"How to Avoid a Bad Reputation at Work"

Very good career advice from LawCrossing, in a series of questions & answers:

"Little things that you do every day without thinking could be driving your coworkers crazy. Your bad business habits can give you a bad reputation and make you the topic of water-cooler gossip. Take a deep breath—and a good hard look at yourself—and then ask yourself if you are guilty of committing any of the following reputation killers.

"Are you nosy? People eventually get irritated with the person who has to know every little thing that goes on. If staying abreast of workplace happenings is part of your job, schedule brief meetings for people to bring you up to date. Otherwise, try to mind your own business.

"Are you unprepared?

"Are you a kiss-up?

"Do you share too much information?

"Do you have sticky fingers?

"Do you talk too loudly?

"Are you confident?

"Are you too wordy and repetitive?"

Definitely recommend reading the entire article & investigating the helpful links, if only to find out the answers to these questions!


"Delegation Day in the Law Firm"

Found this interesting post at the morepartnerincome blog which is sponsored by Juris,Inc.:

"Hildebrandt’s Rees Morrison passes along a simple but clever technique for encouraging attorneys to improve efficiency by finding delegable tasks for non-lawyer members of the team.  The idea comes from the corporate world but should work to everyone’s benefit in a law firm as well. The law department asked its attorneys collectively to identify 20 activities that the lawyers were doing but that could be handed off to paralegals, administrative assistants or other support persons.

"The panelist sharing the law department’s experience noted that staff members were energized by the initiative. What attorneys were happy to hand off was refreshing and challenging to others.  Given the results, the department expanded its goal and accomplishments well beyond the original 20 activities."

Recommend reading this entire post "about how to do things better" by author Tom Collins, founder & former President of Juris, Inc.


"Orrick's Staffing Moves Pay Off -- Will Other Firms Follow?"

So, would you want to work in Wheeling, West Virginia? Read all about the separation of staff from lawyers in this article from The Recorder:

"When Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe announced it would move scores of support staff to a small industrial town in West Virginia, lawyers inside and out were skeptical of the quality of work and the return on investment.

"Five years later, the 980-lawyer firm says it's saved more than $20 million thanks to the Global Operations Center in Wheeling, W.Va. -- all without diminishing its services.

"But even with the purported success, most other large law firms still haven't jumped to copy it for themselves. Leaders say savings wouldn't be significant for their firms and the cost of splitting attorneys from staff would be too high [emphasis added].

"'We're not like a big corporation,' said Francis Milone, chair of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, which employs 1,300 lawyers. 'We depend very heavily on personal relationships between lawyers and staff [emphasis added], and it would be a very substantial change and disruption if we told people you either don't have a job or you can move to wherever.'

"Consultants say that law firms will eventually have to bite the bullet, especially with the ever-increasing cost of doing business, amplified by the recent round of associate salary hikes.

[snip]

"The firm hung its "O" on the old Wheeling Stamping building in the spring of 2002 and fielded more than 6,000 applications for 73 positions [emphasis added]. Now with 160 employees, the around-the-clock center handles everything from computer network management and help desk services to billing and collections as well as library services, human resources administration and marketing research. Most recently, the firm even added paralegals to the mix [emphasis added]."

Really, what do you think about working in an office described as, "No lawyers practice here, just those who support them"?


"She knows there's more to diversity than lip service"

Don't you just love it when someone puts her money where it counts? This Houston Chronicle story tells about that & more:

"Cathy Lamboley's epiphany changed both her wardrobe and the way some Houston law firms do business.

"Lamboley, who last week announced her upcoming retirement as general counsel of Shell Oil Co., used to wear corporate-issue business suits with those ubiquitous pouffy bow ties.

"Now she leans toward expressive buttery-soft leather jackets adorned with carefully chosen Mexican and Southwestern jewelry.

"Law firms in Houston that wanted lucrative legal work from Shell used to have to agree with the goal of diversity.

"Now they have to prove they are using more and more minority and female lawyers on Shell's multimillion-dollar legal business."

[snip]

"Carolyn Benton Aiman, a lawyer at Shell, said Lamboley's work at the company made it the kind of place she wanted to come to work. Aiman, an African-American, said it mattered to her that she could see people like her who were successful at the company.

"'Cathy changed the landscape here,' Aiman said. 'She opened opportunities, opened eyes and challenged presumptions.'"


"The Problem with Time Management"

Ah, the "trying to do my job, but people keep interrupting" problem. Do you have time management on the job under control?

"If you've been living in the corporate world for some time, you've probably attended a training session where one of the exercises was to conduct a 'time spent' analysis in order to increase your efficiency. You cracked open your calendar, reviewed how you spent your time for the past week, and identified black holes that were wasting your energy. Maybe you even went so far as to break your activities into categories, separating the 'urgent' things from the 'important' things and both of these from the 'insignificant' things.

[snip]

"The problem lies in our approach. Time management programs usually focus on your personal productivity, analyzing how you choose to spend your time. This is all fine and dandy, but it misses one essential truth: In an organization that's devoted to banging pots, you better bang pots or have a damn good reason for not banging them.

"That's why, after the PowerPoint presentation had ended and the trainer went home, you fell back into your old, unproductive rhythms -- not because you didn't agree with the time management expert's analysis, but because you returned to normal life in the world of The Middle . . . which means doing what you think your boss wants you to do. Bang! Bang! Bang!"

Highly recommend reading this complete article. It contains some good advice for managing your managers.

BTW, the author of this article, Vince Thompson, also wrote a just-published book, Ignited. In it, "Thompson depicts the realm between upper management and the workforce as rife with turf battles, firestorms and ongoing struggles to keep the troops from revolting."


"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...


"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."


"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."


"For Some Firms, Law Is All in the Family"

I'm sure "family law firms deal with unique challenges" & unique experiences too. Has this been your experience?

"Like mother, not so much like daughter.

"At the Milwaukee law firm Pitts & Pitts, clients know whether to ask for the mother or the daughter, depending on what sort of representation they are looking for.

"If they want a pit bull, they ask for the daughter, Trinette. If they want compassion and someone to hold their hand, they ask for the mother, Cristina. It's this dynamic that has kept the mother-daughter personal injury and family law firm in business for the past 22 years."


Temp Staff Demand Greatest for Paralegals, Legal Support Staff, Attorneys

Isn't it just great to be in demand?

"Temporary legal staffing is the most consistently fast growing segment of the contingent workforce in the United States and is largely driven by merger and acquisition activity and litigation-related work, according to a new report by Staffing Industry Analysts, the premier provider of market intelligence about the contingent workforce.

[snip]

  -- Over the next decade, volume demand is expected to grow annually by 6% for paralegals and legal assistants [emphasis added], 5% for lawyers, and 4.6% for legal secretaries.  Lawyers, paralegals and legal secretaries make up roughly 85% of the temporary legal workforce.  Of these, the fastest growing occupation is paralegals.

  -- Temporary legal staffing remains concentrated in the 25 largest metropolitan areas, as well as state capitals.  Overall, one in six legal jobs are located in just two cities:  New York City and Washington D.C.  New York City accounts for 10.4% of all legal employment and Washington D.C. 5.7%.