As part of its mission to provide lawyers with a better starting point, Practical Law offers free, on-demand webcasts that you can listen to at your convenience. Some of the topics available include:
- Drafting Contractual Fiduciary Duties in LLC Agreements – New Developments and Best Practices>> Listen Now
- Essentials of Software as a Service (SaaS) Contracts: What to Include and What to Leave Behind>>Listen Now
- Hiring from a Competitor: Practical Tips to Minimize Litigation Risks>>Listen Now
- The Privilege: Educating Management and Employees on Attorney-Client and Work Product Protection>>Listen Now
- Developing Informed Litigation Budgets>>Listen Now
- Best Practices in Contract Management: Techniques to Make Lawyers More Effective>>Listen Now
If you think most legal technology misses the mark, LexisNexis Firm Manager® wants to change your mind. Read more about it here.
Built with input from hundreds of solo and small-firm attorneys across the country, it’s made for practitioners who’d rather build the firm of their dreams than deal with the hassles of running a business.
· Go Mobile, Stay Connected.
See all your firm’s information, wherever you are, on whatever device you’re using. Access and update client files, enter billing, search & share documents and more. It’s just like you’re in the office, only you’re not.
When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
If you are looking to fulfill CLE requirements by the end of 2013, look no further! Practical law is offering webinars on a variety of important topics, available free of charge:
What Commercial Litigators and their Clients Need to Know about Bankruptcy
December 5 @ 1 pm EST – With so many complex commercial litigation matters ending up in bankruptcy court, this session will provide need-to-know information for litigators on bankruptcy proceedings, effects of the automatic stay, dischargeability of debt and more. 1* CLE credit. Register now.
Current Trends in Tender Offers: Exploring the Issues and Impact of New DGCL Section 251(h)
December 10 @ 1 pm EST – A review of trends and highlights from tender offers launched since the August 1 effective date of DGCL section 251(h). 1* CLE credit. Register now.
A Novel by Steven A. Beckelman
“Why does a hearse horse snicker hauling a lawyer away?” The Last Lawyer Book presents the New Jersey legal system at its finest in a dispute over a sixty million dollar estate case featuring tainted lawyers, crooked judges and craven clients.
Available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook or in paperback.
Follow Steven on Twitter @TLLB2013
BYOD is so great for so many reasons (For individuals: fewer things to carry around, everything in one place, no device confusion, you can use your shiny new phone more often. For corporations: less expensive, less need for support/IT, fewer whiny employees asking why they can’t use their iPhone/Nexus 5/Surface instead of the boring old Blackberry) that it’s easy to ignore pitfalls. But the mingling of personal and corporate data on a single device does create a lot of headache, and when you think about it, the privacy implications of BYOD are kind of obvious and something both corporates and users should be aware of.
Most disquieting to employee users of BYOD may be that when it comes to litigation, the fact that the phone is yours means nothing. If the phone or data on it are requested as part of a warrant or relevant civil e-discovery request, it must be turned over – with all of your personal photos, texts, banking information and Words with Friends high scores along with it. This can come as somewhat of a shock, not only because you are turning over private data that may potentially be searched by co-workers and third parties, but because you’ll be without your device as long as it is part of an investigation or discovery process. It’s enough to make you think twice about the ‘burdens’ of carrying two devices!
What if we just gave them money?
That’s how the Prestige Rewards Program was born. We wanted to find a way to incentivize the best attorneys to let us help them in their job search – after all, they’re the ones our clients want to hire.
Associates with top-tier academic and firm credentials. Partners with portable books of business. These are the attorneys our clients are always asking us about; we just had to find the best way to catch their attention.
Earlier iterations of our Prestige Rewards Program involved offers of coordinated handshakes, karaoke duets and home cooked meals – but those never really got off the ground. Eventually we got around to money. What better way to reward the most marketable attorneys for working with us than giving them a portion of the fee we generate for placing them?
That’s the Prestige Rewards Program in a nutshell: if you’re an associate with elite academic and firm credentials or a partner with a portable book of business we’ll give you money if we place you in your next job – up to $15,000 for associates and up to $150,000 for partners and partner groups.
“There are so many facets that go into creating a business from the ground up,” said Southard. “We needed someone to help us look at the big picture and prioritize what was most important.”
Joseph Campbell, the famous American mythologist, writer and lecturer, talked about common themes and similar patterns that are found in myths and narratives from around the world. He described this concept as ‘The Hero’s Journey.’
Think about any movie that captures your attention. It is comprised of a formula that includes the main character (the protagonist or ‘hero’), the adversary, the conflict between the two, and the resolution. There are other players involved in the story, such as the mentors and helpers. The journey begins with a Call to Adventure and you find the main character embarking over the Threshold into the Unknown, facing Challenges, experiencing Revelation, going through Transformation and reaching Atonement. Most stories that we enjoy follow this formula. In some ways it is a part of who we are, and we want to experience this in story as it gives a framework and context to our own personal journey.
These stories bring us together as a society. Campbell suggests that these stories are what give us meaning and purpose in our lives. In fact, they are so powerful that stories serve as a binding agent, almost like a mortar, between us.
Your law firm is a unique social ecosystem with layers of interdependent actors who are trying to accomplish different goals in different areas, but can only reach those goals by working together as a unified team. Law firms can be fragile, and as I have mentioned before, a law firm is a collective of peers held together only by conditional promises to each other.
How effective are my trial presentations? It’s a common question that any good litigator will ask multiple times over the course of his or her career. As a previous trial consultant and now as a product manager for LexisNexis® Sanction®, I have spent a lot of time talking with legal teams about how they can improve their trial presentations and drive better outcomes for their clients. During landmark cases in which I was involved, we could not afford to have technology difficulties and awkward lags in momentum; it was imperative that our team was prepared before trial. As technology moves beyond novelty to an expectation in a growing number of trials, it’s important to periodically review your effectiveness and aptitude in the courtroom.
1. Keep Your Equipment Current
A sure-fire way to bomb in front of a jury is to have outdated equipment that fails during your most critical time. If your equipment (laptop, projector) is more than 3 years old, it is time to look for something new. Projectors come in many degrees of brightness as well as resolutions. Look for a projector that is at least 3,500 lumens in brightness and projects at a native 16:10 aspect ratio. That will match your new laptop when you are connecting for a presentation. A portable screen ensures that you have sufficient space to display your images and videos. If you do get a wide-screen projector at a native 16:10 aspect ratio, make sure your screen matches.
2. Mix and Match Presentation Methods
Monotony is one of your greatest enemies in the courtroom. Jurors’ minds can wander if you stick with one presentation method throughout the trial. You know that you need to be clear and compelling, but so do the various aspects of your presentation. Keep multi in mind when you incorporate multimedia into your case. In addition, don’t be afraid to incorporate traditional methods like large timelines and white boards/butcher paper. Every point to be made in a presentation does not require the use of electronic methods. Keeping things fresh and changing the focus of attention will maintain the audience’s attention.
I spent the last few days of my vacation with a relative in a hospice home. The facility itself was quiet, but within earshot of a neighboring noisy Montessori school only a few yards away. The children laughed and screamed loudly on the playground in a melee of activity. This really bothered me. Couldn’t the teaching staff show some courtesy by at least trying to keep the noise down?
I then noticed that all the windows and doors of the hospice home were propped open, especially those that were facing the Montessori school. I saw that even some guests were sitting outside of their rooms, quietly watching and listening to the noisy playful children.
It then became apparent to me that these loud happy sounds were not damaging, but nurturing. Either through divine intervention or very bad zoning, the relationship between these two facilities grew into a symbiotic balance of healing and harmony, with the Montessori school doling out generous doses of energy and power to the guests in the hospice home.
Brian Belowich never really thought of leaving BigLaw to start his own practice. Over his fourteen-year career, his litigation practice was thriving and his clients were happy – but Brian still felt like something was missing.
He didn’t realize what it was until his daughter’s soccer game brought him back in touch with an old friend (who just happened to work at NexFirm). That’s when he decided to seriously consider the possibility of going out on his own.
“NexFirm put together a comprehensive business plan and guided us through the launch process,” Brian recalled. The findings were clear; the risks of going out on his own were actually lower than staying put. The rest was just details.
On May 1, 2013, with the help of NexFirm, Brian and his longtime friend and colleague, Dan Walsh, formed Belowich & Walsh LLP, a law firm specializing in complex commercial litigation, real estate and construction litigation, arbitration and appeals.
Liz Murray overcame tremendous odds as she transformed herself from a homeless teen to a Harvard graduate. Her transformation was portrayed in a 2003 Lifetime Television movie, From Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story, which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. Murray reduced her very personal story to writing in September 2010, in a moving, loving, beautiful autobiography, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard (affiliate link), which within one week landed on the New York Times bestseller list.
Murray’s accolades are numerous, including The White House Project Role Model Award, a Christopher Award, and Oprah Winfrey’s first-ever Chutzpah Award. Murray is the founder and director of Manifest Living, a company based in New York that aims to empower anyone who has the desire to change their life. She is also a motivational speaker and will be the keynote speaker on November 8, 2013, at the National Association of Women Lawyers’ Ninth Annual General Counsel Institute in New York….
She called me and gave me the bad news after the interview, saying she lost interest in joining my client, telling me it was because the firm was not serious about growing the office. I was surprised when I heard this because the firm’s managing partner told me this search was a priority. I asked her why she felt that way and she said that one of the two partners in the meeting kept checking his blackberry during the interview. She ended up joining another firm.
Two weeks later, this same law firm interviewed another lateral partner candidate I submitted. I asked him how the meeting went, and the first thing he told me was that one of the two partners in the meeting kept checking his blackberry during the interview. Two months later, he joined another firm.
If hiring successful lateral partners with loyal clients is a priority to your firm, then everyone involved must appear to make it so. At the partner level, the deals are fragile and are lost from these little things such as a misunderstood comment, a misinterpreted tone of voice, or a minor sign of unintended disrespect such as a quick glance at the email during the interview. These ‘tells’ influence perceptions and ultimately decisions. I doubt the partner checking his email would have done that on a meeting with a prospective client to get work.
It’s one of the two most important concerns for small law firm attorneys: your bottom line. If your firm is not profitable, even the other top small law firm concern, quality legal practice, will falter. Profitability matters.
With clients pressing your income down, and economic changes pushing costs up, how can a small firm grow profitability? Karl Florida of Thomson Reuters applies smart business practices to the current small law firm environment, and concludes that one thing can drive short-term gains and establish long-term stability: technology.
In the Independent Thinking article, How Technology Drives Short- and Long-Term Profitability for Small Law Firms.
Download the free article to read about:
Dear Reader, we’ve covered many topics over the past months: iPhones, Octonauts, Justins. We’ve covered TAR, cyber-security and playing well in the schoolyard (OK, I’m double-dipping, that was the Octonauts too). Surprisingly, one thing I haven’t covered, really, is probably only the biggest topic of them all in e-discovery: we have too much electronically stored information.
As I’ve detailed before, pre-TAR review workflows did not really fit the work in front of us or the skills we had with which to do it. We have been trying to review document collections as if we were reading novels: beginning with the first document and reading our way through until the end, hoping that we captured enough details to pass the triers’-of-fact exam at the end of the process. At best, we could be a bit more skillful when we had an index to guide us but an index is only as reliable as its input and, actually, we really needed to read the whole stack to create the index in the first place.
But, things are beginning to change. We have TAR now, the Indexobot 3000 that will crawl through your collection and attempt to predict, at least, which documents are not responsive. We have increasingly “intelligent” OCR technologies. We have indexes automatically generated by our databases. So, yeah, we have some assistance. But, we still have too many documents that are being generated too fast for us to make sense of in any meaningful way without expending increasingly onerous billable hours of review time.
And all of this is just to get a sense of what’s in the collection. We’re not even looking for the needles yet. We’re just trying to find out how much hay there is and what state it’s in.
Well, today, I’d like to introduce to the visualization modules . . . your best shortcuts to the best stuff!
I’ll never forget the first time I was kicked out of a casino.
About eight years ago I was a professional card-counting blackjack player. Two alumni of the legendary MIT blackjack team mentored me, so for a year and a half I had a ‘side business’ of exploiting casinos through the legal means of gaining an advantage over them by counting cards.
Getting busted by a casino for counting cards meant that, once they discovered me counting, they would either ban me from the tables or they would assign a ‘pit boss’ to track my moves and tell the dealer to reshuffle anytime I made a big bet. It rendered my advantage back to a negative percentage, which meant I was gambling with negative expectation just like everyone else. It’s pointless to gamble unless you can control the circumstances and give yourself a positive edge over the competition.
The game of blackjack has a ‘memory’ and there is an inherent defect in the game that we can turn to our advantage if we learn how to bet in proportion to our advantage, and we can predict the future by paying attention to the cards that have already been dealt. The first time I was busted was at the Mirage in Vegas.
The pit boss tapped me firmly on the shoulder and told me I had to refrain from blackjack for the rest of the evening but I could play as much craps and roulette as I wanted. “But that would be gambling,” I quipped. “Why would I want to play at a disadvantage?” He didn’t appreciate my humor so I left and came back six hours later during the next shift.
During this time I became adept at making decisions based on probabilities, and learned the art and science of ‘game theory.’
I use ‘game theory’ in helping my law firm clients gain a competitive edge in the game of lateral hiring. Lateral hiring is a zero sum game which means that there are not enough rainmakers with big books of business to go around, and those firms not growing their headcount through lateral hiring will end up in a downward trajectory and will lose out to law firms which are adept at this skill.
Tip #1: PROCESS: Flow out your process using a visual diagram.