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The ‘Moneyball’ of colleagueship (access required)

After approximately 10 years of teaching, a profession in which being a good colleague means showing up at an occasional department meeting, maybe cracking a few jokes and not offering any substantive comments that force the meeting to last any longer than absolutely necessary, I found myself in the legal world, where colleagueship has a completely different meaning. All of a sudden, there was work to be done on deadline and I wasn't the only one who would be doing it. Where I used to mark up students' papers with abandon and be the final (and only) arbiter of quality and subpar work, I would now actually be working with other people who would mark up my work product (gasp!) and make suggestions for improvements to opinions, briefs and everything else I drafted. Do I now know what it means to be a good colleague after a couple of years following this somewhat uncomfortable transition into the legal world? To see how much (or how little) I knew, I asked several attorneys I know — one government attorney, one at a large national firm, and one at a small firm — what they believe makes a good colleague. Surprisingly, all of us (yes, even me) produced similar answers. So, with spring training right around the corner — Orioles pitchers and catchers report Feb. 18 — I have craftily compiled the main measures of attorney colleagueship into measurable statistics based upon familiar baseball stats. These can be used to evaluate all attorneys — new associates, senior counsel and even partners. 1. ERA (Earned Run Average) = meets Expectations, is Reliable and Accountable In the feedback I got from almost every attorney I asked, these three traits appeared the most. Just like the baseball stat (which, yes, I know, is already a thing of the past) measures a pitcher's reliability, this colleagueship statistic measures how well you do what you say you are going to do so that others can rely on you. An implicit part of this aspect of colleagueship is actually understanding what you're going to be able to accomplish over a specific time period and communicating that effectively to other colleagues. Unlike baseball, a high ERA as a colleague is a good thing. It means your colleagues can count on you, which means they will like to work with you.


  1. You could add “Mendoza Line” to your Devil’s Dictionary. It’s the line one crosses in gratuitously trashing former teammates for no apparent purpose (as in: being a good colleague in teaching consists of “showing up at an occasional department meeting, maybe cracking a few jokes and not offering any substantive comments that force the meeting to last any longer than absolutely necessary”). I have a feeling your former teaching colleagues didn’t think much of you as a citizen either.

    And people wonder where jock stereotypes come from.

  2. Pushkin, you are a real piece of work – I don’t think I have ever seen you write anything positive or meaningful. The author has obviously worked hard to put this piece together, which i found interesting and refreshing. But, somehow, from this article, you have determined that an entire swath of people do not regard him as “much of a citizen.” Aside from being completely baseless, your comment is just plain mean.

    From your many previous comments on this blog, I think you should work on civility and reigning in your generally negative attitude.