Ahead of the Curve (April 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.


Why Clients Fire: The Silent Epidemic Undermining Your Firm

"More than 50% of clients say their primary law firm’s biggest weakness is inconsistency. Consistency in delivery is synonymous with quality, client service and trustworthiness. Clients interpret uneven delivery as lack of commitment, lack of communication within the team, and doubt as to whether the team understands the client’s underlying goals." Read more.

Resource: BTI Consulting Group


Tax Court Says Chicago IP Firm Owes Penalties to IRS

Is your firm a corporation? Are you zeroing out your income at year end? If so, are your shareholders receiving annual dividends? Brinks Gilson, an Chicago based IP firm got pinned for $425,000 in penalties earlier this year. There may be some serious ramifications to very common law firm year end procedures. Read more.

Resource: US Tax Court

Future Focus

Some firms are trimming their footprints creatively and efficiently

"Ready for a stand-up desk? How about a conference room on wheels? These and many other innovations are either on tap or already here as law firms, spurred by a desire to downsize their real estate footprints, slowly shed tradition and step tentatively into the 21st century." Read more.

Resource: Richard Acello, ABA Journal

Developing legal talent: Stepping into the future law firm

"In recent decades the legal profession in the UK has undergone significant changes in response to shifting client demands, the regulatory landscape and policy developments. By 2025, we predict a profound transformation of the profession due to the quickening pace of technological developments, shifts in workforce demographics and the need to offer clients more value for money. Law firms must have a clear strategy for dealing with these changes now if they want to remain competitive and ensure they attract the best talent to support their business." Read more.

Resource: Peter Saunders, Deloitte


Law Firm Networks: Quiet Giants

"Law firm networks are seldom mentioned in what has become a popular parlor game for legal pundits: speculating who -- and what structure -- will disrupt the global legal market. Why is this?" Read more.

Resource: Mark A Cohen, AILFN


Day Of Reckoning Is Here: HIPAA Audits To Resume

"Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) launched the resumption of long-awaited Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliance audits." Read more.

Resource: James E. Bowers, Mondaq


How to Hire a Home-Run Lateral? Look at Their Stats

"Law firms are beginning to use statistical analysis similar to the "sabermetrics" methods used to evaluate ballplayers and made famous by the book and film "Moneyball." Using performance-oriented data, firms try to create profiles of the types of lawyers they need to hire to help boost profits, then search for candidates who fit the profile." Read more.

Resource: MP McQueen, The American Lawyer

6 Magic Words Are All You Need To Terminate An Employee

"A poor understanding of the at-will doctrine often leads employers to artificially create documentation as a basis for termination even though it's not required. Instead, companies must regularly document and memorialize workplace performance as a matter of course, and in most cases, when terminating an employee use just six magic words, says Ricardo Granderson, principal and founder of The Granderson Group." Read more.

Resource: Richardo Granderson, Law 360


Are employee bonuses more important than raises?

"There are many ways to compensate employees and attempt to demonstrate their value to the company. What wins?" Read more.

Resource: reviewsnap


Chief Content Conductors: the new Role for Legal Marketers

"In a world that values good information, law firms and lawyers have advantages over other industries, but the role of legal marketers has become more technical as a result. It has shifted from crafting messages to ensuring that information is created and delivered to target audiences." Read more.

Resource: Adam Stock, Legal Solutions


Former CIA operative's travel tips

"Draw blinds, keep flashlight by bed and carry a handcuff key. Following a seeming increase in violent incidents and terrorism around the globe in recent years, lawyers and other Americans traveling on business may feel that they need to focus more on personal security." Read more.

Martha Neil, ABA Journal


Special Report: What Will the Privacy Shield Mean for Legal?

"The announcement of the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield, and the release of documents explaining its principle and structures, herald the end of an uncertain era over transatlantic data transfers. With Safe Harbor in the rear view mirror, many now turn to the question of how to best adapt to the new regulatory paradigm." Read more.

Resource: Legaltech News


7 science-backed tips for reading faster and retaining more

"Books: some of the world’s best discoveries are contained within them, and new ideas spark to life as we plumb their pages." Read more.

Resource: Caitlin Schiller, Business Insider

Investing in Your High Potentials: Coaching Circles

"Retaining budding mid-level and senior associates has again become a strategy for law firms. Firms can gain an edge by investing in retaining high performing associates." Read more.

Resource: Jane DiRenzo Pigott, Legal Solutions

Committee Members

Sharon Meit Abrahams, EdD - Foley & Lardner LLP

Mark Davey ~ Ricoh USA, Inc.

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