Amateur Life Coach Discusses Employee Morale

Amateur Life Coach Discusses Employee Morale

James J. Bell, ICLEF's Amateur Life Coach

Originally posted May 2014

The Amateur Life Coach (also known as attorney James J. Bell of Bingham Greenebaum Doll) is back to dispense his unique thoughts, advice and wisdom to his real and imagined viewers…

This week our question comes from Indianapolis attorney Adam Christensen regarding whether allowing casual attire improves office morale.

Now, you can also “like” the Amateur Life Coach at Facebook!  Visit his facebook account today and catch up on his day-to-day activities.

More from James Bell on professional liability and legal ethics issues can be found in his “3 Things to Know” column appearing regularly in the Indiana Lawyer. Visit www.theindianalawyer.com.

Questions for the Amateur Life Coach?  Email them to iclef@iclef.org or @JamesJBell on Twitter.

Written and performed by James J. Bell. Produced by the Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum.
This video is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice.

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James focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense; attorney discipline defense and health care law. As a Marion County Public Defender, he represented clients in numerous jury and bench trials. James also represents clients in juvenile delinquency, appeals and post-conviction proceedings. James is a frequent ICLEF speaker on ethics, trial practice and criminal procedure. James just completed his first semester as an adjunct professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law where he teaches a course on professional responsibility. To date, no student has yet stood on their desk and shouted “Oh captain, my captain!” Follow James on Twitter @jamesjbell

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

 

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Family Law Case Review: Grandparents Visitation Order Reversed

Case: In re: The Grandparent Visitation of C.S.N.: Brooke Neuhoff v. Scott A. Ubelhor and Angela S. Ubelhor
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

[Full disclosure: I participated in the representation of the Appellant in this appeal.]

HELD: Trial court erred when it issued a visitation order in favor of Grandparents.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Mother became pregnant in high school. Weeks before her delivery, Father committed suicide. In 2010, paternity was established by way of an agreed entry between Mother and the paternal Grandparents. Child was born on June 17, 2010.

Mother eventually returned to high school, and graduated with a 3.9/4.0 GPA. She later enrolled at the University of Southern Indiana to study accounting, while working part time in the accounting department of a large local company.

Following Father’s death and Child’s birth, Mother maintained a close relationship with Grandparents. Mother included Grandparents at Child’s birth, baptism, birthday parties, holidays, and other family events. Mother also took Child to Grandparents’ home nearly every Sunday. While Mother would sometimes leave Child with Grandparents for several hours, Mother did not allow any overnights.

In February 2013, Grandparents filed a petition for grandparent visitation, in part because they were seeking overnights and in part because of a stated concern that Mother might reduce or eliminate their access to Child. Initially, Mother continued her Sunday visits to Grandparents’ house after the petition was filed.

Within weeks, Mother began to notice behavior issues with Child after he spent time with Grandparents (e.g., potty training accidents, crying, etc.). After one visit, Mother noticed unexplained bruises on Child’s back. Mother elected to discontinue Child’s visits with Grandparents.

Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court issued a grandparent visitation order. The order provided for a six-week phase-in that would reach a final visitation schedule of every other Sunday from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.. No overnights were provided for in the order. Mother appealed.

The Court of Appeals reviewed Troxel and similar Indiana cases dealing with the constitutional aspect of grandparent visitation orders, as well as the resulting four “McCune factors” that must be considered by a trial court prior to ordering grandparent visitation. Applying the McCune factors to the record, the Court of Appeals concluded that Mother’s decision to restrict visitation was not unreasonable, and that the trial court’s finding to the contrary was unsupported. The Court of Appeals also concluded that the trial court gave no weight to the McCune factor that Mother had been providing for some visitation and, thus, the grandparent visitation order was not necessary for Grandparents to have any time with Child; there is an important difference between a parent who limits grandparents’ opportunities to visit with a child, and those who deny it entirely.

The trial court’s grandparent visitation order was reversed.

Chief Judge Vaidik dissented with a separate opinion. She believed that the circumstances surrounding Mother’s decision to stop the visits with Grandparents were such that it was within the trial court’s discretion to conclude that Mother had acted unreasonably because the evidence did not establish a clear nexus between Child’s behavioral issues and bruises with any wrongdoing by the Grandparents.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: In re: The Grandparent Visitation of C.S.N.: Brooke Neuhoff v. Scott A. Ubelhor and Angela S. Ubelhor

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The Indiana Family Law Update is a free service provided by the Matrimonial Law Group of Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP. While significant efforts are made to ensure an accurate summary and reproduction of each opinion, readers are advised to verify all content and analysis with a traditional case law reporter before relying on the content and analysis offered here.
ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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Negotiation lessons to put into practice

By Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute

I recently concluded a few negotiations – business and personal – and learned and confirmed some things that have universal applicability to many negotiations. I have added these to my personal list of negotiation lessons learned so they are front and center for me in future negotiations. You might add them to yours, too.

Maintain focus on your primary goal.

Our current roof lasted 21 years – and we needed a new roof. So we got some roofer recommendations and met with three who bid.

One was particularly impressive. He really knew his stuff and was intensely focused on quality, details and customer service. And his bid, while not the lowest, was reasonable based on our market research.

So I asked him to send me his standard agreement so we could get him scheduled soon, as he was extremely busy. After looking over his one-page agreement, which I suspect he had been using for years, I asked him if I could make some revisions to better protect us both. He seemed fine with this.

Now, keep in mind that I am a lawyer, as is my wife, and he knew this. So I sent him a revised agreement with some slight modifications, mostly technical. I next received a voice mail from him stating he thought we should find a different roofer.

I was very surprised. So, after discussing this with my wife (who was upset at me, as she just wanted our roof replaced before it rained again), I called him back to explore his concerns. Bottom line: He just wasn’t comfortable with any changes.

Since none was a deal-breaker, I signed his agreement. And we got a great new roof.

My lesson? Keep your eyes on your primary goal. The revisions were minor, but our selection of the roofer was not.

Almost all rules have exceptions.

A consulting client was recently in the midst of a negotiation with a nationally prominent attorney when we unexpectedly received a “best and final offer.” In most negotiations, using this specific language signals there will be no more offers coming from that party.

Based on this norm and this attorney’s reputation – which was great and one with a lot of credibility – it seemed like the end of the line. It was not. Instead, my client countered and asked for one more move. Unexpectedly, we got one. And while it was not a huge move, it was significant.

The lessons? One, it doesn’t cost anything to ask. And two, even seemingly sacrosanct rules sometimes have exceptions.

By the way, our counterpart’s credibility has now taken a hit, for obvious reasons.

The power of reciprocity and relationships

Our family has been thinking about building a new house for a while, and I don’t know how many times this custom homebuilder had come out to discuss our new house plans. But it was a lot. And it spanned five years. Each time, he was the consummate professional, exhibiting patience and helping us focus on our needs and interests. Importantly, he never asked to be paid for his time.

Finally, we were ready to move forward. But we just didn’t think it right to do what I recommend in many significant negotiations – strengthen our leverage, here by bidding it out to other builders.

Why not? We felt like we owed him for all the time he spent with us (the principle of reciprocity). Plus, we had developed a really good working relationship with him and would be working closely with him for months on the new house. Bidding out the contract at that point would have sent the wrong signal.

Bottom line: we wanted to hire him, and the money we might have saved with stronger leverage wasn’t worth the negative impact the bidding process would have had on our relationship.

Relationships matter.

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Marty Latz will be part of this week’s Masters Series Conference in beautiful French Lick and West Baden, Indiana. There are a few spots left for his Advanced CLE Seminar, Negotiations Strategies within Mediation. To learn more, Click Here.

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Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts’ proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or Latz@ExpertNegotiator.com

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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How to Deal with Sexist Attitudes in the Workplace

By Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute

“I sometimes have to deal with older sexist men who make inappropriate comments and use tactics they would never use with men my age,” a bright, young female lawyer told me recently. “What should I do?”

1. If it is truly offensive, demand they stop.

If the sexist comments are truly offensive and make you extremely uncomfortable, firmly and professionally point them out and request or demand they stop. At the end of the day, you deserve a sexist-free environment in which to engage.

If your counterparts are lawyers and they do not stop, the legal rules of professional conduct give you a mechanism to enforce appropriate behavior.

2. Use their attitude to get information.

If their comments, however, are just annoying and/or mildly offensive – use their sexist attitude against them. How?

It is likely your sexist counterpart is substantially underestimating your abilities solely because of your gender and age.

By doing so, they are not thinking carefully about what they say and what information they share. Frankly, they probably do not think you know what to do with it.

Use their attitude to get important information.

Ask them lots of questions, especially open-ended ones like what, how, why, tell me about, describe and explain. Then, once you have information, use it strategically.

They may never know what hit them – and they certainly won’t see it coming.

I know an extremely skilled and intelligent negotiator who also happens to have grown up on a farm in Iowa.

He uses a variation of this same technique, Columbo-like, and succeeds in many negotiations when his counterparts greatly underestimate him. After all, they think, a farm boy could not possibly know about those sophisticated transactions. Boy, are they wrong! 

3. Experience does not equal expertise, so do your homework.

Just because your counterparts may have been negotiating for years does not mean they are doing it well. And it certainly does not mean they are negotiating strategically based on the expert’s proven research.

You, thus, need to do your homework. And you need to do your homework on both the substantive issues involved and on the negotiation process. In other words, learn from the experts how to strategically negotiate.

Then your negotiation strategies will be based on recent research and on what the experts have learned from studying top negotiators throughout history.

4. Remember your leverage.

Finally, remember that your counterpart’s attitude – no matter how offensive – does not change your leverage. If you (or your client if it is a legal negotiation) have a good alternative to a deal with them – your Plan B – then you have strong leverage.

Strong leverage means you can walk away if you want, a strong tactic that might cause your counterpart to reconsider how they deal with you.

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Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts’ proven research.  He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or Latz@ExpertNegotiator.com

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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