October 02, 2014
During a week in Arizona, Tulane Law Professor Joel Friedman helped Los Angeles Dodgers instructional league coaches improve their communication skills.
Professor Joel Friedman takes his teaching techniques from the Dodgers instructional league back to his Tulane Law civil procedure class.
When Los Angeles hosts St. Louis Oct. 3 in the first round of the Major League Baseball playoffs, hardly anyone will be cheering louder for the Dodgers than Tulane Law Professor Joel Friedman.
But he’s already gotten to live the dream this season.
In mid-September, Friedman spent a week in Arizona dressing in Dodger blue daily. On the recommendation of devoted Tulane alum Dean Lombardi (L ’85), general manager of pro hockey’s LA Kings, Friedman joined the Dodgers’ instructional league to teach communication skills.
Both on and off the field, Friedman drew on his 38 years of classroom experience to share techniques with coaches and managers who are former players.
“They would ask, how can I get through to this 18-year-old kid who thinks he knows everything or whose dad has coached him and he only listens to his dad,” Friedman said.
Among other things, he instructed the coaches in the difference between passive and active learning. As a result, instead of just lecturing at players, the coaches started asking questions of them.
He also “spent a lot of time talking to players and telling them why it’s important to act like professionals and listen to their coaches,” Friedman said. The group included graduates of Dartmouth and Stanford along with former players at Southern University, Southeastern Louisiana and LSU.
At Tulane, Friedman teaches employment discrimination law, labor law, civil procedure and mediation. He also directs the law school’s summer Institute of Chinese Law and Business Transactions and has been instrumental in forging dual-degree programs with several Chinese law schools.
LA Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi (L ’85) brought his coaches to Tulane Law School in 2012 and later was responsible for Tulane Law Professor Joel Friedman assisting the Kings and Dodgers.
Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano
But working as a special assistant to Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti beats all that.
“I thought it would be incredibly fun. It was a million times more than that,” said Friedman, a Brooklyn native and lifelong Dodgers fan.
“The most surprising thing to me was how willing these coaches were to keep an open mind … instead of discounting me as a non-baseball guy.”
Lombardi, whose Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2014 and 2012, brought his coaches to the law school after the earlier championship to visit classes and talk with students about applying legal training to coaching and the sports management field. He also donated a “Tulane 1” Kings jersey now on display in the law school entry foyer.
Lombardi invited Friedman to work with Kings' coaches on communication, and that led to the Dodgers assignment. Next up: Friedman’s scheduled to teach minor league managers and coaches at a new academy the Dodgers plan to start in January.