Writing at Work: Why You Should Be Communicating More Effectively in Business & Law

“The minute you read something that you can’t understand, you can almost be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer.”

This quote, by Will Rogers, captures perhap the one thing most people imagine about lawyers–they’re incomprehensible! Legal jargon. It’s a pain, but it comes up in e-mails, reports, and everyday writing.

At times, legal jargon must be sensitive and all-inclusive to protect your corporate clients, which means it’s incomprehensible by laymen. To avoid lawsuits, disclaimers have become rife with legalese and incomprehensible verbiage.

As a result, lesson one in law school is that not all words are created equal. In fact, the Glossary of Terms within a legal document is frequently the longest portion of the entire brief.

This is why law firm professionals must possess a knack for precision in wording before they can be trusted with writing any legally-binding work. Attorneys are quick to practice proper citation and quotation methods when publishing law review articles.

Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to grammar. She’s a stickler for punctuation—although not for exaggeration—believing that people who mix up their itses “deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.”

Kyle Wiens will not hire people who use poor grammar for a position within his companies, iFixit or Dozuki. Moreover, Wiens ensures his computer programmers know the difference between “to” and “too” during a mandatory grammar test that is given to each employee prior to starting work.

“If it takes someone more than 20 years to notice how to properly use “it’s,” then that’s not a learning curve I’m comfortable with,” explains Wiens in the Harvard Business Review Blog.

“So, even in this hyper-competitive market, I will pass on a great programmer who cannot write.”

Some might consider this zero tolerance policy to be harsh. But, Wiens thinks good grammar makes for good business. He claims writing code is not unlike writing prose. And, the best employees at his computer companies have a proven track record for attention to detail.

“I’ve found that people who make fewer mistakes on a grammar test also make fewer mistakes when they are doing something completely unrelated to writing—like stocking shelves or labeling parts.”

Law firms, too, benefit from a zero tolerance policy when it comes to grammar. It turns out, bad legal writing can have a detrimental impact on a case.

For example, a bankruptcy lawyer in Minnesota was publicly reprimanded for unprofessional conduct and ordered to pay court costs after he repeatedly filed documents that the court deemed “unintelligible,” due to a copious amount of spelling and typographical errors, reports Paralegal Today.

“In Duncan v. AT & T Communications, Inc., 668 F. Supp. 232 (1987), the defendant’s motion to dismiss was granted for several reasons, including poor organization. The court’s opinion stated: ‘A complaint may be so poorly composed as to be functionally illegible. This is not to say that a complaint needs to resemble a winning entry in an essay contest,’ Paralegal Today also cites.

There are a myriad of similar examples in law, where judges are swayed by the sloppy phraseology of a motion. Certainly, condemning legalese is not a new argument.

However, law firms who actively try to change this practice are new.

Why don’t legal recruiters throw out all CVs where itses are confused? Why doesn’t legal training include grammar tests?

Young attorneys rarely face formal repercussions at their firms for misspellings in their draft motions. But, consider this: As Wiens points out, we live in a competitive market. Where your firm fails, another one is poised to take over.

The courts have long proved grammar is important. So, the question is (like proper verb tense) does your firm agree?

-WB

If you’re not leaving the best possible impression in your business writing, take C4CM’s audio course, “Writing at Work: Essential Skills to Communicate Effectively in Business,” on Friday, May 6, 2016  at 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM Eastern.

Whether you’re crafting a short and sweet email, writing reports, memos, or performance appraisals, this power-packed webinar will guide you through the key steps and basic principles that will make your communications stand out from the pile and get the job done.

 

Designed specifically for managers, this critical program will review essential writing techniques to make the most of all your business communications, and help you become a more confident, capable communicator, including how to:

  • Know the what and how of it – quickly work out exactly what you need to say and how to say it most effectively
  • Polish it till it shines – use simple techniques for editing and fine-tuning your copy for clarity and maximum impact
  • Connect with copy – leverage emails, letters and social media to forge valuable business relationships and to build your personal brand
  • Craft impressive business documents – write the kinds of bids, proposals, reports and promo materials on which successful careers are built

You will also learn:

  • The five most common writing mistakes made by managers, and how to avoid them
  • When and what to capitalize
  • Words and phrases you should never use in business writing
  • How to write business documents that elicit a specific response from the reader
  • How to state your objective clearly and concisely, and lose the jargon
  • Simple steps to go from procrastination to completion of any size writing project
  • Top three characteristics of effective business communication
  • Best practices for understanding your writing strengths and weaknesses
  • Methods to maintain consistency in writing style across your organization 

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How Lawyers Can Use Excel: The PowerPivot Add-On & More!

Excel is a tool for Wall Street, right?

Wrong.

Excel is a multi-dimensional tool that is useful in a variety of industries, from accounting to finance to law. Yes, that’s right, there are a plethora of reasons lawyers should use Excel in their practice.

Below are a few suggestions of everyday legal activity that could be made easier and accomplished more efficiently with Excel.

Case Analysis

One of the more important tools in Excel is the PivotTable. Now, there’s a brand new feature—the PowerPivot—that brings PivotTables to a whole new level. First, let’s discuss the features of the regular PivotTable.

PivotTables help organize and analyze data. For example, let’s say you want to organize hot docs by key words in discovery. Or maybe you want to identify key concepts or key witnesses and sort them by priority or some other measure. Perhaps you have a long chain of correspondence for the case and you want to code it by sender, receiver, message subject, etc. PivotTables allow you to take each of these categories and sum, filter, or count their contents. You can take any complex dataset and reorganize it with your own ddesignated columns or rows.

How does this compare to PowerPivot? PowerPivot adds the following capabilities (read more at the Journal of Accountancy here):

  • Multiple data sources (pull data from two or more sources into a single report)
  • Many types of sources (pull data from just about anywhere into a PivotTable)
  • Sets (advanced filtering)
  • Large data sources (analyze data that exceeds Excel’s row limit)
  • Expressions (advanced functions and time intelligence)

Basically PowerPivot is the new and vastly improved PivotTable. The extra filtering capabilities are exceptionally useful.

Does all this information sound like a foreign language? Take The Center For Competitive Management’s webinar, “Using PowerPivot to Pump-Up the Power of Microsoft Excel,” on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 from 2:00 PM to 3:15 PM Eastern time. 

Case Status Updates

Law firms circulate internally, and to the client, a case status update.

Excel makes this easy by providing a manipulatable database sorted or filtered by client name, county, type of case, date filed, place filed, date settled, opposing attorney, case settlement amount, and attorney fees to date.

At the end of the year, the compilation of all case status spreadsheets will give managing partners the perfect overview of upcoming casework and trials, in addition to closed and settled matters (not to mention, incoming income!).

Casework assignments 

In a similar vein, Excel can expedite the process of assigning cases to attorneys. Excel can be used as a method to effectively organize case assignments and avoid duplication of work effort.

That way, when a senior attorney wants to know who is creating the timeline (in Excel, of course) for his case matter, the information, including the name of the assigned associate and the status of his or her work, is quickly and clearly accessible.

 

Timelines 

For internal reference and trial presentations, timelines are an essential weapon in a litigants quiver. Lawyers involved in complex litigation must have a clear understanding of the chronology of the case.

However, these timelines are also vital to a firm when the case goes to trial—jury members must understand case chronology, as well.

This means a timeline must be both functional and visually stimulating. Enter, Excel.

Excel has the ability to sort timelines by event and date in a meaningful and demonstrative way. Microsoft in Education even provides a tutorial to explain exactly how to achieve this in its article, “Create A Timeline In Microsoft Excel.”

Timesheets

Today, an increasing number of lawyers are using Mac computers and Apple software at the office. Just read the titles of new legal blogs on the web, including Mac Lawyer, Law Office Software For The Macintosh, and Criminal Defense With An Apple.

Even those lawyers, however, are keen on Microsoft products. Take, for example, Esquire Mac’s discussion of billable hour software versus Excel:

“Over the years, I’ve developed a fairly simple but flexible spreadsheet for tracking my billable time. For our firm, this represents the ideal solution at present. I have taken a liking to a few different Mac billing apps out there (like Billings, Involer, Invoice, GrandTotal, and iRatchet) but each of them falls short in one way or another for our purposes.”

No need to purchase expensive billing software when Microsoft Office is already uploaded to your office computers.

In addition, though some firms may have staff or consultants dedicated to case management analysis, for smaller firms, organizing timesheets in Excel can help trend your most significant cases over time.

For example, a legal administrator can organize attorney time by case matter, month, billable hours, or the billing attorney to discover which cases are the most active and which may need more attention, which attorney billed the most this month and which the least.

Access to this type of information will make a firm more attentive to any clients who might be falling through the cracks, and also increase its overall profitability, after it knows where to devote more billable hours.

In the end, Excel has applications in many industries. If Excel is not frequently used in law, it’s because lawyers tend to fear it.

But, help forums and tutorials for Excel are copious online. These days, attorneys have no valid claims to MS-Office ignorance.

So, start small and get familiar with Excel’s massive potential for your firm. After all, the best part about Excel is that you already own it.

-WB

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Trump For President? Why Cognitive Biases Make For Really Bad Decision-making

He’s done it again, won a few more U.S. States and completely flummoxed his own party—as well as the American public. And, right now, the Republican Party is questioning whether a Trump endorsement is a good or bad decision.

Conservative intellectuals are the most confused. Pundits, after listening to a typical Trump stream-of-consciousness speech, columnist Charles Krauthammer kidded, “I don’t think I’ve heard such a stream of disconnected ideas since I quit psychiatry 30 years ago,” reports RealClearPolitics.

“It’s March madness,” added John Kasich (via RCP).

“How does the Republican Party solve a problem like Donald Trump?” asks Boris Heersink in the Washington Post.

“Donald Trump’s surprising and ongoing role as the de facto frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination has raised considerable concern among Republican leaders,” concededs Heersink.

“At this point, they may not yet be worried that Trump will actually become their nominee. After all, the history of presidential nominations is full of one-time frontrunners who failed to make it all the way. But the effect Trump has while he remains in the race is problematic for the Republican Party in two ways. In the short term, Trump’s antics drag attention away from other Republican candidates. In the long term, Trump may damage the Republican Party brand regardless of who ends up becoming the nominee.”

And while Trump can afford to flip-flop back and forth on his opinions—after all, his entire campaign is based on shock and awe—there’s not always time for organizations to learn from beta testing or trial and error.

Organizations, like the Republican Party, should realize that a variety of “cognitive biases” often cause us to make speedy and illogical decisions. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, is an authority on behavioral finance, and he sagely reminds us that novelty, fear, and other emotions can drive us to make decisions that are not—in the end—in our best interest.

U.S. News explains Kahneman’s biases, including:

  • A preference for not thinking about the future, causing us to make short-term decisions that are often not in our best interest
  • A tendency, known as “confirmation bias,” to screen for information consistent with our preconceived thinking
  • Overweighting the impact of potential losses, known as “loss aversion,” which causes us to hold on to stocks that have earned unrealized losses, rather than selling them and recognizing the loss

If any of these biases seem to ring true for you, you may need to reconsider some of your decisions (as a voter or a manager).

As a law firm manager, every day you’re faced with difficult problems to solve, challenges to overcome, and tough decisions to make. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s what can make or break a leader. It’s what can make or break you as a future partner.

And , whether or not you realize it, problem solving is a skill—one that you can hone and practice.

In fact, countless studies have shown that daily exercises for your mind, as well as the mere act of studying, improve your cognitive abilities.

Need help? Take C4CM’s webinar, a “Smart Manager’s Guide to Strategic Problem Solving and Decision Making” on Friday, April 1, 2016, from 11:00 AM to 12:15 PM Eastern time.

The webinar focuses on developing core skills to be a more effective problem solver. You’ll discover new ways to reach better decisions … methods to develop effective solutions … and key strategies to overcome the pitfalls of problem solving.

In this power-packed session you will gain the tools to develop more ideas, make fewer mistakes and reach better decisions. Plus, you will learn:

  • Why decision making is so tough – and key strategies to make it easier
  • How good decision making skills solve problems
  • Benefits of strategic problem solving
  • Typical barriers to decision making and how to overcome them
  • Habits of strategic thinkers
  • Tips for evaluating your thinking and problem solving style
  • Five step process for strategically thinking about business decisions
  • Realizing a decision must be made
  • Clearly defining the problem
  • Deciding on desired outcome
  • Defining stakeholders
  • Communicating the issue and solution

Because the reality is, the upcoming general election may include Republican-nominee Donald Trump—and all of his cognitive biases about America and the way the world works. So, when it comes to the vote for President, what decision will you make?

-WB

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Are Your Associates Exiting BigLaw For Jobs In-House? Diversity, Salary & Leadership Opportunities May Be Why.

Minority women are exiting BigLaw. According to some reports, eighty-five percent of minority female attorneys in the U.S. will quit large firms within seven years of starting their practice.

These days, the image of an all-white, male partnership at a law firm, sitting behind mahogany desks with a nautical office motif is so far from reality, it’s laughable. Or is it?

According to a November NALP press release, at just 2.55 percent of partners in 2015, minority women “continue to be the most dramatically underrepresented group at the partnership level, a pattern that holds across all firm sizes and most jurisdictions,” reports the ABA Journal.

There is a variety of reasons minority women are disappearing from BigLaw, and one of those reasons is competition from in-house counsel positions.

Tiffany Harper, esquire, transitioned from law firm life to a post as associate counsel for Grant Thornton in Chicago, for example. She co-founded Uncolorblind, a diversity blog and consulting company after having worked in corporate bankruptcy and restructuring at Schiff Hardin. Her last position was at Polsinelli as in-house counsel, where she looked to broaden her skill set.

“I didn’t see a path for me to partnership at a large law firm. For women of color, there has to be a synergy for you to make partner,” said Harper to the ABA Journal.

“You have to have everything working in your favor at the time you go up for a vote: a practice group that is thriving, the billable hours, people singing your praises, a client base. That has to all come together for you in a way it doesn’t have to for other people.”

But a power shift from large law firms to in-house counsel departments is on the rise for everyone, not just minority women.

“From demands for discounts, using online auctions to select firms, hiring law grads straight out of school, or simply moving more legal work in house, general counsel are pushing back on their outside lawyers,” reports the WSJ Law Blog.

Surprisingly, where salaries for lawyers have generally declined with the economy, compensation of in-house counsel has increased. Where BigLaw is dominated by the same type of person, in-house positions are more diverse in their human resources.

In one survey, 22 percent of in-house counsel are earning more than $300,000 per year in salary, bonus, and other compensation, which is a rise of 16 percent from the previous year, and 57 percent since the previous decade (via WSJ Law Blog).

Casey Flaherty, former in-house counsel at Kia Motors America, says that “in a data-rich world, there’s no reason law departments can’t track diversity using their standard outside counsel management software to establish baselines and measure improvement, just as a law department might track a firm’s efficiency and cost-effectiveness.” That’s why hiring decisions for in-house counsel positions are base don something more:

“Diversity is certainly one of the primary factors you should be considering,” said Flaherty to Law360.

“If you’re not, then it isn’t a priority, and who cares what’s in your policy statement? Who cares if you’ve formed a task force? … To me the diversity discussion and the metrics discussion are the same discussion: What are we prioritizing, and how are we measuring?”

So, if you’re planning a career shift (or have already taken advantage of the recent trend) toward in-house, below you’ll find a few tips for success.

If you’ve changed from a large law firm to corporate counsel, ViXS Systems Inc. general counsel Cheryl Foy emphasizes the importance of learning about the culture of the company you’re working for, including a comprehensive understanding of the needs and challenges of its business.

“Figure out who you’re working with. It’s folly to go in with the idea that ‘I’m the lawyer’—people will argue with your legal opinion. You have to build credibility so assess the culture first,” says Foy (via Canadian Lawyer Magazine). 

In addition, don’t let a power shift in industry dynamics translate to a shift in power at your new position.

When Foy found herself in a situation in a previous in-house job where she wanted to be part of the executive team but wasn’t regarded as such, she received this advice: “You need to be acting like you’re at the table already,” (via Canadian Lawyer Magazine).

Make it clear on hire that a position as in-house counsel is one of management and decision-making. Act like a leader from the outset and you’ll be considered one in-house.

Finally, to fully understand the ins and outs of in-house counsel, remember there’s a big difference between big law practice and a position as in-house corporate counsel.

“Adapt a communication style that reflects that your audience has changed,” advises David Allgood, executive vice president and general counsel with the Royal Bank of Canada (via Canadian Lawyer Magazine).

“Remember it’s the enterprise who is your client now.”

And, with a new 40-60 hour workweek (instead of 60-80 in BigLaw), who can complain about that?

 

-WB

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How Lawyers Can Pursue Public Service While Making A Profit

Do You Really Want To Be A Public Interest Lawyer?

That’s the question that Sam Wright addressed in an Above the Law Blog (ATL) post. Wright explains, if you’re able to ignore underfunding, understaffing, and overwork, than public interest law practice is rife with opportunities. As a young gun, Wright points out, without any real-world experience, you’ll still be listened to, highly-respected even, for your JD degree.

This gives you power that associates in private practice firms only dream of during long, tedious doc review weekends.

Furthermore, if you decide to go into public service litigation, you’ll be in on the ground floor of making strategy decisions to which no Big Law first-year associate would normally be privy.

Finally, if you can safely say to yourself…

“I like thinking on my feet! Meeting a new client on the day of a hearing sounds exhilarating. It’s fun to go head-to-head with an opponent in a setting full of arcane rules, even if it involves plenty of tedium, and I actually like Saturday-morning working groups. Besides, putting up with all this will allow me to make a real difference in the world.”

…than Wright writes, congrats! You’ve definitely got a future as a public service lawyer.

But, what if a life dedicated to public service doesn’t tempt you? Or, what if you believe in helping boost the economy through the protection of private firms?

As a lawyer in private practice, it’s important to remember that you can still give back through your firm’s client services.

Anticipating client needs, even before they’re expressed, helps your clients’ small business, family, or employees succeed and prosper. Does the neighborhood bakery, which your firm represents, know how to properly file its taxes? Does it understand the numerous exemptions it may qualify for?

What about that hotel chain, fleeced by its inexperienced, sloppy contractor, is it now having trouble qualifying for a loan to continue its expansion?

Anticipating client needs is a great way lawyers can aid the local economy.

It also, selfishly, glues clients to your firm and builds the kind of client loyalty you can put in the bank.

In fact, creating true client loyalty is one of the most powerful and reliable ways to build a strategic, sustainable advantage. Truly loyal clients are less price sensitive, more willing to forgive your small foibles and—most importantly—largely immune to competitive entreaties from the firm across the street or across the continent.

Consider circulating a free newsletter to your clients with information pertinent to their business. Make sure your clients—even long dormant ones—remember that your firm is at the ready for additional services.

You don’t have to enter public service to make a difference (and a profit) as a lawyer.

Take the Center for Competitive Management’s information-packed webinar will explore how to fine-tune service touchpoints to keep clients happy and turn them into loyal clients, starting at intake.

The course, “From Intake to Attachment: Building Client Loyalty through Anticipatory Client Service,” is available online Thursday, March 24, 2016, at 2:00PM Eastern time.

In just 75 minutes, you will learn practical methods to customize client-interactions to make them more anticipatory and client-friendly; including how to:

 

-Add predictability and sensitivity to every firm service level
-Get ahead of the issues clients face before they develop a negative impression of the firm
-Reflect that your firm is on the client’s side in every situation
-Offer speedier service, without sacrificing quality
-Discuss and appropriately present pricing information in a way that clients will appreciate and understand
-Make each client feel unique and earning their loyalty to the firm
-Employ firm wide routines that reflect a culture of common sense and sensitivity

-WB

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Can You Name The Smartest Person In The Room? The Surprisingly Different Way Men & Women Answer & Law Firm Gender Bias

Time and time again, women are underestimated. Whether in the classroom or a professional office space, the same, sad statistic remains intact. Women aren’t considered equal peers and colleagues.

Let’s take a recent study conducted by anthropologist Dan Grunspan. While teaching undergraduate students, Grunspan noticed a shocking and persistent trend. His male undergraduate students assumed the other men in the class knew more about the course material than their female counterparts. What’s more, this remained true even when the female students were earning better grades.

“The pattern just screamed at me,” said Grunspan to Danielle Paquette for the Washington Post article, “The remarkably different answers men and women give when asked who’s the smartest in the class.

Determined to apply quantitative methods to his qualitative assessment, Grunspan and his colleagues at the University of Washington set up a study to measure the degree of this gender bias in the classroom.

The researchers conducted surveys of roughly 1,700 students attending three biology courses. In defense of Grunspan’s observations, the results of the study concluded that men in these courses did, in fact, consistently award each other more credit than their equally-knowledgable female classmates.

This bias amounted to three-quarters of a GPA point, according to the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE. This means, while two students—one male, one female—earned the same “A” grade, male students would consider the male student an “A” student, but the female student a “B” performer. Female students, however, did not possess the same bias.

“Something under the conscious is going on,” Grunspan said to the Washington Post.

“For 18 years, these [young men] have been socialized to have this bias.”

It stands to reason that if this bias is continuous and persistent among undergraduates, it didn’t just disappear in law school or at the law firm. While this conclusion relies on certain assumptions—that men don’t mature later in life or that they don’t award more credit to their female colleagues with experience, for example—it does provide fodder to think about how you might treat female colleagues in the workplace.

Stephanie Haladner, a former Clifford Chance said to the UK Telegraph, “There is an unconscious bias that is stopping women from getting promoted in law firms. We have to look at a culture change. The majority of law firms are acknowledging that they have an issue and would like to take steps to make a change.”

“When it comes to unconscious bias, it means [law firms] recruit and advance people in their own image.”

When name partners are all male—this means promoting other men. When senior associates are male, this means assigning other men to work on the most important cases.

When you need a second opinion, to whom do you go to? When considering two like-level associates, one male and one female, does your firm unconsciously reward one over the other?

“One other issue for women that constantly comes up is that women tend not to be as good at promoting themselves within an organization,” continues Haladner.

While this may be a valid explanation for why women cab be overlooked professionally, it’s no excuse for your firm to perpetuate a well-documented bias.

Go back to the numbers. Like Professor Grunspan, take a look at the pattern within your own firm. If there are fewer women at the top, it may be time to consider whether or not this is due to over-crediting men by male management.

 

-WB

For more law firm management and concrete HR tips, take one of The Center for Competitive Management’s webinars here.

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A Law Firm’s Guide To Record Retention & Apple’s Fight Against Hacking Killer’s Phone By Court Order

It could be argued that nothing changed American culture more than the cell phone. Just look at TV shows, cartoons, news articles that talk about Millennials, perpetually on their phones. At work, policies about cell phones must be erected. And, now, it’s a point of concern for privacy when it comes to search and seizure by police.

“I had a case where a young man was arrested for videotaping his friend being arrested outside a club in NYC. Police seized his phone. We were afraid that once they possessed the phone, the video would mysteriously disappear since it showed police acting without probable cause and then arresting my client just for videotaping the incident,” Toni Messina in the article, “Criminally Yours: Cops Got Your Phone?” for the Above The Law blog.

“Luckily, because we were dealing with an inexperienced prosecutor, we were able to go One Police Plaza ourselves to get the phone back so it went through no intermediaries, supervisors, or other enforcement personnel. The video was intact, and now forms the basis of a civil law suit for wrongful arrest.”

Messina points out that no matter the level of crime for which you are arrested, police can search your person, your things. Sure, police are supposed to have probable cause, but as Messina’s story previously points out, “probable cause” is relative.

Once you’re actually in custody, your rights to guard information on your cell phone private erode even more. Once arrested, the police can get a search warrant to search the contents of your cell phone—including all those fancy apps with personal data you used for online banking, dating, and working. Your photos and videos are now free game for viewing.

All this with just a simple order from a judge.

Which is exactly what happened with the recent federal judge’s order forcing Apple to help the FBI break into the iPhone of San Bernardino killer Syed Farook. Except Apple CEO Tim Cook opposed the order.

In a letter, Cook wrote, “In the wrong hands, this software [to hack the iPhone]—which does not exist today—would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

Cook’s letter emphasized that government overreached by asking for “a backdoor to the iPhone,” reports Greg Botelho, Lorenza Brascia, and Michael Martinez in “Anger, praise for Apple for rebuffing FBI over San Bernardino killer’s phone,” an article for CNN.

How much can the government compel companies to give up? What about citizens?

“All this is why compelling Apple to provide the key to open their phone is tricky,” concludes Messina in the Above The Law article.

“No one’s in favor of terrorism, but that doesn’t mean we should succumb to greater police surveillance, privacy invasion, and forced revelation of data that would otherwise be confidential in our lives.”

This leads—even in a just a small way—to your law firm’s personal records.

Do you know how long to keep records, how they should be stored, and who should have access to various files?

Consistent management of documents and data reduces litigation exposure and regulatory criticism. However, conquering the challenges you encounter in managing, retaining, and disposing information on the road to legal compliance is more complicated than ever.

In fact, as the number of laws and risks related to governing records management continues to increase, it becomes even more paramount that organizations and their counsel brush up on its obligations—legal and moral.

Furthermore, with all companies under scrutiny for how they treat the privacy of employees or clients, law firms should think twice about its practices.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” Messina reminds us of the old adage.

“Privacy is too valuable a right, and the fishing expedition [by the government] such a search would entail [by Apple] isn’t worth the price.”

-WB

Learn more about the complex universe of document retention rules and practicalities in C4CM‘s webinar, “Save It, Shred It, Delete It? Corporate Counsel’s Guide to Record Retention,” on Thursday, March 17, 2016 from 2:00 PM To 3:15 Eastern Standard time.

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