"Pzizz Offers Help for Power Nappers"

Helpful "be more productive at work" find from the folks at Web Worker Daily. Yeah, actually napping at your firm during the day might not be a good career move. But what about all-night document productions?

"We’ve written before about the benefits of an afternoon “power nap” in helping you get through the day and attack problems with renewed energy. But some folks have trouble getting to sleep in a limited time slot. For reluctant nappers, the downloadable application pzizz promises help. It runs on either Windows or Mac systems, and I had a chance to give it a spin this week.

"Pzizz is easy to use: you launch the application, choose a preset (the 'Default Energizer' preset is designed for a 20-minute power nap), and tell it to generate a soundtrack. Then you can play your soundtrack directly on the computer (useful if you have headphones and enough space on your desk to put your head down) or export it to MP3 for playback on another device (likely to be more comfortable for most users)."

So, what do you think about the usefulness of power napping?


"Biglaw Plods Towards Mastodon's Fate"

Goodness, gracious, this is a remarkable discussion about the future of big law firms! Thanks to lawyer, author, & blogger Robert J. Ambrogi for highlighting it in Legal Blog Watch:

"When the general counsel of a major corporation says that the current model of the large law firm is heading towards extinction, ears perk up throughout the legal industry. That is precisely what happened after Sun Microsystems GC Mike Dillon wrote on his blog last week that Biglaw is going The Way of the Mastodon. His thesis is that large law firms exist primarily as aggregators of specialized legal expertise -- by combining multiple legal disciplines, firms can provide 'one stop shopping' for their clients. That used to make sense, in the days before the Internet when it was inefficient for a company to hunt down all the specialized legal talent it might need. But with the Internet, the model is changed, Dillon says."

If you work for a big law firm, I strongly recommend reading the entire post!


"Beware the Hidden Costs of Bad Formatting"

Pretty poor reaction to need for increased training given that documents produced by law firms are so important!

"When talking to law firms about training, I often hear the following statements: 'It's so easy, you don't need training'; 'If you can't learn it in an hour, it's not worth knowing'; and my favorite, 'We're getting documents out the door.'

"Law firms often use arguments like those mentioned above to skimp on training. However, there can be real bottom-line consequences to this kind of thinking. Training your users on proper document formatting can mean the difference between a document that will cost your firm unnecessary time, money and productivity and one that won't. For example, you can compare two visually identical 30-page Word documents side by side. They may look exactly the same, but one could require 2 1/2 minutes to make three basic changes while the other takes more than 60 minutes. What makes the difference? Formatting!

"Document formatting is not a sexy topic, but if you run the dollars on how much money it saves, you quickly realize how important a consideration it really is. A document that is poorly formatted [PDF] behind the scenes is full of tabs, hard returns and manual numbering. With these documents, every time text is added or deleted, someone must go into the text and remove tabs, adjust hard returns and page breaks and manually renumber the paragraphs. All formatting is direct formatting so that if the point size for 50 paragraphs needs to be changed, all 50 paragraphs must be formatted."

Good examples of formatting problems are included in the complete article.

Author Roberta Gelb, a member of the Law Technology News Editorial Advisory Board, is also president of Chelsea Office Systems Inc., based in New York.


Optimize Information Management Operations with Interwoven

Good old index cards are surely not of much use for law firms or legal departments with thosands & thousands of files. Read how Frost Brown Todd upgraded to Interwoven:

"...Frost Brown Todd LLC, an AMLAW 200 law firm, has adopted Interwoven Records Manager to enable comprehensive information management.

"Combined with Interwoven WorkSite, the industry-leading document management solution, Interwoven Records Manager enables law firms to optimize their file room operations and bring together paper and electronic documents and e-mail under a uniform information retention policy. The solution is seamlessly integrated into the user's working practices, allowing professionals to participate and engage in the records process without sacrificing productivity.

"Frost Brown Todd (FBT) was formed through the 2000 merger of two premier regional law firms, a union that brought consistent rankings in The National Law Journal's NLJ 250 and the AmLaw 200 -- as well as introducing new information management challenges. In 2005, with its user population reaching 900 attorneys, paralegals, and staff, the firm grew concerned about its ability to effectively manage the documents in its possession.

"'Post merger our records management challenges were steep. We were reliant on a series of index cards, access databases and outside vendor databases for finding information. Our file rooms were spread across multiple offices and floors, which made it very challenging to track our files. Each site was handling records differently. Our need for space and better organization led us to search for a long term solution for managing both paper and electronic records,' said Paul Bromwell, CIO at Frost Brown Todd."


"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."


"Quick naps do the job at this law firm"

Calling all workaholics! Be smart & take some time off for a rejuvenating nap..at work!

"The Power Room at one Raleigh law office isn't a place where high-profile deals get done or important meetings occur.

"It's for snoozing.

"As workers log in longer hours, there is increasing interest in the revitalizing power of naps. One company in New York sells 20- minute sessions in nap pods. A recent study in Greece showed that regular naps can reduce the risk of heart attacks.

"Honestly, who hasn't had stressful workdays when an afternoon siesta would have hit the spot?

"Put the partners at Kilpatrick Stockton in the pro-nap camp."


"Why Do You Always Need This Yesterday?"

How many times have you asked this question when handed a new assignment?  LawCrossing looks into why this happens & how paralegals can handle these situations:

"Some projects—especially the most urgent ones—seem to demand time traveling as a requisite skill. Everyone wants work done ASAP, but there's only one you and 24 hours in a day. What's to be done?

"Paralegals are the workhorses of the legal world. Unlike the attorneys they assist, paralegals and legal support professionals play a largely behind-the-scenes role. While feats of productivity and grace under fire can force many paralegals to take on superhero proportions, even Superman has to eat, sleep, and have a life outside of work.

"Everyone has heard the phrase 'I need this yesterday.' In almost all situations, it is intended to convey a sense of urgency and an impending deadline. After 'Is this billable?,' this is probably one of the most frequently uttered phrases in the entire legal world. Yet for many legal support personnel, the phrase inspires a sense of confusion cum frustration. How can every task be the most important?"


"Document Imaging: Keeping It Simple"

Author Tony DeLoera, the chief technology officer at Ice Miller, describes how to manage document imaging the right way:

"Simplicity. This was the guiding principle in our selection of a document-imaging system. In early 2005, Indianapolis-based Ice Miller was overrun with paper. With 225 attorneys, and three branch offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Naperville, Ill., we decided to leverage the decision to change our office copiers as an opportunity to gain more control over our workflow.

"We needed a document-imaging system that our attorneys and other professionals could use with little or no training. We wanted our users to be able to walk up to a copier and scan documents directly to a PC desktop or to software, such as Microsoft's Word and Outlook, or Hummingbird Enterprise. We wanted a simple system so our users could copy without calling the IT help desk.

"But simplicity didn't mean we wanted a simplistic application. We did not want to scan documents only to have them scatter, unindexed, inside our IT network. All that would do is transfer our document handling difficulties from unstructured paper to unstructured electronic data. Rather, we wanted a program that integrated with our existing software (Hummingbird Enterprise, Captaris Inc.'s RightFax, Word and Outlook) and would improve our office efficiencies."

The full article is a must-read for those interested in expanding their roles into firm management...


"One Calendar to Rule Them All"

Whenever -- & those times are frequent -- a paper calendar just won't do [links below in the original Web Worker Daily blog post]:

"Some problems just seem to get harder the longer we work on them. Take keeping track of appointments, for example: you’d think by now we’d have that one all figured out. But somehow, between being online and offline, having multiple computers and mobile devices, it’s become harder than ever to know where you’re supposed to be and when you’re supposed to be there. Some people have come up with elaborate schemes to keep all of their calendars synchronized, but as someone who has tried to do this across multiple computers and operating systems, I can tell you such things are tough to set up and prone to breakage.

"Enter Calgoo. Currently in public beta test, Calgoo is a Java-based application that runs on Windows, OS X, or Linux...."


"Legal Departments Tell Firms: Get on the Tech Train"

Well, that sure sounds like a smart slap at not-so-tech-savvy firms, huh?

"When Aon Corp. slashed its outside counsel roster from about 400 to 23 law firms in 2005, it quizzed the firms about their tech offerings. 'We asked them about extranets, e-billing and litigation management,' says David Cambria, director of legal operations at the Chicago-based insurance giant.

"But Cambria says that he didn't really care whether firms had all of those products. He had another agenda: 'I wanted to know if [the firms] were playing in the same pool as me,' says Cambria. When they crafted the tech section of their request for proposal, Cambria and his colleagues started from the assumption that all the firms they were interviewing had experienced, capable lawyers. But 'we wanted to take it to a higher level, and the most successful firms were the ones that told us how they'd help us do what we do better, with technology,' he says.

"Aon isn't alone. Law departments, once the hardware and software stepchildren of the legal profession, are steadily, if gradually, adopting more sophisticated ways to aid their work, according to Corporate Counsel's 2007 In-House Tech Survey."

Sound like a big opportunity for techie paralegals to help "geekify" their firms!