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March 2006
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May 2006

"ADMINISTRATIVE PROFESSIONALS DAY: Office boss"

Let's hear a rousing "thanks!" for hard-working office staffers:

"Joyce Josaitis orders office supplies, fixes broken copy machines, administers employee benefits and trains new staff. She's also the first face and voice customers encounter at LaMont Title Corp. in Detroit.

"Josaitis, 41, of Eastpointe is the office manager at LaMont, and, according to her boss, Catharine LaMont, the place would be chaos without her.

[snip]

"Josaitis and 4.1 million other administrative assistants and secretaries who work in the United States are being recognized this week during Administrative Professionals Week. The holiday was renamed in 2000 from Secretary's Week. Administrative Professionals Day is Wednesday."


"Cottage a good legal source"

Don't let the headline confuse you (like it did me!), this is a fun article:

"It's an old-school lawyer's paradise: Four rooms crammed with books bearing catchy titles like 'Corpus Juris Secundum,' 'Bender's Federal Practice Forms' and 'West's Annotated Mississippi Code.'

"It's not the Ole Miss or University of Memphis law library, but the pink cottage at 2615 Panola Street in Hernando fills a niche for lawyers and ordinary citizens.

[snip]

"The library operates without library cards, borrower fees or official fines.

"'It's on the honor system,' Hernando lawyer Gerald Chatham said. 'You sign out for a book and you sign back in when you return it.'

[snip]

"Sonya Homan of Southaven, a paralegal student, has used the library for school-related research. She's scheduled to get her associate degree from Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia in May.

"'I've used it when I was taking my legal research classes," she said. "It was a tremendous help.'"


"What's a Little Metadata Mining Between Colleagues?"

So, an organization sends a document to another without deleting the doc's metadata. And then it complains about that data being acessed!

"When Florida Bar president-elect Henry Coxe III brought up metadata mining to the Bar's board of governors, some board members conceded they had never heard of the practice.

"Coxe himself had only recently become aware that electronic documents could be mined for information about their history when it happened to a partner at this firm. At the board of governors meeting in December, he recounted the first time he became aware of metadata mining and its consequences.

"The partner at Coxe's firm had sent a brief to a lawyer at another firm who was working on a similar case. Based on the brief, which was sent electronically, the other firm was able to reconstruct every change that had been made to the document, including e-mails between Coxe's partner and his client -- a potential violation of attorney client privilege.

"Alarmed by the experience, Coxe urged the board to declare unethical the practice of culling through electronic documents to find hidden data about the history of the document.

[snip]

"Metadata and the law [PDF link] has also been cropping up in the news in recent years, as more lawyers and journalists become aware of metadata's existence. In 2004, SCO Group, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., filed lawsuits against DaimlerChrysler and AutoZone. However, metadata remained in the lawsuit revealing that it had initially intended to sue Bank of America, but switched defendants. The revelation, which was made by the media, not opposing counsel, amounted to a gift-wrapped argument for the defense."


"Gear Up for Great War Rooms"

Excellent how-to info from Legal Times:

"When most people use the term 'war room,' they might conjure up images of camouflaged men and the thud-thud-thud of helicopter blades. But in reality, a properly planned litigation war room can become a respite from the day-to-day grind of trial -- a place where, in addition to everything else, you can brainstorm new ideas and strategies with your fellow trial attorneys.

"A properly planned war room can be a sanctuary, where you can run and make extra copies, grab a backup CD because yours does not work or fax an important document to your expert witness. Although trial is analogous to war, your war room doesn't have to be warlike.

"Even if your trial is in the same town where you regularly do business, you may want to have a war room that is close to the courthouse, such as in a conference room in a nearby hotel. It will serve as your central gathering place where you assemble your trial team to get the brunt of your trial work done.

"And even if your firm has a war room set up where you work, I suggest that you set up war rooms close to the courthouse for major cases, cases with lots of witnesses or cases with high stakes. It allows you to focus completely on the matter at hand without the other distractions of the office."

Article written by Stacy Jackson, corporate counsel at IE Discovery, provider of discovery management solutions.


"GCs Brace for Work Force's Shifting Sands"

Texas Lawyer says demographic changes forecast more age bias suits & showdowns over telecommuting:

"Trends -- demographic, technological, cultural and political -- shape a general counsel's world.

"Here are three inexorable trends guaranteed to impact a GC's life: an aging work force, a multicultural work force and a geographic migration [PDF link]. The businesses that GCs represent have yet to grasp the full story of the baby boomers, because the numbers -- as reported in the March 2006 issue of Fast Company -- are mind-boggling:

"Seventy-eight million Americans begin entering the retirement zone in 2008, with 64 million eligible to retire in 2010. The next generation of workers can't fill the slots vacated by retirees fast enough."


"Time to put the legal in paralegal"

Intriguing news from Canada -- paralegals may soon be regulated:

"Across Canada, paralegals provide a variety of services for a fraction of the price lawyers charge, but they do it with no training standards, no regulations and no professional body to license or discipline them.

"Ontario is set to change that.

"Bill 14 will regulate paralegals for the first time in Canada. The omnibus legislation, designed to increase access to justice, passed second reading last week and is expected to go to public hearings soon.

"Few, including paralegals themselves, disagree with the idea the profession needs regulating. But not everyone thinks the government's legislation has it quite right.

"Some lawyers think it doesn't make a clear distinction between paralegals and lawyers, leaving people vulnerable to being taken advantage of by paralegals.

"Some paralegals [PDF link] think the legislation's design will drive them out of business, leaving people with no choice but to use higher-priced lawyers."


UNICEF Humanitarian Action in Malawi

Report of much-needed help coming from paralegals:

"UNICEF will continue to protect children and women from sexual and economic exploitation in partnership with the Government of Malawi and NGOs. UNICEF will also continue to further enhance the partnerships with paralegals to monitor prisons and provide legal aid to children in conflict with the law,

"The first phase of the Zero Tolerance Campaign on Child Abuse will continue until June 2006, where after an evaluation will be conducted. Second phase of the campaign will incorporate lessons learned and recommendations from the evaluation."


"Balancing Life and Practice: Getting Lawyers To Reset Moral Compass"

Lawyers need more spirituality so they won't be so miserable, so says this article from the Boston Globe.

"Daniel Webster: You seem to have an excellent acquaintance with the law, sir.

"The Devil: Sir, that is no fault of mine. Where I come from, we have always gotten the pick of the Bar. (Stephen Vincent Benet , 'The Devil and Daniel Webster')

[snip]

"The idea that lawyers need a dose of spirituality finds a modern prophet in Northeastern University law professor David Hall, who says his profession is in depression and must openly reclaim spiritual values to reconnect with its noble mission. Some have disagreed with his prescription, but there's evidence that the legal field is indeed in a funk."


Virtual Assistant Can Complete Your Team

Interesting approach to building legal teams:

Lawyers function best as members of a team. No lawyer can do everything. A paralegal or administrative assistant whose qualifications and skills meet your needs will effectively extend the reach and quality of your practice. You can hire such a person to work full time, on your payroll. However, technology increasingly affords an efficient alternative: the VA, or virtual assistant.

"VAs are paralegals or other administrative specialists who work offsite and online, creating work product to your specifications and tailored to your practice. They represent an extension of the outsourcing that lawyers and law firms have done for years. Once that outsourcing was limited to mailing and records storage services. More recently it has come to include transcription of voice files for depositions, accounting support for billing, data entry, litigation support graphics, and legal research. Such outsourced services are transparent to the client – to such an extent that they now can be performed a continent away."


"Avoiding Mobile Computing Burnout"

Another good article found & submitted to The Estrin Report by Celia C. Elwell, RP:

"It’s no secret that lawyers and legal staff have high-pressure jobs. As if we were not multitasking enough, mobile technology makes us even more accessible to client service and other demands. Untamed, it leads to information overload, multiple interruptions throughout the day and more stress.

[snip]

"Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program, recommends setting parameters with clients during the initial interview. 'Communicate that you will normally get back to them within 24 hours, not including weekends,' Calloway said. 'Share that you process messages on a first-in, first-out basis. Think about how you are going to handle the client relationship and what mobile access means.' The same goes for managing your relationship with your employer or co-workers. Calloway said legal professionals often can set themselves up for failure by committing to do too much, but setting realistic goals and ground rules will help you manage your workload."