Ahead of the Curve (January 2015)

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.


Strategic Planning: It’s not just for “BigLaw” Anymore

In today’s legal environment, a firm that is standing still is losing ground. Every law firm should create a plan that looks forward five years in terms of practice mix, client mix, firm size and geographic footprint. Read the article here.

Resource: Thomson Reuters


Are Cubicles Preferable to the Open Office Layout?

Though about 70 percent of U.S. workplaces have open office floor plans, numerous studies have shown that employees who work in offices with no or low partitions suffer increased stress from lack of privacy and disrupted concentration — which ultimately decreases worker productivity overall. Should the open office layout be reconsidered? Is it time to bring back the cubicles and the corner offices? Click here to read the article.

Source: The New York Times


Leaders struggle with setting firmwide rates

The collective weight of the season is upon law firm managing partners this month, with the season of course being that of collections, partner compensation and rate-setting. And the latter has proven a bit vexing for firm leaders this year as they grapple with setting rates in an era where firms span multiple markets and practice concentrations, clients aren't willing to pay the published rates, and alternative fee deals are a growing part of firm revenue. Click here to read this article.

Resource: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

What is a pricing officer and does your firm need one?

Ways to charge clients beyond the traditional hourly billing approach have become part of the continuing evolution of how law firms manage their operations. Many of these alternatives, however, see the risk shift from the client to the firm — somewhat terra incognita still for many. Read about a growing trend to ensure law firms continue to maintain a profit in this new environment by having a pricing officer on board.

Resource: Canadian Lawyer

Financial Considerations for New Law Firm Partners

For many private practice lawyers, becoming a partner is a priority, yet it's surprising how few are prepared for the financial implications of such an undertaking. Read more here.

Resource: Law Practice Today

Future Focus

Fresh thinking on the evolving BigLaw–NewLaw continuum

Fresh thinking on the evolving BigLaw–NewLaw continuum is emerging as the legal services ecosystem evolves apace. This post shares a synthesis and critique of views on a taxonomy that seeks to elucidate the current status of BigLaw–NewLaw continuum and some of the implications of this lens.

Resource: Beaton Capitol

Does the UK know something we don't about alternative business structures?

For two nations sharing a language and legal history, the contrast in the visions at play in the legal systems of the United States and United Kingdom is more than striking. It’s revolutionary.

The debates in the U.S. go on: Should ethics rules blocking nonlawyer ownership of law firms be lifted? Is the current definition of unlicensed law practice harming rather than protecting clients? What about the restrictions on multidisciplinary practices? Read more here.

Resource: ABA Journal

Human Resources

Four Benefit Administration Trends for 2015

Read about four key trends affecting the delivery of employee benefits that are likely to escalate in 2015.

Resource: SHRM through ADP

Pandemic? What Pandemic?

According to Deloitte, more than 50% of U.S. companies think there will be a global pandemic in the next few years. Two-thirds think it will seriously disrupt their operations. In spite of that, 67% say they aren't prepared. Read this article to learn more.
Resource: Compensation Cafe

13 Hot Intranet Trends for 2015

Given the fact that competition is only getting more and more intense with the advancement of technology, it's never been so important to stay focused on what lies ahead, and this is especially true when it comes to intranet trends for 2015. Read this article for 13 tips.

Source: Axero

Information Governance

What to Expect in E-Discovery and Information Governance in 2015

Electronic information disciplines, such as records management, cyber security and corporate compliance, continued to become more intertwined in the e-discovery process, and the group of stakeholders touching e-discovery has begun to transform its focus into the broader Information Governance (IG) spectrum. Find out more here.

Resource: CMS Wire

Getting LPM In Shape: A 4-Step Plan

Legal Project Management (LPM) means several different things to different stakeholders within the legal ecosystem. Whichever way you see it, read the following key components will need to be part of your firm-wide definition of LPM to gain successful buy-in from both your lawyers and your clients.

Resource: Elevate Services


5 Presentation Predictions for 2015

PowerPoint with bullet points is outdated. Read 5 presentation predictions for 2015.

Resource: SlideShare by Scott Schwertly


Law Firms And Contracting For The Cloud

This article presents opportunities and challenges for law firms with the growth of cloud computing as a means of obtaining computer and IT service. The opportunities – in terms of scalability, flexibility and ease of use and, for most firms, pricing – are well documented, not least by cloud service providers themselves. This article will set out a number of the risks, challenges and considerations to be borne in mind by law firms taking the decision to switch some or all of their computer and IT requirements to the cloud, whilst outlining possible solutions. [Written for UK market but very relevant for US firms as well]

Resource: mondaq

What’s the difference between public, private and hybrid cloud?

It’s well known by now that the cloud is here to stay and it’s important to familiarize yourself, as well as users, by reading up on the subject and experimenting! The focus of this article is to discuss the differences between public, private and hybrid clouds to help you decide which type of cloud services solution is best for you. It’s often the case that companies use the word “cloud” as a way to advertise their services, but the reality is that we’ve been using the cloud for years; we just didn’t use the same words as we do today. Read the article here.

Resource: Highq

How to Better Manage E-mail in Outlook 2013 with Quick Steps and Rules

If you tell us email has fallen out of fashion, we’d ask you to have a look at our inboxes. Being able to sort through and organize the mess of messages that arrive daily is fairly key to maintaining workplace sanity. Click here for timely tips.

Resource: How-To-Geek

Tax Court Okays Use of Predictive Coding to Review Documents

Predictive coding is having a significant impact on e-discovery specifically, and litigation generally. Here is a case illustrating the power of the technology and how it is being adopted by the courts.

Resource: National Law Review

Where Is Your Firm on the Technology Curve?

The days of being on the leading or bleeding edge of the technology curve are gone? The curve to watch is survival. Click to read more.

Resource: Law Technology News

Cybersecurity: Business Imperative for Law Firms

Some clients are auditing their law firms for cybersecurity safeguards. This article points out that cybersecurity is only as good as the cybersecurity of its vendors. As law firms, we are vendors to those clients and therefore under greater scrutiny to disclose cyber security standards and policies. Also addressed are the(protected health information (PHI) some firms face depending on their client base and the ethical obligations all firms encounter. Read the article here.

Resource: New York Law Journal

Professional Development Advisory Committee Members

Anthony Greene ~ Jamison Risk Services

Eric Hightower, CLM, SPHR ~ Davis Agnar Rapaport Skalny

John Jakovenko, CLM, SPHR ~ Freeman Mathis & Gary

Mark Davey ~ Ricoh USA, Inc.

Nolan Kurtz ~ Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Savannah Robinson, MPA ~ Barnes& Thornburg LLP

Steven Morris, CLM, SPHR ~ Allen Matkins

William Mech ~ ofPartner Consulting Services

ALA Liaison to Committee

Susan Hanf ~ ALA Sr. Director, Member Experience