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YOUR CAREER

Just promoted to office manager? Follow these 9 critical rules to avoid problems managing former friends and colleagues

Getting promoted to office manager can be a mixed blessing. As a former staffer, the new manager comes into the job knowing the good performers, the bad performers, the shortcuts, the troublemakers—and a few secrets. But the former peers also know their new boss, including strengths, weaknesses, and what buttons to push. Along with that, they are wondering how their relationship with their former peer will change. And someone who vied for the promotion could be poised to sabotage the new manager. Things are different now. To be successful in the job, the staffer-turned-manager has to carve out an entirely new position in the office. 1. Get a proper introduction The first hurdle is to get into the position with the acceptance of the other staff, and to achieve that,… . . . read more

TECHNOLOGY

Artificial intelligence frees lawyers and admin of tedious tasks

The legal industry often lags behind other industry sectors in adapting to technological change, resulting in losing out to competitors, and ones that are not necessarily other law firms. Savvy law firms recognize the interaction of law and technology and leverage legal tech to be more effective in their practices, according to a blog by SMI Aware, a social media evidence collection and preservation service. For instance, artificial intelligence (AI) enabled tech reduces the tedium involved with administrative tasks. At the same time, ethical practice is as necessary in the use of legal tech as in every aspect of the practice of law. Competition from alternative legal service providers Alternative legal service providers (ALSP), like Deloitte, are competing with law firms for clients and, in many cases, are coming out… . . . read more

TRAINING

Prove tech competency at your law firm

By Doug Striker Clients are increasingly asking law firms to prove tech competency before signing contracts for work. Why? Because they know that good tech skills translate into more efficient production, which translates into more bang for their buck. Simply put: Clients don’t want to pay high hourly rates if the people producing the work don’t know how to, say, format a Word document. That is a very fair expectation. But how do you prove tech competency at your law firm? So much of law work today is in the production process: producing products around legal arguments  —briefs, trial documents, contracts, etc. Therefore, if you can prove that your team efficiently uses the document production tools at their disposal, then you can prove that your billable hours are jam-packed with value. One… . . . read more

HARASSMENT

Stop a bully senior manager without losing your job

By Lynne Curry Question: I face a situation that has no easy answer and no good solution. As the newly hired human resources director, I supposedly enforce our organization’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 his path. If I keep my mouth shut, I turn a blind eye to what he’s doing, but he’s my boss and according to the five senior partners above him a “leader who gets results.” I read your book on bullies and you seemed to think bullies can change their ways. Can they, even when they’re on top of the organization pyramid? Answer: Bullies can change—though often they won’t. Bullies… . . . read more

RECRUITING

Hot lateral hiring market of 2021 notches record increase from 2020

Following a 30% decline in 2020 due in large part to hiring pauses in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, lateral hiring rebounded at an unprecedented rate in 2021, according to analyses of NALP’s Survey on 2021 Lateral Hiring. Overall, lateral hiring was up by 111% compared to 2020, the largest year-over-year increase since NALP (National Association for Law Placement) began tracking these data 23 years ago. While increases were noted across all categories of lawyers, the lateral associate market was particularly hot, increasing by nearly 149% in 2021. As a whole, lateral hiring was up across all firm sizes, regions, and cities included in the survey, although a few markets experienced declines in partner lateral hiring. NALP’s 2021 analyses cover aggregate hiring information on nearly 7,700 lateral lawyers… . . . read more

COMMENTS WELCOME

Bar exam proposed for 2026 emphasizes lawyering skills

A new bar exam, slated to debut in 2026, will test more skills and fewer subjects than its current incarnation. The legal community is now invited to comment on preliminary outlines of exam content that, once finalized, will guide future test takers, law schools, and exam drafters as the new exam approaches. The bar exam is the test of legal skills and knowledge that most US attorneys must pass prior to licensure. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), which develops bar exam content for 54 US jurisdictions, has published the preliminary Content Scope Outlines for the next generation of the bar exam on its website. The outlines focus on the breadth of material to be covered on the new exam in eight areas of legal knowledge, known as Foundational Concepts… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

Enforce those billing and collection guidelines

Getting paid or not getting paid to a great extent depends on the firm’s billing and collection guidelines—and whether they are enforced. Without guidelines, the firm is asking for money loss. Billing is haphazard, collection work isn’t done regularly, personal clients aren’t always satisfied with their bills, and corporate clients may hold up payment or contest the bill. Guidelines will vary from firm to firm. They have to reflect the firm’s culture along with its clients and the type of work it does. But in general, best practice calls for traditional procedures. Here are the basics. First and last month up front Start with a retainer. With almost all clients, the firm takes an understood risk when it accepts work. The client may be a slow payer or a part… . . . read more

TRAINING

Law firm training: Treat the injury, not the pain

By Doug Striker I have a broken foot. I’m 100% positive that it’s broken but initial X-rays showed nothing. So, I am booting for a couple of weeks until I can get another X-ray, which will surely show a stress fracture that was indiscernible in the early days of the injury. So, now I’m taking pain meds to get me through to the real diagnosis. Why am I telling you this? Because it reminds me of how some law firms approach training. Namely: There’s a pain point! Let’s train it away! But they need to figure out the structural/systems problems first. Otherwise, training is like ibuprofen— it will mask the pain, but it won’t make the real issues disappear. They need systematic training for law firms. The Harvard Business Review… . . . read more

INCREASING PROFITS

5 law firm billing practices for better cash flow

By Brenda Barnes It’s probably not a big surprise that if your firm does not have sound billing and collection practices, your cash flow will suffer. It also probably goes without saying that when cash flow suffers so does partner compensation. How can you tighten this up? First and foremost, you need to have solid billing policies that are agreed upon and followed! Enter your time daily. With today’s mobile technology, there is really no excuse for not entering time daily. Your practice management software should be so easy to use, so easy to access that there are really no excuses. Enter time from your desktop, laptop, iPad, cellular phone and dictate it directly to your software. If your software is not providing your attorneys this flexibility, make the investment now… . . . read more

WORKING WITH LAWYERS

4 components of effective succession planning

By Brenda Barnes Woody Allen’s famous quip, “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying,” perfectly expresses the kind of wishful thinking that often gets in the way of preparing for the future. A huge wave of baby boomers has been pushing through the workforce and is now at retirement age or within sight of retirement. According to the recent U.S. census, over 65% will work past the age of retirement. Many companies put off succession planning until their owners are nearly into their 60s. In some cases, this is already too late—planning for a smooth transition of both the leadership and ownership of a business ought to begin 10 years or more before the retirement of an owner in order… . . . read more


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