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Kentucky's Future Lawyers Blow Off Class For Game, Get Called Out By Angry Dean

Northern Kentucky Law School held a mandatory "professionalism" lecture Thursday night, at the same time as UK's opening round game. The result: maybe not a lesson in professionalism, but certainly one in irony.

It's brutal that NKU scheduled anything on one of the most important sports days of the year, let alone at the exact same time that a team the entire state has a stake in was taking the floor. But the beauty of 2010 is that you don't need to be near a television to follow the game. And predictably, the students kept up on their laptops and iPhones.


But they weren't inconspicuous enough. In its entirety, here's a letter from the irate dean.

Dear First-year Students:

It was good to see all of you at last night's professionalism program. After reading many of the comment sheets, it seems that most of you enjoyed it. This, of course, I was happy to learn.

I was not, however, particularly pleased with some of the behavior I witnessed last night. Most students were paying attention to what our speakers were saying, and I commend those students for behaving in an appropriate, professional manner. However, I noticed several students, both men and women, watching the NCAA tournament on their laptops; constantly looking down at their iPhones or other electronic devices; and texting messages to fellow classmates or to people not at the presentation.

While I understand that people are interested in the NCAA basketball tournament, and that they might not have agreed with the viewpoints expressed by the speakers, this conduct was patently rude and inexcusable. The ironic thing about this situation is that these presentations were supposed to teach students about "professionalism," and I could not think of any behavior less professional than what I saw last night. Would you act this way in front of a judge? Would you act this way in front of a client? I can only hope the answer is "no."

We all have things we would rather be doing at certain times (for example, I would rather be watching the Union / St. Lawrence hockey game tonight than teaching a make-up class), but as a professional, I know that my responsibilities as a faculty member and administrator come before my desire to watch the game. I know that when my class is over, I will be able to find out who won. Similarly, all of you would have been able to see the results of the basketball games after the 1.25-hour presentation last night. I don't think there would have been any significant consequences had you actually listened to the entire presentation rather than focus on your iPhones, your laptops, and your other electronic devices.

Thankfully, I do not think that the speakers were able to see what was going on in the audience. That does not, however, make rude behavior any less unprofessional. I can only hope that as you progress throughout your law school careers, you will learn what "professionalism" truly means.

Lawrence D. Rosenthal

Associate Dean for Academics

NKU – Chase College of Law

I thoroughly enjoy the fact that he felt the need to clarify that "both men and women" were transgressors, and his effort to identify with the 22-year-olds by expressing his own desire to watch the Union/St. Lawrence hockey game.

Regardless, if you're going to hire a lawyer, make sure...what, exactly? They're not a basketball fan? Your hearing isn't on the first Thursday night of March Madness? They're not first-year law students? I don't even know.

1Ls at Northern Kentucky Law are not Very Professional [Above The Law]

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