UNT Dallas professor Michael Maslanka offers insights into how COVID-era changes in legal practice and education have created new possibilities for the future of law.
State Bar of Texas Podcast
Michael P. Maslanka joined the faculty of UNT Dallas College of Law as assistant professor of law...
In 1999, Rocky Dhir did the unthinkable: he became a lawyer. In 2021, he did the unforgivable:...
Will we ever return to “normal,” or are we forever changed by COVID-19? The world of legal has had to adapt quickly to public health and safety guidelines, sometimes struggling to provide access to justice and maintain legal education in the midst of this difficult time. To examine the ways the profession has responded to these challenges, Rocky Dhir welcomes lawyer and professor Michael Maslanka. Together, they search for silver linings and offer hope for a brighter future for the practice of law.
Michael P. Maslanka is assistant professor at University of North Texas | Dallas College of Law and is widely regarded as one of the top employment and human resources lawyers in Texas.
State Bar of Texas
Adapting to Change and Adversity: How the Pandemic Could Help Us Do Life & Law Better
Intro: Welcome to State Bar of Texas Podcast. Your monthly source for conversations and curated content to improve your law practice with your host, Rocky Dhir.
Rocky Dhir: Hi and welcome to the State Bar of Texas Podcast. Don’t be like me, find your own voice. That was advice, I received about 10 years ago from a dear friend and mentor, but the thing is I really wanted to sound like him. He was not only a preeminent employment lawyer and managing partner at a major firm. He also had a regular column in Texas lawyer called Work Matters. He was a published author of several series of books on employment law. He was chair of the Annual South Texas College of Law – Employment Law Conference. He also had a huge social media following of people from all walks of life, not just lawyers. They’re all seeking his wisdom about keeping a healthy perspective on life.
This dear friend I’m extolling is none other than Michael Maslanka. Most of us know him even if we haven’t met him. You might be familiar with the State Bar of Texas video contributions called like Michael Maslanka at Your Desk. Remember that? Well, over the years Mike has advised us all from afar on how Shakespeare can make us better lawyers. About the teachings of Zen, and how that can make us better leaders. About the need for kindness in our lives. About civility with opposing counsel. About Buddhism teachings for the 21st century. The list goes on and on.
Today, Mike is a law professor at UNT Dallas College of Law in Downtown Dallas. A position he has held since the 2015-16 Academic Year. Among his official courses, Mike teaches employment law and contract law, but his students also get insights into life from a professor who never really stopped being a student. A professor who never really stopped caring for each person he encounters. Like many, if not all of you I’m ready for COVID-19 to make its exit. I look back at photos and videos from just February of 2020 and everything just looked and felt so different back then. The term yesteryear comes to mind, I yearn for a return to normal, but will we ever be the same?
Then, I remember the year 2009, when Mike Maslanka invited me and Mark Unger of San Antonio to help him start the adaptable lawyer track at the State Bar annual meeting. Mike has always been a proponent of lawyers adapting to change in adversity so who better than Mike to tell us whether, after all the angst of 2020 and part of 2021. COVID-19 might help make us stronger somehow, with that and with the holiday season upon us. Let’s get a big picture view from one of my idols in the law professor Mike Maslanka. Mike, welcome.
Michael Maslanka: Well, thank you so much. Your kind words mean a great deal to me. I’ll just say this, I always tell the students don’t try to be a mini-me, right? My job is not to make you a mini-me. My job, as with you I guess is to make you the best version of yourself. So in that spirit, that’s why I practice law is the spirit in which I teach and it’s the spirit in which I’m happy to do this podcast with you Rocky.
Rocky Dhir: No, it’s a real honor. I always call you Mike, but I guess I sometimes forget you are now Professor Maslanka. How does that feel?
Michael Maslanka: That’s fine. That’s – Mike is fine. There is one thing I never get tired of hearing, and one thing I never get tired of saying. That thing I never get tired of hearing is when a student says, “Good morning Professor Maslanka.” Or “Good evening Professor Maslanka.” You could say that as much as you want. And the thing I never get tired of saying is when I was in practice so and those poles, I’m good. That’s the North Pole and the South Pole. Those two things make me great. Made me feel great and make sure I’m being a good lawyer, a good professor and leading a fulfilling life.
Rocky Dhir: So, you know after the introduction, it should be no surprise to people that you and I have known each other for I think 20 years now. It’s been a while.
Michael Maslanka: It’s been a long time and you didn’t like me at first.
Rocky Dhir: That’s right. At first, you came in and you started lecturing me and giving me advice, and I was like, “Who the heck is this guy?” And then it turned out, when I look back I was like, he was absolutely right and you turned out to be one of the people I look up to and admire.
Michael Maslanka: Thank you.
Rocky Dhir: No, it’s been fantastic. So I remember when you got the job at UNT Dallas College of Law, I talk to you about maybe a year later and just asked you how it felt and you said, “This is the job that the universe intended for me.” Or something along those lines. Can you tell us about that?
Michael Maslanka: Yeah, we go through our lives making our plans. But the universe has other plans for us. When I got here, when I started to teach I will tell you I never felt so fulfilled in my life. The ancient Greeks never had a word for happy.
It didn’t exist in the language. The ancient Greeks though had a word for fulfilled. The idea being happiness comes and goes. But fulfillment deep-seated fulfillment, doing the best you can with what you have, helping the greatest number of people if you possibly can. That is fulfillment and that’s how I feel as a law professor and as a writer of my books and doing the various things that we’ve worked on together and I’ve done independently. Its fulfillment. That’s what counts, not happiness.
Rocky Dhir: Let’s talk for a second then about fulfillment in this new age of COVID-19. First of all, before we go any further, are you staying safe? Are you guarding your body from this virus?
Michael Maslanka: I’m doing my best. I wear my mask wherever I go. I’m teaching virtually. We had an option to teach live/virtual but I just decided to do virtual and it’s worked out fine. It’s worked out great. I’d rather have a student right there, where I can look them in the eye and talk to them. But actually, virtual teaching has been a boom not a bust.
Rocky Dhir: Going back to fulfillment and being a professor, how fulfilling has online teaching been? I mean, I’m sure it’s a change for your students. How are they adapting? How are you adapting? Can you talk us through that a little bit?
Michael Maslanka: You use the right word, right. We talked about the program we did together the Adaptable Lawyer. Darwin never said it’s the survival of the fittest, never. Darwin always said, it’s the survival in the most adaptable. And I like to think that the students have adapted to virtual online learning and I have too.
Rocky Dhir: How so? Like, can tell us a difference between the two?
Michael Maslanka: Yeah, there’s a couple of differences. One difference is and I know this may sound odd, but I actually feel closer to my students virtually than in person. Let me give –
Rocky Dhir: That is odd. Yeah, that is odd I want to hear about this.
Michael Maslanka: Yeah, I don’t know if you’re a football fan.
Rocky Dhir: Sure.
Michael Maslanka: I am actually. One thing I watch every year is the football draft. But this football draft couldn’t be done in person this year. It had to be done via Zoom. So we got to see the coaches’ basement. The wood panels basement, right? You know, the painting of the guy playing poker who’s a dog with a cigar and a scar in its mouth. The thing is what I’ve noticed is, I see my students as human beings. Their children come into the picture. I interview them albeit briefly. I see them as people in their natural environment and when I did it from home as opposed to my messy office, they would see my life, my art on the wall. I would show them the bulging bookcases. And they’re more receptive – when I’m here in my office, there’s a desk, right? And I’m on one side and they’re on the other, that’s a barrier. I have found that in virtual teaching, students are more likely, not less likely to come to you and ask for advice to say, “What’s going on? I didn’t understand this point. Why did I do poorly on this question?” And so actually, virtual teaching if you adapt to it, if you embrace it has many, many advantages and that’s just one example my friend.
Rocky Dhir: Moving forward, once COVID-19 passes and things get back to “normal.” And we’ll talk about what normal will be in a sec.
Michael Maslanka: Sure.
Rocky Dhir: But once we get back to normal, so to speak are you going to change the way you teach? Are you — how are you going to incorporate the lessons from virtual learning into a classroom environment?
Michael Maslanka: I think one thing, its mindset. So we’re going to go back to live classes at some point. I don’t regret is that there’s sometimes is an artificial distinction. There is hierarchy. Even, I don’t like hierarchy by the way. I don’t know how to spell it but I don’t like. I don’t know where the E and the I go. I don’t like hierarchy, and there’s a natural hierarchy in the classroom. I’m up there. I’m the authority figure and they’re 40 students out there. I don’t like it but one thing that we’ve learned is on Zoom for instance. You know, what? I’m just another box. I’m just another box on the screen and hierarchy is broken down. In the classroom, there’s that natural dynamic you can’t help it. On Zoom, we have no hierarchy. I’m just another box on the screen and when I talk, it’s yellow. When I don’t talk, it’s not yellow and I think that’s a good thing. That’s a healthy thing. That’s the thing we should aspire to. Hierarchy is poison.
Rocky Dhir: I think you’ve talked about that in the context of COVID-19. You say, that this – you think this is going to break down hierarchy in our society moving forward?
Michael Maslanka: I hope so. I hope for and all this other stuff about vaccines. I hope in a way that this COVID-19 is terrible as it is. One of the gifts it’s going to give us or maybe has given us, is that hierarchy is not good for teaching.
Somebody’s got to be in charge. Okay, I just have a lot of partners who said, every job has to have one superintendent, I get that. But if we break hierarchy down and we treat one another more as equals then I’m up here and you’re down there. I think it’s healthy and I think that’s one thing I really hope hand to my heart that carries over into the classroom, into the actual classroom.
Rocky Dhir: How do you do that in the actual classroom?
Michael Maslanka: I think that you make a point about it. I think you know, it’s funny you say this. I tell my students and I mentioned this earlier. As I said, I don’t want you to be a mini-me. I want you to be the best version of yourself and I always thought that was implicit, but now I understand that I have to express it because they come in thinking, “Oh, he’s the professor. Oh, I get that.” But I want to overcome that. Now, you can’t call me Mike. You can’t call me Michael. You can’t call me Prof. I’m Professor Maslanka but putting that aside for a minute, we’re equals. I learned from you, you learn from me and then you, classmates, colleagues I facilitated but you learn from one another. That’s a three-legged stool and I think we lose something to the three-legged stool over the years and I think hopefully, when we get back into the classroom, the three-legged stool will be supreme yet again.
Rocky Dhir: Let’s kind of think though, in terms of the mechanics of once things get back in person. So you get up and you state, “Hey, we’re all equals.” But at the end of the day, the classroom is still physically structured with a podium. With you standing at the podium and with the students sitting in the chairs, kind of looking on at you.
Michael Maslanka: Yeah, objection. Assumes facts not in evidence. What makes you think I stand at the podium all the time. I often and I’ve written a couple books. We do a lot of — here at the law school, we do a lot of experiential learning where I break the students into groups and I give them a problem and then I walk around the room and I visit each little group and say, “How’s it coming? Have any questions?” And then, I dialogue with them. So there — we break down the wall, right. Now, sometimes you got to stand up there. Sometimes you got to lecture. Sometimes you have to have a point where you see everyone and they see you. But I think, teachers need to always — in any walk of life, try to be as personal as possible. As much as possible one-on-one education. That’s what education is about. It’s not generic, it’s personalized. And so I do everything I can to break down the wall in the classroom. That exists.
Rocky Dhir: Have you had any students that appear to be struggling with online? That’s supposed to be in class?
Michael Maslanka: Yeah, they do struggle. And that’s, why I think we always have to go back to this concept of humanity. I’ll give you an example.
Rocky Dhir: Sure.
Michael Maslanka: They struggle, but every once in a while people who go to law school know that you’re called on is this Craddock method?
Rocky Dhir: Sure.
Michael Maslanka: So what I do is, we have a Hawaiian Shirt Day or Hawaiian Dress Day. So I wear my Hawaiian shirt, and if you wear your Hawaiian dress or your Hawaiian shirt or something vaguely like that, you are exempted from being called on. And we have Hawaiian Shirt Day, and then we can tell story and then we have t-shirt day. Like I have a t-shirt that says — I saw the Baltimore Ravens quarterback with this, “Nobody Cares. Work Harder” so that’s my t-shirt. And then the students bring their t-shirts, and it’s got an emblem of symbol on it or it’s got some quote on it. They explained to me what it means and why they bought it and why they’re wearing it. Now we have the serious business of education. But when you get to know someone as a human being, and they get to know you as a human being, their eyes are open, their ears are open and they get the message that you’re trying to instill because you know, they know I have their best interest at heart and I think they care for me as well. And I think that’s the best way to teach.
Rocky Dhir: Is it harder to be objective though? When you break down that hierarchy. Let me tell you what I mean by that. Whether it’s kind of a “boss employee setting or a student teacher setting.” Sometimes you have to give somebody bad news, right? You have to say, “You’re no longer needed here. You didn’t do well enough on this test. You didn’t — you failed.” Or you have to give them any other types of objective bad news that they may not like hearing. When you start getting to know them on a more personal level, does that objectivity start to erode to where you can’t deliver that bad news the way you used to.
Michael Maslanka: I don’t think so. That’s a really good question. Sometimes, students do not do as well as they hope.
Rocky Dhir: Right.
Michael Maslanka: But – when they go back to be lawyer right? What did we do when we were lawyers? When I practice? It’s reframing. We take what looks bad and we turn it into something that looks good. By way of example, the student is struggling with a certain concept saying professional responsibility, which is a course that I teach.
And I said, well, you know what? Maybe this is a good thing. Let’s work on this. We know what we got to work on. This concept under whatever rule, you’re not getting it. Let’s do some hypotheticals, and you know what you’ll be stronger on this and then when you have to take the ethics exam the National Ethics Exam, you’ll be stronger. You’ll get a higher grade. You’ll pass it so you can practice law. So I think what you do is you take something that looks bad, right and you turn it into a positive. You turn it into something that’s good. And that’s what I try to do, when we have to see these opportunities whether in the classroom or in life or in practice.
Rocky Dhir: Well, I remember now. I’m going to cheat for second because since I know you personally, I remember this story and this was maybe four years ago. He’d been teaching about a year or two and I remember you told me a story about a young woman who — yet to tell her that look, the law is not for you. It doesn’t look like this is really your field and your kind of have to give her the gentle — I guess, the gentle lesson that she’d taken all this time and effort to go to law school, but this may not be the career for her. I don’t know, if you recall that. Knowing you, you probably do because you recall everybody you encounter, but can you do that in a new environment where you’ve gotten to know them, you know their t-shirt choices and you know, you’ve met their kids and all that. Can you still give that kind of objective advice to somebody?
Michael Maslanka: It’s actually easier not harder.
Rocky Dhir: Okay, how so?
Michael Maslanka: Because when you deeply care about someone, and I care about each of my students. I mean, maybe like some better than others. You don’t want them to waste their lives. Like they every one of us. We just get so much time in this world. We’ve no idea how long it’ll be and we have just so much energy, and we don’t want to waste it on something that’s not for us. And when you frame it that way, then the message is delivered and it’s delivered in such a way that the student understands it. Now, sometimes – look it takes a lot for me to have a conversation like that with somebody, okay. I mean, because you’re in law school, you’re working hard. Even if when I was managing partner with some law firms here, but at some point you have to have that conversation. But that’s like surgery it’s the last resort. But when you take that step, you have to frame it in such a way that this is a positive not a negative. You don’t want to be in a 30-year bad marriage with a career and then wake up one day and say what could I have done? I could have done all of this and I wasted my life.
Rocky Dhir: Do you think COVID-19 is going to make those conversations easier now? Do you think that’s going to change or — in other words, I guess let me rephrase the question, do you think COVID-19 and the lessons we take from it are going to change the dynamic of delivering that kind of news, whether it’s in legal teaching or whether it’s in law practice?
Michael Maslanka: I hope so. Let me answer your question a little bit of a roundabout way. This has been a wonderful experience doing teaching virtually or whatever virtually because it reminds us of something that’s very important, which is this nobody does anything alone in this world. One day, I’m in front of the class or my professors in front of the class. You know, I’m 67, all right. And your master of the universe. The classroom is yours and then, the next day you have to teach remotely. I’m not tech savvy. I don’t say that this as a point of pride. I say it as a point of fact. I could not do what I did without the help of my research assistant. I even hate to say my research assistant. The research assistant for my books, are Administrative Assistant here at the law school, they helped me through this. I could not have done any of this teaching without them. And that is the important lesson to remind ourselves and I’m always going to take that with me. I think, I always knew that but COVID has driven at home a very important way. And to fellow lawyers out there realizes talented as you maybe, you’re here because of others. Whether it’s your parents whether it’s because your colleagues, you do nothing alone in this world. So maybe that’s a roundabout way of answering your question Rocky.
Rocky Dhir: No, it’s not roundabout at all. I think you’ve hit it. Let’s maybe break this down into categories.
Michael Maslanka: Okay.
Rocky Dhir: So we’ve talked about lawyers and how they need to understand they’re not doing this alone, and there are others who helped bring them to that point. What about law firms? Do you think law firms either will or perhaps should change the way they do things after COVID?
Michael Maslanka: Law firms are entities, right?
Rocky Dhir: Sure.
Michael Maslanka: Entities exist. They exist to make money. That’s what a law firm does. So you can’t change a law firm. What you can change, what you can teach is not a law firm.
But individual lawyers, individual staff because they’re human beings. They can learn and they can change and they can develop. A law firm can’t. You start not from the top down. You start from the bottom up.
Rocky Dhir: Although, if we’re talking about an era when we’re doing away with hierarchies, we’re not talking about the top of the firm or the bottom of the firm, right? We’re talking about everybody kind of doing their job and they’re working maybe more horizontally than they are vertically. Do you think we’ll ever get to a point when lawyers and law firms kind of see that type of dynamic emerge?
Michael Maslanka: I hope so. Now, by the way, let me just hasten to say as it when I was trying lawsuits I would often tell the jury, this is what I’m not saying. Okay, so I’m not saying, I believe in chaos. I’m not saying I believe in anarchy. I’ll go back to a law partner, right? Every job has to have a superintendent but you can take that idea too far. So there’s always going to be a superintendent. There’s always somebody’s got a call certain kinds of shots, but I really do believe that this has been such a searing. This being COVID-19 and what we’re going through together. That it will change. It will change how our brains are wired. It will change how we view the world. And if you change how somebody views the world, you change the world. If you change their mindset you change the world. That’s a principle of science. It’s a principle of physics and it’s always been true. It’s going to be all the more true. If that’s even a concept. Then, even more true than it is as always been.
Rocky Dhir: Well, then what about the students? Because that’s I think is going to be a very interesting dynamic to watch. The students that are in law school during COVID-19 or that maybe even graduated in May of 2000 –I’m sorry, that are law students in 2020 or that graduated in May of 2020 and had this huge earth-shattering, shuffling of the cards while they were learning to be lawyers. How do you think and — your frontline with the students, how do you think this is going to affect the way they view the world as they emerge from law school and into this new world?
Michael Maslanka: I think I’m not a Pollyanna, by the way. I think it will be positive. So I was teaching in the spring and we had to change over in March. I taught in the summer. I taught in the fall. I’ll teach — in the spring and this is how I start off my class. First thing I say, “I know this is different. This is a different way of communicating information, but I want to tell you this hand to my heart. I am proud and I mean this of each and every one of you for adapting to what’s going on.” And then I then I quote Darwin and I talk a little bit about the adaptable lawyer, “But I’m proud of each of you and you shouldn’t embrace this moment because as lawyers, you’re going to have to be adaptable and this my friend is the first test and you’ll all passing it very well. The first test in life and the first test in practicing law, you adapted and you’re well on your way to being good effective lawyers.” And so we have to set that mindset where ever you go at the very outset Rocky.
Rocky Dhir: Obviously, they’re people that have been very, very adversely affected at a very, very basic level from COVID-19. People who have either passed away. They’ve had long-term illnesses. They’ve had relatives and loved ones pass away or be adversely affected health-wise from this pandemic. So I want to start out by recognizing that on the whole COVID-19 is a very negative thing because of the casualties.
Michael Maslanka: Absolutely, this is no question about this. They had no question.
Rocky Dhir: Right. I want to make it clear that we’re not saying that this is a good thing that has happened, we’re saying this is a bad thing but we’re trying to find some silver linings in it.
Michael Maslanka: Absolutely.
Rocky Dhir: Stepping back for a moment from the human toll of COVID-19, do you think that for the practice of law this is going to be a net positive or we going to learn and become better as a profession or do you think we’re going to go back to business as usual and “Yeah, that was a blip on the radar.”
Michael Maslanka: It’s funny you say that. I think a lot of this. There’s an interesting book many, many years ago. I forgot the author but the name of the book is “Change or Die.” Change or Die.
Rocky Dhir: I’ve heard of this one. Yes.
Michael Maslanka: It’s a very interesting book because what the author of the book did he followed around patients who had this coronary bypass surgery. And you would think they would change their lifestyle. More exercise, better diet and what he found was that for a very brief time after the surgery they did those things. But the further removed they were from the event, the traumatic event, the less they change and then they reverted back to what they were.
They reverted back to bad foods and no exercise. Everything that got them on the operating table in the first place. And I think that’s right, so the lesson from all of that is let’s remind ourselves all the time about the tragedy that COVID-19 was that how we change and how we should continue to change, and learn from this terrible tragedy. So Change or Die is right, but if you cut new neural pathways in your brain — that’s the other thing they mentioned in the book. About adapting and they will stay with you. Take a moment — I’ve written about this, I think COVID-19 is made a stop and breathe and take a moment to reflect upon what we do every day, every minute and our intentions. Such a long answer to a short question.
Rocky Dhir: If we could distill it into maybe a few talking points. What do you want us to learn from COVID-19? We’ve talked about hierarchies.
Michael Maslanka: I want you to learn I think. And I think you and I have talked a little bit about this.
Rocky Dhir: We have. We talked about a lot of stuff.
Michael Maslanka: I have a cab driver. He’s Punjabi and I had a research assistant and she was from South Asia. You’re from South Asia?
Rocky Dhir: That’s right.
Michael Maslanka: And what we’ve learned is – my friends here have taught me is this, in that in Hindi language. In the Punjabi language, the word for tomorrow and the word for yesterday, it’s identical.
Rocky Dhir: It’s Kala(ph). Yeah, that’s right.
Michael Maslanka: Now, what is that teach us? That didn’t happen by accident. What does this teach us? If the word for tomorrow, right and the word for yesterday, right? Are the same. I think it teaches us, that all that matter is today. Is this very moment. You know, Seneca the ancient philosopher. The stoic philosophers said that he said, that every day is a lifetime. And every day I get up, I think I messed up yesterday, but I had now had a chance. The universe is giving me another chance to make it right. And so I think ultimately this terrible tragedy will instill in us the idea of the Hindi and Punjabi language, which is tomorrow, yesterday, same word and it doesn’t matter. All that matter is today, this moment. Given example, I’ve written several books. Published several books. One of my editors over the summer send me an email and she asked to use the word amiss, in terms of reading over my content of my new book.
Rocky Dhir: It’s a great word.
Michael Maslanka: Is it always a good sign that a great word? You almost never hear that word, normally. What I would have done is this, okay fine and I would just be blowing blown by Asta. I stopped and I sent her an email and I said that’s a great word. Thank you for taking the time to use it. Thank you for taking the time to help me, amiss. I’m going to remember that. It may seem like a silly example, but I take it to heart. I think that’s what we have to do. We say things like I love you. We do it so often, it’s meaningless. I think COVID has taught us that today is what matters. Her intentions for today matters and then we should take the time to say what’s important to us.
Rocky Dhir: Well, it’s kind of like, when you ask somebody, “Hey, how are you doing?” People say, “How are you doing?” And they don’t really want the answer. They don’t want the full answer, right? If I said, if you ask me, how are you doing? And I went through the whole panoply of successes and defeats that I had in the last few months. You’d fall asleep with boredom but I guess that’s another example. We say these things and we ask these questions, but we’re not really wanting the full answer. It’s almost like a formality.
Michael Maslanka: It’s almost like a formality and then we give a formulaic answer. I read somewhere and I tell my students this when they deal with people, if you really want the truth to that question don’t say, how you’re doing. Say what are you thinking about today? What’s on your mind? Or you can say, you seem a little trouble. Tell me what you’re thinking. Ultimately, if you say that two or three times, they’ll tell you really what’s on their mind and what’s in their heart. If you just say, how you’re doing? Formulate a question, you therefore formulaic answer and you know further ahead in helping somebody.
Rocky Dhir: Final question, do you think we’ll ever get back to “normal” or are we forever changed?
Michael Maslanka: I hope we’re forever changed. And I think, to give you my final answer to your final question. Although, nothing is ever final, were – have you ever seen the movie Air Force One?
Rocky Dhir: Absolutely.
Michael Maslanka: All right.
Rocky Dhir: I love that movie.
Michael Maslanka: So why do you like the movie? So to tell us the climactic scene in the movie.
Rocky Dhir: Well, to me the climactic scene was when Harrison Ford kicks the bad guy off the plane, he says, “Get off my plane.” But you probably have a different one in mind.
Michael Maslanka: No. No, this is right.
So Harrison Ford is the president. Air Force One has hijacked. Ultimately, Harrison Ford is the president goes to a different airplane. Not the Magnificent Air Force One that they were using. He kicks the bad guy off and he gets on the radio and he says, “This is Air Force One.” It’s not about the beautiful airplane. This is an old cargo ship, right that he’s now on. But it’s now Air Force One because Air Force One is an idea. It is not a thing. And I think that one thing we’ve learned whether it’s a law school at university, a law firm or business it’s not about bricks and mortar. It’s not about the fancy aquariums in the lobby. It’s about a spirit. It’s about an idea. These things, these extraneous things, these external things are nice, but it’s not what it’s about. It’s not about the spirit of an organization. Law firms are surviving now because they had a spirit that would not die. Law schools and universities are surviving now, not because the buildings are here, but because they have a spirit. A reason for being to fulfill others that is still there and I think even though buildings are nice, offices are nice and we want to go back to them. I always hope that we carry in our heart of heart as Shakespeare would say, “That these things are extraneous to our existence. They’re not why we’re here. We are here for other reasons.” And that idea, I hope survives ultimately the cure of COVID-19 and ultimately when we find our way out of this terrible mess that we’re in.
Rocky Dhir: You know Mike I could talk to you all day. And I know there have been times when we have talked all day. So I wish this could be one of those times, but you know for present purposes and I sound like a legal brief when I say that, but for –
Michael Maslanka: Present purposes, yeah.
Rocky Dhir: In the present case we have run out of time, but thank you so much for joining us Professor Maslanka.
Michael Maslanka: Sure. Well, heretofore at premises considered. I enjoyed it as well my friend. Thank you very much for the opportunity and thank you very much for the privilege.
Rocky Dhir: Absolutely and of course, I want to thank you for tuning in and encourage you to stay safe and make sure you follow all applicable orders for dealing with COVID-19 and please advise your clients and loved ones to do the same. This situation is changing fluidly and rapidly, so please seek out legal counsel if you have a question. Now, if you like what you heard today and how could you not, Mike Maslanka, his one of a kind.
If you like what you heard today, please rate and review us in Apple podcasts, Google podcasts or your favorite podcast app. Until next time, remember life’s a journey, folks. I’m Rocky Dhir signing off.
Outro: If you’d like more information about today’s show, please visit legaltalknetwork.com. Go to texasbar.com/podcast, subscribe via Apple podcast and RSS. Find both the State Bar of Texas and Legal Talk Network on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn or download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play and iTunes.
The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of nor are they endorsed by the State Bar of Texas, Legal Talk Network or their respective officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders or subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.
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|Published:||December 3, 2020|
|Podcast:||State Bar of Texas Podcast|
State Bar of Texas Podcast
The State Bar of Texas Podcast invites thought leaders and innovators to share their insight and knowledge on what matters to legal professionals.