Ahead of the Curve (February '16)-2

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.


ABA policy-making body adopts principles to guide nontraditional legal services

"A divided American Bar Association House of Delegates approved a group of model regulatory objectives for states to use if they choose to develop or expand nontraditional legal services." Read more.

Resource: American Bar Association


Law Firm Hit by IRS After Paying out All Earnings as Deductible Compensation to Shareholders

"A Chicago law firm operating as a corporation regularly zeroed out its taxable income by making year-end bonuses to its shareholders and deducting such payments as compensation. The IRS attacked the reasonableness of the compensation, seeking to convert some of the payments to taxable dividends, and thus increasing the corporation’s taxable income and income taxes. The Tax Court agreed." Read more.

Resource: Charles Rubin, Rubin on Tax

The Dirty Little Secret of Law Firm Billing

"The Wall Street Journal’s front-page headline on billing rates this month tells only part of the story. 'Legal Fees Cross New Mark: $1,500 an Hour,' That’s great if you can get it, but most firms can’t. The 2016 Report on the State of the Legal Market from Georgetown University Law Center and Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor tells a second part of the story: Realization and collection rates have plummeted." Read more.

Resource: Steven J. Harper, The American Lawyer

Time To Rethink Partner Capital Contributions?

"The lateral churn doesn’t just have firms juggling client business they’ve lost and gained. Amid the boom in lateral hiring, consultants say they are seeing changes in how firms collect capital contributions from new partners—and how they return capital to those who leave." Read more.

Resource: Nick Gluckman, The American Lawyer

Under Client Pressure, Law Firms Focus on Cost-Cutting

"From project management to offshoring and "near-shoring” administrative and IT functions, more law firms are adopting techniques that their clients embraced long ago. But change is coming slowly and is still meeting resistance from partners, according to a new report." Read more.

Resource: Julie Triedman, The American Lawyer


Non-lawyers will head up law firms in the next decade

"Most UK law firms will be managed by non-lawyers in the next five to ten years, a leading consultant says." Read more.

Resource: Global Legal Post


HR’s Top Five to Watch for in 2016 And What to Do Now

Five HR issues to review and assure you are in compliance around. Read more.

Resource: Sandra Hoyle Smith, B2 Management & Consultation

Study: Alcohol Abuse, Depression Widespread Among Lawyers.

"A new study found lawyers face the challenges of alcohol abuse and mental health concerns more so than other professions, and that the problems are more prevalent among those in the first 10 years of practice." Read more.

Resource: Alex Beall, Associations Now


Disruptive Innovation: New Models of Legal Practice

"Something remarkable is happening in the legal profession. Taking a page from the innovative “move fast and break things” tech approach, new and innovative ventures in legal entrepreneurship are on the rise." Read more,

Resource: WorkLifeLaw, UC Hastings College of Law


Law Firm Leaders' Books of Business Lend Credibility

"As law firms grew in size and complexity, there was a well-adopted school of thought over the past decade that the firms' leaders should focus 100 percent of their time on managing what had become large-scale businesses. But in Pennsylvania alone, there are a number of firms, including the largest by head count and the most profitable, respectively, whose leaders have some of the largest books of business in the state." Read more.

Resource: Gina Passarella, The Legal Intelligencer

Ironclad Techniques to Help Your Law Firm Triumph Over Change

Change management is often the most difficult aspect of the job for most firm leaders, and yet, that is exactly what their role calls for. So many changes in law firms fail to some degree. This article highlights reasonable expectations and tips to deal specifically with behavior changes. Read more.

Resource: Jana Schilder, AdvocateDaily.com

Marketing and Business Development

State of Law Firm Marketing and Business Development Today

"...a number of industry trends including new market entrants, the role of business development and marketing in law firms, the allocation of marketing and business development resources, and law firm differentiation" are discussed in this article. Read more.

Resource: Nicole Cudiamat Minnis, The National Law Review


Digitizing Law Records: It’s not as Simple as Just Scanning

"Scanning and document management solutions firm Visioneer discusses the challenges many law firms face when starting a digitization effort in-house." Read more.

Resource: Ricci Dipshan, Legaltech News


CYBERSECURITY ON THE ROAD Beware the Dangers of WiFi

"Many of us have to travel for our work, and that often means connecting to wireless networks. If you use unsecured public WiFi networks when working on client matters, that could mean trouble." Read more.

Resource: Greg Lyda, Attorney at Work


7 Things to Consider When Investing in Cloud-Based Practice Management Software

"In recent years, practice management software has become big business for legal technology. However, many firms are just beginning to feel less anxious about placing sensitive information into a cloud-based system and are starting to fully realize the productivity and security benefits of using cloud-based practice management (CPM) services." Read more.

Resource: Mike Susong, Legaltech News

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