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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

TECHNOLOGY

What problems does AI bring to the legal sector?

By Brittainy Boessel Artificial intelligence (AI) technology is steadily gaining traction in the legal sector, and some practitioners worry about the changes it’s bringing. Many legal professionals fear AI may infringe on their job security by significantly cutting the available jobs. A number of legal professionals raise ethical and legal concerns underlying the use of AI in their work. Still others wonder whether future attorneys will possess the skills needed to take advantage of this technology. This article will discuss a few of the valid concerns regarding the use of legal AI technology and explain why the benefits of AI outweigh the risks. Will AI make lawyers obsolete? When technology performs better than humans at certain tasks, job losses seem inevitable. But the effect may not be as dire as… . . . 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

HUMAN RESOURCES

5 people problems and how to solve them

By Lynne Curry bio We can’t guess all the challenges facing us as office managers in this new year, but we can assume that we will be dealing with an old one: people and their personalities. Whether working together virtually or in-person, chances are good you will be dealing with people problems. Here are five common problems and strategies for dealing with them. Stopping a bully senior manager without losing your job Question: I face a situation that has no easy answer and no easy solution. As the office manager and human resources director, I supposedly enforce our corporation’s code of conduct and oversee the human resource issues. I report to the report to the chief operating officer, a bully who runs roughshod over any employee unlucky enough to cross… . . . read more

MANAGING STAFF

Professionals working remotely clock long and weekend hours

A new study by global staffing firm Robert Half shows employees are working around the clock while at home. More than half (55 per cent) of professionals who transitioned to a remote setup as a result of the pandemic said they work on the weekend. In addition, one-third (34 per cent) of remote employees reported regularly putting in more than eight hours a day. “Despite the significant benefits of working remotely, such as saving time spent commuting and increased flexibility, it can also lead to putting in longer hours,” said David King, senior district president of Robert Half. “Heavier workloads have become a reality for many professionals during the pandemic, making it more challenging to disconnect while at home. It is critical that employers encourage their teams to take regular… . . . read more

MANAGING THE OFFICE

Renting out extra space? Set up protective walls to avoid risk

With more law firm employees working from home during the pandemic, a firm may find itself living in too much space—and paying too much rent. One solution is to bring in a tenant. Usually the renter is a solo practitioner or a small firm, and the arrangement is good for everybody, because the firm collects the rent and the renter gets the amenities as well as the appearance of an association with the larger group. From a risk perspective, however, it’s a cause for concern. The firm has to look past the financial benefits to the danger spots. It has to think like a landlord and get signed documents and insurance policies. And more, it has to set up protections against the disasters specific to a law firm/law firm lease… . . . read more

JOB PLACEMENT REPORT

Class of 2019 is the most employed since the Great Recession

The Class of 2019 experienced the highest employment rate in the dozen years since the start of the Great Recession, according to the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. NALP has released its Employment for the Class of 2019 — Selected Findings, a synopsis of key findings from the upcoming annual Jobs & JDs: Employment and Salaries of New Law School Graduates. The release of the full Jobs & JDs report is anticipated in October 2020. This year’s Selected Findings show that the Class of 2019 experienced the highest employment rate in 12 years. The overall employment rate for the Class of 2019 was up 0.9 percentage points to 90.3% of graduates for whom employment status was known, compared to 89.4% for the Class of 2018. This marks the highest… . . . read more

TRAINING & TECHNOLOGY

Proof of tech skills: Everybody’s doing it!

By Jay Stromberg bio When it comes to professional upward mobility, it’s looking like assessments are where it’s at. According to a recent article in TechCrunch.com, even LinkedIn is getting into the assessment game. “LinkedIn, the social networking service for the working world, is today taking the wraps off its latest effort to provide its users with better tools for presenting their professional selves, and to make the process of recruitment on the platform more effective. It will now offer a new feature called Skills Assessments: short, multiple-choice tests that users can take to verify their knowledge in areas like computer languages, software packages and other work-related skills.” In some ways, the legal industry is ahead of this curve. Ever since the American Bar Association updated their Model Rules in 2012 to include technological… . . . read more

TRAINING YOUR ATTORNEYS

“I thought you had the baby!” “I thought YOU did!”

By Jay Stromberg bio Sorry about my alarming headline, but I thought it was the perfect analogy for a topic I want to discuss today. If you’re a parent, you have likely experienced this terrifying moment: You and your spouse look at each other and realize that you both assumed the other one was in charge of the kid(s). A mad scramble ensues and, hopefully, your cherub is playing happily in the backyard. I honestly think this is very similar to what happens in law firms that need to train attorneys and staff to use new technologies: No one wants to be responsible for demanding that attorneys advance their skills. So, no one talks about it and no one takes responsibility. And when attorneys refuse to learn, their secretaries will… . . . read more


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