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Microsoft Throw Hat In Ring With New Case Matter Management Software

Microsoft showcased its legal document management solution for Office 365 at the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) conference in Nashville, Tennessee, this week. The program, called Matter Center, claims to make “it easier to organize files by client and matter, review documents, and find information when needed without ever leaving Microsoft Word or Outlook.”

Its main features include:

  • A cloud-based briefcase — The solution provides 1 TB of individual storage and a personal briefcase that automatically syncs documents.
  • Access controls — Users can be granted or excluded access to a matter.
  • Collaboration tools — Matter Center enables legal professionals to share files with others, both within and outside their law firm.
  • Document and matter search — Legal professionals can search and find matters and related documents directly within Outlook or Word.
  • Integrated document management — Legal professionals can drag, drop and save emails into documents or matter.

Microsoft has built a security-enhanced, cloud-based document management application that allows our professionals to quickly locate and collaborate on documents with our counsel from virtually anywhere,” John Frank, Microsoft’s vice president and deputy general counsel, said in a prepared statement.

“We’ve decided to make this solution more broadly available at the request of our outside counsel [to those] who want to utilize it in their own environments.”

Although Microsoft has yet to announce when Matter Center will be available on the mass market, interested legal professionals can sign up for the pilot program here.

Case Matter joins Time Matters, ProLaw’s Legal Case Management Software, Legal Track, LawBase, and Rocket Matter in the legal matter management systems market.

Cloud-based legal software has become more common, but so has discussion surrounding security measures to protect legal information. Regarding cloud-based case management software, the Iowa State Bar addressed the potential legal issues that may arise when using these services, concluding:

“[A lawyer] must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from coming into the hands of unintended recipients. This duty, however, does not require that the lawyer use special security measures if the method of communication affords a reasonable expectation of privacy. Special circumstances, however, may warrant special precautions. Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer’s expectation of confidentiality include the sensitivity of the information and the extent to which the privacy of the communication is protected by law or by a confidentiality agreement.” [via Juris Page]

While legal technology and tools continue to develop, it’s important for an attorney’s sense of ethical responsibility to develop in measure. Just as there are myriad ways to store and access data, there are an equal number of ways to intercept, steal, or manipulate private and confidential information, as well.

How secure are your serves? What are your firms policies regarding storage of files on mobile devices? Do you require associates to have complex passwords on all devices and for all firm programs that evolve in complexity over time?

So, when you’re addressing the need to upgrade your case management software, don’t forget to train your employees on the risks inherent in these cloud and other mobile systems.

Before purchasing Matter Center, need to brush up on other Microsoft Office and Outlook tools? Go here for C4CM’s extensive tech webinars created specially for law firm professionals.

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How To Successfully Manage Millennials At Your Firm

If only you could get inside the heads of your law firm employees. It would surely make hiring decisions, salary negotiations, and case work easier.

For your Millennial employees, however, there is some good news. Because the younger generation believe that technology is near and dear to their very existence, managers can actually take a look—via blog, facebook, or twitter posts—at the this generation’s thought process.

Here are a few generalizations about Millennials (and how your firm can respond to them).

1. Millennials are looking to be the best at something… but something meaningful.

Millennials have read Malcolm Gladwell’s popular book, Outliers: The Story of Success and know that to become an expert you need to put in 10,000 hours. But, these days, it’s not enough to be an expert on a subject, Millennials want to work toward a higher goal.

Whether it be humanitarian, technological, or constitutional, Millennials are looking for a purpose for these 10,000 working hours.

Law firms should engage their younger employees in pro-bono work right off the bat. Encourage them to work for your firm’s foundation. Give extra time off to employees who volunteer at places outside the practice.

Through impromptu or informal interviews, ask your younger associates what motivates them to work in law or life. A happier employee is a more productive one.

And, although law school graduates are a dime a dozen, the ones worth keeping at your firm, that million-dollar legal mind, may not be as common.

2. Millennials are good at networking… and they like it

Millennials graduated in a difficult economic climate, and they unabashedly networked and made phone calls and sought out persons to hire and help them.

Millennials know the value of networking, and they do it well. So take advantage of this quality. Encourage your employees to attend legal networking events. Host happy hours and social events for friends and family of your employees. Find out who they are and what they do (and if they need representation).

Give incentives for recommending new hires. In general, tap into this resource. People enjoy doing favors and, in the end, are more likely to do favors for somebody they’ve previously helped (say, a manager or senior partner). It’s called the Ben Franklin effect.

In his autobiography, Franklin explains how he dealt with the animosity of a rival legislator when he served in the 18th century Pennsylvania legislature:

Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return’d it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.

3. Millennials are looking for mentorship… and you should give it to them

Self-help books are popular with Millennials. They’re reading The Happiness Hypothesis, by Jonathan Haidt; How to Find Fulfilling Work, by Roman Krsnaric; and The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter, by Meg Jay.

Everybody needs a role model, from the small school-age child to the adult working-class parent. We need somebody to look up to. The workplace is no different.

To give your law firm a sense of purpose, to encourage networking, and to instill a culture of teamwork and community, create “hiring classes” or groups of new hires that get trained together.

Organize a week or two-week long training camp so that new employees meet one another, bond, and generally become attached to their work. Each new hire in this class should be assigned a mentor. Make sure that more senior mentors meet with the younger associates. By doing this, your firm will create a supportive, family-style culture, which will help retain your Millennial employees.

These steps will also encourage new associates to ask questions, which reduces mistakes and increases the productivity of your office.

You may not relate to the Millennial mindset, but you should try to understand it.

The business of law has changed dramatically. Firms of all sizes are under more pressure than ever to overcome fee resistance, deliver added value, and secure decreasingly loyal clients.

Tune in to The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s audio conference on Thursday, September 11, 2014, titled “Top Five Profit-Killing Business Development Mistakes Firms Make, and How To Avoid Them.”

This power-packed webinar explores how successful firms are building cultures in which business development, cultivating relationships, and clear rainmaking goals increase revenue per lawyer and overall profitability, including:

  • When and how to begin business development training
  • Methods to include meaningful client contact for every lawyer (including first year associates)
  • What constitutes practical training and which efforts are a waste of firm time
  • The mentoring key and how firms are flubbing it
  • How to teach attorneys to see and address the profit potential of every relationship
  • Pros, cons and considerations of offering billable credit for lawyers who spend time developing rainmaking skills
  • A step-by-step outline for building a firm culture that promotes business development (with a defined path and essential steps for successful communication, engagement, and rewards)

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Success, A State Of Mind & 5 Things To Make You Better At Your Job Today!

Being “successful” is a state of mind. It doesn’t matter if you feel overlooked by your boss, underestimated by your colleagues, or even underprepared for the work required. There’s only one person who is stopping you from succeeding today: y-o-u.

Just can’t manage to get ahead?

Always feel like you’re behind?

Feeling too old for the job at hand?

Reframe your mindset today with these five simple steps and see better performance instantly:

1. Know your best asset

Everybody has one asset by which they excel. Perhaps you’re a quick writer. Maybe you’re a “people person.” Whatever that skill is, hone it (and own it!).

Make yourself indespensible for this asset. For example, if you have a great personality for handling and selling new business to the firm, ask to be a part of business development. Go out and find new clients just by being your best personable self.

Are you good with computers? Interact with the IT department and pitch new software or tech ideas to improve the efficiency of your firm’s practice.

Write down your talent on a sticky note and look at it everyday. Reminding yourself brings a can-do attitude, even when the hump of Wednesday is hard to get over.

2. Make daily task lists

Some people think lists are a waste of time. You know exactly what you need to do today, why waste valuable billable hours on a list?

Lists help everyone organize their daily activies by importance. It’s not enough to understand the tasks, you must also seperate those that are urgent and those that are not. Associates often start their day with easy tasks–the ones you can do quickly. It feels great to cross them off your list, right?

Wrong. Start your day with the most urgent tasks. This way you’ll stop procrastinating and start prioritizing.

3. Create (and complete) one goal a day

Now that you know what your daily tasks are, look at your schedule and make a goal for the day. Don’t make broad, long-term goals like, you will finish that brief or file that motion.

Focus on immediate issues that are manageable for the day. For example, you will finally schedule a group meeting about a client matter. Or, you will read and then respond to each of your emails (that you’ve let sit for a few days already).

By creating and comleting one simple goal each day, you will find you go home more satisfied with your performance, which is vital to job satisfaction.

4. Take care of your personal items

Yes, just like it’s important to complete one professional goal each day, it’s important to fulfill a personal one, as well.

Find the time at lunch or before 9am to take care of a personal matter–whether it’s finally organizing childcare for the weekend or looking up the time for a spin class at your gym for after work. 

It’s difficult to concentrate on work when there are personal tasks hanging over your head. By taking the time out of work to carry out a personal task, you will go to the office refreshed and refocused. You will also have something to look forward to later–a night out with friends, dinner with a spouse, or an overdue restful, child-free weekend!

5. Grow as a professional

Yes, you’ve organized your agenda, created a managable work-life balance, and gone home with a sense of pride in your work for the day. But, what skills or talents have your developed to become a better you in the future?

Just like you should be aware of your own natural abilities to succeed, you should be aware of your shortcomings, too. Work on areas where you’re weakest. Say, making use of technology available at your firm, or communicating with subordinate employees. Maybe you haven’t tried to improve on those things pointed out to you in your last professional evalutation.

Learn a new language. Get certified in a new technical skill. Attend a professional conference in your free time on behalf of your firm.

Today, do something new in order to grow into the best you tomorrow.

Are you a law firm manager who needs to get this message about employee empowerment across to your troops?

Do you face unimaginable pressure to streamline costs, improve profitability, and do more work with fewer employees?

In order to be successful in today’s harried corporate culture, you need to master the critical skills and competencies required for building and maintaining a productive and profitable workplace. Productivity is a powerful tool, that when harnessed correctly can help you address daily stressors, improve cooperation, complete tasks on-time, and sharpen your company’s competitive edge. Sign up now for The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s audio course on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 from 3pm EST to 4:15pm EST:

Smart Manager’s Guide to Building a Productive Workplace: 10 Proven Strategies to Boost Personal and Employee Productivity

This interactive, practical and effective event, explores 10 proven tips to boost personal and employee productivity. During this information-packed session, you will learn how to: Build a workplace atmosphere that encourages cooperation, productivity,Better enable employees to do their work, without excessive oversight, andRemove common obstacles that prevent productivity. Learn more about it here.

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Get A Better Boss By Being A Better Employee: Strategies To Combat Office Favoritism

At home, parents play favorites. In the office, bosses do, too. But being the boss doesn’t have to mean being a bully.

Employers can’t help but judge a person on personality (in addition to skillset, ability, or pedigree). And, those associates who have more in common in terms of sports teams, school mascots, hobbies, and family will likely form de facto alliances at the firm. Problems arise when those alliances form between a boss and a subordinate. As a result, other—often equally capable—employees receive less praise, less attention, and less interesting work.

Unsurprisingly, this idea is more than a suspicion. Data from a recent study, conducted by a leadership development consultancy and published by the Harvard Business Review Blog, confirms that there is such a thing as the boss’s favorites.

“And while, in any disagreement we inevitably find both parties bear part of the fault—that is, the disgruntled employees do certainly play some role in their own unhappiness—we consistently found in the analysis that their complaints were justified,” writes Joseph Folkman for the HBR Blog in the article, “Are You Creating Disgruntled Employees?

“Their managers were in fact treating the disgruntled employee differently than they treated their very satisfied employees.”

Surprisingly, however, both managers and employees can get back in one another’s good graces once again. With a few changes in behavior and attitude, managers can boost the performance of their most disgruntled associates.

In turn, disgruntled associates do play a role in their own happiness at work. Become the boss’s new favorite by increasing open and honest communication. Leaders in the office, according to the aforementioned study, need to:

1. Encourage employees more.

The study focused on the six percent of people in the database of 160,576 employees who displayed the lowest levels of job satisfaction and commitment on their 360 evaluations of their bosses. When this six percent was asked to name the skill that they thought was most important for their boss to demonstrate, the top response was “Inspire and motivate others.”

From a manager’s perspective, it’s far more rewarding to focus on the career development of the most receptive and happy employees in the bunch. Working over and over to inspire those who have poor attitudes or performance feels draining. In fact, negative attitudes tend to be contagious.

However, it’s for this reason that leaders need to work harder to encourage any disgruntled associates. Ignoring the problem will just compound it and increases employee dissatisfaction. What’s more, the aforementioned study indicates that when bosses treat their disgruntled employees like everyone else—as if they show equal promise—the employees’ performance and behavior quickly improves.

2. Take an interest in associate development.

“If a person works hard and gets a pay check he has a job. But if a person works hard, gets a pay check, and learns a new skill, she has a career,” sagely writes Folkman.

Bosses play favorites when they focus career development strategies solely on the high-potential associates. Unfortunately, everyone else is left to drown in their wake. Call these employees underachievers, disgruntled, inept. But, the reality is your firm is a team. If you expect the worst from your associates, you’ll get it.

Take interest in the career development of every employee. You’ll create a more well-rounded legal team, as well as dispel any rumors that you play favorites. Becoming a beloved leader will inspire more productivity and happiness among subordinates.

From these conclusions, disgruntled employees—or, at least, those associates who are not among the boss’s favorites—ought to:

3. Listen to other associates.

There may be a reason you are not among the boss’s favorites. You are that underperformer, underachiever, and generally disgruntled employee.

Have you heard people say you have a bad attitude? Do other employees tend to bypass your office whenever they’re looking to discuss last night’s ball game? Listen to what other associates are talking about. If your personal interests hold you back from being the favorite, it’s time to weigh in.

“Managers go to lunch more with people they like, our data show; they talk with them more socially (about children, sports, etc); they know them more personally. This is natural, surely, but so are the feelings of exclusion it creates among the less favored,” Folkman explains about the study results.

“A small effort by managers to spread their attention around more broadly can go a long way here.”

And, a small effort by employees to endear their managers can also go a long way.

4. Give feedback, in addition to taking it gracefully.

It turns out, a major complaint of the bottom six percent of the study was that bosses did not give them honest feedback. Instead, bosses wrote “You’re coming along fine,” or other innocuous comments in regard to performance. When you find yourself faced with a disingenuous review—or even just a generic one—ask questions. Seek further feedback. Not only will your boss perceive this as a increased interest in the job, but she will also likely appreciate your honesty and return it.

But, that being said, be prepared for negative remarks. Listen and accept gracefully. Then, ask how you can improve. Furthermore, give feedback about your boss’s leadership skills. Ask for more one-on-one mentorship. Don’t wait for an anonymous study to show that they play favorites–let them know you’d like to be one by seeking more work responsibility and building trust.

This year, make favoritism by your boss work to your favor.

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‘If I’ve Told You Once, I’ve Told You A Billion Times… Cybersecurity Matters!” -Hackers Say To Lawyers

If a billion kids made a human tower, they would stand up past the moon. If you sat down to count from one to one billion, you would be counting for 95 years. If you found a goldfish bowl large enough hold a billion goldfish, it would be as big as a stadium. A billion seconds ago it was 1959. A few seconds ago, a billion passwords were stolen from Russian criminals leaving your firm, its clients and employees, at risk.

An exaggeration, you think? Hardly.

“A lot of firms have been hacked, and like most entities that are hacked, they don’t know that for some period of time,” says Vincent I. Polley, lawyer and co-author of recent book for the American Bar Association on cybersecurity.

“Sometimes, it may not be discovered for a minute or months and even years.”

Unfortunately, when it’s late and you still have a few hours work to do, it’s easier to pack up your laptop, save some client information on a portable flash drive, and then head home. Nobody wants to prioritize cybersecurity over work-life balance.

The problem is, hackers these days have become more and more sophisticated. And your efforts to make working from home more efficient have, instead, made stealing confidential and private information more prevalent.

In fact, cybersecurity concerns within law firms has become so important to high-profile, high-profit clients, like big banks, have started to withdraw business from firms that demonstrate relaxed regard for security measures.

“Wall Street banks are pressing outside law firms to demonstrate that their computer systems are employing top-tier technologies to detect and deter attacks from hackers bent on getting their hands on corporate secrets either for their own use or sale to others, said people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

“Some financial institutions are asking law firms to fill out lengthy 60-page questionnaires detailing their cybersecurity measures, while others are doing on-site inspections,” writes Matthew Goldstein for the New York Times online.

Other corporate clients, the same article reports, are requesting that law firms stop putting files on portable drives altogether, emailing them on non-secure devises, such as smartphones or tablets, and sharing servers with offices in notoriously cyber-insecure countries, such as China and Russia.

Today, we realize how important these measures may be in securing your future as CNN reports that Russian criminals stole 1.2 billion passwords.

Hold Security founder Alex Holden told CNNMoney that the treasure trove includes credentials gathered from over 420,000 websites, both smaller sites as well as “household names.”

Thus, chances are high that your firms assets—or those of its employees—are among the exploited.

Some think that pressure from clients will help law firms get with the digital times and clean up their cybersecurity act. Daniel B. Garrie, executive managing partner with Law & Forensics, a computer security consulting firm that specializes in working with law firms. He thinks, “When people say, ‘We won’t pay you money because your security stinks,’ that carries weight.”

Law firms, however, are notoriously slow in upgrading their technological tools.

Do you agree with Garrie, are law firms finally paying attention?

One last lesson in one billion: If we wanted to make a book with a billion dollar signs, printed 1000 per page and with pages printed on both sides, the book would be 500,000 pages long. How many billions of dollars are you willing to risk (after being told a billion times) before your firm upgrades its cybersercurity systems?

To learn more, get C4CM’s webinar “Mitigating Cyber Risk: Strategies for Legal Counsel to Reduce Exposure and Avoid a Data Breach Devastation,” available on CD.

This comprehensive webinar will help you to mitigate risk by fine tuning or putting into place key procedures and policies for cyber protection. You will also learn what to do once a data breach is revealed.

  • Data breach response tactics and notification obligations
  • Practical and essential first steps to take if a breach occurs
  • What to include in your Incident Response Plan
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosure obligations related to cyber risks and data breaches
  • How cyber-insurance coverage acts a risk mitigation tool, and what to look for in your policy
  • Key individuals that your organization should be developing relationships with and why
  • Practical protocols for reviewing and including cyber clauses in vendor and client contracts
  • Much more…

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The Dirty Little Secret Only BigLaw Knows: How To Create Mobile Apps To Attract Clients

Millennials or just the “recession generation” use apps for everything, Uber for taxis, Tinder for dating, Washio for laundry, and WhatsApp for texting. It’s a wonder that tools and utilities not connected to an app ever get used anymore.

That’s why BigLaw has caught on to this trend.

It’s even a good way for small firms to get big notice. How? Hop on the digital app train.

Let’s take a few examples. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman has a global sourcing app that helps users calculate costs in outsourcing contracts.

Baker & McKenzie has an app summarizing legal and tax issues for public companies granting employee stock options overseas.

O’Melveny & Myers provides an introduction to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in its app. The app also reports on related enforcement actions and settlements.

Above the Law, who reported on the app trend, also has an app—for both iPhone and Android.

Latham and Watkins is the most dedicated Biglaw app developer, with an entire library of “The Book of Jargon” to explain legalese to clients who are—well, justifiably—confused. Now they have an app that helps clients learn more about overseas anti-bribery laws.

In fact, of the 2013 AmLaw 200, approximately 36 firms (18%) produced a total of 53 mobile apps. This amounts to an increase of 63 percent in firms having apps than last year [22 firms], according to The Law Firm Mobile (LFM) blog’s third annual research report.

Of the 2013 Global 100, 28 firms (28%) produced a total of 50 mobile apps. This amounts to an increase of 22 percent in firms having apps than last year [23 firms], according to the same research.

So basically, BigLaw is producing a lot of apps. But who is using them? It turns out, the days of the BlackBerry are officially over. Of the lawyers or clients making use of this new technology, the vast majority are iPhone users.

Of the total apps produced by Biglaw firms, 96 percent are offered on the iPhone, 6 percent are offered on the BlackBerry, and 29 percent on Android (35%). Last year, only 17 percent of apps were on the Android platform.

Finally, you may be thinking that these BigLaw firms are just creating apps for employee recruitment or human resources. That’s not true at all.

On the contrary, only three apps of the 68 (4%) were focused on recruitment, eight (12%) were produced for events (internal or external), 15 (22%) presented general firm information (similar to a website), and a whopping 42 (62%) provided legal resources of various types. Law firms have figured out that providing useful information gets your app trending among techy legal services types. And, once your app is popular, so becomes your firm.

A full list of BigLaw mobile apps can be found here.

So the last question you should be asking is, does my firm have an app?

In size or caseload, a small firm may not be able to compete with a large one. But in cyber space, everybody is equal. There are only app developers and audiences. So once you’ve identified yours, your firm—boutique or BigLaw—stands on equally footing.

Your app could be the “next big thing” to beat out BigLaw in wooing and winning over clients.

In addition, developing an app does not have to break the bank. Brainstorm with younger associates and your IT Department about what services your new app could provide clients or other lawyers. Think about what needs are not yet met online in the legal services industry. Carve your niche by making an app for that skill or service your firm (or its lawyers) truly excel at.

Because in a world where everything is an app—transportation, talking, dating, and more—there’s only room for an avatar lawyer to match.

Not yet convinced that apps are the way of the future? Learn more with The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s training course: Mobile Discovery: Emerging Challenges of Texts, Tweets, Apps and Emails, in the Realm of BYOD.

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“Dear Lawyers, I’m Here To Stay.” -Technology

The fight against drones, Google Glass, or other new technology has gotten violent this month, with a woman attacking a 17-year old boy for flying a drone on a Connecticut beach, reports Forbes.

It’s one of the first time criminal charges were filed, as opposed to just name-calling or social criticism.

“It’s easy to call these people Luddites, after the British workers who set about destroying machines—and in some cases killing the people who owned them—in the late 1700s and early 1800s in a futile attempt to turn back the tide of mechanization. It led Britain to pass a law making machine-wrecking punishable by death,” writes Jeff Bercovici for Forbes.

“But the new machine destroyers’ motivations are different. The original Luddites were worried machines would take their jobs; the Neo-Luddites fear machines will steal their privacy.”

Except, we no longer live in a world where technology is a choice.

There’s no way to turn off or opt-out of the video surveillance cameras in your city or from Internet searches of your name by others. In law, lawyers are fond of calling their practice “traditional” and eschewing modern tools. But even they can’t stop courts from taking e-filings only.

The Above The Law (ATL) Legal Tech Terms Survey sought to learn about its readers’ familiarity with the following concepts: Information Governance, Predictive Coding, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security, and Dark Data. Its results were shocking:

In follow-up questions, over a quarter of respondents who self-identified as litigators—the cohort presumably most versed in e-discovery—characterized predictive coding as irrelevant to their career or had “no idea” whether or not it was relevant, reports ATL.

And, less than 50 percent of respondents believe that cybersecurity is an “essential” aspect of their career, reports the same survey by ATL.

#yikes

Amid controversies like ExamSoft’s giant debacle regarding bar exam uploading, it’s clear that the legal profession needs to rapidly update its way-of-thinking and its way of working with technology.

In a recent ATL blog post, Alex Rich describes five reasons why lawyers should embrace technology or be left in another firm’s dust. Here are some highlights:

First, technology is here to stay. Unlike crop tops or ripped jeans, technology is neither a fad nor cyclical. So, it’s time to learn the review platform your case is using or even the software available to you via the IT department. Mostly you don’t want to embarrass yourself, as Rich says, “when you ask why the 3 terabytes of data cannot be reviewed in Concordance.”

Second, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. There’s no way you will convince colleagues that physical document review (as in, files) is more efficient than reviewing e-discovery scanned into the computer. So, don’t try. Leave the yellow note pad at your desk and pick up an iPad on your way home.

Third, increase your family time. Ok, Rich—perhaps a more realistic attorney—actually wrote that technology increases the illusion of family time by allowing you to take the office mobile. So, you may not be paying full attention to your daughter’s softball game when you’re answering Re: Urgent, urgent, urgent! e-mails on your smartphone. But, hey, you’re there, right?

Fourth, get excited about high-quality distractions. This can be anywhere from streaming sports games or listening to e-books during document review. Rich writes, “Document review (as well as a whole host of other legal tasks) is frequently so boring that you need a distraction to occupy part of your brain while you go through the mundane chore of selecting the appropriate issue tag. And when it comes to quality distractions, well, technology’s got your back.” Just be careful that you’re not violating your firm’s internal policies by browsing Facebook instead of giving face time to firm clients.

Fifth, low-tech has its own problems. You may get annoyed when technology fails, but isn’t human error worse? Also, Rich doesn’t fondly remember the days of lugging around heavy boxes full of documents for discovery, getting paper cuts as you go through them, and getting ill from breathing in dust everyday for months at a time.

Technology might be that proverbial double-edged sword, but wouldn’t you rather be the person wielding it than the one behind it?

Start with the basics: Learn tips and tricks for using Excel, PowerPoint, and MS Word to improve productivity at your firm here.

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Famous Movie Quotes To Make You A Better Boss

When you’re having a rough day, it’s fun to imagine how you’d quit your job. In fact, you may even fantasize about using a famous movie quote on your boss after you storm out of the office during one such disgruntled occasion:

  • “If I’m not back in five minutes, just wait longer” –Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
  • “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?” –Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in Dirty Harry (1971)
  • “Do you like apples? Well, how do you like them apples?” –Matt Damon as Will Hunting in Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • “Hasta la vista, baby.” –Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator in The Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

An alarming fact for managers is that despite high rates of unemployment, people are still quitting their jobs in droves. More than 2 million Americans are voluntarily leaving their jobs every month, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, which refers to them as “Quits.”

It seems there are a few things employees just won’t tolerate—with or without an economic recession. A recent study by Accenture (via Forbes) reports the following reasons people leave their job, and it may surprise you:

  • Dislike boss (31%)
  • Lack of empowerment (31%)
  • Internal politics (35%)
  • Lack of recognition (43%)

So what can law firm managers learn from this survey? First, leadership is not just commanding, sometimes it’s also camaraderie. Second, employees need to feel empowered. Third, leave gossiping and favoritism at the door. And finally, reward your employees for a job well done when deserved.

Here are four ways to retain your law firm professionals and the movie quotes that will help you remember them:

“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.” –Strother Martin as The Captain in Cool Hand Luke (1967)

One of the most cited reasons that employees leave their jobs is because they dislike their boss. In a profession like legal services, where positions are extremely hierarchical, it can be easy to fall into ranks. First years get all the dirty work, partners get all the recognition from clients. In order to keep your associates from quitting in a fit of rage (and maybe even starting their own competing firm) be a boss that listens.

Keep tabs on all your associates. Do they seem stressed? Overworked? Do they complain a lot? Make sure your subordinates feel comfortable voicing their concerns or asking questions.

If you feel out of touch, take one or two younger associates to lunch. Ask them about their work satisfaction. Really take note of their responses with two-way communication.

Make an open-door policy. If you need expert advice on handling difficult conversations with your employees, read C4CM’s guide here. If you don’t know how to write formal or informal policies on boss-subordinate communication, or want to know how to create an open-door policy, find guidance for managers here.

If your employees don’t like you as a boss, it likely means you’re failing as one.

“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” –Patrick Swayze as Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing (1987)

Another reason employees quit their job is a lack of feeling empowered. Employees will work harder and longer if you give them ownership over their work.

People don’t want to be micromanaged. Associates like coming up with case strategy—even if you don’t take it, make sure all ideas are welcome.

You can also empower employees by giving them trust. Allow flexible schedules. Alan Hall for Forbes comments, “In essence, corporate leadership can still achieve productivity and happily engaged employees by offering them more latitude in how employees accomplish company and personal goals.”

“For example, must every employee’s workday start at 8 and end at 5? Could a working parent start their workday later or accomplish a portion of their workday or workweek from home?”

Also, don’t assume that an associate isn’t working just because they’re not at their desk. Give associates a task, a deadline, and trust them to complete it. If you’re stopping by a subordinate’s office too often, you’re stopping them from doing their job efficiently and from achieving their full potential.

For more advice on how to transform your firm into a flexible workplace, take C4CM’s online course here.

“This isn’t personal, Kay. This is business.” –Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972)

Office politics (like regular politics!) are the worst. Nobody likes to tip-toe around an issue because a certain team member can’t be criticized. Nobody wants to join a team where certain people are favored over others. Office politics are disheartening and counterproductive. Lead by example. Don’t gossip in the workplace and do encourage people to voice their opinion, even if it’s dissenting.

Having a hard time tempering toxic talk? Learn about minimizing office politics and gossip with C4CM’s course here. Also, take the smart woman’s guide to office polics here.

“You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody.” –Marlon Brando as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954)

Finally, employees quit because of a lack of recognition for their hard work. No, not every job well done needs a pat on the back or year-end bonus. But, it can be easy for managers to focus on mistakes rather than to reward achievements.

Law firms work as a team, from the receptionist who greets the client to the paralegal conducting docket research to the associate on doc-review. Some of these employees may not have been a part of the flashiest and most recognizable parts of the case—they may even have been absent from the courtroom or off the official record—but their commitment and work is real. It deserves recognition.

Write letters of thanks to your employees after a big project. A simple, handwritten letter goes a long way in recognizing somebody’s effort in a very personal way. Law firm managers and leaders, in general, hold a lot of responsibility. Wield it wisely, widely, and graciously.

Still uncertain about what your employees need? Become a better listener and better leader by attending C4CM’s audio course on improving employee engagement and enhancing your influence here.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much these days for an employee to reach his or her breaking point. Boosting morale may be a manager’s most important task of the day. Otherwise your best talent may be Gone With The Wind, mimicking Clark Gable as Rhett Butler when they say to you at their wit’s end: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

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Are You David Or Goliath? Why Small Law Firms Will Dominate In The Future

Is the death of BigLaw on the horizon?

Society loves a good David and Goliath story, where the underdog transforms a perceived weakness into his advantage. We feel better knowing that size isn’t always the only thing to matter in life or in business.

BigLaw has long been the legal services industry’s Goliath. Small firms have struggled to keep pace and survive.

All the best talent graduating from law school are quickly scooped up by the biggest cities’ best names.

However, for a long time, clients have demanded more than just power and influence. They want innovative practices, diversity, and mostly they want discounted rates that large firms don’t offer. With an oversupply of capable lawyers, clients can finally afford to demand services tailored exactly to their needs, which is why we’re seeing more and more small firms face off and take down behemoth opponents.

In turn, doe-eyed associates are no longer looking for long hours typical of BigLaw firms. Young associates want an even work-life balance, flexibility, and a job that gives them a sense of purpose.

“What I observe every day as the CEO of Priori, a curated marketplace that connects business owners with vetted lawyers at transparent prices, is that mid-tier firms are shedding associates something serious,” writes Basha Rubin in her articleBig Law, Big Problems: The Bright Future For Small Firms,” for Forbes.

“These lawyers want flexibility and independence—to service the clients that inspire them, at prices and pricing models that don’t cause potential business to blanch, at a rhythm and schedule that is sustainable.”

Luckily for both clients and lawyers, technology has provided a means for flexible workplaces, at-home offices, and more efficient work practices.

As a result, individuals are starting to form their own firms, servicing clients that they admire, that they choose. “These lawyers are entrepreneurial, gung ho, and ready to compete,” continues Rubin.

“Technology is the catalyst for their coming dominance.”

BigLaw is tied to tradition, fixed costs, and fixed mindsets. It’s much harder to convince a dozen veteran partners to try something new than it is at a smaller firm. Training associates and coordinating tasks at BigLaw firms with thousands of employees is much more challenging.

BigLaw is slower to adopt new technology or ideas. On the other hand, small firms, although lacking in manpower or pure numbers, are proving surprisingly efficient.

“Previously disaggregated and fragmented, they can use technology to improve their efficiency with new tools that automate document production and assembly, workflow management research, and contract review. (PlainLegal, LawPal, Diligence Engine, Ebrevia, Ravel Law, Judicata) With this arsenal, they can maintain high-quality work at lower prices,” boldly purports Rubin in her article for Forbes.

And lower prices have become the number one selling point to attract clients.

Not all legal professionals are convinced, however, than small firms are in slingshot range of BigLaw. An post on 3 Geeks and a Law Blogreacted to Rubin’s article, stating:

“BigLaw may suffer on the edges (ala Patton Boggs), but clients still need their services. Small Law can’t or won’t step into the breach (except in certain circumstances). And LPO’s will continue to nibble at the edges, but are not apparently taking away large portions of legal work from large firms. So the Big Disruption seems unlikely any time soon.”

According to 3 Geeks, legal services remain too complex for small firms to completely take over. Who is best to settle complexity? An equally complex system of services offered by BigLaw.

Whatever your opinion on the rise of small firms or fall of BigLaw, one things all parties agree on? Legal technology is arming the best combatants.

Regardless of size, if you want to be successful, your firm must be competent in today’s cutting-edge technical skills.

Malcolm Gladwell thinks Goliath was the victim, the real underdog who never stood a chance with his oafish sword against the skillful David and his quick and deadly slingshot.

Because, in the end, you never want to be the one who brings a knife to a gunfight.

Think your firm already has the technical skills necessary to compete in this fast-paced, tech world? Take C4CM’s course: Suffolk/Flaherty Technology Audit: Is Your Firm Ready?

D. Casey Flaherty, corporate counsel at Kia Motors America, developed this technology audit and tested nine large firms. All nine firms failed! Of the associates approached the assignments in ways that would have required five to 15 times longer than necessary. At $200 to $400 per associate hour, from the client’s perspective this equals inefficiency and wasted billable time.

Taking his tech audit to the next level, Flaherty is now working with Professor Andrew M. Perlman at Suffolk University to formalize the outside counsel tech audit as a FREE tool for other inside counsel. What does this free audit mean for your firm?

Will your lawyers pass the tech test?

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Millennial Employees Not Lazy After All? New Study Suggests Firms Should Give More Vacation To Employees

They say millennial employees are lazy—is it true?

As much as forty percent of millennial employees reported feeling guilty for using their vacation time, as opposed to just 18 percent of baby boomers, according to a recent study by Randstad (via Forbes).

So, does this mean baby boomers are lollygagging on the beach? Not really.

In fact, both baby boomer and millennial employees seem to be glued to their phones for work even on vacation. Almost half (42%) of employees reported feeling obligated to check their email during vacation, reports the same study by Randstad.

It seems millennial employees are, actually, concerned about their careers. Unfortunately, all this concern—both in the office and on the beach—is affecting productivity. By not taking a stress-free, work-free vacation, employees do not return to work “refreshed,” implies the Randstad study.

Returning to work “refreshed” is exactly why employers promote time off in the first place. What’s to be done?

“Studies about millennials always say there are four Fs this generation places before all else: fun, family, freedom, and friends,” said Jim Link, Randstad chief HR officer to Forbes.

“But then you look at this information that says these folks are on board more than any other generation, and don’t feel the need to delineate between work and life.”

At least one study seems to imply that millennials do prioritize their work life; in fact, they can’t seem to separate it from their recreational life. With all this talk of a work-life balance, for millennials, at least, this term can be modified to just “balance.”

Should employers, then, help their employees compartmentalize their life? Should managers encourage employees to turn their phones off after work and remain technology-free on vacation?

“Historically, up until the last 10 or 15 years, [work and home life] was much easier to separate. That’s just no longer the case. It’s become harder, technologically speaking, to really build that separation in,” said Link.

One way to return to the “good ole days” is to consider building work-life separation into workplace policies.

For example, lawyers notoriously take little vacation. And, many female attorneys feel pressure to return to work as soon as possible after giving birth.

Firms, as a result, should encourage lengthy maternal and paternal leave. Stress and fatigue are not just dangerous to a person’s health, they’re dangerous to the firm as they affect productivity and increase the likelihood of making mistakes.

Just like falling asleep at the wheel, exhaustion can be equally deadly to your firm’s most important cases.

Consider implementing an “on-call” system not unlike the medical profession. Make a few younger associates “on-call” for certain evenings. Circulate lists of who is available on which nights to senior managers and partners.

The system doesn’t have to be complicated, and maybe instead of “on-call”, your system would give associates just one night a week to be “off-call”.

However you decide to implement such a program, the relief an employee feels at knowing they do not have to answer calls or emails—even for one night alone—can become more relaxing than a week spent listening to ocean waves.

Also, don’t make your employees feel guilty for taking time off.  In this economic climate, reassure your staff that taking vacation time is not a downward spiral toward being laid off with policies that make a certain amount of annual leave mandatory.

Firms with creative and flexible policies regarding mental and physical helath, as well as time off, have happier, more productive, and loyal employees. In the end, that’s the kind of firm that attracts star talent and the most clients.

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