Tag Archives: compliance

The Rise of Social Media Moguls & FTA Compliance: What Law Firms Should Explain To Clients

Some of the most influential people on the planet don’t sit in the White House or on a judge’s bench. They’re not necessarily famous faces on the television or popular singers of Top 40 radio.

The most powerful names today are often unrecognized and incognito—they’re the names of billionaire bloggers.

Social media has sprung a new type of celebrity. Just ask Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s not a name most people would recognize, but he created a $60 million wine wholesale business after adding video blogs (he’s the host of Wine Library TV—it’s on the Internet) to his modest $3 million a year wine retail store. Ever since, Gary has been featured on GQ, Time Magazine, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

You may not think that the owner of SmartPassiveIncome.com is pocketing $50,000 a month. But, that’s exactly what Pat Flynn is doing with his inspirational story, which he first told on a blog. After Pat lost his job, he had to do something—anything—to provide for his family. He started SmartPassiveIncome.com to track his money-making projects online. However, soon the website gained notoriety due to its complete honesty and transparency about money. Now, Pat operates a podcast and, of course, still posts his income. Not too shabby.

For lawyers, the name Harvey Levin is household. The founder of TMZ.com is a lawyer, legal analyst, blogger and these days, celebrity reporter. TMZ is a infamous gossip website, on which Harvey is a host, guest, and certainly his own brand.

Finally, let’s look at one last rags-to-blog-riches story. Timothy Sykes, whose website is the not-so-subtle TimothySykes.com, transformed $12,000 of Bar-Mitzvah Money into over $1 million through smart Penny Stock trading. His blog still gets hundreds of thousands of visitors, which has allowed him to pivot into other businesses—launching companies like Profit.ly.

The list of bloggers who dominate the financial world goes one. Read more at Lifehack here.

In fact, even lawyers are now viewing blogs as a key part of their online presence and business model.

But, the moral to learn from this story has nothing to do with wealth gained from websites. Instead, it’s about the morally tenuous link between being a social media influencer and advertiser.

See, social media moguls have a secondary profit line from their exposure: marketing products for companies.

No need to look further than the Kardashian/Jenner clan, explains Jane Genova for Speechwriting-Ghostwriting.typepad.com, a tribe that has been highly visible with X or Y product or service, which can be a well-compensated venture.

“The problem, though, Kathryn Rubino reports on Abovethelaw, is that those Kardashian/Jenner promotions are not labeled as such. Yet, each post aka “posing” can pay $300,000 to the tribe.

The folks in Truth in Advertising have sprung into action. They are pushing back on this. They want the influencer type of advertising explicitly labeled as such. However, they lack the power to prosecute. That could happen with the FTC.”

Actually, when talking about the Endorsement Guide, the FTC explicitly states that they apply to social media.

Yes. Truth in advertising is important in all media, whether they have been around for decades (like, television and magazines) or are relatively new (like, blogs and social media),” answers a representative on their website.

Then, however, they are quick to respond that they do not monitor blogger activities and whether they violate parts of the FTC act. Instead, if something comes to their attention, they’ll “evaluate them case by case.”

The Truth in Advertising campaign has taken up this cause, but Jane Genova has an idea:

“Truth in Advertising needs to assign some mystery shoppers to answer those help-wanted. Then blow up that game with an expose,” she proposes.

“Sponsored content—every type of it—must be labeled as such.”

And that’s a message all lawyers—knowledgeable on the ethics of marketing their own legal services—should convey to their clients.

-WB

Navigating social media ins-and-outs can be difficult.

Employees’ social media activities frequently play an important role in workplace investigations. Yet, when investigating harassment, discrimination or other employee-related claims employers must be aware of specific laws that restrict employers’ requests (and access to) an employee’s social media accounts and posts.

Fifteen states have passed laws that limit the employer’s authority over employees’ social media accounts, and many more are not far behind. No matter how serious the investigation, one peek at an employee’s social media account could become a costly, non-compliance nightmare!

Take The Center for Competitive Management’s webinar, “Workplace Investigations: Using Social Media Legally & Effectively while Limiting Risk,” to learn more about employers need to know about using social media in internal workplace investigations, and offers best practice solutions for conducting workplace investigations legally and effectively.

The course will address:

  • Key restrictions under state social media laws
  • Legal pitfalls to avoid when conducting discrimination investigations in the workplace
  • How to conduct compliant discrimination/harassment/threat/defamation investigations
  • When you can and cannot ask for an employee’s passwords
  • What employee conduct the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) protects and the finer points of the guidelines it has provided.
  • Employee privacy dangers and what defines a ‘Reasonable Expectation of Privacy’
  • Discussion of cases where social media was misused
  • Broader implications for using social media in applicant screening/hiring
  • What multi-state employers must consider when drafting social media policies for investigations
  • Steps to take right away to be sure your current social media and investigation practices and policies are compliant
  • And more!

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Silver-Linings Playbook? Olympic Upsets, Rio Controversy & Managing Politically-Charged Activities In The Workplace

They say, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. But for a few Olympic athletes knocked out in the first rounds of Rio competition, that’s easier said than done.

In tennis, tears were shed on both sides of the court—for Juan Martin del Potro, they were tears of joy at his surprising defeat of frontrunner Novak Djokovic, and for Djokovic, tears of disappointment after his dreams were dashed.

“No doubt it’s one of the toughest losses of my life, in my career,” Djokovic said after the match (via Rolling Stone). 

“It’s not the first or the last time I’m losing a tennis match but Olympic Games, yeah, it’s completely different.”

Djokovic can still snag an Olympic medal in men’s doubles with his partner Nenad Zimonjic, which remains the silver lining after such a clear upset for the gold medalist.

It is rare that the clear favorite goes out in the first round of competition, but the same thing happened in women’s tennis this year. Venus and Serena Williams lost in the first-round at Rio against Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova, who defeated the infamous sisters 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday (via Bleacher Report).

The three-time doubles gold medalists will go home without a victory for the first time in their Olympic careers. The good news? Now Venus can prepare for the U.S. Open, where she will enter at her highest ranking since 2011, without further distraction in politically-charged Rio.

In fact, the Rio Olympics has stirred nothing but controversy since it started. The first American gold metal in the games came from shooter Ginny Thrasher, who set an Olympic record of 208.0 in the 10-meter air rifle event, snagging victory in scandalous upset. Instead of cheers, Thrasher got jeers from gun control activists overshadowing the win with discussions about gun rights and associated political debates.

“I just tried to focus on the competition,” said Thrasher about the political distraction (via USA Today).

Nevertheless, the attention her sport gained via the controversy is clear. Air rifle events have never gained so many headlines. 

Outside Olympic rifle ranges and inside law firm boardrooms, what happens when political talk interrupts workflow or escalates to bad behavior?

As an employer trying to retain productivity, keep the peace, and avoid legal landmines can be more challenging than you may think. There are rules for what employers can and can’t do to manage political activity in the workplace, including:

  • How to manage political discussions and fundraising
  • How to address political discussions in the workplace under federal and state laws
  • How the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) applies
  • How the new SCOTUS ruling Heffernan vs. City of Paterson impacts employers
  • When an employee’s political discussion is protected by the First Amendment 

To learn how to avoid being the target of bad policies and possible lawsuits, take C4CM’s webinar, “Politics in the Workplace: How to Legally Manage Politically Charged Activity at Work,” on Wednesday, August 17, 2016 from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM EasternBy the end of the information-packed session, you will know more about:

  • When discipline for political-related behavior is appropriate and legal
  • What defines political harassment in the workplace
  • What constitutes business harm from employee’s political speech
  • How to handle controversial or political social media posts by an employee
  • How to handle office sponsored political functions supported by management
  • Dress code do’s and don’ts as they apply to political speech

For now, no need to be upset by Olympic upsets—for each competitor, losing gold may lead to even better silver linings.

-WB

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Tom Brady & The Patriots Face More Controversy & Record Retention Lessons For HR

Even if you’re not from the Northeast—even if you’re not a football fan—by now you’ve heard of the New England Patriots. Whether it’s Tom Brady’s supermodel wife or its Deflategate controversy, the team certainly knows how to make the news. And last night’s game was no exception.

First, an inadvertent official whistle during a live play stopped what may been a 50-yard touchdown by the Patriots’ receiver Danny Amendola. In a close game against the Buffalo Bills, such an error could have been costly to the Patriots’ undefeated team.

Then, with seconds left on the clock, a questionable call ended the game abruptly—smashing any chance the Buffallo Bills had at a hail marry pass (or other play) to tie in the fourth quarter.

Final score? 20-13. The New England Patriots continue their winning record of 10-0 in the AFC Eastern Division.

As if Monday night’s football wasn’t enough, the Patriots headlined this morning for another reason.

The NFL’s appeal of a district court decision vacating the suspension of quarterback Tom Brady will be heard on March 3, it announced today. The 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday scheduled oral arguments for well after Feb. 7, also know as Super Bowl 50.

The hearing date is over a year after the 2014 AFC Championship Game where the Patriots played the Indianapolis Colts with deflated footballs, reports USA Today. An independent investigation found two Patriots employees responsible for these rule-breaking activities and concluded that Brady was at least “generally aware” of the situation.

However, at least for now, the Deflategate controversy won’t keep the Patriots’ from another championship season.

But what if your company was forced into an independent investigation? What if your personnel records were audited this very minute, could they stand-up to a DOL probe, an EEOC investigation, or an ICE inspection?

As an HR professional one of your primary responsibilities is to maintain personnel records. But what began as putting important files in a folder has developed into a complex web of compliance. And each year, compliance gets more and more difficult, as you add in electronic documents and other formats.

There are the modified FMLA rules, the updated ADA regulations, the FLSA, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, all of which have separate rigid requirements for retention. And the federal push for I-9 compliance means employers must have their immigration forms meticulously maintained… but you don’t have to worry about that, right?

When it came to evidence on deflating footballs, Tom Brady also thought he was in the clear. But, technological advances (for Brady, the availability of cell phone records) and the threat of potential litigation (or the suspension from professional football) should impact the way your team does its record-keeping.

For Brady, it may be too late. But for law firm professionals, attend The Center For Competitive Management’s audio course, “Save it, Shred it, Delete it? Employee Record Retention for HR,” on Friday, December 11, 2015 from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM EST.

For law firms or football teams, there’s a big difference between making headlines and being victims of them.

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The Fin To Fine Print? New Compliance Policies Needed For Law Firms & Employees

Is this finally the end of the fine print?

As if most people didn’t already know, consumer data is at risk. With so many mobile devices today, data privacy compliance—and the “check here if you agree” box—has become almost impossible for companies to legitimately sustain.

Fine print can hardly be called “compliance” or “protection” anymore. At least, that’s what a subtly-released report would have you believe.

WIK-Consult released a report after being commissioned by regulators to review existing research on the “effectiveness of different approaches to informing consumers about proposed uses of their data, and securing their engagement and consent,” writes Out-Law.com. The report notes that there are many legitimate reasons why personal data from consumers is needed to process certain transactions online, from shopping to banking. While these online services use privacy policies to confirm consumer consent, the majority of people—the report finds—do not actually read the fine print.

Furthermore, as smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers abound, so do the many chances to lose control over consent or even confidentiality of private data.

“Although data flows in the [Internet of Things] do not differ fundamentally from the data flows observed in any connected environment, the sheer increase in the number of connected devices multiplies the data that becomes accessible and analysable,” quotes Out-Law.com of WIK-Consult.

“If expectations about the take-up of such connected devices are correct, online tracking of personal data is likely to become seamless across all areas of people’s lives.”

The report concluded rather bleakly that this problem of the de-privatization of personal information on the Internet is only likely to get worse as consumers become increasingly unaware of the dangers of multiple mobile devices.

“Besides the increase in the amount of data, one may also expect that data gathering, aggregation and analysis will become even more subtle as machines talk to machines without (almost) any human intervention. Thus, consumers have even less opportunity to learn about data-gathering practices. In some cases, they may not even be aware that the device they are currently using is actually connected to the internet,” continued the WIK-Consult report.

In the end, WIK-Consult offers no solutions to what is perceives as a problem of (1) legitimate compliance with privacy policies, as consumers rarely know what clicking the box “yes” refers to; and (2) lack of general knowledge of how to protect personal information online and across multiple technologies.

Luckily, law firms specialize in compliance and knowledge-empowerment.

In fact, about 20 to 25 percent of U.S. law schools already offer a course in information privacy law (via LinkedIn).

And, according to some experts like Daniel J. Solove, John Marshall Harlan Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School, more schools should follow suit.

Law firms are expanding their services in this area as more and more businesses need help crafting their compliance policies (as previously mentioned). In addition, more and more individual consumers need protecting from breaches (think, the Walmart and Sony hack).

Is your firm prepared to branch out in this area or train its associates appropriately?

If you haven’t already, now is a good time of year for your firm to reevaluate its own compliance policies—not just information protection, but also employment and wellness program compliance.

In fact, all eyes are focused on the latter with the EEOC filing suit against multiple employers over their wellness programs, a new EEOC proposed rule on how the ADA applies to wellness plans, and critical compliance issues surrounding the ACA and the rules for wellness.

All this legislative attention makes it more crucial than ever that you check every aspect of the wellness plan of your firm and its clients to assure that they’re on the right side of the law.

Wellness plans offer obvious benefits to the employee—better health—and benefits to the employer—lower costs and reduced absenteeism. It seems like a win-win for everyone. But there are a host of legal issues to be aware of:

1. Privacy rights
2. Discrimination liability
3. Tax surprises
4. Federal regulations; ADA, ACA, HIPAA, ERISA, GINA, FMLA and FLSA

So take the Center for Competitive Management’s webinar “Wellness Programs and the Law: Your HIPAA / ACA / ADA / EEOC Compliance Checkup,” on Thursday, July 30, 2015 from 2:00 PM To 3:15 PM Eastern time.

In just 75 minutes, you will learn:

  • Why use Wellness Programs?
    • Improved Employee Health and Productivity
    • Can Wellness Programs help avoid the Cadillac Tax?
  • Wellness Programs and the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Wellness Programs and the ACA Regulatory Framework from HHS, IRS and Labor
  • Structuring Wellness Programs for effectiveness and to maintain “voluntary” participation
    • EEOC Litigations Challenging Wellness Programs
    • What you need to know about the ADA and wellness programs
    • Does a penalty make a wellness program non voluntary?
    • What you need to know about GINA and wellness programs
  • Recent Congressional Wellness Program Hearings and Legislation
  • Other state and federal laws that may have an impact, such as FMLA and workers’ compensation

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Boston Beats Snow Record & Cold Hard Facts About I-9 Compliance For Law Firms

Congratulations (or maybe condolences) are in order. Boston broke the seasonal snowfall record last night with an all-time high of 108.6 inches. It marked the snowiest winter season since the start of record keeping for the city in 1872.

Nearly a decade earlier, Boston saw a similarly snowy season with 107.6 inches in 1995-1996, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts [via Yahoo!News]. However, it seems this year’s Boston wasn’t ready to give up a chance at the title yet. And, with a wintry mix blanketing the streets around 7PM last night, it was finally time to celebrate a very cold clutch hit from the clouds.

There was, in fact, a parade in Boston. But, it wasn’t for the weather. It was for St. Patrick’s Day, which—coincidentally—fell on the same eve as the infamous record snowfall.

Speaking of records, just three years ago, fewer students sat for the February 2012 LSAT than for any LSAT administration in over 10 years, reported the LSAT Blog and The Law School Admission Council. Not only that, it was the biggest percentage decrease of all time, dropping by 16 percent.

Most thought that this was the answer to a declining legal market for jobs and over-supply of lawyers.

Today, however, that tide may be turning. After four years of a steady decline, there is now an increase in the number of LSAT test-takers, up by 4.4 percent to 20,358 total aspiring lawyers.

Why the change?

Some speculate that the well-advertised decline of law school applicants is now encouraging people to pursue a career in law—which may now give them a better chance at admittance to a top school. Since recent grads are still complaining about the job market, law school seems as attractive as any other choice in graduation education.

Others, however, are concerned that this is the start of a new bubble [ATL]. Where an already suffering industry is bound to over-charge itself into the ground.

Law firms face difficult hiring decisions. When it comes to human resources, it’s hard to put a price on your legal help. With so much supply in the form of recent graduates and experienced lawyers who were laid-off, sometimes nitty-gritty paperwork falls through the cracks.

Unfortunately, The U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) is going all-out in its “bold new audit initiative” to crack down on employers who violate immigration laws; and administrative I-9 audits are ICE’s tool of choice.

If your firm were audited, how would it fair?

Non-compliance exposes employers to a wide variety of potential penalties, including:

Hiring or Continuing to Employ an Unauthorized Worker:

  • First-time violators can be fined between $275 and $2,200 for each unauthorized worker
  • Second-time offenders can be fined between $2,200 and $5,500
  • For every offense thereafter, offenders can be fined between $3,300 to $11,000 per employee or worker

Paperwork Violators:

  • Failure to complete, retain or present documents can result in fines of $110 to $1,100 per employee
  • The second violation can cost $220 to $2,200
  • Pattern and Practice Violations
  • $3,000 per alien and six months in jail

Total fines handed out by ICE are now 13 times higher than in 2009. Plus, ICE has made a big effort to publicly emphasize its investigations of employers that hire undocumented workers. In just one year, ICE arrested 238 corporate executives, managers and even HR professionals.

Luckily for law firms, C4CM has a tutorial in “I-9 Compliance Procedures: New Rules and Best Practices of Employee Verification” on March 24, 2015, from 2PM to 3:15PM EST here.

It will help ensure your firm is in compliance, including:

  • Step-by-step overview of the Form I-9
  • Record retention: Pre and Post audit notification
  • Steps to perform an internal I-9 review process to examine your company’s processes
  • Awareness training for personnel who handle I-9s
  • Policies and procedures for acceptable documentation
  • The latest on the use of electronic forms and proper record keeping/storage
  • Penalties for non-compliance
  • I-9s and independent contractors: who’s responsible?
  • Strategies for when you do not have I-9s for all current employees and no supporting document copies
  • If you hire employees from outside the US for overseas contracts, do you need to complete an I-9?
  • Anti-discrimination provision: Are you in violation?
  • When you must reverify, and when reverification is not needed
  • Your liability when contracting out work

There’s still time for Bostonians, too. Luckily for those who insist on putting “win” in winter, the season snowfall record is measured from July 1 to June 30. So, with a mid-week high of 30 degrees, here’s to hoping.

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Why Job Descriptions Matter & How To Write The “Right” One

Just because your firm’s advertisement resulted in thousands of applicants, this doesn’t mean the candidates are right for the job.

Job descriptions are exceedingly important these days. More unemployed workers means more responses to every job post. For the firm, this means filtering through resume after resume.

For the candidate, there’s no love lost by applying to every job that looks like a close fit. However, for the firm, the hours it takes to narrow down a pool of applicants and then interview them can cost a pretty penny.

Furthermore, hiring an individual who is under-qualified becomes a drain on firm resources. Hiring an individual who is overqualified may create employee retention issues. This, too, results in sunk costs, as the whole hiring process must start over again.

Even if the wrong job description happened to nab the right canddiate, the new employee and his employer may not be on the same page in terms of the scope his role. Effective job descriptions will guide employees’ expectations for their position, including what they will (or will not) do for your firm in the future.

Where should your firm begin?

1. Start with an Elevator Pitch. You may think the elevator pitch exercise is just for job candidates. Not so. Job descriptions should begin with a short, one-sentence summary of the position.

Consider writing a one-statement elevator pitch for your ideal candidate. Then, explain further down why this summary statement would get a person hired at your firm.

2. Describe job functions. Most job descriptions use lists: first, a list of day-to-day job functions and activities, then ideal attributes of the candidate, and final other requirements of the position (education minimums and salary maximums, for example).

Don’t be afraid of full sentences. Few people craft lists with the attention to detail needed on job descriptions. Often, for the sake of brevity, employers become vague and repetitive with their requirements.

Write a paragraph for the functions of the position. So, for example, “legal assistants are expected to greet all guests and employees with an upbeat, yet professional demeanor at all times. Legal assistants will be responsible for briefing firm partners every morning on messages and upcoming meetings. Legal assistants are often asked to fetch lunch for the firm partners or other employees and are expected to keep regular and balanced expenses for such errands…”

Lists are terrific functional tools. But, to make sure future employees are fully aware of the functions of the job, stick to easy-to-read paragraphs.

3. Describe candidate requirements.

If the requirements for candidates are easy—diplomas required or technical skills—than a list can be efficient. However, avoid ambiguity by writing full sentences, in the least, to describe your future employee.

4. Be specific about non-negotiable details.

If the salary is non-negotiable, be clear about it. These days, most candidates believe salaries represent some sort of median price a firm is willing to pay. However, this is not always the case.

In the same way, be clear about any other non-negotiable aspects, such as benefits or language skills.

Otherwise, any person who ever took Spanish 1 in college will consider themselves “optionally” fluent.

5. Be clear about the organizational hierarchy.

Job descriptions vary in purpose. Some describe contractual work, others salaried positions. Some, however, describe careers. In all of these cases, it’s important that a job description explain the reporting scheme of the particular position, and any future opportunity for promotion.

If there’s no room for movement, i.e., there’s no position above paralegal (e.g., junior vs. senior), then make this clear at the outset.

6. Describe the office space.

It may seem petty, but describe the office space. This is your firm’s chance to hint about the office culture. Is it open-plan or offices? How many floors?  Does every employee get an office? What are the perks—free soda, coffee, pastries?

You’ll be surprised to find how seemingly superficial additions to the job description soon become its main attraction.

7. Detail application procedures.

In the end, many candidates may still apply. But, being specific about the application process—when applicants will get notice about the position and from whom—will keep many individuals from checking back or clogging your inbox with follow-up emails.

Let individuals self-select for legal positions. With a detailed enough job description, your firm won’t need to put as much effort or expenses in the process of hiring.

Once you hire the right candidate, the job description should become a part of this individual’s hiring packet. There should be no surprise responsibilities or expectations excluded from the original job description.

If that wasn’t enough pressure, the perfect job description must also think about legal compliance. Just one poorly written job description could leave you exposed to devastating liabilities. Job descriptions are often the first document looked at in legal disputes or during a regulatory agency’s inquiry.

Recent changes to the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) and the tricky rules surrounding the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) add another level of complexity you just can’t overlook.

So, read The Center For Competitive Management’s guide, “Crafting Legally Compliant Job Descriptions,” a no-fluff, plain-English report you can use to create or update your job descriptions.

You can’t afford to run the wrong job description. Find the right candidate today by using a few of these simple steps.

And, happy head hunting!

-WB

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Sticks and Carrots for Time Sheet Compliance

In the highly publicized case a few months back involving allegedly falsified time sheets, the consensus seems to have been that this sort of lapse raises questions about character. The hullabaloo over time sheets led to recent speculation involving the monitoring of time sheets in general. Apparently the big concern for law firm adminstrators is getting time sheets in on time. Tardy time sheets are an issue that many firms struggle with.  This has less to do with character and more to do with priorities. 

Question: do lawyers, the hard-working, highly autonomous professionals that they are, need someone to chase them down for these records? If so, why do they need to be policed when it comes to what might be seen as such a simple task? 

Smart WebParts, a blog by a company that deals with timekeeping for the likes of law firms, recently posted a few scribbles on the topic. 

First things first.  Constructing billable hours is a crucial part of a law firm’s overall success. “[Although] attorneys find it painful to record their time, it’s essential to the business process,” says Todd Gerstein, CEO & Founder, Smart WebParts.  Gerstein (pictured here) explains that, even with a crystal-clear timekeeping policy, there will still be need for an “enforcer”…someone who hunts lawyers down until they turn in their billable hours. 

Gerstein claims it’s due to the culture, and behavior factors.  Everyone in the environment has to understand that billable hours are important. And: “It’s not that…attorneys don’t want to submit their timesheets on time,” he explains.  “It’s that their behavior is based on a sense of what’s most important.  For whatever reason, those who consistently turn in late timesheets have decided that on-schedule timesheets are not important.”

That situation segues into sticks and carrots. A few sticks Gerstein has seen work in two Big Law firms include pay cuts; turning off the tardy timekeeper’s computer (until he or she completes the required timesheets), and cancelling direct deposit for a period of six months. The latter forces the culprit to report to the managing partner’s office to pick up his or her pay check.

Here’s the protocol as outlined in the Simpson Thatcher Policy Handbook. First, the firm goes into how important timely turned-in time sheets are, as they “directly impact…the firm’s ability to administer work assignments and to bill clients on a timely basis.”  Then it lays down the law. “If the lawyer is missing ten business days of diaries prior to any payroll date, the lawyer’s gross salary will be reduced by twenty percent.”

Hughes Hubbard’s policy is similar, with 5% being cut for five missed days of billable hours, and 10% for the second infraction.  Twenty percent will be deducted for the third instance.  (Incidentally, there is no retroactive restoration unless there are “unusual” circumstances.)    

The carrots approach used by other firms such as Brown Rudnick include being eligible to win one of 24 iPads.  (The timekeeper has to attend an Effective Billing Practices training, as well.)

Gerstein concludes that you have to appraise what sort of culture your firm has before offering any sort of deterrent or buy-in. You also have to acknowledge that there’s no way around the fact that time keeping is never going to be one of an attorney’s favorite things to do. Acknowledging that will go a long way.  “Anything you can do to…attempt to reduce their pain,” says Gerstein, will help. “Whichever path you go down….embrace it at every level and [remain] consistent regarding expectations and enforcement.”  For more go to:  http://blog.smart-webparts.com/      

-EM

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