Ahead of the Curve (October)

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.


4 Ways You Can Create Better Employee Engagement

"Despite a lot of money spent on surveys and flavor-of-the-month motivational tools, in June, average engagement at U.S. companies stood at just 31.9%, roughly the same as it’s been for the past five years, according to Gallup’s latest poll. Poor ROI aside, that means 70% of employees would rather be somewhere else." Read more.

Resource: Bram Lowsky, Chief Executive


With Staff, Trust But Verify because it’s Not Your Money!

"I continue to be surprised at the number of times during a firm visit, be it with a solo attorney or in a small firm setting, I learn that complete oversight of client property has been turned over to an employee." Read more.

Resource: Mark Bassingthwaighte, ALPS 411

Future Focus

Knowledge Management's Place in the Legal Department

"Knowledge management has come a long way in the past decade, but where does it have a place in the future?" Read more.

Resource: Zach Warren, Legaltech News

Law Firm Leaders Forum 2015 – Legal Marketplace Seeing Hyper-Competition amid Flat Demand

"Read legal industry leaders view on the state of legal market in 2015." Read more.

Resource: Thomson Reuters, Legal Current

The end of the office as we know it. (UK)

"The spectre of robotics has cast a shadow over the law firm office as we know it. But are lawyers fully prepared, asks Chrissie Lightfoot?" Read more.

Resource: Chrissie Lightfoot, The Global Legal Post

Which practice areas are going to be the most lucrative in the future? (podcast with transcript)

"In this month’s episode of Asked and Answered, the ABA Journal’s Stephanie Francis Ward speaks with a legal search consultant to find out what the best prospects are for a long-term, successful legal career." Read more.

Stephanie Francis Ward, ABA Journal

What the jobs are: New tech and client needs create a new field of legal operations

"What is not well-understood is that General Counsel are increasingly giving senior “legal ops” professionals the authority to improve legal department performance, including the hiring and managing of outside counsel." Read more.

Resource: William Henderson, ABA Journal


European Court Rules Safe Harbor Agreement Invalid

"In September, Yves Bots, Advocate General of the European Union Court of Justice, submitted an opinion stating that the EU/U.S. Safe Harbor agreement governing international data transfer was insufficient in its current form, remarking that it should allow member states to determine what classifies as the responsible handling of private information as outlined in the EU’s privacy directive. Now the EU Court of Justice (EUCJ) itself has issued a ruling, siding with Bots and potentially creating a host of legal hurdles for U.S. organizations." Read more.

Resource: Chris Dimarco, Legaltech News


How much should a legal website cost?

"Article provides average costs for common web services." Read more.

Resource: Emelina Berkshire, Mockingbird


Law firm mergers continue at record pace

"Sixty-eight law firm mergers have been announced in the first nine months of 2015, the highest number since legal consulting firm Altman Weil began keeping track of the numbers in 2007." Read more.

Resource: Debra Cassens Wiess, ABA Journal


Give Your Clients the Most by Outsourcing

"Here are five tips to improve client service — and manage your workflow — through outsourcing." These tips apply for getting the most from hiring freelance lawyers. Read more.

Resource: Nicole Bradick, Attorney at Work

Project Management

Good Tool, Bad Fit

"Adapting basic project management software for a professional services environment requires two significant additions: versatility to accommodate a host of new metrics, and unity to ensure those metrics are synchronized with the old, accessible to all, and transparent." Read more.

Resource: Richard Hayden, Projects at Work

A Lean Legal Guide: Techniques for the Agile Lawyer

(Registration Required) "A growing number of attorneys are turning to a set of project management and process improvement techniques. This guide will give you a brief primer on the history of Agile, its benefits, and three specific Agile techniques that anyone can adopt to begin improving your practice immediately." Read more.

Resource: John E. Grant, A Clio Publication


5 Strategy Killers

"It's one thing to have a lofty vision for your organization's future state, quite another to inspire people to achieve it. From a preoccupation with the immediate to weak buy-in from mid-level leadership, here are five barriers to implementing your strategic direction." Read more.

Resource: David Waits, Projects at Work


Why Are So Many Law Firms Trapped in 1995?

"Most still keep hard copies of old case files and have their lawyers manually track their hours in six-minute increments. Changes are arriving—slowly." Read more.

Resource: Leigh McMullan Abramson, The Atlantic

Law firms are using high-tech services to aid their work

"Article discussing advancing technologies generally as well as several innovative law firms that have developed specialized products." Read more.

Resource: Murad Ahmed, Innovative Lawyers

Lawyers slow to adopt email encryption and other forms of secure communications, ABA survey finds

"According to a blog post at LawSites by Robert Ambrogi, based on the results of the 2015 edition of the American Bar Association’s annual Legal Technology Survey Report, which is compiled by the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center, attorneys have been slow to adopt more secure forms of communication with clients." Read more.

Resource: Victor Li, ABA Journal

Blank Rome’s Firm-Wide Surface Pro 3 Rollout Provides Increased Efficiency

"Blank Rome, which boasts more than 540 attorneys across the globe, has taken the idea of mobile lawyering to a new level. Starting earlier this year, the firm supplied each of its firm employees with a Surface Pro 3. This makes them the first firm to roll out a mobility enabled ecosystem firm-wide." Read more.

Resource: Zach Warren, Legaltech News

5 Law Firm E-Discovery Models: Which Is Right for You?

"The model your law firm chooses makes all the difference when it comes to profitability and the bottom line." Read more.

Resource: Erin E. Harrison, Legaltech News

Committee Members

Sharon Meit Abrahams, EdD - Foley & Lardner LLP

Mark Davey ~ Ricoh USA, Inc.

Anthony Greene ~ Jamison Risk Services

Eric Hightower, CLM, SPHR ~ Davis Agnor Rapaport Skalny

John Jakovenko, CLM, SPHR ~ Freeman Mathis & Gary

William Mech ~ ofPartner Consulting Services

Steven Morris, CLM, SPHR ~ Allen Matkins

Paul Morton ~ Burns & Levinson LLP

Savannah Robinson, MPA ~ Barnes & Thornburg LLP

ALA Liaison to Committee

Susan Hanf ~ ALA Sr. Director, Member Experience