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Dean's Desk: IU Maurer professor’s legacy lives on at law school

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dean-buxbaun-hannahTwo months ago, the Maurer School of Law lost an esteemed colleague, friend and teacher who touched the lives of more than 6,000 of our alumni during his 33 years at the law school.

Leonard Fromm, our beloved Associate Dean for Students and Alumni Affairs, passed away on Feb. 2. Tributes to Len have been pouring in from around the world, all of them attesting to his many qualities that served the school so well. Several alumni wrote of Len’s willingness to help them in times of personal and professional self-doubt and to guide them through the tentative awkwardness of the first year of law school.

One alumnus wrote, “Len Fromm represented all that was good about Indiana University and the Law School. He genuinely cared about the students and spent more time learning about each of their aspirations and dreams than anyone could have expected. He had a warm, thoughtful and caring manner that had a profound impact on me and other students throughout his years of service to the Law School and wider community.”
 

Leonard Fromm Fromm

Len saw himself as very much in the background, working behind the scenes to counsel students privately. Yet his influence was – and remains – deeply felt. He knew each student by name, empathized with their individual predicaments, and kept in touch with a staggering number of them after they graduated and began their professional lives.

Len’s legacy lives on at the law school in many ways that will have a real impact on our students’ ability to succeed in the profession. Trained as a counselor – he held a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology as well as a law degree – he took a real interest in developing our students’ professional competencies. He was intimately involved in the design of Indiana Law’s innovative 1L course on the legal profession, which uses legal ethics and the law of lawyering as the spine of a course that immerses students in a variety of practice settings. In so doing, the course helps students identify the competencies they must develop to succeed in their professional lives.

My colleague Bill Henderson, who directs our Center on the Global Legal Profession and who co-founded our legal profession course, recalled that Len was a master at taking complex social science principles and distilling them into practical teaching tools. “In 2008 I started collaborating with Len on a project to construct a Law School competency model,” Bill wrote in the March issue of The National Jurist. “Our first iteration was a list of 23 success factors. … Although valid as a model of social science, the list was too long and complex to get traction with students. … During the summer of 2011, as we were debriefing the challenges of yet another year in the legal profession course, Len said ‘I have an idea.’

“A short time later,” Bill continued, “Len circulated a list of six competencies that were appropriate to 1Ls and foundational to their growth as professionals. At last, we had a working tool!” We named these traits the Fromm Six, humorously, at first, as a play on the famous Big Five model that forms the basis of scientific personality testing. But the name stuck.

In the National Jurist article, Bill wrote, “There is no greater tribute [to Len] than to publish and publicize the Fromm Six so that another generation of lawyers can benefit from his wisdom, grace, and kindness.” I couldn’t agree more, so I share them here:

Self-awareness: having a highly developed sense of self. Possessing this competence means knowing accurately which emotions you are feeling and how to manage them toward effective performance and a healthy balance in your life.

Active listening: the ability to comprehend information fully through careful monitoring of spoken words and nonverbal cues. (Preoccupation with technology has made it very challenging to give proper weight and attention to face-to-face interactions.)

Questioning: the art and skill of knowing when and how to ask for information. Developing this skill also requires managing one’s own need to talk and control the conversation.

Empathy: sensing and perceiving what others are feeling, being able to take their perspectives, and cultivating a rapport and connection. This includes communicating understanding back to others by accurately articulating their feelings. (This is something Len was especially good at doing.)

Communicating and presenting: the ability to present compelling arguments assertively and respectfully, and sell one’s ideas to others. Being able to express strong feelings and emotions appropriately in a manner that does not derail the message is also important.

Resilience: the ability to deal with difficult situations calmly and cope effectively with stress; to be able to learn from your failures, rejections, feedback and criticism as well as from disappointments beyond your control. Being resilient and stress-hardy also implies an optimistic and positive outlook, one that enables you to absorb the impact of the event, recover within a reasonable amount of time and incorporate relevant lessons from the event.

All of us miss Len’s guidance, wisdom and warmth, but rejoice in his legacy. We are planning a tribute to him on campus this fall.•

__________

Hannah L. Buxbaum is Interim Dean and John E. Schiller Chair in Legal Ethics at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. Opinions expressed are the author’s.

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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