Ahead of the Curve
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.
"Work from your house. Set your own billable rate. And keep 80 percent of the money from every matter you originate and handle. That’s the sales pitch Culhane Meadows, a firm with no office space that opened in 2013, has used to attract a horde of Big Law refugees. In less than four years, the cloudbased firm has grown from four lawyers in Texas to just under 60, working from their home offices in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New York and Washington, D.C. A number of cloud-based law firms are increasingly competing with Big Law for both rainmakers and work from Fortune 100 clients." Read more.
Resource: Roy Strom, The AmLaw Daily
Long awaited and overdue, the ABA has issued updated guidance regarding the transmission of protected client information in Formal Opinion 477 published May 11, 2017.
In 2012, the ABA had adopted "technology amendments" to the Model Rules, but has been fairly silent since. That same year, the ABA also created the Cyber Legal Task Force which published a book in 2013, but by the very nature, it was outdated the day it was written. In today's ever-changing technological world, Opinion 477 tries to clarify what constitutes a "reasonable effort" to maintain the confidentiality of client information and it's more than a little gray. However, it's also refreshing that the ABA is not mandating any specific security measures, but rather "adopts a fact-specific approach to business security obligations that requires a 'process' to assess risks, identify and implement appropriate security measures responsive to those risks, verify that they are effectively implemented, and ensure that they are continually updated in response to new developments."
The new opinion will require lawyers to constantly think about the level of sensitivity of the information that they are communicating, what are the potential consequences to the client if the information was breached, and then apply what level of security safeguards are prudent. For example, if they are negotiating a merger, sending redline documents via their smartphone without encryption is probably not deemed "reasonable." There is also an emphasis in the guidance to communicate with the client at the onset of the matter regarding the protection of confidential information and electronic safeguards to do so. This can become very relevant if the firm has the technology and safeguards in place, but the client does not. Read more.
Resource: ABA News
"Alexa, make sure I'm actually documenting all my billable hours." Read more.
Resource: Gabrielle Orum Hernández, Legaltech News
"Employers can face potential NLRA violations for having overbroad policies that chill or take action against employees based on their use of social media." Read more.
Resource: Matthew Coolbaugh, Cotton Bledsoe Tighe & Dawson, Texas Lawyer, LegaltechNews
"CONSIDERING CYBERINSURANCE? HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW"
"A rundown of what potential buyers need to know when thinking about purchasing cyberinsurance." Read more.
Resource: Judy Selby, BDO Consulting, Legaltech News
"GENERAL COUNSEL SAY BOLD MOVES LIKE HP'S DIVERSITY MANDATE ARE NECESSARY TO ACHIEVE LASTING CHANGE"
This article discusses innovative strategies corporations are using to drive their outside counsel to adopt meaningful and effective diversity and inclusion initiatives. Read more.
Resource: Liane Jackson, ABA Journal
This article addresses the problem of entrenched discrimination when people, notably women, are continually underpaid because their salary at a new job is based on the substandard earnings at their last job. The article further discusses legal efforts to restrict prospective employers from asking about previous wages to avoid this type of discrimination. Read more.
Resource: Mary Emily O'Hara, NBC News.com
At first glance of the title, it would appear that this article has absolutely nothing to do with the legal field. However, read further to appreciate the struggles that women feel in corporate America and in particular male-dominated industries such as law. Sheryl Sandberg has inspired a corporate revolution, one which is allowing, and encouraging, people to "bring their whole self" to work. Women have lives, children, aging parents and everything in between to multi-task. Millenials also crave authenticity in their workplace. Employers can benefit from extremely talented, diversified employees by giving them the flexibility and corporate culture they need to "do it all and lean in." Read more.
Resource: Sarah Frier, BoombergBusinessweek
"Here are common performance metrics categories clients use to analyze attorney efficiency and effectiveness — and ways you can self-audit." Read more.
Resource: Jeremy W. Richter, Attorney at Work
"Collecting and normalizing business intelligence data, building a data warehouse, and effective presentation for outside the organization will be key concepts at the 2017 CLOC conference." Read more.
Resource: Zach Warren, Legaltech News
"Leaders of firms that charge by the hour often complain that they can’t get their lawyers to submit their hours on time. This, in turn, causes the firm to delay when it sends out some of its invoices, and it may play a role in causing some lawyers to underreport hours. Here are five strategies to address this problem." Read more.
Resource: Gideon Grunfeld, Rainmaking for Lawyers
"There’s a simple distinction between marketing and business development. Marketing is an outreach from one person to many. On the other hand, business development is one to one." Read more.
Resource: Cynthia Kaiser, JDSupra
"The past several years have seen a remarkable rise in demand for pricing and project management professionals at law firms... But what if the proposed solution—the need for systematic project management and process improvement—is simply solving a misdiagnosed problem?" Read more.
Resource: Marcie Borgal Shunk, New York Law Journal
"Clients look for lawyers who are smart, hard-working and aggressive. They hire them to write complicated documents and navigate thorny court proceedings, trusting them to chart the best course. It’s ironic, then, that there’s a budding consensus that lawyers may not be the best people to run the day-to-day operations of their own law firms." Read more.
Resource: Gayle Cinquegrani, Daily Labor Report, Bloomberg BNA
"I AM AN AI LUDDITE (AND WHY YOU SHOULD BE ONE TOO)"
"This article discusses potential impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on the legal profession. Specifically, I discuss (i) WHY you should care about AI, (ii) WHAT AI means, (iii) WHERE we are now, and (iv) HOW should you prepare. I suggest three perspectives as you consider AI impacts: (1) the legal practice, (2) individual legal professional roles, and (3) businesses, organizations and society (which necessarily drive the first two). This is not a survey of all AI developments associated with the business and practice of law. Instead, I provide you with resources to appreciate the trajectory and make your own decision on what to do and when." Read more.
Resource: Peter Krakaur, LinkedIn Article
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