you (or the group of people making up your company) and it cannot be duplicated but can be joined.

It is hilarious to watch people used to coming top down (Michael Eisner was rumoured to be at SXSW, taking notes. try to take the form of the change without the genuine caring underneath. That means vulnerability and self-awareness. Chevy tried a “write-your-own-ad” campaign recently (can’t you hear the pitch meeting? “It’s very Internet, very grassroots”) only to find out that the grassroots had things to tell em they didn’t want to hear. The result? Hilarious ads. Why? They’re true. Chevy can listen to the truth and respond (ie change) or put just keep trying to perfume the pig. I think it’s gonna be the latter judging by this NYT piece. Do we want the story we tell ourselves or our actual story? Just ask frustrated advertisers, branders and designers all hired to do the former. Comedians tell the latter .
Here is my belated SXSW wrap-up. I had a fabulous time, as I always do. I’d hoped to post much earlier, but it took me a while to get my media online and to get over my desire to have everything thought out perfectly before I started blogging.

I did my first Open Source Management panel at SXSW, which is the beginning of my offering to help business get more honest and human. The core idea behind Open Source Management (OSM) forums is that if business started to apply some things it likes about its code (inclusive, open, transparent) to its human interactions, people would be happier and business would be more honest and therefore more sustainable and productive over the long haul. The goal is for people to be vulnerable with one another. But given how scary and that word seems to some business folks, I’m using OSM too. An acronym! That must be practical!

Systems eventually fail when they serve themselves and not people. It’s people who make these systems in the first place. We forget ourselves in our disenfranchisement and become resigned to the idea (not reality) that there’s nothing we can do. Then corporations seem to be evil blobs that showed up from outerspace and took over the commerce of the world, rather than an extension of what we accept.

A good starting place is people talking and listening to each other. The Cluetrain Manifesto is great in theory but how do business people really get vulnerable enough to be open and listen? How do you bring people together and tell the truth? Comedy. I decided to apply some of my performance techniques to a business meeting and that’s how OSM was born.

I ran the panel like a talk show, although I ended up on the floor for much of it since I couldn’t walk out of the range of my table of panelists without giving off crazy mic feedback. The irreverence only helped and though it was the last session of SXSW the audience jumped in immediately with tons of great ideas for our volunteer first client Ruckus Wireless. It was so great to see business without the bs, and to see just how much incredible brain power there is in a random room. Ok. it wasn’t completely random. But at any company there are lots of smart, competent people who would probably be able to help their management solve lots of problems if they were listened to and given genuine input. And creativity is impossible without fun. (Though most companies will say “can you please just Fed Ex in part of your left brain, leave the messy rest of you at home. Now, be creative and passionate!”)

I learned a lot from the audience and will keep adapting the technique. Many thanks to the audience and my panel, Jerry Michalski, Mark Glaser, Cathy Brooks , Giovanni Rodriguez and David Callisch. Listen to the podcast, post your ideas below.

Here’s how to be a caring, open company:my interview with flickr’s George Oates.

From the trends I’m seeing in major media and on the Net, It’s time for caring. Very exciting! Come out of the closet humans, come out! Your caring will not harm but support your livelihood.
Other SXSW goodies

Here is video from the “early beta” of my new show The Law Project, which I did at The Vortex Rep, along with a night of Cookie.

Is $135,000 enough to get you to try the law firm crack?

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Heather and the Dean

Law School graduation: The Dean was glad to see me go. So was I.

First year associate jobs are apparently paying up to that much according to today’s New York Times. So now you can make almost as much in your first year as you’ve shelled out for law school. That is if you work at a very top big firm in a major city, and if you can live on air then you can take a good chunk out of your loans. The discussion on the NYT message board is instructive. In it you can see fear about whether or not you deserve that money, frustration, and concerns about being valued. I think that the increased pay is really a loss of consortium payment for all the sex and happiness those folks will miss out on. Law school is the most effective (but expensive) contraception known to mankind.

Much of the whole system is painful and I’d love to see the incredible brain power and passion of all the people who work in law focussed on asking “what would work better than what we have” rather than politely bitch-slapping each other for not working as hard as we do in a system that isn’t really meeting anyones needs well.

People at law firms are often very very focussed on how much they and their peers are making. They often have major law school debt. They work extremely hard. Could they ever earn enough to make it worthwhile?

Here’s a little piece of my own WayBack Machine. A journal entry…

May 16th, 2002. That’s today’s date. I want to remember it as the day I bought my freedom. Today was the day I paid off my student loans. For some reason, i don’t want to tell mum and dad.

The loan payments have made saving impossible. I have not bought a home. I have no real investments. I missed the stock market boom and all the investment growth during the Net years. I had nothing to work with. The fact of law school debt never bothered me. It was the fact that I was *still* paying for an experience I didn’t really want in the first place. All these years the payments have been a reminder of just how deep the cost is when you mortgage your soul. When you do what you think you ”should” what’s expected. I did law school cause I thought it would help me get taken care of, and instead I found it cost me. It cost me my freedom. I cost me my self.

Today I cut my last tie with law school. Today I am a free woman.

…so why is the legal world so uncomfortable? Why does this profession rank #1 in depression, and high in alcoholism and unhappiness? I believe there is something very wrong at the heart of the entire system. But there is no room in law school to ask why, only how. When you’re a law student, you’re too busy learning the system and playing the system for grades to do anything else. My next solo comedy is about law school. It’s called The Law Project and in it I teach the class I always wanted to take. I often do workshops with audience as I love the “open source” writing process, so sign up for my mailng list it you’d like to get the heads up on the show and workshop invites.

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