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December 2006
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February 2007

"Check Your Lawyer's Credentials"

This story about a paralegal masquerading as a lawyer gets even more snarky:

[snip]

"In a 2005 litigation case, [Brian T.] Valery told a court in Stamford, Connecticut that he was a lawyer in good standing. Last week, Connecticut authorities arrested him, and he faces two month for the impersonating-a-lawyer charge and up to five years for perjury (the claim of being a lawyer in good standing).

"What's great is how clients explain Valery's 'unimpressive' skills; one Valery client told the NY Times, 'All first- and second-year attorneys are pretty terrible.'"


"Law Technology News Names Catalyst CR Finalist for Best EDD System"

So, how does the EDD software that your firm or company uses stack up?

"Catalyst Repository Systems, a leading provider of web-based repository software for case, deal and electronic document management, announced today that Catalyst CR has been selected as a finalist for the top Electronic Data Discovery Systems by the readers of Law Technology News.

"'We are especially honored to be a finalist for this award because it reflects the views of our partners and customers who use Catalyst CR,' said John Tredennick, CEO of Catalyst Repository Systems. 'This vote is a testament that CR's functionality, speed and scalability are delivering compelling value to law firms, corporations and insurance companies.'"


"How to Talk to Your Boss About Being Overworked"

This career article comes from CIO magazine, but I think the advice applies to all knowledge/information workers:

"Twelve-hour workdays packed with mile-long to-do lists and meetings on top of meetings. Cell phones and BlackBerrys that are always on, and laptops you take home to squeeze in one more hour of work. With companies [& law firms] firmly focused on growth after several long years of belt-tightening, employees' workloads are heavier than ever. What can you do to cope with on-the-job scope creep? Stand up and say something before your head explodes. 

"To help you effectively broach the subject of your insane workload with your boss, heed the following advice from executive coaches and leadership gurus.

[snip]

"'At the moment of additional assignments, it is critical to not immediately say yes,' says Kay Cannon, a professional business coach in Lexington, Ky., and president of the International Coach Federation. But you also can't simply say that you have too much work to take on new projects. 'Coming in only with problems makes you look like a victim. You want to be perceived as a leader,' says Barbara Somma, a former longtime director at Johnson & Johnson who's now a professional business coach in Sarasota, Fla."


"Help, I’m Surrounded by Jerks"

If you're this unlucky, so sorry!, but help might be found in the books described below:

"CERTAIN mortals have the power to sink hearts and sour moods with lightning speed. The hysterical colleague. The meddlesome neighbor. The crazy in-law. The explosive boss. A mélange of cantankerous individuals, they are united by a single achievement: They make life miserable.

"You call them jerks, dolts and nitwits. Psychologists call them 'difficult people.' In fact they are difficult in so many ways that they have been classified into species like the Complainer, the Whiner and the Sniper, to name but three.

[snip]

"Two decades ago there were only a handful of books offering advice on how to defang the dears. Today there are scores of seminars, workbooks and multimedia tools to help people co-exist with those they wish did not exist.

"In the spring, Career Press is to publish 151 Quick Ideas to Deal With Difficult People by Carrie Mason-Draffen. But numerous resources are already on the market, including the succinctly titled Since Strangling Isn’t an Option by Sandra A. Crowe."

More books dealing with the "jerk problem" follow...


"Corporations Decry Official's Detainee Screed"

So far, corporations aren't following Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Stimson's suggestion that they boycott firms representing Guantanamo detainees:

"It’s a rare day when law firms get called out for their pro bono work.

"But that’s exactly what happened when Pentagon official Charles “Cully” Stimson rattled off a list of firms representing Guantánamo Bay detainees — such as Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw; Jenner & Block; WilmerHale; and Covington & Burling — predicting that businesses would shun their outside counsel for making the companies foot terrorists’ legal bills.

“'I think, quite honestly, when corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms. And I think that is going to have major play in the next few weeks. And we want to watch that play out,' said Stimson in an interview with Federal News Radio Jan. 11.

"And it has played out, but not in quite the way Stimson expected. Instead of Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, DaimlerChrysler, and Pfizer dumping their outside counsel in a fit of political protest, firms have largely gotten support from corporate America and from within their partnership ranks."

You can find a list of firms & detainees represented in this same article. Scroll down to table titled "For Detainees, a Load of Legal Firepower." a Load of Legal Firepower


"JuryTest.net Creates Self-Service Internet Mock Trials"

Very interesting find from EContent magazine:

"JuryTest.net, a provider of online mock trials since 2002, has launched on-demand access to its suite of online case presentation and evaluation tools. The JuryTest system is designed to enable attorneys to record, edit, and analyze case presentations any time of day or night. JuryTest case evaluations usually cost $1,000 - $3,000, depending primarily on case-length and number of jurors. After a lawyer records a case argument using the JuryTest recording line (1.888.JURYTEST), the recording pops up in the lawyer's casefolder on the JuryTest website, where the lawyer can add documents, photographs, or witness video and select questions for jurors to address."

Also see this post about a similar web-based sevice: TrialJuries.


"LAWYERS ARE FROM MARS, PARALEGALS ARE FROM VENUS"

Hmm, pretty right-on discussion from law firm coach Cheryl J. Leone:

"Having learned one thing during my 42 years of law office management simply is this: Lawyers and paralegals don't talk the same language and they don't think the same way. They live on different planets, breath different air, and they even have different customs. Yet, if there is ever a time and a place and a need for both people to be on the same page, it is with the relationship and communication skills that exist between lawyers and paralegals.

[snip]

"Lawyers tend to under-estimate the project, tend to assume that the paralegal understands what needs to be done, doesn't allow time for questions, doesn't give information, and then when the project is not delivered as the lawyer thought tends to judge the paralegal on lack of performance. It all started with the message.

[snip]

HOW TO CHANGE A NON-WORKING RELATIONSHIP

"You might start by asking your lawyer to read this article. At the very least it tells the lawyer you want a new tomorrow - a good professional working relationship. There are always exceptions to the rule but I tend to find that lawyers want to be good leaders, good employers, and want to improve the process so they become efficient. Paralegals need to stop being enablers and be leaders with their lawyers."


"11 Time Management Tips"

Yes, the challenge of smart "time management"! How do you control work time?

"Do you feel the need to be more organized and/or more productive? Do you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven't accomplished much?

"Time management skills are especially important for small business people [& paralegals!], who often find themselves performing many different jobs during the course of a single day. These time management tips will help you increase your productivity and stay cool and collected.

[snip]

2) Find out where you're wasting time.

"Many of us are prey to time-wasters that steal time we could be using much more productively.

[snip]

6) Prioritize ruthlessly.

"You should start each day with a time management session prioritizing the tasks for that day and setting your performance benchmark."


"Legal secretaries in short supply"

Has our firm or company experienced this staffing problem? Are you doing more secretarial work as a result?

"They might not have the fancy degrees, academic honors or journal publications that usually impress law firms, but there's nobody more sought after right now than legal secretaries.

"'There really is a true supply problem,' said Steve Ferber, director of human resources at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. 'We've had trouble even filling an internship program.'

[snip]

"To compensate for the shortages, salaries of legal secretaries have increased in recent years. In Pittsburgh, a new legal secretary might start in the upper-$20,000-a-year range, but experienced secretaries can earn more than $60,000 _ more if they work overtime."


"Increase Your Salary in 2007"

Here are "10 Expert Tips" on getting a higher salary from PayScale, provider of "global online compensation information":

"Determined to increase your salary in 2007? Follow these tips from Reesa Staten, vice president of communications and director of research at recruiting firm Robert Half International and Anna Ivey, a Boston-based career and admissions counselor, to increase your salary this year:

1. Get comfortable negotiating salary raises.
"'Women fall behind here, because they generally aren’t as aggressive and fall farther and farther behind with their salaries. You can’t be shy about asking to be paid what you’re worth,' Ivey said. Along these lines, she said, it’s important to keep detailed documentation of your achievements.

[snip]

9. Sharpen your communication skills.
"'I don’t care what role you’re in. If you can read and speak well, you are way ahead of the pack,' Ivey said."

Good luck making a case for your well-deserved raise!