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COMPLIANCE

Model Policy: Nondiscrimination and diversity

Why you need this policy:

The diversity of the 21st century work force has made offering equality of opportunity to individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, or other personal characteristics not related to their professional abilities is not just a legal mandate but an economic imperative.

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COMPLIANCE

Model Policy: Copyright compliance

Why you need this policy:

Copyright infringement has become a serious liability risk for law firms:
   * In 1991, a mid-sized Washington, DC, law firm was sued for $14 million by a publisher. The case was eventually settled but not until after the firm incurred over $1 million in legal fees;
   * In 1999, a large Wall Street firm settled a copyright infringement case for an undisclosed amount believed to be $115,000 per year to the Copyright Clearance Center;
   * In 2003, a major financial service firm was ordered to pay $20 million for copyright infringement.

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RISK MANAGEMENT

Model Policy: Client privacy

Why you need this policy:

As with any other corporate website, law office websites collect and use personal information of site visitors, including “personally identifiable” information, i.e., names and other information that can be traced back to a specific individual. Such use and collection of personal information is subject to requirements under privacy laws.

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WORKPLACE SAFETY

Model Policy: Workplace violence and office security policy

Why you need this policy:

Acts of violence perpetrated in the workplace have become a major societal problem. In many places, homicide has become the leading cause of workplace fatality! In addition to tragedy, failure to safeguard your workforce from the risks of violence—whether from co-workers, clients, or outside third parties—can expose your law office to significant liability under negligence and other laws.

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MANAGING STAFF

Model Policy: Reduced schedule and flexible work arrangements

Why you need this policy:

Once upon a time, the belief was that an individual could be an attorney or a primary caregiving parent but not both. Attitudes—and laws—have changed this thinking and opened the door to all kinds of flexible work arrangements allowing attorneys to balance their professional and parental obligations.

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WORKPLACE SAFETY

Model Policy: Sexual harassment

Why you need this policy:

Personnel issues are among the most difficult problems faced by law office managers. And few personnel issues are any more difficult than sexual harassment.

. . . download here

WORKPLACE SAFETY

Better productivity and a happier staff happen as ergonomics steps in

Ergonomics is good economics.
When the work areas are in sync with the people spending their days in them, there’s no time lost to sick days and no money lost to low productivity, says Hayley Kaye, a certified professional ergonomist with HLK Consulting in New York City.
Achieving that calls for attention to the desks, the telephones, and the chairs. But it also calls for teaching people how to set them up correctly. It’s of zero value to have thousands of dollars of ergonomically correct furniture that nobody has adjusted.
The elbow-wrenching desktop
A good place to start is with the hands and…

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RISK MANAGEMENT

Malpractice claims are on the rise, and here’s why

The threat of malpractice looms larger now than when the country’s financial picture was less gloomy.
The poor economy is bringing more and different types of suits, says one malpractice insurance carrier.
It’s due to several reasons, starting with the fact that attorneys are accepting work today that in better times they would have turned down.
Swimming in unknown waters
Taking on work outside the firm’s experience and legal competence is a tremendous claim cause, says Vernon Barclay, founder of the Thaxton Barclay Group, a Tampa professional liability insurance provider.
Yet with business slow and competition high, attorneys are doing exactly…

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COMPLIANCE

Beware Lilly Ledbetter; it extends the time limit for unfair pay claims

A relatively new law that all but eliminates the statute of limitations on equal pay lawsuits for women brings yet more employment law concerns administrators need to be aware of.
It’s the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Employers can expect an upswing in claims that their female employees are underpaid, says Denise Murphy, an employment law attorney with Rubin and Rudman in Boston.
And not always without good reason, she notes. Recent statistics show that women make from 73 cents to 77 cents on the dollar compared to what men make, even when they have the same…
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RISK MANAGEMENT

Today’s growing insurance need: EPLI coverage

It’s becoming increasingly necessary for all firms, yet only about 50% have it. It’s employment practices liability insurance.

EPLI is coverage for claims brought by disgruntled employees, and in the current “downsizing environment” it’s a necessity, says Uri Gutfreund, specialist in law firm insurance at Singer Nelson Charlmers in New York whose actual title is Law Firm Insurance Guru.
“In the good old days when the market was hot, a law firm could let people go and they’d get picked up the next day by a different firm.” But today getting another job isn’t easy, “so they come after you.”
EPLI covers employment-related lawsuits such as claims of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and…

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