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February 2007
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April 2007

"E-Discovery Survival Guide For Corporate Counsel"

Make sure you can do your part to help prevent "death by e-discovery." Here's the complete article by lawyers Jeanine Bermel & Art Smith:

"While no one course of action is appropriate for all corporations, there are some basic steps to prepare for that first e-discovery challenge, none of which guarantee success. On the other hand, failure to recognize the challenges of complying with the e-discovery rules is more likely to lead to disaster.

"Here are a few thoughts on recommended survival tactics to maneuver through the e-discovery minefield.

1. Update and enforce your records management policy.

"Prudence and good corporate management dictate that every business should have a records management policy [PDF]. Such a policy informs employees about the documents they are required to keep as a matter of law or regulation or business necessity. It establishes procedures for the maintenance of records, and equally important, it outlines when records may permissibly be destroyed either because the legal retention period has expired or the business necessity no longer exists."

Authors Art Smith and Jeanine Bermel are members of the Dispute Resolution Practice Group at Husch & Eppenberger in St. Louis and regularly advise their corporate clients on issues relating to electronic discovery.


"14 Killer Interview Questions"

Whether you're hiring -- or hoping to be hired -- knowing the key questions (suggested by CareerBuilder), has gotta help:

"Interviewing can be a tedious and stressful time. Which questions should you ask, which ones are appropriate? Are you going to pick the right person for the position? Below is a list of the top 14 interview questions hiring managers find most effective. These inquiries range from basic to complex and give descriptions of what the question accomplishes. Some of the questions are very straight forward and some are tricky ones that bring out the candidates personality and behavior without directly asking them.

"What circumstance brings you here today?
This is one of the best opening questions ever. This open ended question surprises many candidates. If they do not respond quickly, just sit quietly and wait for the response. Some candidates reveal problems with their current employer, potential insubordination, and both positive or negative character traits.

[snip]

"What tools or habits do you use to keep organized?
Instead of asking are you an organized person, this makes the interviewee prove and describe their organizational skills. Most hiring managers expect that their employees have some type of system to stay organized. Whether it is using a planner, or electronic calendar, these tools confirm that the potential employee is reliable and responsible."


"Leave It to Lawyers to Think of Beating the Clock Like This ..."

I'm both surprised & not, really, after reading this post pointed to by Legal Blog Watch:

"Every once in a while, we lawyers hear about conduct by our colleagues that's so deceptive that it makes us embarrassed to be part of the profession. David Lat offers an example of the type of activity that I'm describing in this post about a law firm that discovered a way to give itself a couple of extra days to make its filings.

"According to the judge's order posted at Lat's site..., the law firm of Snell and Wilmer figured out that it could take advantage of a Utah federal court's after-hours filing system by stamping the first page of a filing on the due date and returning it to the office. The firm then attached the stamped cover sheet to a pleading completed a day or two later and slipped it back into the after-hours box. Apparently, the firm assumed that court staff would assume that the pleading had been overlooked when the box was previously emptied."

Lawyers cheating! I'm shocked....


"Classify paralegals as professionals, not administrative staff"

So, is this a welcome statement from Altman Weil & the Law Department Management blog? I think so!

"Classify paralegals as professionals, not administrative staff, so you can pay for appropriate quality

"A good point made by a consultant, James Wilber of Altman Weil, appears in InsideCounsel, Feb. 2007 at 54. Wilber has observed that 'often corporations classify paralegals as administrative staff, with salaries too low to attract highly trained professionals.' He makes the logical recommendation: redesign the salary structure so that paralegal positions – at least senior level paralegals – are in the higher salary band of professionals. Even a few thousand dollars a year more makes a big difference in the quality of paralegal you can then attract." [Emphasis added.]


"Six Hard-Learned Lessons About EDD"

New court opinion reminds both law firms & clients "to focus on e-discovery early in litigation":

"With the long-anticipated revisions to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure having only recently come into effect, the sense of uncertainty that has historically surrounded electronic discovery promises to linger. While the bar will watch with keen interest as the courts begin the slow process of interpreting and applying these new rules, a recent opinion, In re NTL, Inc. Securities Litigation [PDF file; Nos. 02-Civ.-3013, -7377, 2007 WL 241344 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 30 2007)]. serves as a pointed reminder that basic issues of electronic discovery practice continue to trip up even large and sophisticated litigants.

"The case also supplies some useful lessons for those who remain befuddled by discovery in the digital age. Although the problems presented by the need to retain, collect, review and produce electronically stored information can draw attorneys into unfamiliar technological territory, In re NTL teaches that the fundamentals of discovery practice that apply in all contexts -- such as planning ahead, searching broadly, being forthright with the court and adversaries and closely monitoring subordinates and clients -- have not been displaced but, on the contrary, have only assumed increasing importance in the era of electronic discovery." [Emphasis added.]


"Word 2007 Review: A Ribbon Runs Through It"

Microsoft Word users rejoice! Getting the "biggest boosts to your daily productivity," as this author suggests, makes me want to give Word 2007 a try:

"We love it, we hate it -- we can't work a day without it.

"I've witnessed more people gnash their teeth over Microsoft Word than probably any other software application. But no matter how many times we cuss at the automatic bulleting/numbering feature, we will continue to use Word to edit documents.

[snip]

"The Ribbon has become the de facto moniker for the new look of the Office 2007 products, including Word 2007. For years, we've been programmed to use the 'File,' 'Edit' and 'View' toolbar commands at the top of Word. That's where things belong.

"The Ribbon in Word 2007 -- nobody choke here -- nullifies that bygone line of commands with an incredibly functional row of controls unfurled before our eyes.

"I know what you're thinking -- the same worries crossed my mind about how I finally learned how to use styles and create a table, and now Microsoft goes and changes everything. You won't believe me until you actually use Word 2007 for yourself, but the Ribbon could provide one of the biggest boosts to your daily productivity than you've seen in a long time."

Author Brett Burney writes a monthly legal technology column for LLRX.com and contributes to ALM's Law.com Legal Technology section and Law Technology News magazine.


"45 ways we torpedo our careers"

Very helpful, if sometimes painful, career guidance in a new book:

"Read a few pages of Anita Bruzzese's book and you probably will see yourself.

"And, you're almost guaranteed not to like the picture you see.

"'We hear all the time that people aren't happy in their jobs because of the boss, or because of the company, or because of something else,' said Bruzzese, author of the book 45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy (Perigee Trade, $14) 'Never once have I heard from someone who blamed their troubles at work on themselves.

"'I just got to thinking that can't be right. Some people do create their own problems.'"


"Corporate Groups Enjoy the Boom but Plan for the Bust"

Corporate lawyer hiring directly affects corporate paralegal hiring. Tighten your seat belts; it's going to be a bumpy ride!

"It has been a bull market for corporate lawyers, with multimillion- and billion-dollar M&A deals galore. But the recent stock market plunge sent a little chill down the backs of some, a reminder that the high times won't last forever. A day after trouble in the China market dropped the Dow more than 400 points, Fenwick & West corporate group Chairman Daniel Winnike said he was relieved Wall Street had stabilized.

"'If it had dropped another 300 points,' he said, 'then some of the companies might have had second thoughts about some of the M&A deals we're working on.'

"Corporate law leaders like Winnike remember well the dot-com bust that forced layoffs at such star Silicon Valley firms as Fenwick & West, Cooley Godward, Venture Law Group (now with Heller Ehrman) and Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich (now DLA Piper) five years ago. As they have built up their departments in this economic upturn, they're applying two key lessons: Diversify your practices [PDF] and hire smarter."


"5 Tips for Making Progress in Your Career While Staying Put"

As this article from CIO explains, it's all about expanding your skill set:

"Most professionals think they have to change jobs every three years to get ahead. But you really don’t have to move to a new job or company to advance your career. Chances are, your current job offers challenges and opportunities you haven’t yet tapped. By taking on new assignments in your current position, you can expand your skill set and develop your leadership capabilities—and thus your marketability—without spending all that time and effort job-hunting.

"The key to making progress in the workplace and in one’s career is to identify and take on developmental assignments. These are roles and activities that provide opportunities to learn new skills, expand your knowledge base, try new behaviors and improve on weaknesses. Because they usually involve an element of challenge or risk, they stretch you out of your comfort zone. A developmental assignment might lead you to work that is broader in scope than what you are used to, such as a project involving more people or coordinating with groups across the organization.

[snip]

"Consider temporary assignments outside your job description or department. What new projects need an additional team member? Is there a task force that could benefit from your functional expertise and, at the same time, give you a broader perspective on the business? Are there annual events you’d like to plan that might help you improve your project management skills? Would a temporary assignment in another department broaden your knowledge of the business?"

Some pretty good guidance in the whole article; be sure to check reader comments too!


"What do you put in that 'Salary Desired' box?"

Excellent question! And this blog post has good answers in the form of many [scroll down] helpful reader comments [scroll down]:

"A friend of mine is looking for a new job. She has years of experience in the industry, great technical skills, wonderful contacts, and plenty to brag about. But like most of us, she's stymied when a job ad asks for a cover letter, 'complete with salary history and requirements.' A recent position opening added, 'The salary information is important! If you don't tell us what you want to be paid, we can't tell if we can hire you.'

[snip]

"Personally, I've never found a good way to respond to those 'salary expectations' requirements. What have you done?

[snip]

Comment by reader MGS:

"This can be a difficult question to answer and can have a variety of results such as:
- Not getting an interview (salary too high or too low).
- Getting a salary offer that is too low or that is lower than direct reports or others in the same type / level of a position.
- Getting a much higher salary

"I do not mind giving my salary expectations; in general I keep this somewhat generic: 'I expect to be paid in line with what others in a similar position and similar company are earning, adjusted for my experience, expertise, and educational level.' An acceptable salary also depends upon the expectations, so a $100k job working 40 hours per week is much better than a $100k job working 80 hours per week."