Category: Law Practice

#TechTuesday | Setting Default Font and Paragraph Spacing in Microsoft Word (Video)

It’s #TechTuesday! Today we are sharing another video tip in our new series titled “Tech Tip in a Tenth“. These are short, targeted, and practical videos approximately 6 minutes in length, because, as Technology Committee Member, David Majchrzak said, “Who can’t spare a point one!?” Read More

#TechTuesday | Add-ins, Add-ons and Apps in April

The most recent issue of San Diego Lawyer is dedicated to Law + Tech – a major initiative by the SDCBA to help members and the legal community at large, use technology better. It’s also the reason I, Adriana Linares, have the honor of serving as the Bar’s Member Technology Officer.  Earlier this year, we held a two day conference dedicated to the topic. Renee Stackhouse and I spoke to lawyers about “Serious Productivity Apps and Tips for the Mobile Lawyer”. One topic we included, is a favorite of mine, add-ons! I love good add-ons that improve my productivity and simplify time in front of my computer. Read More

Trial By Fire Is No Way To Use Tech @ Trial

By Shannon Bales

For many, the first use of trial presentation technology is trial by fire: they are thrown into a less-than-ideal situation. After all, everybody gets their start somewhere. The current tech reality in the courtroom is that lawyers seem to forget that going to trial is the most visible and high-stakes aspect of the work they do—and if the media are involved, their audience will go far beyond their clients and colleagues. Many lawyers simply do not have the commitment to technology used in the courtroom that they should have and it shows in the way they present their case and can create a negative effect on Read More

How to Make a Strong-And Realistic-Opening Offer in Negotiation

Gregg F. Relyea

Opening a Negotiation 
A case must be strategically positioned before meaningful negotiation can take place.  An invitation to negotiate can be perceived as premature if there are significant gaps in information about liability and damages.  Negotiation can be viewed as too late if the parties have waited too long, costs have become prohibitive, or the parties have become entrenched in their positions. Read More

TechTip in a Tenth: Cropping PDF Files in Adobe Acrobat

By Adriana Linares

It’s TechTuesday! Today we are sharing the 3rd of our new series titled “Tech Tip in a Tenth”. These are short, targeted, and practical video’s approximately 6 minutes in length, because, as Technology Committee Member, David Majchrzak said, “Who can’t spare a point one!?” First, a list of more more resources on the topic followed by today’s Tech Tip in a Tenth!

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Policy Limit Demands Vs. Mediation Confidentiality: Part 1

By Richard A. Huver

Is the lid off the policy?  That question has undoubtedly been asked by plaintiff and defense lawyers alike.  Whether an insurance company has a duty to accept a policy limits demand is generally an individualized question dependent on many factors, including the timing of the demand, the information available on both liability and damages, and the likelihood of a verdict in excess of the policy limits.  Evaluating how these factors apply to a demand made during the claim process or litigation is one thing.  But what happens if the policy limits demand is made incident to or during a mediation? Read More

Diversity & Inclusion: The Foundation of a Profession That Reflects the People We Serve

By Renée Stackhouse

The best explanation that I’ve seen about the definition and interrelationship between diversity and inclusion is this1:

Diversity is the who and the what; who’s sitting around that table, who’s been recruited, who’s being promoted and who we’re tracking from the traditional characteristics and identities of gender and ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability — inherent diversity characteristics that we’re born with.

Inclusion is the how; inclusion is the behaviors that welcome and embrace diversity. It is the active, intentional and ongoing engagement with diversity.

Jane Silber quipped, “The difference between diversity and inclusion is being invited to a house and being able to rearrange the furniture.” Verna Myers similarly said, “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

The important distinction is that ability to effect change, to create movement, and to participate meaningfully requires inclusion.
This is a relatively new concept and it seems to be generational in nature. The boomer and Gen-X viewpoint has been categorized as that diversity was a representation of fairness and protection to all and that it was the “right thing to do” regardless of whether it benefited the business. But the focus still remained on fitting in once you were brought into the fold.2 Millennials, on the other hand (who in 10 years will comprise nearly 75 percent of the workforce), want acceptance for who they are and feel it is unnecessary to downplay their differences in order to get ahead.

Companies can expect to see tangible results (either way) depending on their diversity and inclusion policies and implementation. According to a Deloitte and Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative Study3, 83 percent of millennials are actively engaged when they believe their organization fosters an inclusive culture, compared to only 60 percent when their organization does not foster that type of culture. A recent Gallup study has cited that the cost of disengaged employees adds up to $483-$605 billion per year in lost productivity.4

Not only is inclusion important for engagement and has an effect on the corporate bottom line, but it’s vital to sustaining diversity in the legal profession.

Let’s take women in the law, for example. According to studies, women are about 56 percent of the enrolling first-year law students, and women have comprised 40 to 51 percent of the law school graduates in California for the last 20 years (growing to over 50 percent in the last few years). And yet, only about 36 to 40.6 percent of the lawyers in the state are women. Women are leaving the profession. This is especially true for women of color. More than 75 percent of women of color leave their (private) law firm within five years and 85 percent of women of color leave private law within seven years.5

Building pipelines for diversity has become a catchphrase and a box to check, but it’s not enough. Think of it this way: The diversity pipeline is the roller coaster heading up to the highest peak but if we don’t incorporate the inclusion aspect then the tracks end and the roller coaster plummets to the ground. We’re setting ourselves up for failure if we don’t utilize, accept and appreciate the diversity that is brought to the table.
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TechTip in a Tenth: Remove File Properties (Metadata) from Word Documents

By Adriana Linares

It’s TechTuesday! Today we are sharing the first of our new series titled “Tech Tip in a Tenth”. These are short, targeted, and practical video’s approximately 6 minutes in length, because, as Technology Committee Member, David Majchrzak said, “Who can’t spare a point one!?” First, a list of more more resources on the topic followed by today’s Tech Tip in a Tenth!

Read More

Hiring Trends: What Firms Need to Know

By Henry Angelino

2018 is coming to a close and many firm leaders are thinking about their plans and goals for 2019. One typical consideration is whether to expand their firm by hiring additional staff and/or attorneys. Do they need an assistant or an associate just to keep up with their case load, and can the budget support another salary? If this is their first employee, they have the added concern of ensuring the structure and procedures are in place to properly manage and efficiently/effectively utilize an employee. Thus, careful planning and research should be part of this major decision, and hiring a new employee should not be taken lightly or done in haste.

So, you think you are ready to move forward and expand your team but aren’t sure of the best path to take in finding a quality candidate. The first step is to make sure you have a complete description of the knowledge/experience requirements, duties and responsibilities for the position, and know the traits you are looking for in your ideal candidate. Additionally, what are your expectations if the position is for a billing professional? Are you looking for a more experienced employee or do you want a less experienced employee that you can train without having to worry about “bad habits” or “knowledge gaps” from previous employers? Do you want to conduct the search or hire a recruiter to do the initial search and screening for you? OK, you have done your homework and are ready to initiate a search. What do you need to know about the current legal hiring market to increase your chance of success? Here are a few trends that I am seeing in San Diego.

-There is an increasing number of smaller and mid-sized firms that are growing and looking for qualified candidates to fill attorney and staff positions. Some of the fastest growing firms are groups of attorneys that have left larger firms to create their own firm and culture.

-There are fewer associate attorneys available due to lower numbers of law students in recent years and it is harder to find associates with three to five years of substantial law firm experience, a typically desired attribute. On the positive side, there is an increasing number of diverse candidates applying for positions.

-Qualified candidates with a solid performance record are in high demand and will usually be exploring multiple opportunities simultaneously. Thus, employers must be ready to move quickly to evaluate quality candidates and make a hiring decision.

-Small to mid-sized law firms are using contract attorneys or part-time support staff personnel to assist with excess legal and administrative tasks. This allows the firm to “test drive” employees before making a permanent hire while remaining within their budget. Another trend is to outsource various human resource and administrative tasks to reduce the time spent to manage the firm and remain compliant with the changing laws and regulations.

-Support staff are more highly qualified and willing to perform multiple roles within small and mid-sized law firms. Many candidates have a paralegal certificate and thus can generate revenue to help offset their salary and benefit costs. Additionally, some more experienced support staff candidates are applying for traditionally entry-level positions and bringing their considerable breadth of skills and experience to smaller firms. Alternately, you will receive a very large number of applications for entry-level positions and will need to separate qualified from unqualified candidates, which can be time-consuming.

-Turnover rates are increasing, causing firm leadership to spend more time hiring and training new employees after a dismissal or departure. Some of the reasons I have seen for this trend is a disparity in values or priorities, employees not meeting stated expectations, and employees not investing the time and effort to build sound legal skills and produce quality work.

Adding new members or service providers to a small or mid-sized law firm team can improve employee and client care, increase productivity, and reduce the time required by leadership to manage the firm while freeing up partners for strategic initiatives, business development and training/mentoring employees. To be successful though, firm management must ensure they carefully and quickly screen qualified candidates to ensure the right cultural and capability fit. Not always an easy task given the current hiring environment!

Henry Angelino is the owner of Angelino & Associates, Inc. and a strategic business and operations consultant for law firms. Read More