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SURVEY SAYS

Tech, talent search and space reduction drive law firm changes

Change is a fact of life for law firms today, and leadership is fully aware—three in four survey respondents noted their firm’s partners are receptive to change. This need for change centers around two central premises: the need to improve real estate efficiency to stay lean and cost-competitive, and the need to evolve to attract talent and accommodate new ways of working. Despite these initiatives, the majority of respondents to a recent survey by Gensler Research Institute reported that their firm continues to lease more space than is necessary. Larger firms are more likely to have excess space on their books. Recently designed firms are less likely to have excess space, confirming the focus on space reduction in recent years—though even among those whose offices have been redesigned recently, one in… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Checklist: How to evaluate an office space for a move

The past year of the pandemic has brought major changes in office space needs for law firms. Law professionals and administrative staff have been working from home and participating in remote meetings and court appearances. Some see the possibility of continuing to work remotely even after COVID-19 restrictions are loosened, and some see the possibility of moving to home and office to locations away from city centers. If these developments are playing out in your law office, you might be looking at downsizing to a smaller office space or even migrating to another part of the country. When you are looking at a different office space, you might find this office space evaluation checklist helpful: The most important question: How will the location and layout of this space contribute to… . . . read more

TECHNOLOGY

Zoom court appearance prep: Check for cat filters

Now that a lawyer has appeared as a kitten in a Zoom court hearing, we can add another item to the list of Zoom hearing best practices: Check the webcam for filters before joining the meeting. Last week an attorney accidentally joined a video conference of a civil forfeiture court hearing while using a webcam filter that made him look like a confused white kitten. “I’m here live. I’m not a cat,” Presidio County Attorney Rod Ponton told Judge Roy Ferguson. “I can see that,” replied Ferguson, whose district covers five counties in West Texas, including the town of Marfa from which Ponton was calling. The short video clip, which was shared online by Ferguson, ends with others coaching the attorney on how to remove the cat filter. The judge… . . . read more

YOUR CAREER

17 proofreading tips for the law office

Proofreading is part of your daily work life in a law office and you are probably already an expert. But here are 17 tips and tricks you can use to help you catch every typo, misplaced comma and wrong word. First and best tip is to proofread backwards. Begin at the end and work back through the document paragraph by paragraph or even line by line. This will force you to look at the surface elements rather than the meaning of the document. 2. Place a ruler under each line as you read it. This will give your eyes a manageable amount of text to read. 3. Know your own typical mistakes. Keep a list of the errors you make repeatedly. 4. Proofread for one type of error at a time…. . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

Disciplining employees for not following COVID-19 restrictions when they are off-duty

Picture this: COVID-19 cases are surging. Your state or city is in full lockdown mode. That means, among other things, that outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people aren’t allowed. So, it disturbs you to turn on the Sunday news and see hundreds of people crowding together to demonstrate right in the middle of downtown. And then it gets personal. You recognize one of those demonstrators. She’s one of your office’s employees! What the heck is she doing there?! And, gulp, you also notice that she’s not wearing a mask! Now what? Can you discipline the employee for participating in the illegal demonstration and not wearing a mask? Off-duty conduct, employee discipline and COVID-19 The statement that what employees do when they’re away from work is none of your business… . . . read more

COMPLIANCE

Can you require staff to get the COVID-19 vaccination?

Although it’s clearly a positive development for the world at large, the almost miraculous emergence of a vaccine for COVID-19 in less than a year poses legal challenges for. The Question: Can employers require their workers to get the vaccine? Bottom Line on Top: The answer is probably but not 100 percent certainly YES. And even if a mandatory vaccine policy is justifiable, it’s also subject to strict restrictions.  Legal justification for mandatory vaccination policies Even though the COVID-19 situation is new and unprecedented, we can still discern the boundaries with regard to employers’ rights to demand that workers get vaccinated. Specifically, we know that OSHA, courts and arbitrators have historically upheld mandatory flu vaccination policies (as well as their slightly less restrictive cousin, the vaccination-or-mask policy requiring all employees… . . . read more

New year, new city? Professionals and employees reveal relocation plans amid pandemic

Relocation is a big consideration for both professionals and their employers right now. A recent study by a global staffing firm shows 44 per cent of workers surveyed said they would consider moving to a different city if their company offered long-term remote arrangements, and another three per cent have already made a move. 44 per cent of professionals would consider relocating, but only 16 per cent would be willing to take a pay cut to do so Nearly three in 10 companies are allowing workers to make a permanent move A separate poll of human resources (HR) managers suggests many companies are open to the idea of an anywhere workforce: 49 per cent of respondents reported their organization has allowed current staff to relocate temporarily, and another 27 per… . . . read more

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Has OSHA done enough to enforce COVID-19 safety rules?

Even after the election and swearing in of the new President, federal government response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains a politically charged issue. One area of contention involves whether OSHA has done enough to protect workers exposed to the virus. On Jan. 8, the agency issued a statistical report documenting its COVID-19 enforcement efforts starting with the beginning of the pandemic and running through Dec. 31, 2020. Employer liability for COVID-19 violations under OSHA laws Nobody disputes that under OSHA, law offices and other employers have a duty to protect workers from risk of COVID-19 infection. What may be less clear, is the source of that duty. Neither the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Act) nor the regulations say anything about COVID-19 or, with a few exceptions, infectious illnesses in… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

Use your high performers to engage the rest of the team

Among the goals of any manager is to create and maintain a high-performance organization. That means you have created a machine that operates at top efficiency, and your employees are engaged. Some organizations don’t believe this really applies to them. Research has suggested that only 25 percent of the typical workforce is engaged. This means that only a fraction of your employees are in tune with your mission, vision, and values. As a high-performance organization, with a larger core group who can be counted on to care about the organization’s success, your results would be much higher. But nothing stays the same. Employees leave for reasons that have nothing to do with job satisfaction, and it can be a challenge to replace former employees.  It can be a challenge to… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

Can every attorney in your office answer these 10 critical questions for 2021?

Want to see more profit in 2021? Get each attorney to draw up a practice plan for the year. A plan forces the attorneys to organize their work agenda by focusing on practice development, production, and self-improvement. What’s more, it ensures that everybody does work that furthers the firm’s goals, it keeps the marketing focused, and it keeps the collections in line. Use this 10-point format: First are the hours goals 1 What is the number of hours you will devote to billable work? This forces the attorneys to take a serious look at how they should spend next year’s time. It also forces them to look at their historical performance. It’s not reasonable, for example, for an attorney who has billed 1,400 hours for the past two years to… . . . read more


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