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By Jan C. Ting

Congrats to first female chair at Morgan Lewis law firm!

Congratulations to Jami Wintz McKeon on her appointment as the first female chair of the venerable Philadelphia law firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius! Her appointment strikes me as another of those moments to note how dramatically things have changed for the better.

When I came to Philadelphia to work at the Pepper Hamilton law firm in 1975, one of my female law school classmates went to work at Morgan Lewis becoming, as I recall, only the third woman lawyer working at that firm, then the largest law firm in the city. Both of our large law firms, along with several others, were located in the old Fidelity Bank building on Broad Street between Sansom and Walnut, across from the Union League. Both of those buildings were featured in "Trading Places", the great 1983 movie starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd set in Philadelphia. The name on the Fidelity building has since had to be sandblasted repeatedly as it changed owners, to First Union, then Wachovia, and lately Wells Fargo.

I would occasionally hear from my law school classmate about the challenges of being a woman lawyer at Morgan. Her most harrowing experience was rushing to a firm meeting at the Union League, and being physically restrained at the front door and ordered to use a different entrance, as was required of female guests at that time. When she complained to her firm about being subjected to this indignity, the firm's response was in effect to either accept the local custom or find another job. Morgan was not going to give up using the convenient Union League for its meetings.

Even in 1975, the Pepper Hamilton law firm where I worked had many women lawyers, including partners serving on the executive committee. As a joke, members of the firm announced in the Legal Intelligencer that a women lawyer's field hockey league was being formed, along the lines of the popular lawyer's softball league, knowing that our firm was the only one in the city with enough women lawyers to put together a team.

At that time, as I recall, Pepper Hamilton never had firm events at the Union League despite its convenient location, because of the League's discriminatory policies towards women. The firm's chairman, Augustus "Gus" Ballard, told me that had not always been the case. He recalled heading to the League for a lunch meeting with summer associates, only to find the group standing together on the front steps. He was advised by the associate in charge that the women in the group refused to use the alternate entrance. Upon announcing that everyone else should proceed to lunch, he was further advised that the men in the group also refused to enter the Union League if their female colleagues couldn't enter through the front entrance. That incident resulted in a different firm policy regarding the Union League.

Times have, indeed, changed. And Jami Wintz McKeon's ascension to chair the Morgan Lewis & Bockius law firm puts an exclamation point on those changes.

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Why always money for bombs and missiles but not schools? No attack on Syria!

While President Obama and Congress are planning to spend billions of dollars dropping bombs and missiles on Syria, the public school systems in Philadelphia and many other American cities are in crisis. Increasing numbers of Americans, now 17 million, experience food insecurity, meaning they skip meals and experience hunger for lack of food, while Congress plans big cuts in the food stamp program and Medicaid for the poor to save money.

The only plan so far in Philadelphia for closing the funding gap for the school system is forcing teachers to accept reduced pay and benefits!

Deliberately embarking on a war of choice destroyed the promising presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. It destroyed the promising presidency of George W. Bush. And it will destroy the promising presidency of Barack H. Obama. Maybe that's why Republicans are going to support it!

The best case outcome for an attack on Syria is that the American taxpayers for years will be stuck paying the bill for reconstructing Syria after we attack it. The worst case scenario is that young Americans will again lose their lives in a widening war.

U.S. wars of choice in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have driven the booming American economy of the mid-20th century into the current doldrums. While the official white unemployment rate remains high at 6.6%, black unemployment is nearly double that rate at 12.6%. The official rate of unemployment for white teenagers seeking work is 20.3%. For black teenagers seeking work, the official unemployment rate is 41.6%.

Those estimates don't even count discouraged workers who have given up seeking work after concluding there are no jobs for them. They don't reflect the reality that millions of those counted as working have involuntarily accepted part-time jobs, or minimum wage jobs without benefits for want of any better opportunities.

Bombing Syria will inevitably generate new hatred of America among the families of our victims. It will create new waves of refugees throughout the Middle East, some of which will end up in the United States as legal and illegal immigration, further limiting the job prospects for unemployed and underemployed Americans, and threatening homeland security.

Terrible crimes have been committed against innocent civilians in Syria, as in Sudan, the Congo, and many other countries. For the U.S. to unilaterally try to bring the perpetrators to justice, without the support of the United Nations, will require enormous sacrifices by our citizens over many years of war.

Mere gestures of disapproval like dropping a few bombs and missiles are worse than meaningless. They create positive harms. They make a bad situation worse.  No attack on Syria!  Build American schools, infrastructure and jobs!

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Introverts in a world of extroverts.

I grew up thinking of myself as very self-conscious, observant, reflective, and averse to conflict. I enjoyed time by myself, and preferred thinking about things to talking about things with other people. I attributed these characteristics to growing up as the only Asian child in the first schools I attended. Later I decided that wasn't it at all. I was just introverted, a personality characteristic shared by many.

Now along comes Susan Cain, a high-achieving introvert, with an exhaustive examination of what we know about the introvert/extrovert spectrum in her much-praised, best-selling book "Quiet", which is subtitled "The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking".

In Part One of her book Cain explains how extroversion became the cultural ideal through such influential programs as the Dale Carnegie course in "How to win friends and influence people." In today's world we encourage students and job seekers to get out there and "Network, network, network!" But she observes that creativity most often occurs when individuals work alone. Successful organizations need to facilitate and reward individual creativity.

In Part Two of her book Cain explores the question of whether there is biological or genetic evidence that introversion or extroversion in individuals is pre-determined. She explains research suggesting that biology or genetics may be factors pre-determining individual temperament and place on the spectrum.

Most interesting to me was the research on how babies react to certain negative stimuli, and suggesting that high-reactive babies tend to become conflict-avoiding introverts, while low-reactive babies tend to become fearless extroverts.

Part Three of Cain's book explores the role of culture in affecting individual temperament. She primarily focuses on Asian-Americans who manifest higher incidence of the characteristics of introverts, while also sharing a culture valuing those characteristics such as appreciating quiet time, individual effort, social harmony, and conflict avoidance.

In the final Part Four of her book, Cain offers advice to both introverts and extroverts on how to communicate and interact with each other, and how to raise our children.

Introverts can and do achieve success in many and varied fields. Our introvert President Barack Obama is regularly criticized for failure to "schmooze" with members of Congress and his big money donors, preferring to spend time with his family and a small circle of personal friends. In sharp contrast, see Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton who are classic extroverts who actually seem to enjoy the process of making new friends and influencing people.

When I walk or ride my bike on Northern Delaware's scenic Greenway, I enjoy the quiet and the time to think. But I observe my fellow regular exercisers who are constantly talking on the phone, or who are constantly plugged in with earphones, as if they can't stand the silence or the waste of time just thinking to themselves.

The best advice I received from my immigrant father was to take up public speaking in high school. My father observed that success in life is not achieved only through education and hard work, but also through the skills to communicate ideas through speech and writing. So I can do formal presentations before audiences large and small. It's the small talk at cocktail receptions that I find most difficult and challenging.

Thank you, Susan Cain, for the best explanation to date of why that is.

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The War of 1812, forgotten in the U.S., was celebrated in Canada.

The centennial of the War of 1812 passed uncelebrated in the United States, although it lasted nearly three years, and resulted in thousands of American and British deaths from both combat and disease, as well as the invasion and burning of the national capitol in Washington, D.C. by the British, after its abandonment by the U.S. government.

Most Americans know little about the War of 1812, although the national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key when he observed "The Star Spangled Banner" still flying after the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor in 1814. Baby boomers may vaguely recall the 1959 popular song "The Battle of New Orleans" by Johnny Horton, which celebrated a major American victory at the end of the war.

Conversely, the war centennial was widely celebrated in Canada which was invaded by U.S. armies during the war. The U.S. invasion forged a sense of Canadian identity clearly different from that of the Americans, although they shared a common culture and language.

Last year, Canada produced commemorative coins for circulation to honor British-Canadian heroes and victories in the War of 1812.

A one dollar coin celebrates the bloody victory of the British frigate HMS Shannon in capturing the American frigate USS Chesapeake outside Boston harbor. Sixty Americans died including the captain whose famous final order was, "Don't give up the ship!"

A quarter dollar coin was issued for the heroine Laura Secord who, overhearing plans for an American military advance, walked 30 kilometers through forest and swamp, warning the British troops and their native allies, helping stop the Americans.

Another quarter dollar coin honors the Shawnee warrior and chief Tecumseh who lead native warriors of many tribes to fight alongside the British and capture Fort Detroit from the Americans. Other quarter coins honor British General Sir Isaac Brock who died leading the charge to repulse the American invaders, and Charles-Michel de Salaberry who organized and led French volunteers to defend Montreal from the Americans.

In Philadelphia a vestige of the War of 1812 is the 142-foot high Shot Tower at Front and Carpenter Streets in South Philadelphia, clearly visible from I-95. The Shot Tower was built in 1808 to produce lead shot for firearms after an embargo in 1807 prevented importation, and ended up producing lead shot for the U.S. military throughout the War of 1812.

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Was Barack Obama ever “a constitutional law professor”?

Matt Damon is only the latest among many current or former supporters of President Obama who has referred to him as "a constitutional law professor." But is that accurate? As a law professor myself, at least marginally tuned in to the gradations and sensitivities regarding academic titles, I've wondered how the President's teaching experience at the University of Chicago Law School should most accurately be described.

Who is a law professor? Certainly faculty members with tenure, and those on "tenure track" working towards tenure, are among those formally designated with the ranks of assistant, associate, or full professor. But they are not the only designated professors at a law school. Non-tenure track teachers can also be designated as professors, as are visiting professors on temporary assignment. Depending on faculty rules, such full-time professors usually receive voting rights at faculty meetings where law school policies are debated and set.

And professors may not be the only persons who vote at faculty meetings. Full-time instructors and full-time administrators who also teach may also have voting rights at faculty meetings, even if not formally designated as professors.

Law schools are not exempt from the current trend in academia of relying increasingly on part-time instructors to both bring their particular real-world experiences to the classroom, and to afford the administrators flexibility in adapting the curriculum to changing interests and needs. Such part-time instructors are commonly referred to as "lecturers" or "adjuncts", but sometimes receive the title of "adjunct professor". Part-time instructors usually do not vote at (or even attend) law school faculty meetings.

The University of Chicago Law School's official, carefully worded press release on Barack Obama says this: "From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School's Senior Lecturers has high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined."

The statements that "Senior Lecturers are....regarded as professors" and that "Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer" together imply that Lecturers are not regarded as professors or as members of the Law School faculty. And yet the press release says that President Obama was a professor at the law school for both his four years as a Lecturer and his eight subsequent years as a Senior Lecturer. The meaning of the terms "regarded as" and "considered to be" are not explained.

That said, in the absence of any dissenting voices emanating from the University of Chicago Law School, there seems no reason to question the Law School's statement that Barack Obama was a professor at the law school. Every academic institution can designate who is and is not a professor at that institution. No rule says they can't do so retroactively, after the fact, much as many law schools retroactively converted previously earned LL.B. (Bachelor of Law) degrees into J.D. (Doctor of Law) degrees.

And law professors don't have formal subspecialties. So any law professor who ever taught constitutional law can properly be called "a constitutional law professor."

There's also no reason to question the statement that "Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined." Any law school in the United States would have happily offered a former president of the Harvard Law Review a full-time tenure-track position. While tenure-track positions at American law schools have become harder to get in recent years, they are still more common than former presidents of the Harvard Law Review seeking teaching positions.

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