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MANAGING THE OFFICE

Model Tool: Space Planning Checklist

Why you need this checklist:

Before embarking on an office redesign, you need to consider which layout best suits your teams’ needs, as well as mind the practical matters, such as access to electrical outlets, etc.

. . . download here

READER TIPS

Use long-term vendor contacts to win long-term savings

Regular meetings with the vendors have led to significant savings for a North Carolina firm.
Tracy Cook, administrator with Gailor, Wallis Hunt, an eight-attorney firm in Raleigh, NC, started the meetings when she came to the firm several years ago.
One of her first actions as administrator was to go through the vendor files to see which vendors had contracts or did regular business with the firm. There were many, from the copy machine vendor to the insurance provider, the accountant, on down to the courier, and she set up meetings with all of them.
Her opening with each was to explain that the attorneys had given her the job of reducing office expenses and “I need your help. What can we do differently?”
Office supplies, water and coffee
One of the largest savings was with office supplies…

. . . read more

RECORDKEEPING

How long should you keep client and practice records?

A lot of questions come up about the most basic elements of maintaining and destroying client records.
And that’s because to many of those questions “there’s no hard and fast answer,” says Washington, DC, attorney and record management consultant Teresa Schoch is also a past member of the Michigan Bar Association’s ethics committee.
Here are seven such issues.
The 10-year retention practice
How long do client records have to be kept?
Client records are usually maintained for 10 years, Schoch says. “That’s a common number.” It applies to anything other than wills, trusts, documents related to corporate filings, and original documents that have to be kept long…

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MANAGING STAFF

Quarterly feedback from attorneys works well

At one law firm, attorneys fill out a one-page feedback form for their secretaries every quarter. It has just three questions for the attorney to answer:
-What the attorney wants the secretary to do more of
-What the attorney wants the secretary to do less of
-And what should stay the same
Each attorney discusses the answers one-on-one with the secretary, and the questions are easy to talk about because they cite opinions, not what the secretary is doing right or wrong.
Keeping that up every quarter is admittedly difficult, but it is…

. . . read more

MANAGEMENT TIP

Work stays on desktop

Here is a rule that is valuable but is found in few offices.
Staff desks are for storing personal items. All work has to stay on top of the desk. That’s a good way to ensure that nothing gets overlooked. For the manager who questions the wisdom of the rule, take a look in any desk after someone quits. It’s amazing what people find there. And much of it is costly, such as incidentals that should have been billed six month ago.
Take away the temptation to stash work away and say no work can be stored in desk drawers.…

. . . read more

READER TIP

From ready dinners to errand helpers, Georgia firm supports families

An Atlanta firm makes work life balance easier with some unusual add-ons for employees.
The firm has engaged several companies that provide personal services, often at a discount. One, for example, delivers ready-to-cook meals to the office, which gives employees a quick-fix dinner to take home that isn’t fast food.
Errand service
There’s also an onsite concierge who is “at everyone’s beck and call.” She’s available for personal errands such as picking up laundry, taking a car in for repair, or buying and delivering a gift. Some employees even have standing appointments…

. . . read more

WORKING WITH LAWYERS

How to write a readable memo

An office memo has only one purpose, and that is to send a message as quickly and as clearly as possible. Here’s how to do just that.
• Use wide margins and spaces between the paragraphs. That makes the page easier to look at, and if it’s easy to look at, people will read it. By contrast, picture a page filled top to bottom with type. Nobody wants to wade through that.
• If there are several points, bullet them and put spaces between them. That makes them easier to understand, because the reader can digest one point at a time. It’s not even necessary to…

. . . read more

RECORDKEEPING

Keeping the records long enough . . . but not too long

Do you know how long you are required to keep the firm’s tax records? How about any reports of on-the-job injuries? And what about e-mails? Here’s a summary of what you need to keep and for how long.
Record retention raises questions in almost all offices. And because of the uncertainty, offices tend to hang onto records far too long, says attorney and record management expert Donald S. Skupsky, JD, CRM.
Skupsky is president and CEO of Information Requirements Clearinghouse in Denver, which provides consulting services as well as software and publications on the legal requirements of recordkeeping. Here he outlines what to keep and for…

. . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

How to use social media marketing to pull in more clients

Social media marketing is hot hot hot. But how do you use it like the cool kids in order to market your practice?
Start at the top. The top three networking sites, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, offer opportunities for spreading the word about the practice’s offerings and expertise.
Network for business
LinkedIn, the leading business network, is nonetheless social. What’s more, because it is a…

. . . read more

ELECTRONIC WORKPLACE

Employees fired for social networking offenses

Here are a few examples of cases in which a court or arbitrator upheld the decision to fire an employee for social network abuses. Note that the existence of a clearly written, specific social networking policy was a factor in each of these cases:…




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