A Lawyerist article reports on judges who are using Star Trek references to make their decisions more accessible:
Justice Don Willett of the Supreme Court of Texas once observed: “A lot of legal writing, including judicial writing, is clunky and soul-crushingly dull. In my view, legal humor is not an oxymoron. The law, in fact, sometimes can be fun.”
Ethics training can also be fun. Further, fun training can be better training. We’ll be elaborating on this theme in future posts.
An IEC Journal post summarizes some serious conflict of interest problems reported in some Washington Post articles (1 & 2):
The government alleged that shortly before [Chief Financial Officer] Ostermeyer retired from USAID, he helped the agency draft a contract solicitation for a senior advisor – a position that Ostermeyer intended to apply for after he retired. In an effort to ensure he would be awarded the position, Ostermeyer allegedly tailored the solicitation to his specific skills and experiences.
Federal conflict of interest laws prohibit executive branch employees from participating personally and substantially in matters in which they have a financial interest. Since Ostermeyer had a financial interest in the contract solicitation, the government alleged that he could not participate in drafting it and, therefore, violated 18 U.S.C. § 208(a).
This type of news story can make a fantastic lead-in for training, showing the audience the relevance of the topic and inducing a “There but for the grace of God go I” feeling that makes it more likely they will give your presentation the attention it deserves.
Presentations Magazine is a great source of information on presentation techniques. Its primary focus is on commercial presenters, like salesmen, but most of the advice applies just as well to federal ethics trainers.
Would you like to improve your PowerPoint skills? The excellent Office for Lawyers website has information about all components of Microsoft’s flagship office productivity, including the PowerPoint section. It has links to a wealth of resources, including sites that provide free templates to freshen up your slides.
The Department of Defense SOCO Ethics Counselor’s Deskbook describes itself as “A hornbook and “how to” for Standards of Conduct in the Department of Defense.” This description is a little misleading, since most of this valuable reference is just as valuable for ethics counselors in civilian agencies.
There’s a wealth of useful information here. One component is particularly timely: The recent strong Congressional interest in conferences means makes it advisable to be familiar with the manual and slide show on ethical issues involving conferences.
It looks like DoD SOCO obtained most or all of the manuals from the Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, the Army’s excellent school for lawyers, but this just shows SOCO’s good judgment: If you are going to borrow, borrow from the best.