Advice

Biglaw litigators may enjoy healthy pay, but they are also the target of some ribbing — particularly from the trial-lawyers bar. Anyone who has practiced litigation in Biglaw has heard that they are at best a “deposition lawyer,” better suited for churning out endless motions than for performing in front of a judge or jury. There is no doubt that for the majority of Biglaw litigators deposition experience is much easier to come by than trial experience. And while trials are definitely more intensive and fun, in my experience preparing for a critical deposition in a patent case is in a way more difficult. Unlike at trial, where nearly all of the direct and cross examinations are scripted, there is an element of the unknown at a deposition.

When it is an important witness, such as a technical or damages expert, everyone involved in the case knows that a deposition can be a make-or-break event. In fact, one of the things that makes preparing for trial testimony easier than preparing for a deposition is that when we prepare for trial, we rely heavily on prior testimony in the case. The best source for that prior testimony? Deposition transcripts. But going into a critical deposition, there is much more uncertainty. Everyone on the team worries if the witness will hold up. Does not matter how experienced the expert is, or how senior a business person. The wrong answer can doom a case.

While it may seem like deposition defense is a thankless job, it also provides a priceless opportunity to “hear” your opponent’s approach to important issues in the case. And that can be even more valuable than trying to extract information from a well-prepared witness at a deposition you end up taking at another point in the case.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Beyond Biglaw: Effective Deposition Defense (Part 1)”

I recently had the good fortune to hear Ian McEwan (author of the wonderful Atonement, among other books) and Steven Pinker (a name I’d never heard before — yet more proof of my vast ignorance) discuss what makes good writing. McEwan is of course a gifted novelist; Pinker is a cognitive scientist who thinks about (among other things) how children acquire language skills. This made for an interesting discussion.

Both authors had recently published new books. If you don’t want to spring for the price of Pinker’s book, you can read the nutshell version of his thesis in his recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

I stole the title of this column from Pinker’s talk. Pinker says that many people blame the internet for the younger generation’s inability to write clearly. But if Twitter’s the culprit — “the kids these days can write only 140-character sentence fragments” — then the world should have been awash in pristine prose in the days before Twitter.

We were not, of course. Most writing sucked in the ’90s, too. And in the ’80s. And the ’70s. And, according to Pinker, people have been complaining about bad writing in literally every generation since the invention of the printing press.

So it would be nice — but wrong — to blame today’s bad writing on modern technology.

If technology isn’t the culprit, then what is? Pinker’s thesis is one that I suspect all good legal writers have known subconsciously all along. But it’s worth speaking the words out loud and thinking about how to use this concept to improve both your writing and the writing of those you edit. . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Proof That The Internet Did Not Destroy The Ability To Write”

Keith Lee

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

— Aristotle

The trick is not holding other people accountable, but holding yourself accountable. It’s the central starting point of developing an appropriate professional mindset — recognizing that you are personally responsible for your actions and results (or lack thereof) delivered to clients.

You must strive to do the best you can in all situations. While it will make a difference in the quality of the work you produce, more importantly it makes a difference in you. Pushing yourself to deliver better work, better services, and better solutions will allow you to self-create new challenges and excitement in your job. It will help keep monotony and routine at bay.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Where Do You Fit On The Ladder?”


“Because of the hugely influential role that the Fortune 500 companies play in the business world, studying their adoption and use of social media blogs offers important insights into the future of commerce. These corporations provide a look at emergent social media trends among America’s most successful companies.”

Fortune 500 Blogs Validate Social Media Presence by Jack Loechner

A Fortunate Benchmark

According to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research 2014 study focusing on Fortune 500 social media adoption:

  • 157 or 31% of the F500 companies are blogging.
  • Companies ranked in the top 200 (45%), consistently out blogged those in the bottom 200 (35%).
  • There’s “no indication that blogging in other business sectors is waning” despite a small decline.
  • Compare: 52% of the fastest-growing companies in the US blogged in 2013 (Inc. 500).
  • 413 or 83% of the F500 have corporate Twitter accounts. That’s a 6% increase over last year.
  • 401 or 80% of F500 are on Facebook. That’s a 10% increase over last year.
  • 254 or 51% of F500 use Foursquare compared to only 44 companies last year.

The study concludes:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Like You Really Need To Validate Your Social Media Presence….”

I have previously discussed some of the hazards of storing your client files in the cloud and some of the safety precautions you can take to protect yourself. This year has really turned out some great advances in cloud storage, so I want to now run through the top three cloud choices for lawyers and evaluate the pros and cons.

I was an early adopter of Dropbox. I got the free 2gb account and slowly worked it up to about 30 gb through referrals and other promotions. When I decided that I needed more space, I decided to open up a paid Google Drive account because it was cheaper for large storage. I used that for my archives. Later, when I migrated over to Office 365, I moved my files over to OneDrive because I wanted to use the advantages of SharePoint. I slowly moved my files from Dropbox over to OneDrive (called SkyDrive back then) and experimented with the features until I was comfortable completely migrating my stuff over. I was simultaneously using all three because of the drawbacks that each had.

In March of this year, Google shot first and dramatically cut its pricing. The $9.99 a month that I was paying for 200 gb of online storage suddenly got upgraded to 1tb for the same price. The following month, Microsoft responded and offered 1tb of storage on OneDrive to all of its Office 365 subscribers. On late August this year, Dropbox joined the war, offering 1tb of storage for the same $9.99 a month price. Although I had most of my files in OneDrive, I needed a large repository for my large files, like the video files from 8-hour depositions or focus groups we had done. OneDrive only let you store files up to 2gb and I had lots of video files larger than that. On September 10, Microsoft announced that they now support files up to 10 gb and they have tripled their syncing speed.

After all of these developments, how do the cloud services compare?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Begun The Cloud War Has: Cloud Storage Competition Gets Serious”

How do you think we pick lawyers to defend us in litigation?

Judging from some of the emails I get, this is the picture in your mind’s eye:

“Hey, boss, we just got sued in New York. We’ll have to defend ourselves.”

“Shoot! New York City! Do they have any lawyers there?”

“Damned if I know. Lemme grab the New York City phone directory and take a look.”

An hour later:

“Good news, boss. There’re a whole gaggle of lawyers in New York. I think we should hire Bigg & Mediocre.”

“Why’s that?”

“They have an 800 number, so we’ll save some money. And they have a whole bunch of lawyers; one of ‘em probably knows what this ‘RICO’ thing stands for. And their website is really fancy; you wouldn’t believe it.”

“Great! Call that 800 number and ask them to connect you to a litigator.”

If that’s what corporations are doing, then at least you know how to develop business . . . .

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “How Corporations Actually Choose Outside Counsel”

Keith Lee

There is an old story that tells the tale of three stonemasons. A stranger walks up and asks the stonemasons what they are doing. The first stonemason pauses and says, “I’m making a living.” The second stonemason replies, “I am making the best stone work in the country.” The third stonemason stands up with a distant look in his eyes and says, “I am making a cathedral.”

The first stonemason is a worker bee. He is there to collect a paycheck, nothing more. It is unlikely he will ever find success without someone else’s direction — if he ever finds it at all. A low-level associate. Or doc reviewer. A emp worker. The second stonemason is a craftsman for sure, but lacking in the big picture of what he is doing. An associate. Perhaps a partner someday. The third stonemason is the man who understands the ultimate goal of what their enterprise is all about. He is the senior partner. The one who has clients. One with the will and drive to start his own firm….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Can You Build A Cathedral?”

Fact: Android has the majority of the marketshare (about 52%). Other fact: iPhone usage is disproportionately high among lawyers (about 67%). Third fact: Most people who have iPhones or Androids cannot talk about which phone is better and remain civil. Despite that, maybe it’s time for us lawyers on both sides to sit down and look at which phones are better for our profession.

As far as innovation, Apple took a clear early lead with the first iPhone (despite some popular opinions to the contrary) and converted a lot of cult followers lawyers. That was a long time ago. That was about the same time Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy for the 2008 Presidential race. A lot of phones have come out since then and there have been a lot of changes in how attorneys use their phones.

I have been using Android phones for about 4 years now, most recently, the Note 2 and the Note 3. I got a huge phone because I use it to read my emails, read my work documents that I have stored in the cloud, and take notes with my stylus. My colleague and fellow litigation technology consultant, Jason Peterson, has been using iPhones since the beginning and just upgraded to the iPhone 6 Plus. Together, we are going to give you an objective rundown on things you need to consider which phone makes the best phone for lawyers…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “What Is The Best Phone For Lawyers: iPhone 6 Plus Or Note 4?”

Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from the ATL Career Center’s team of expert contributors. Today, Ann K. Levine, a law school admission consultant and owner of LawSchoolExpert.com, offers helpful tips on how to approach law school.

There is a lot of information right here on ATL that would dissuade most people from applying to law school. But, since readers keep coming back to read these posts year after year and month after month, I have a hunch that there are a lot of you insisting on going ahead and applying to law school anyway. In which case, for those individuals, I want to share some insights about the right way to approach law school and the law school application process.

Articulate Your Reason & Goal

Continue reading at the ATL Career Center….

Keith Lee

Last week I wrote about the times when you experience loss in your career. It is a thing that everyone will face at some point. I touched on how to set aside and move on from these losses in order to continue on with your day, serving your clients, and doing your job.

But lawyers often let themselves get wrapped up in their jobs, letting them define who they are. When you are at work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. five days a week and a few hours on the weekend, your job can come to define who you are whether you want it to or not.

You have to push back….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Sometimes You Have To Push Back”

Page 3 of 931234567...93