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.
"LAW FIRMS FACE MALPRACTICE RISK OVER SUBSTANCE ABUSE, POOR MENTAL HEALTH"
Let's keep this conversation going until our industry stops allowing autonomy and the drive to profitability to trump protecting our people and our clients!
"This is a problem—this is not something that should be swept under the rug," said one legal malpractice insurer."
Resource: Christine Simmons, The American Lawyer
"HR 2025: 7 CRITICAL STRATEGIES TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE OF HR"
"The role of the HR professional has changed dramatically along with the workforce and economy, and that evolution will continue as machines and technology replace tasks once performed by humans. But that doesn't make people ― or the HR teams that work with them ― any less important. Tomorrow's HR leaders will need to be bigger, broader thinkers, and they'll have to be tech-savvy and nimble enough to deal with an increasingly agile and restless workforce."
Resource: Susan Milligan, HR Magazine
"VETTING NEW TECHNOLOGY? ASK THE PROVIDER THESE EIGHT QUESTIONS"
By now every firm has at least had a discussion about moving some, if not all, of their data or systems to the cloud. It is important to do your due diligence and pick the right provider for your needs and the needs of your clients. Moving to the cloud may assist in your firm staying current with the latest hardware and software advancements, but you want to ensure your transition to the cloud doesn't limit your ability to support your firm correctly.
Resource: Joe Kelly, Peer to Peer Magazine
"DAMAGE CONTROL: RECOVERING YOUR FIRM’S REPUTATION AFTER A BREACH"
"... it is only a matter of time before another law firm is hacked. When it happens, will that law firm be prepared to mitigate the reputational damage that will inevitably follow? As with any crisis, a law firm’s business and reputation hangs in the balance after a cybersecurity breach. If it’s handled well, though, a firm can regain trust and rebuild its brand. Here’s how ..."
Resource: Kathy O'Brien, The National Law Review
"STREAMLINED BILLING: FIVE BEST WAYS TO MAKE SURE YOU GET PAID"
"Ensuring that your law firm gets paid isn’t always easy. Of course, the more streamlined the invoicing process, the better."
Resource: Nicole Black, Attorney at Work
"TAX CREDIT FOR PAID FMLA LEAVE"
You know about unpaid Family Medical Leave Act protections, but did you know you can receive up to a 25% tax credit for qualified wages you choose to pay to employees on FMLA leave? Read IRS 2018-71 on how to take this credit. Under the new tax law you must have a qualified plan in place prior to December 31st 2018 to take advantage of this credit for wages you have already paid since June 2018.
Resource: IRS Notic 2018-71
"TOO MANY SENIOR WOMEN ARE LEAVING THE PROFESSION"
A new study identifies why senior female attorneys are leaving the profession creating a role model gender gap. Awareness of the problem is the start of a solution.
Resource: Roberta A. Liebenberg, Law Practice Today
"LAW FIRM CYBERSECURITY: ARE YOUR VENDORS POSING THE THREAT OF A DATA BREACH?"
If you’ve been paying attention, chances are your law firm security is up-to-date and fairly strong. While that takes care of the firm itself, these days it is just as important that your cybersecurity policy takes into account the cybersecurity of your vendors. “A responsible firm must also reduce the risk of a data breach at their third-party vendors,” according to Ishan Girdhar, CEO and founder of Privva, a cloud-based platform that streamlines the data security assessment process throughout the value chain.
According to the Soha Systems Survey on Third Party Risk Management, more than 60 percent of data breaches were done using third-party vendors. Examples include the data breaches of Equifax in 2016 and Target in 2013.
Resource: Jaliz Maldonado, National Law Review
"VIRTUAL LAW FIRMS"
Large corporate clients are creating their own firms by mixing and matching attorneys from different firms to create "teams." This is an opportunity for firms to join a growing trend and a threat to firms that don't play well with others.
Resource: Natalie Posgate, The Dallas Business Journal
"NEW BUSINESS MODELS — NOT TECHNOLOGY — WILL TRANSFORM THE LEGAL INDUSTRY"
"The law firm partnership model, long the industry standard, has become misaligned with customers’ value proposition." This article addresses how firms that cannot adapt to a new client service model may not survive.
Resource: Mark A. Cohen, Forbes
"INSOURCE OR OUTSOURCE? HOW AND WHEN TO EFFECTIVELY SUPPLEMENT YOUR TECHNOLOGY TEAM"
By determining where your strengths lie and what challenges you may anticipate down the road, you’ll be in a better position to understand how outsourcing can help you meet your objectives, allow your firm to thrive and make your money go further.
Resource: Martin Catania, Legaltech News (requires a free subscription)
"CONFLICT OF INTEREST ARISES FROM UNPAID LEGAL FEES"
Be careful when accepting a new client. Once you are retained as counsel you may not be able to back out of the representation due to the client's non-payment of your fees. This New Jersey disciplinary case illustrates that putting your firm's financial interest in getting paid ahead of the client's right to effective representation is an inherent conflict of interest that may result in disciplinary action against the attorney.
Resource: Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal
"NEW ABA OPINION NO LAW FIRM DATA BREACHES"
Newly released ABA Formal Opinion 483 addresses every law firm's obligations before and after a data breach. Failure to comply with these provisions may result in serious ethical violations.
Resource: The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility
"IS MERE EXISTENCE OF ANTI-HARASSMENT POLICY ENOUGH TO WIN DISPUTES?"
While having an Anti-Harassment Policy is a necessary part of human resource management, it is only the beginning of ensuring your firm is doing the right thing. Judges are looking for more today. They want to know that employees understand the policy and that your firm is actively complying and participating in investigations and corrective action plans. The bar has been raised and you can no longer just have a "shield", i.e. the policy.
Resource: Allen Smith, JD, SHRM
Jennifer Colwell, CLM, MBA — McGill, Gotsdinger, Workman, & Lepp
Kevin Costello — Holland & Knight LLP
Tammy Cowser, PHR, CP — Foley & Lardner LLP
Lisa Dasher, CLM, CPA, CGMA, Chair — Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.
Rick Hellers — nQueue Billback LLC
Lana McGinnis, CLM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Vice Chair — Sturgill Turner Barker & Moloney, PLLC
Teresa Reiner, CLM — Gislason & Hunter LLP
Teresa Walker — Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP
Stephen Wolf, CLM, CPA — Deutsch Kerrigan, LLP
ALA Board of Directors Liaison to Committee
Michael Bumgarner, CLM, CPA, CGMA — Flaherty Sensabaugh Bonasso PLLC
ALA Liaison to Committee
Patricia S. Carrera, JD, CKM, CPLP — ALA's Sr. Director, Member Experience