Ahead of the Curve (June 2016)

with ALA's Professional Development Advisory Committee


If you are receiving "Ahead of the Curve" then you are an ALA leader with board, regional, chapter or conference planning responsibilities, or a designated ALA employee. 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.

Big Data: The Lawyer's Guide to Analytics: How Analytics Can be Used in Your Practice

"Analytics isn’t limited to word-by-word comparisons. In fact, certain tools can ascertain concepts and ideas within documents, and with this information can organize them into conceptual clusters. With conceptual analytics tools, term order doesn’t matter, as the technology is still capable of bringing together documents based on words that co-occur alongside one another." Read more.

Resource: Ian Lopez, Legaltech News

Business Development: The New Associate’s Guide to Business Development

"Big firm or small, there’s a single question the partners in any law firm ask about a young associate: 'Is she a keeper?' And, while legal skills count, it’s clear they’re thinking: “Can she bring in clients?” Read more.

Resource: Kiffin Hope, ALPS

Business Development: 7 Rules to Virtually Double the Practices You Deliver to Clients

"The typical primary law firm delivers 1.8 practices to each of their major clients. The best performers, those who collaborate and set the standard for superior client service, deliver 3.2 practices to their clients." Read more.

Resource: BTI Consulting Group

Business Development: My Clients Say They Only Want Me!

"It is a common lament: 'My clients say they only want me. How do I introduce colleagues or juniors in a way that creates trust?' And like so many business obstacles lawyers struggle to overcome, it’s one they create themselves. Which means it’s one that can easily be eliminated." Read more.

Resource: Mike O'Horo, Attorney at Work

C-Suite: For Operations, More Midsize Firms Seeking Nonlawyers

"The chief operating officer or executive director role is growing in ­popularity among midsize firms, legal recruiters and consultants said, but it can be a tricky position to fill because of the various definitions of the job among firms of that size." Read more.

Resource: Lizzy McLellan, The Legal Intelligencer

Education: The Value of Executive Personnel Involvement in Professional Associations

"For attorneys, being involved in professional associations is a given. Not only do those associations offer the required continuing legal education, but they also provide opportunities to network and ideally develop business. Encouraging and supporting firm lawyers to join professional associations is a critical tool for building their professional success and development." Read more.

Resource: Jessica L. Mazzeo, The Legal Intelligencer

Human Resources: What 95% of Millennials Want (and Other Trends You Need to Know)

"Big changes are in store for the future of the workplace as Millennials start moving into leadership roles. Read three predictions you need to know about how to prepare for the future." Read more.

Resource: Elizabeth Dukes, INC.

Human Resources: Your People and Global Internet Trends

"The annual Internet Trends report that Meeker publishes is certainly not an HR report. But it contains critical information and data that HR people need to know. It’s all big picture stuff that relates to the Internet, but it also all has impact on people – and most of it has impact on people at work. In the U.S., in Asia, in Europe – all over the world." Read more. Go directly to the report here.

Resource: China Gorman

Human Resources: The Movement Toward Measurement Mastery

"Legal is well on its way to better performance tracking." Read more.

Resource: Hyperion GP Research

Human Resources: The Flexibility Paradox

"Because stressed-out workers are ultimately not as effective on the job, companies should hammer out a strategy—with specifics—for helping people relax." Read more.

Resource: Susan Milligan, SHRM

Innovation: Overcoming fixedness: How thinking ‘inside the box’ can drive innovation

This post discusses "functional fixedness" and how managing it might spur innovation in a legal environment. Read more.

Resource: Roya Behnia, ABA Journal

Insurance: Benefit Plan Design and Cost Benchmarking Key Results

Very interesting and comprehensive benchmarking report on health insurance plan design and costs affecting employers and employees by United Benefit Advisors. Read more.

Resource: bp BENEFIT Professionals, Inc.

Marketing: 'Super lawyers' and 'rising stars' are warned about accolade advertising

"Lawyer advertising that mentions awards such as 'Super Lawyers,' 'Rising Stars' and 'Best Lawyers' has spurred the filing of many complaints with a New Jersey committee that considers ethics of lawyer advertising." Read more.

Resource: Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal

Marketing: At Law Firms, Customization is No Longer King: The Resurgence of Standardized Solutions

"The pressures of a changing market are causing some firms to reconsider their use of custom tools." Read more.

Resource: Elisabet Hardy and Patrick Hurley, Legaltech News

Operations: How To Run A More Profitable Legal Department (Video Content)

"In this post, Clarissa Cerda talks about the strategies she used as General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer to turn her legal department from a cost center, into, as she calls it, a 'hooray center' for the company." Read more.

Resource: Mark Miller, Mondaq

Paralegals: The Limited License Legal Technicians Program

An excellent overview of Washington's Limited License Legal Technicians (LLT) program during an interview of Michelle Cummings by Vicki Voisin. Read more.

Resource: Legal Talk Network

Partners: IRS Moves To Bar Partners From Employee Treatment

"The IRS has released temporary and proposed regulations that bar partners from being treated as employees of a disregarded entity (DRE) owned by their partnership." Read more.

Eddie Adkins, Grant Thornton

Presentations: Pro Tips for Creating Masterful Presentations

"For Friday Five+ Tech Tips, we invite a dream team of law practice technology experts to give their best advice for tackling the everyday tech quandaries that plague us all, to help your practice run just a bit more smoothly. This month’s question: What’s your best advice for making better presentations? Heidi Alexander, Jim Calloway, Simon Chester, Reid Trautz and Nora Regis have logged a dizzying number of presentations. Here’s what they’ve learned about powering up your time at the podium." Read more.

Resource: Joan Feldman, Attorney at Work

Records Retention: How Long Do We Need to Keep Our Closed Files?

Information on determining when any given file can be destroyed and the exceptions that apply. Read more.

Resource: Mark Bassingthwaighte, ALPS

Substance Abuse: The Prevalence of Substance Use and Other Mental Health Concerns Among American Attorneys

"Little is known about the current behavioral health climate in the legal profession. Despite a widespread belief that attorneys experience substance use disorders and other mental health concerns at a high rate, few studies have been undertaken to validate these beliefs empirically or statistically." Read more.

Resource: Patrick R. Krill, JD, LLM; Ryan Johnson, MA; Linda Albert MSSW

"A new, landmark study conducted by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and the American Bar Association Commission on Lawyer Assistance Programs reveals substantial and widespread levels of problem drinking and other behavioral health problems in the U.S. legal profession." Read more.

Resource: Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation

Technology: The Remote Revolution (Part 1): Jobs in the Cloud

"In the first part of a two part series, Jared Coseglia discusses the many advantages of remote, virtual employment in the legal industry." Read more.

Resource: Jared Coseglia, Legaltech News

Technology: The Remote Revolution (Part 2): The Challenges with Virtual Employment

"There are clear challenges to remote employment including accountability, technology selection, security, and maintaining company culture." Read more.

Resource: Jared Coseglia, Legaltech News

Committee Members

Sharon Meit Abrahams, EdD - Foley & Lardner LLP

Jennifer Colwell ~ McGill, Gotsdinger, Workman, & Lepp

Kevin Costello, Holland & Knight LLP

Lisa Dasher ~ Wicker Smith O'Hara McCoy & Ford P.A.

Mark Davey ~ Ricoh USA, Inc.

Eric Hightower, CLM, SPHR ~ Davis Agnor Rapaport Skalny

William Mech ~ ofPartner Consulting Services

Steven Morris, CLM, SPHR ~ Allen Matkins

Paul Morton ~ Burns & Levinson LLP

ALA Liaison to Committee

Susan Hanf ~ ALA Sr. Director, Member Experience