When it comes to making financial progress, we can all agree that saving for the future is a critical part of the equation. But how much are you supposed to be socking away exactly? According to the 50/20/30 rule, your monthly budget should be divided into three distinct categories of expenses: 50% should be reserved for essentials (think housing and food), 30% should be allocated for lifestyle choices (things like nights out and 121 channels of cable) … and at least 20% should go toward what we call “financial priorities,” which include debt payments, retirement contributions and, of course, savings.

We spoke to LearnVest Planning Services CFP® Tonya Oliver-Boston to find out if we really need to allocate 20% of our income toward financial priorities each year—and how much of that 20% should go into savings.

Why Anyone Can (and Should!) Follow the 20% Rule
For many people, putting at least 20% of their net pay toward financial priorities isn’t actually all that difficult. In fact, Oliver-Boston finds that the biggest problem clients generally face isn’t that they can’t manage to allocate the 20% for financial priorities—rather, it’s that outsized debt, like student loans and high credit card balances, that eats up most of that 20%, leaving little left over for savings. But as Oliver-Boston cautions: ”Even if you have debt in excess of 20% of your net income, you still need to find a way to save!”

Translation: Prioritizing one financial priority doesn’t mean that you can ignore the others—be it debt payments, adding to your emergency fund, contributing to your retirement, or other savings goals, like accruing enough money for a down payment on a house.

So what’s the best way to divvy up that 20% across all of your financial priorities? ”It depends on the individual situation,” says Oliver-Boston. “But emergency savings and payments on high-interest debt tend to fight for first priority.” Retirement, she adds, is usually a strong third because it’s critical for your long-term financial health, followed by other savings goals, like that down payment we mentioned.

Need real-life examples? According to Oliver-Boston, if a client has a lot of high-interest debt but also has emergency savings, the client’s first priority would most likely be the debt because she has money in place to support her should she find herself in a situation in which her income could no longer cover her living expenses. If a client is cash-strapped, however, putting money into an emergency fund would probably take priority because the client doesn’t have the necessary cushion to cover her day-to-day expenses should an emergency arise.

Not sure where to start? Try the free LearnVest Money Centre to see exactly where your paycheck goes or chat to one of our financial experts and let them help you get on the right track.

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Please consult a financial adviser for advice specific to your financial situation.


The Oklahoma City bombing case
It was one of the most tragic chapters in recent American history: In 1995, the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by a truck packed with 5,000 pounds of explosives—setting off a massive investigation, and ultimately the trial and conviction of two co-conspirators.

In this brief, but compelling video, you’ll have the unique opportunity to walk through closing arguments used in the case—reconstructed by the Sanction trial consulting team.

Mike Hahn, senior director LexisNexis® Litigation Solutions and a trial consultant on the original case, takes you behind the scenes in this gripping presentation. All the evidence, videos and documents have been loaded into Sanction® litigation presentation software—and the case has never been more clear.

>>Watch trial history reconstructed

Unlock the persuasive power of our presentation specialists for your next trial
Not every trial is going to have the nation-riveting status of the Oklahoma City bombing trial. But whether it’s a case of hit-and-run or the next trial-of-the-century, even the most experienced litigation team can use a little assistance when it comes to creating a clear and compelling trial presentation.

Cue Smoking Gun file…
With our experienced Sanction trial consultants, your trial team will enjoy seamless, behind-the-scenes technical support. The last thing you want to worry about is video equipment, audio quality, wireless connections or whether or not that “smoking gun” exhibit is going to come up on cue.

Before trial, Sanction presentation experts will scan documents, build your presentation database, load evidence—video files, exhibits, pdfs, transcripts and more. And make sure your presentation is ready for a seamless and compelling argument.

In the courtroom, our tech-saving experts will take care of the hardware and presentation peripherals. Troubleshoot. Make adjustments on the fly. And make sure you look good so you can stay focused on delivering your most engaging and effective presentations.

Battle-tested, court-proven presentation expertise
Our trial consulting specialists bring a wealth of knowledge and practical, hands-on trial preparation experience to help your busy litigation team:

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Our trial prep and consulting expertise includes work on countless high-profile cases and hundreds of millions of dollars in litigation.

• Joseph Hirko v. United States (Enron broadband trial)
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For a limited time, you can receive four hours of telephonic Sanction Trial Consulting at no additional charge when you book eight hours. There’s never been a better time our trial presentation professionals to work on your next case.

To see the Sanction trial prep and consulting team in action, be sure to watch Mike Hahn’s reconstruction of the closing arguments in the Oklahoma City Bombing Trial.

>>Watch trial history reconstructed

Check out these additional Sanction consulting and software resources.
Learn more about Sanction Consulting Services and Software.
>>Sanction Consulting Services PDF brochure
>>Sanction Trial Preparation Service PDF brochure
>>Sanction litigation presentation software PDF brochure

Do you have a Data Disaster Recovery Plan?


As hurricane season arrives and tornado season wraps up, the last thing on your mind may be computer data. But in reality, small law firms are subject to data protection laws that govern your own and your clients’ information, regardless of the weather.

Most small business owners assume that cloud technology providers already have the ability to protect and recover data. Isn’t that the benefit of cloud technology?

Yes—and no. Software providers serve a wide array of industries, and not every industry needs high levels of data security. The legal community does.

It’s important to know what to look for—and even more important to know that the typical cloud security standards are not adequate (legally or practically) for law firms.

An article from the small law firm group within Thomson Reuters, Getting Ahead in the Cloud: Why Small Law Firms Find Their Niche in Hosted Cloud Software lays out clear, exact standards for cloud software security. Think of:

• Data transport security
• Physical security (it’s “in the cloud” to you, but the provider has it stored in a physical location)
• Firewall/digital intrusion security

To boot, Getting Ahead in the Cloud clearly lays out the key areas where the needs

of a solo or small practice intersect with the unique features of Web-based solutions.

Download the complimentary Thomson Reuters article for a pointed, easy checklist of the protection features you need as a small law firm.

Ed. note: The Aspiring Lateral, a new series from Levenfeld Pearlstein, will analyze a variety of issues surrounding lateral moves, drawing on the firm’s experience in the lateral market as well as the individual experiences of LP attorneys. Today’s post is written by Shelly Leonida, LP’s Director of Human Resources.

It’s 10:30 on a Wednesday morning, you’re cranking away at that brief, and your office line rings. You don’t recognize the number. You put your head down, waiting for voicemail to pick up so you can get back to the finer points of Massachusetts estoppel law. Because you know, inevitably, that on the other end of that line is yet another headhunter.

Sure, it’s annoying. But don’t let that experience turn you off from recruiters when it comes time to make a move. For one thing, let’s be honest: having too many people trying to get you a job isn’t the worst thing in the world. For another, recruiters taking the scattershot, cold-calling approach — testing your interest in a real estate practice in LA, when you’re quite happy at your corporate group in Chicago — are not the best representatives of the profession. The fact is, they can help. And I don’t just say that because I used to be one myself.

Brokers fill important roles in many markets, and recruiters — though not “brokers” in the strictest sense — do just that in the market for legal talent. First, and maybe most importantly, they are valuable sources of information. That may sound like a superfluous role in the Internet age, given all the information available on law firms’ websites and candidates’ LinkedIn profiles. But neither firms nor prospective laterals put everything out there for the world to see, and that’s where recruiters can be handy…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Aspiring Lateral: The Value of Recruiters”

Long ago, long ago, oh, let’s say March of this year – I began writing this column. In those golden olden days, I wrote about e-Discovery. “e-Discovery” was this marvelously discrete little sector in my mind where law and technology met and created a little sandbox to try out new stuff in a limited universe defined by discovery requests. Everything else was irrelevant, er, not responsive. Sure, the limited universes were huge but we had awesome tools to deal with them. And, once the universe that began with an incident leading to a claim reached its end-point — settlement or judgment – it ended and we could move on to the next one, erupting somewhere in an HR Dept near you.

My first dispatch, which seemed radical to me at the time, concerned the fact that our collective creation of electronic evidence had expanded beyond our desktops. Mobility was the wave of the future, I bravely announced. And that was true. For a day.

Now, all these days later, mobility is simply part of our world. Paradigms have shifted. No one who follows this stuff at all can claim a lack of notice about the importance of mobile device data. OK. My work is done. You’re welcome.

Today, I am back from the mine to with another sector-shaking alarm: my friends, there is more than one mine! Our limited universe is cracking open as we work . . .

In December of 2010, our CEO, wrote an inaugural blog post for AccessData about the importance of integrating forensics into e-discovery. It is still powerful reading today. In March of this year, he announced the beginning of the end of the forensics/e-Discovery divide. This convergence of forensics and e-Discovery seems inevitable and, when you look at it from a certain angle, it makes more sense than considering them as separate mines. Both involve searching for data and making sense out of the data that’s found. In forensics, the data has been obscured by destruction or deliberate obfuscation; in e-discovery, the data is obscured by clutter, by the sheer mass of itself, and by negligence. It makes sense to me that, when you get down to 1s and 0s, the tools to discover and restore order to the universe would operate similarly to achieve something like an economy of scale. So, ok, maybe there’s still just one mine. My universe is still intact. OK.

But . . . there’s another topic that’s been creeping up on us e-Discovery folk this year. From down in the mine, it sounded first like a far-off scraping sound. Then there was a strange waft of warm air from behind the rock. And then a smell of sulphur . . . and then . . . our mine was breached. And the FBI had to tell us.

By now, we’ve all heard of the numerous FBI warnings this year alone that “hundreds” of firms are being targeted by cyber criminals, at this moment, and that client data ostensibly held securely in their counsel’s vault is popping up on the other side of the world. The threat is real. And, as the story goes, law firms are not ready for it. They simply don’t have the technology to fight back or defend themselves. Please review this white paper, written by yours truly, for a dire description of why.

I’m not going to spend too much time on this today. What I want to do is sound the canary chirp. We can no longer do our jobs as if e-Discovery (and forensics) is all we have to do. The documents we retrieve from our clients and adversaries are under attack. And they are ours to protect. We need to begin craning our collective necks towards securing them. And I believe that the answer for detecting malicious data, or detecting breaches in our security and preventing them before too much is lost, could likely lie in this: bad data is obscured by malicious intent. Our discovery tools can find it.

We sponsored the inaugural ILTA LegalSEC Summit and have written much on this blog and elsewhere about the now-surfacing crisis.

And, yes, I just said ‘crisis’ and maybe that’s alarmist but maybe it’s not.

Officially published on the day that ILTA 2013 opened, the results of LegalSEC’s survey are (pun intended, Las Vegas) sobering. I could, and may yet, spend an entire article’s worth on the findings of the survey alone but I’d rather you read it yourself. Here it is again. Please, read it. And, while you’re at it, please take some time and review the presentations from the LegalSEC Summit.

And, here is the presentation from their update.

As I said last time, e-Discovery is a just a set of tools and a set of problems, neither good or bad. But when bad guys are using tools to make bad data with an intent to steal or destroy, the good guys need to use our best tools to defeat them.

Please visit our website to learn about solutions already out there . . . and stay tuned for more solutions to come.

Eric Killough is the virtual canary AccessData has released into your digital mine. He is a JD, a CEDS, and a librarian. He thinks about electronic discovery probably more than he should. Please join him here, at Twitter, at LinkedIn, and at his own blog. He’ll be happy to meet you.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that lateral moves are all about money. Popular thinking — which may not be far from the truth — holds that law firms, held in collective thrall by the American Lawyer’s profit-per-partner numbers, focus on lateral hiring as the first step in a virtuous cycle that will increase their PPP metric, in turn attract more profitable laterals, and so on and so on. Laterals themselves, meanwhile, are viewed as economic actors lured away from their firms primarily through the prospect of increased, or guaranteed, compensation.

(Given the prominent role that guaranteed compensation is said to have played in the downfall of Dewey, and the pains Weil Gotshal took to point out its relative lack of compensation guarantees when announcing its recent layoffs, this particular carrot may be falling out of fashion. Even Weil conceded, however, that it has compensation guarantees in place for first-year laterals.)

In light of the focus on dollars in connection with lateral moves, it may surprise the reader to hear the head of a compensation committee say that in many cases, lateral candidates do not talk enough about money. To be more specific, lateral candidates often don’t scratch beneath surface questioning about their prospective new firm’s compensation system. If they did, their answers would inform them more deeply not only about their future paychecks, but the character of the firm they are considering….

As most laterals know, law firm compensation structures come in two general flavors. In the first, compensation is determined formulaically (e.g., X revenue from personal working time x Y revenue in originations = Z income). Other firms take a broader approach that bases compensation on a lawyer’s total contributions to the firm, including factors such as leadership and teamwork.

While most firms incorporate elements of both approaches, they tend to fall towards one end of the spectrum or the other. Also, most firms retain a bonus pool — ranging from 5% of profits to 15% or beyond — to be paid out based on any range of criteria.

What, beyond these obvious features, should laterals be inquiring about?

  • Does your firm have an open or closed system? At “open” firms, all equity partners know what their fellow partners make. At “closed” firms, partners know only their own point level or percentage of profits. Some firms prefer closed systems because it gives management greater discretion to act — for instance, to make a strategic investment in a particular practice area — without having to justify the decision in all cases to the larger partnership. This is as much a cultural issue as anything.
  • Is compensation focused on short-term or long-term results? Firms vary in how heavily they weigh a partner’s previous year’s performance, as opposed their longer track record. The size of the firm’s bonus pool will have an impact here (tending to reward short-term performance), but this element also reflects whether the firm has a long-term orientation generally.
  • Who belongs to the compensation committee? A firm that reserves seats on its compensation committee for particular geographic locations or particular practice areas — rather than simply selecting a cross-section of well-respected partners — could be indicating a territorial mindset where each member of the committee is expected to fight for the compensation of attorneys in that member’s practice area or geographic location.
  • What kind of input will I have into compensation decisions? Most firms allow individuals to “make their case” in some manner, whether through written submissions or an interview process. What form that process takes, how seriously it is considered, and whether the firm follows up with individuals after compensation decisions are made will indicate how genuinely they listen to their individual lawyers.

For the most part, there is not a right or wrong position on any of the above issues. But by probing about them, lateral candidates can certainly get a fuller picture of any firm they’re evaluating. They say money talks, and in this case they’re right.


Cloud computing: Even the terminology evokes the murky, the blurry, the imprecise.

De-mystify hosted cloud computing with a quick & easy read from the small law firm group within Thomson Reuters, Getting Ahead in the Cloud: Why Small Law Firms Find Their Niche in Hosted Cloud Software. It defines cloud-based technology, describes what to look for in a practice management solution, and even details specific security features needed to meet the legal industry requirements for managing your clients’ private information.

To boot, Getting Ahead in the Cloud clearly lays out the key areas where the needs of a solo or small practice intersect with the unique features of Web-based solutions. Consider:
• Data security reduces the risk of malpractice
• Independence provided by a completely mobile solution
• Cost-savings by eliminating hardware and tech support
• And much more

In the end, this article reveals how cloud computing lifts the burden of managing data and technology off of the shoulders of a small firm attorney, letting you focus your attention on the practice of law. Download the complimentary Thomson Reuters article for a clear vision of what cloud computing means to small law firms.

What do the biggest patent trial in history, the biggest U.S. M&A deal and the biggest bankruptcy of 2012 have in common? The answer is Morrison & Foerster — and the skills, dedication and confidence of lawyers who continually give new meaning to the term “high stakes.”

With more than 1,000 lawyers in key technology and financial centers in the United States, Asia and Europe, Morrison & Foerster advises financial institutions, investment banks, Fortune 100, technology and life science companies. MoFo’s lawyers share a singular commitment to providing clients with the exceptional service that has become our calling card. It’s why Autodesk, Genentech, Goldman Sachs, Intel, Novartis, Oracle, UPS and Yahoo! entrust our lawyers with their most critical matters. And it’s why MoFo is consistently ranked among the very best in the legal industry.

The American Lawyer

For 10 years running, The American Lawyer has named Morrison & Foerster to its prestigious A-List. Only 20 firms within the Am Law 200 are named to the annual list, and MoFo ranked #10 in 2013. Equally impressive, and showing remarkably consistent progress over the last decade, MoFo ranked seventh overall on a cumulative list based on rankings over the last 10 years.

BTI Consulting

The BTI Consulting Group recognized Morrison & Foerster as a 2013 Brand Elite Firm. Based on unprompted feedback from more than 500 in-house counsel at some of the world’s largest organizations, MoFo stood out as one of a small group of firms that, according to BTI, “have it all in the eyes of clients.”

Chambers and Partners

In March, Chambers Global named Morrison & Foerster its 2013 USA Law Firm of the Year. “The US-based giant,” the editors said in announcing the award, “has experienced one of the most successful years in its long and illustrious history.” Last year the firm was involved in the global smartphone disputes that culminated in one of the most closely watched patent trials of our time. We also had a leading role advising both ResCap in its landmark restructuring and the Chapter 11 trustee for MF Global. At the 2013 Chambers USA Awards for Excellence held in New York on May 23, Morrison & Foerster was named Intellectual Property Firm of the Year and Bankruptcy Firm of the Year for our work on these and other noteworthy matters.

August 1, LTN ran an article headlined “Judge Orders Bickering Lawyers to Solve Their E-Discovery Dispute” and it got me thinking about what we’re doing here. It’s a story about two companies who sound identical to me and about how six people left one to join the other one and drama ensued. And, somehow, in that drama, e-discovery became part of the plot-line. So, I’d just like to take a moment to bring what we do back from the electronic, intellect-centered, thought-leader-y places that blogs like this one tend to inhabit. I’m talking about bringing e-discovery down to Earth, where the humans do whatever humans do. Are you still with me?

Great. I chose to read this story, frankly, because it had the word “bickering” in the headline. What a great word. So descriptive, so condescending. I stayed with the story because it reminded me of why this blog matters and also why it doesn’t. It does matter that we think about the proper use of technology in legal review because all legal decisions – if the system works – are ultimately responses to the evidence. And, more and more, the evidence is documentary and the documents are electronic. Basic stuff, right?

It does not, however, matter what we think of best practices in making sense out of your documents, if you’re more engaged with fighting the other side than you are with discovering the truth.

So, why I’m here? You know that we have products and services – solutions – that we would like you to purchase. We know that you have expenses and burdens – problems – that you would like us to solve. No one on either side of these sentences is here just for the intellectual exercise.

One of the great pleasures I take in writing these articles is that they are not written for academic purposes. I’m not writing so that you will write about what I’ve written. But, still . . . I get caught up in the experience of communicating the great information I have to share and “evangelizing” the great solutions we have. I lose touch with the fact that, behind every e-discovery project, there were human characters making human choices and stepping on the toes of other human characters who reacted in kind.

I am a fan of great science fiction and great fantasy and great escapism, but what I really respond to are stories that talk about my life with a clarity I can’t muster because I’m frankly just too smashed up against the window. And this is one of those stories: two environmental consulting and engineering firms about whom I know nothing are at war. They are at war not so much because of their technology – about which I know nothing – but because they are comprised of people. Real people who did things that irritated, angered and threatened each other. In this case, six of these real people left one environmental consulting interest and went to its rival environmental consulting interest. Trade secrets, the Claimant states, went with them.

I have a two-year-old daughter who loves the Octonauts. In one of my favorite episodes (please skip to 8:22 in this SFW link), the brave Octonaut medic Peso Penguin finds himself caught in the crossfire between two warring tribes of anemone. The anemones, identical except in color, sting each other repeatedly with non-lethal but painful blows. Each fights for its place on either side of a single rock on a beach. They can’t kill each other and they can’t move on either. While they receive the blows, it is Peso in the middle, trapped in their crossfire, who really suffers. This is how I imagine Judge Beeler feels in this case.

Since suit was filed in June 2012, one side claimed that it had reviewed 55,000 documents and that only 8% were responsive. Meanwhile, it claims that it had turned over 200,000 documents. How many of those could have possibly been responsive? The other side, for its part, claimed nearly 400 misappropriated trade secrets in its suit. J. Beeler’s opinion ordered that they focus on only FIVE of them. 5. Out of 400. Digital Miners, friends, I’m the canary here and I’m running out of oxygen just trying to do the math. What’s clear is that the agreed-upon search terms were over-broad, the claims over-reaching, and the judiciary figure over-annoyed. It’s August 2013 and the parties are still tossing non-lethal barbs at each other instead of pulling apart the issues and actually discussing what was stolen, if anything, and what value needs to be repaired, if any.

And, what’s clear is that the problem isn’t about eDiscovery or technology but about human abuse or neglect of eDiscovery or technology. The second page contains a single paragraph and a concluding sentence which sum up everything my recent writing has tried to convey. I quote it here in full (with identifying names removed), so that you don’t have to click if you don’t have the time:

[An associate representing one side] told LTN that the two sides have previously spoken about the possibility of using technology-assisted review, but that nothing had been decided. “I had a good experience with predictive coding in another case of mine,” said [an attorney working on the case]. “I thought it was very effective at culling documents to produce documents in response to one other.”

[The other side] did not respond to a request for comment.

I’m reminded of a famous book on training entitled No Bad Dogs. The implication is that there are only bad owners. E-Discovery is a just a set of tools and a set of problems, neither good or bad. No matter how good our tools are – and I direct you again to my company’s solution, where you will find a host of documents about the solution and free videos about how to use it – the problem will remain that there are humans behind all of the technology who are either abusing the system or simply failing to learn how to properly use it.

Eric Killough is the virtual canary AccessData has released into your digital mine. He is a JD, a CEDS, and a librarian. He thinks about electronic discovery probably more than he should. Please join him here, at Twitter, at LinkedIn, and at his own blog. He’ll be happy to meet you.

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