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Ahead of the Curve

February 2018

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.


    

"REVIEW YOUR COMPANY DATING POLICY IN LIGHT OF #METOO MOVEMENT"

Dating policies have become pretty common among employers of all sizes. But with the advent of the #MeToo movement, legal experts say employers should give their policies another look to be sure they are logical, easy to follow and are presented in the best light to employees. 

Read more.

Resource: Allen J. Smith, SHRM


"FUTURE SHOCK: MILLENNIALS PRIORITIZE SHORT-TERM FINANCIAL GOALS OVER RETIREMENT SAVINGS"

With millennials growing in numbers in the workforce, the challenge related to retirement planning and millennials is growing as well. Rather than focusing on the opportunity to leverage the compounding effect of saving early in their career, millennials are focused on their debts. One potential solution is to modify their automatic enrollment at higher default percentages. Studies have found that employees rely on the messages they receive from their employer as to the importance of retirement saving.

Read more.

Resource: John Manganaro, Plan Sponsor Magazine


"HOW TO AVOID COMMON MISTAKES IN CHANGE MANAGEMENT"

Numerous studies show that although frequent culture shifts and restructurings have become the norm at most organizations, many leaders still haven't gotten change initiatives right. 

Read more.

Resource: Dori Meinert, SHRM


"2018 REPORT ON THE STATE OF THE LEGAL MARKET"

This annual report highlights significant trends that are reshaping the market for legal services, including observations that future success is unlikely to be achieved by traditional strategies and approaches.

Read more.

Resource: Thomson Reuters and Georgetown Law


"AI STARTUP OFFERS AUTOMATED CONTRACT REVIEW"

Just another example of competitive forces changing the legal services landscape: LawGeex offers automated contract review through its artificial intelligence engine. 

Read more.

Resource: LawGeex


"5 EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK UPDATES TO WATCH IN 2018"

Most people review their handbooks initially, but tend to leave them on the shelf. They are living documents that need to be reviewed on a regular basis. As we move into 2018 here are some hot topics that should be reviewed in your policies. 

Read more.

Resource: Lisa Nagale-Piazza, SHRM-SCP, and Beth Zoller; Human Resource Magazine


"HOW TO PREPARE YOUR WORKFORCE FOR VIOLENT INCIDENTS"

"Shootings and other violent attacks are a sad reality of the world we live in—and the workplace is no safe haven." 

Read more.

Resource: Lisa Rabasca Roepe, SHRM


"THINKING SMARTLY ABOUT SMART CONTRACTS"

Smart contracts are going to be a reality sooner than almost everyone has predicted. The push to adopt smart contracts will come from major corporate clients of law firms, whether the lawyers in those firms are ready or not. And firms that are not ready will find themselves faced with clients going somewhere else for a solution.  Why will smart contracts become so important so soon? Because this concept will be so easy for clients to understand and it will sound very good to many of them.

Read more.

Resource: Dennis Kennedy


"2018 SURVEY OF THE LEGAL MARKETPLACE"

"It's based primarily on interviews with CEOs and COOs of 41 large and mid-size law firms, along with review and analysis of recent reports on the legal marketplace. We especially like the one-page overview that presents lots of information in a simple and focused manner. Here are a few of the report's major findings:  

  • 2017 was a very good year for most U.S. law firms, with many reporting their best year ever.
  • Transactional practices (like corporate, real estate and tax) performed well, while litigation remains flat now and into the foreseeable future.
  • Although billable hours were down slightly for all categories of time-keepers, rate increases — averaging 2-5% — made up for much the lost productivity.
  • 2018 is projected to be another good year for US law firms, but there are several negatives looming on the horizon, including a potential economic downturn, increasingly demanding clients and continued flat demand for litigation services. 
  • Larger firms consistently bring a more business-like approach to running their operations, including dealing with chronically under-performing partners and eliminating excess capacity within their associate and paralegal ranks." 

Read more.

Resource: Smock Law Firm Consultants, Managing Partner Forum


"WHEN THE BELL TOLLS FOR THEE: DISASTER PLANNING AND RECOVERY FOR LAW FIRMS"

Tom Bolt, managing partner of BolgNagi discussing the ongoing impact of being hit back to back by two Cat 5 hurricanes last fall. This podcast includes their discussion of what technology he used and needed, the importance of having a disaster recovery and business continuity policy in place, and what types of problems his firm has dealt with in the aftermath. A summary of key takeaways is below:

  • Each day gets betters
  • Be up on technology
  • Put managing partner's cell phone on front page of website since phone was down. Only 3% of landlines on island were backup months later. Generators running on diesel are keeping cell phone towers up.
  • Mainland office in South Carolina helped to be able to have them handle client calls/contact
  • Had alternative location on island where they moved thirty years of their office to; having good file management helps this effort tremendously
  • Texting was primary form of communication

What he learned:

  • Know who is primarily responsible for each business area of the firm and who is handling in a disaster
  • Make sure inventory is up to date for business
  • Needed hybrid server — local if internet not available, but dominant in cloud
  • Exchange 365 would have been ideal that was not dependent on a local server
  • Had to step up in the community to get everyone back up & running; basic human life needs were essential 

Read more.

Resource: The Digital Edge, with host Jim Calloway


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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