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Ahead of the Curve

June 2017

PURPOSE

The Professional Development Advisory Committee’s (PDAC) purpose in providing you this communication is to further its goal of periodically sharing topical information regarding the legal industry. Our hope is that one or more of the updates will provide a spark of insight to assist with your work on behalf of ALA as well as within your firm or legal department.


    

Past Issues

2017

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"IS AMAZON COMING TO CRUSH LAWYERS?"

"In the wake of Amazon’s announcement last week that it is buying Whole Foods, analysts and commentators have rushed to analyze what the deal means for the future of the grocery segment. Yet legal and financial professionals might instead want to ask what Amazon has planned next. In fact, there are some indications that Amazon is planning a foray into a new arena that could have a dramatic impact on a large swath of the professional-services market." Read more.

Resource: Michael McDonald, PhD


"LAW FIRM STRATEGIC PLANNING AND DEPLOYMENT: A REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE ART"

"Although we’re seeing a gradual uptick in law firm strategic planning, fewer than half of mid-size law firms have them. Of those with a plan, firm leaders report improved firm performance despite so-so implementation efforts." Read more.

Resource: David J. Parnell, Managing Partner Forum


"HELPING NEW MOMS IN LAW FIRMS"

A legal week panel discusses growing technology careers paths in legal outside of the e-discovery and cybersecurity bastions. Read more.

Resource: Sherrie Boutwell, Law Practice Today


"3 NEW TECHNOLOGY POSITIONS FINDING A FOOTHOLD IN MODERN LEGAL"

A legal week panel discusses growing technology careers paths in legal outside of the e-discovery and cybersecurity bastions. Read more.

Resource: Rhys Dipshan, Legaltech News


"GET READY FOR THE BIGLAW ‘ROONEY RULE’ AS FIRMS TRY TO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT DIVERSITY"

"'It looks like Biglaw firms are finally moving from the rhetoric of diversity to that reality. Thirty firms, including DLA Piper, Paul Hastings, Jenner & Block, Morrison & Foerster, Blank Rome, and White & Case, have committed to abiding by a version of the “Rooney Rule” when promoting and hiring laterals. For those that have no more than a passing familiarity with the concussion-fest that is the NFL, the Rooney Rule — named after the late owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Art Rooney — requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate when there is a head coach or general manager vacancy. The rule is seen as a progressive success — yes, eight minority head coaches is seen as a success — and now Biglaw firms are taking a cue from the NFL. (I know — in a week that saw Colin Kaepernick drummed out of the league for making a political statement, it’s a little jarring to see NFL and progressive in the same sentence, but here we are.)." Read more.

Resource: Kathryn Rubino, Above the Law


"WHY SHOULD LAWYERS UNDERSTAND BLOCKCHAINS?"

"Blockchains — a sort of digital ledger best known for powering bitcoin — have been getting attention for their potential to change how people transact. Specifically, a number of software projects are aimed at applying blockchains to create self-executing “smart contracts." Lawyers often deal with how people transact, so it’s a good idea to understand blockchains." Read more.

Resource: Ben WhetsellDaily DispatchInnovationLegal Technology


"MANAGING PARTNER FORUM AUDIENCE POLLING SURVEY RESULTS"

This is always a fascinating snapshot of what firms around the country are doing, some similar in size. It always gives comfort to know “we’re not alone” in some of our struggles.  

Here are a handful of some of the more interesting findings:

  • Thirty-eight percent (38%) say their firms require individual lawyer marketing plans.
  • Thirty-two percent (32%) of firm leaders report they provide marketing and business development training.
  • Seven percent (7%) report they are doing an “excellent” job identifying and grooming future firm leaders.
  • The top three issues impacting the legal profession over the next ten years? Pricing for legal services, technology and disruption from non-law firms.

There are two surveys from this conference you won't want to miss! Read more.

Resource: Lorie Maring and Melissa Shimizu, © Fisher Phillip


"TELEMEDICINE MISSTEPS: BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THESE COMPLIANCE CONCERNS"

"Free or low-cost telemedicine programs give employees easy access to medical care. But proceed with caution when introducing such a program to your organization, as it could raise a host of compliance and excise tax issues." Read more.

Resource: Lorie Maring and Melissa Shimizu, © Fisher Phillip


"HOW TECHNOLOGY ILLITERACY CAN COST SOLOS/SMALL FIRMS BIG MONEY"

"A recent ruling out of the Eastern District of New York requires attorney to pay attorneys’ fees and costs as a sanction for their negligence in failing to preserve all documents related to the representation of a former client who subsequently sued for malpractice. The case is a must-read for solos — and in fact, all lawyers — because it’s a primer on how not to implement technology." Read more.

Resource: Carolyn Ellefant, Above the Law


"CHIEF LEGAL OFFICERS REVEAL THEIR SERVICE PREFERENCES AND HOT BUTTONS"

"At the LSSO RainDance conference in Dallas, TX on May 10, a panel of all-star legal leaders provided answers to numerous rapid-fire questions about legal sales and service. There are some obvious and not so obvious valuable answers within this short read." Read more.

Resource: John O. Cunningham


"POST-HIRE BACKGROUND CHECKS: THE NUMBERS AND THE RISK"

"The workplace is divided on post-hire background checks according to the survey. Security professionals and executives want post-hire background checks. Human resources and IT are three times less likely to want to do post-hire background checks." Read more.

Resource: Risk Management Plus+ Online, A Service of Travelers Bond & Specialty Insurance


"MOVING FROM GOOD LAW TO GREAT LAW"

"Five years ago, a committed group of law firm leaders and law firm service providers embarked on a journey to reimagine the legal profession with a futurist’s view." Read more.

Resource: Debra Baker and Deborah Knupp, ABA Journal


"THE FIRMS THAT GREW FASTEST WITHOUT MERGING"

"The firms that are growing without mergers are doing so at a time when consolidation is a popular strategy in the legal industry." Read more.

Resource: Natalie RodriguezLaw360, New York


"CAN ‘VALUE’ PRICING REPLACE THE BILLABLE HOUR? (PERSPECTIVE)"

"In law firm land, value pricing has achieved buzzword status, meaning that everyone uses the phrase with abandon and supreme confidence. (Actual adoption, of course, is another story.) But suspend disbelief for a moment: How might a legal market run on value pricing actually work?" Read more.

Resource: Aric Press, Bernero & Press, Bloomberg Law, Big Law Business


"NAVIGATING CHANGES AND CHALLENGES"

"Trying to predict the future is a risky proposition, especially in a corporate environment that evolves by the day. Still, we asked a handful of experts to do just that, asking thought leaders from vendor companies to answer the following question: How will HR need to adapt to meet the growing challenges that come with operating in a business setting that's increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous?"

This is a lengthy article/section of the magazine in which top executives provide their insight into HR of the future and outline things they view as important in the industry. Read more.

Resource: Human Resource Executive


"THE FUTURE IS FLEXIBLE"

"Experts predict that more independent-minded workers and the proliferation of technology will be the biggest factors in shaping the workplace of tomorrow. Everything we consume will be personalized—products, marketing, media—and data-driven, as accelerated by the pressures of globalization and technological innovations." This shift, says Link, will only further affect how and when workers want to work, "as they choose agile arrangements or alternative career paths." The challenge for employers and talent-management professionals will be to "adapt new methods for attracting, retaining and managing their workforce." Read more.

Resource: Mark McGraw, Human Resource Executive


"SALARY HISTORY BANS EXPANDING"

Massachusetts and New York already have a law in place in which it is illegal to ask for salary history. This is legislation was started to try and combat pay inequality in the workforce. Recently some municipalities have passed their own laws on this topic and there are four more states considering approving this same legislation. Read more.

Resource: Michael J. O'Brian, Human Resource Executive


"LAW FIRMS, STAFF WAIT FOR ANSWERS ON EMPLOYEE OVERTIME RULES"

"By the end of June, law firm staff and other U.S. workers should know whether the Trump administration wants them paid overtime pay for overtime hours, even if they haven't qualified previously. Their overtime status became unsettled when a Texas federal judge issued an injunction last November blocking an executive order signed by President Barack Obama. Effective December 2016, the order would have classified more employees, including many lower-paid law firm employees, as eligible for overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week." Read more.

Resource: Miriam Rozen, Texas Lawyer


"COMPANIES KEEPING MICROSOFT OFFICE 365 ON-SITE, AS OPPOSED TO IN THE CLOUD, HAVE TO BE MORE ATTENTIVE TO SECURITY VULNERABILITIES"

"Chris Woodin, senior director at Microsoft and software asset management at Softchoice, noted that the trend to host Office 365 on-site, which is especially prominent among "those in the legal vertical," is driven largely by cost considerations. For migration, many organizations would also need to hire new IT staff "because they don't have staff who have experience managing those workloads in a cloud environment," Woodin added. "Their [IT staff's] experiences is usually managing the infrastructure on-premise."

While potentially cost-effective in the short term, the move to keep Office 365 on in-house IT infrastructure potentially exposes organizations to higher cybersecurity threats. When hosted on the cloud, Office 365 applications can automatically update to patch software vulnerabilities, such as those recently exploited in the unprecedented worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack." Read more.

Resource: Rhys Dipshan, Legaltech News


"3 TRENDS THAT WILL IMPACT YOUR WORKPLACE IN 2017"

"Health care insurance — be it the Affordable Care Act or its potential replacement, the American Health Care Act — the Fiduciary Rule and pay equity are three key workplace issues to watch throughout the year. Each was addressed in the ABA webinar, “What You Need to Know: Legal Trends Affecting the Workplace in 2017,” held in April." Read more.

Resource: June 2017, Around the ABA


"THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE"

"Most failures in the introduction of new technology occur on the people side of the equation, not the process side. Organizational change management (OCM) helps people transition smoothly to new systems, new procedures and new cultural changes in a firm. While IT change management manages the process side of change. OCM manages the people side of change"  OCM is a process in which you can develop and influence change in a positive way. Read more.

Resource: Mal Mead, Peer to Peer, International Legal Technology Association 


"RETHINKING RETENTION"

CPA firms face the same issues regarding law firms today. Retention should focus on your corporate culture.  Investments need to be made to identify employees that have similar culture when you are the hiring process. Your firm needs to identify aspects of your culture that make you different from your competition as part of this process. "Authenticity starts with who you hire and who's recruited, who's interviewed, and the filter you create for people who join your organization." Read more.

Resource: Courtney Vein, Journal of Accountancy 


"THE CHANGING FACE OF SUCCESSION PLANNING"

This is an interesting article because it really tries to touch on the perspectives of both the younger generations and older generations and the impact firm culture has on successful succession planning. At the end of the day, law firms should support initiatives that help senior counsel feel confident about navigating their own life transitions and younger partners to see hope for their future careers. All easier said than done! Read more.

Resource: Stephen P. Gallagher 


"THE DEATH OF APPS?"

There is talk about whether web sites are becoming obsolete and being replaced by apps.  The following article offers some additional context on the discussion. Read more.

Resource: Justis Saayman, IBM.com


"LAW FIRMS FINALLY SAY IT'S OK TO SEE A THERAPIST"

"On-site psychologists and other wellness initiatives are becoming more common place in law offices; some bristle at the idea." Read more.

Resource: Sara Randazzo, The Wall Street Journal


"MANAGING PARTNERS FRUSTRATED BY SLOW PACE OF BIG LAW CHANGE"

"Nobody is accusing Big Law firms of moving too fast in response to slack demand for their services and client demands for change. But a new survey released Tuesday shows that one important group is increasingly frustrated by the industry’s sluggish pace of change: Law firm leaders." Read more.

Resource: Roy Strom, The Am Law Daily


"WHAT YOU NEED TO LEARN ABOUT THE BIGGEST CYBER ATTACK IN HISTORY"

Here are six lessons you need to learn from the WannaCry Cyber Attack. Read more.

Resource: Brian Focht, The Cyber Advocate 


"CHATBOT OR NOT? 4 QUESTIONS FIRMS SHOULD ASK"

"Is chatbot technology a good fit for professional services like law firms? That depends on the problem it solves and the information involved." Read more.

Resource: Jaron Rubenstein, Rubenstein Technology Group, Legaltech News


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PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Sharon Meit Abrahams, EdD — Foley & Lardner LLP

Jennifer Colwell, CLM, MBA — McGill, Gotsdinger, Workman, & Lepp

Kevin Costello — Holland & Knight LLP

Tammy Cowser, PHR, CP — Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP

Lisa Dasher, CLM, CPA, CGMA — Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.

Rick Hellers — nQueue Billback LLC

Lana McGinnis, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP — Sturgill Turner Barker& Moloney, PLLC

Paul Morton — Burns & Levinson LLP

Stephen Wolf, CLM — Deutsch Kerrigan & Stiles, LLP

ALA Board of Directors Liaison to Committee

James Cornell III — Graves Dougherty Hearon & Moody, PC

ALA Liaison to Committee

Patricia S. Carrera, JD, CKM, CPLP — ALA's Sr. Director, Member Experience

pcarrera@alanet.org; 847-267-1252