How to manage off-site project based Legal Staff

By: Raoul Mills

It is late afternoon and you just received a request for 30 temporary attorneys to work on a document review project.  The firm has a two week deadline and the team must start immediately.  You quickly realize, however, that you do not have the space internally to accommodate them so you will have to conduct the project offsite.  But, wait.  You have never managed a project offsite. There are so many issues involved and so much to coordinate in order to get the project site ready.  Staff and space will be easy to find since these days, almost every staffing company has offsite space and computers.  But once the project starts, managing a team offsite can be challenging.  There are, however, factors and issues to consider both before and after the project starts to ensure that things go smoothly and efficiently from beginning to end.  Effective project management is the key to keeping costs down.

Pre-Project Concerns to Consider

1. Size of space – Find out how many people the space will be able to accommodate. Then, see if there is a work station for an associate or paralegal from the firm and if it can be expanded or replicated quickly in case the scope of the document review grows to include additional attorneys and paralegal support. Consider a well-equipped space that will provide optimum environmental conditions for the review team, which means seeing if the space is supported with proper lighting. Will the HVAC capabilities be capable of keeping the team comfortable after normal business hours and during all seasons?

2. Space location – Not only is the size of the space important, but the location is important as well. Make sure that there are public transportation and parking around the area. See if there are several restaurants and eateries nearby where breaks can be taken. In addition, make sure the surrounding area is well lit and safe before and after traditional business hours.

3. Scheduled Hours – If you have been told that the team can work up to 60 hours, you will need a Project Manager to manage them during this time. After, decide if it will be okay to have people coming and going at all different times or if you need to have set case room hours.

4. Security of Space and Technology – It is important to check if the building has secured access afterhours and during the weekend. Does the internal space used as the document review facility have secured entry and exits? Make sure that that the space is also fully partitioned, maintaining complete confidentiality of all information being produced for a specific client. Also, the vendor needs to have the capability to monitor all computer usage, which means, reports need to be produced to verify what amount of time contractors may be on or off a specific URL or program. Lastly, Will Internet access for personal use during non-billable breaks be permitted?

5. Responsibilities – There needs to be a set division of responsibilities. For example, who will gather questions and then reach out to the attorneys for answers and who will track the productivity? Production standards for daily volume expected to be reviewed by each contractor needs to be set, while performance issues are dealt with. Someone will also have to review and sign time sheets and be able to direct others to staffing companies’ payroll department for processing.

6. Communication Protocol – Consider if there needs to be individual email setup to allow contract attorneys to communicate with firm attorneys overseeing the project. And if there will be a central point of contact used to gather questions and a way to direct them to the firm attorney.

7. Required Training – Firm may require specific instructions on how to distinguish tags that would be used to define document type’s i.e. – Relevant, Responsive, Privileged, Non – Responsive, and Hot. So, how much training on the software platform will be required and can the vendor providing document review software complete the training through Web technology?

8. Capabilities of Computer Network – Find out if the connectivity to the firm’s main server needs to be established and if the review will need to be hosted by e-discovery software provider. Next, check if the e-discovery vendor is available during evenings and weekends to address concerns with document flow. Then, see how many workstations can be operated off of the network being provided and then if there will be backup internet connections available if the project were to expand or if one network goes down.

Lastly, what software technology will be needed? Will you have the ability to monitor amounts of data being loaded and communicate with E-Discovery vendor to make sure that there is consistently enough data being uploaded for review?

Understanding optimal data collection structures for compiling, sorting and disseminating documents for use by contract attorneys is essential when managing team’s offsite.

Some other key factors to consider:

Technology Infrastructure – Determining which document software platform will be used will dictate what type of computer connectivity will be required. Will the software used as the review tool be self contained and managed from a local server or will it be web-based and connected to via the internet? Sometimes a temporary network with virus protection and a firewall is the preferred. Remote connections to “Vendor Hosted” review software programs should be tested from the off-site document review center prior to a project’s start. Internet service provided by symmetrical 50 mbps or greater data are the most desirable for large projects. Having a reliable Internet Service Provider line means predictable download & upload speeds when opening and sending documents. Twenty workstations can usually be adequately supported by a 50 mbps circuit while maintaining consistent download & upload speeds on any platform.

It is hard to be a savvy software buyer. There are several software vendors in the market today that are willing to host your electronically stored information and sell you the software to review it. Different review strategies may require different review platforms. Having worked with a platform previously can offer a higher degree of confidence it will work well for the review team off-site. Most firms choose to select platforms that do not just simply feature a database that merely lists all of your documents, but ones that feature innovative visual interfaces that can help you quickly identify and eliminate non-relevant documents using early-case-assessment tools.

Once the project gets started

Project Overview – On the first day, the staffing company conducts an orientation providing detailed instructions for administrative policies and procedures i.e – client overview, endorse confidentiality agreements, provide staffing company employee handbook, review company benefits, and demonstrate how to fill out time entry forms and expense reports. Then, the firm attorney provides a briefing of case being reviewed. After which, e-discovery training will be conducted with the contractors. Contractors are encouraged to bring forward all questions related to the substantive nature of the review in an open forum, allowing for other team members to learn from each other. Define to all contract attorneys’ appropriate lines of communication, acknowledging what type of information should be conveyed to staffing firm representatives versus those issues that should be directed to project manager or firm attorney.

Project Management – The Project Manager answers all non-substantive questions throughout the course of the review and manages the day-to-day administrative support issues. Productivity tracking will take place daily through e-discovery tool. Following two days of evaluating productivity from all reviewers, production expectations are established. Performance issues are addressed by Project Manager and staffing firm representative as required. Appointing a team lead from amongst contract attorneys can help ensure consistency with both quality and production levels when managing larger teams of contract attorneys.

Managing People

As the project progresses, the need to have ongoing, consistent communication with the contract attorneys will increase. Designated staffing company representatives should be selected to interface with all members of the firm’s project management and attorney teams. Ongoing updates regarding production quotas should be communicated as much as possible. Providing contract attorneys with open, direct, and immediate feedback on their actual performance as compared to expected performance will tend to correct any deficiencies that may exist. When appropriate, individual and team recognition should be awarded to promote good morale within the work environment.

Dealing with large teams of contract attorneys off-site means addressing personnel issues, when and where they occur. When a staffing company representative is present at the document review facility, these issues can be addressed as they happen. Problem solving requires listening to and addressing individual concerns, as well as those of the entire team. Maintaining respect for every issue, big or small, when approached with a concern from a contractor is important and promotes a perception of responsiveness and reliability. Reacting to situations as they occur helps to set the tone for an honest and forthcoming relationship.

When considering an offsite location to conduct a document review, it is critical that you involve your information technology staff at the on-set of the resource planning. Several technical questions should be asked regarding the overall capabilities of the space chosen as the document review facility. High quality off-site temporary staff management relies on understanding the needs and expectations of multiple parties. Having a precise plan of action outlining all details related to project management on-site should also be evaluated in comparison with how it will be treated off-site. Clearly there are advantages to hosting document reviews off-site when all project requirements are considered.

Selecting EDiscovery Vendors – Comparing Apples to Apples

Selecting the wrong Electronic Discovery vendor to handle your data or your client’s data can have dire consequences.  The mishandling of data by your vendor can result in loss of a client, reputation, court sanction, or all of the above.  Therefore, the vendor selection process should be carefully handled and thoroughly vetted.  The best way to compare vendors across the board is to request all candidate vendors to complete a standardized Request For Proposal (RFP).

Although pricing is important, it shouldn’t be the main criteria for selecting an Electronic Discovery vendor.  Selection criteria should entail the following factors:

  1. Geographic coverage

Do they just have regional offices or do they have national offices or even international offices?  Obviously, vendors with a global footprint will appeal more to large international corporations with potential E-Discovery work originating from various geographic regions.

  1. IT and physical security

What processes are in place to protect confidential client data?  Are they ISO certified?  Safe harbor certified?

  1. Breadth of services offered

What other services do they offer aside from standard data processing – (e.g. ECA, data forensics, data collection, hosting, project management, consulting, etc.)?

  1. Expertise/Experience of personnel

What information can they provide about the qualification of their technical group, project management group, and executive management group?  How long have they been in business? What kind of matters have they handled in the past?

  1. Pricing

What are their unit pricing for data collection, data processing, data production, data hosting, hourly tech time, and project management fees?

In addition to considering these factors, you should do the following:

Perform a site visit to see if what the vendor tells you about their operation is indeed true.  See what kind of physical security measures exist within the facility.

– Find out about their capacity, the most amount of work they can handle, and their throughput, how quickly they can accomplish the work.

Ask the vendor to process and host some sample data so that you can evaluate their work in a test environment before you hand over your data.

– Inquire if the vendor works with any third parties and if so, find out who they use so that you can make sure that the parties that they use are reputable, and not in conflict with you or your client.

Check your vendor’s references and obtain feedback from their clients to see how satisfied they are with the vendor’s work.

The vendor selection process can be difficult and complicated.  But if you take the time to carefully vet E-Discovery vendors, it could save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.

By: ERIC AU

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVE TO HELP LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS IDENTIFY AND HIRE HIGHLY SKILLED CANDIDATES.  TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, ATLANTA, D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS AND LOS ANGELES. ERIC AU IS CURRENTLY THE DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS PROCESS MANAGEMENT AT TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES.

Learn more about Tower Legal Solutions: www.towerls.com

Top Staffing Trends To Incorporate Into Your Business Strategy

As long as the economy moves forward, industries will see the need for staffing and recruitment services. This will inevitably cause more competition to find the best talents that will fulfill desired roles.  However, lack or shortage of skilled candidates and unrealistic client expectations have proven to be a constant challenge for staffing industries across the board.  There are numerous reasons for this challenge such as budget, demographics and candidate compensation falling short with client expectations.  In order to find and keep the best talent, staffing companies have to keep pace with current trends and pacesetters. Below are some critical staffing trends that are shaping business strategies and the industry today.

  1. Company Culture – What sort of company culture attracts the best candidates?

Candidates are attracted to a company that has a culture that makes people feel valued and comfortable. The new workforce looks for a tightknit, diverse community that will help them thrive and grow professionally. So before you start looking to recruit top candidates, your company should acquire a hiring process that reflects your office culture. This means, informing them about the company’s goals and expectations, while being honest about development opportunities. You should also mention team building exercises and annual events your office partakes in, so that candidates will get a sense of unity among the team as well as the company’s pride and positive spirit. This process is important because recruiting people who have the same expectations and vision as the company’s, will create a more motivated and harmonious team.

2. Benefits Offered – Is your company offering attractive benefits to the current work force?

Although salary is an important factor considered when accepting a position, recruits also look at the benefits offered. Good benefits help keep the company’s culture and environment positive, but also convince top talents to stay. People look to work for a company that respects their employees’ work/life balance. Some of the benefits that I offer my office are casual attire on Fridays, good options for health, dental and vision insurance, summer half Fridays, a fitness incentive plan, catered lunches, regular group outings to foster team-building, and tuition reimbursement. Through these incentives, my office is a friendly community that is continuously motivated and healthy.

3. Online Presence – Does your company have an online presence to remain relevant and recognized?

Nowadays, having an online presence is essential to engage with clients and market brands and services. Utilizing all social media websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter is extremely efficient in branding your positive reputation, which can assist in recruiting top talent. According to the 2014 Jobvite Job Seeker Nation Study, 59 percent of recruiters rated candidates from social networks as “highest quality.” The study also found that Twitter is the most popular place to ask people for help and advice concerning careers. This means, your company should not only have an updated social media strategy but also utilize sites that will track statistics and data. These analytics will help you determine which of your online presence is the most effective and the different demographics you are hitting. Doing this can help focus your attention to a specific pool of candidates with talents you are looking for.

4. Tech- savvy – Is your company taking full advantage of today’s technology?

In order to recruit top talent, companies have to be knowledgeable about today’s technology and take full advantage of the features. This is because candidates now expect to have a mobile friendly experience.  The Jobvite 2015 Job Seeker Nation survey found that 47 percent of millennials are using mobile in their job search. Which means, your company must create and execute a mobile recruitment strategy – especially if you are looking to recruit millennials and younger workers.  If your company ignores this modern shift that everyone else is on, it will risk becoming obsolete, losing many candidates.  Another method of recruiting that has become popular is live video chat for interviews. This method saves time for recruiters who have many candidates to meet and also gives opportunity for those abroad or international that cannot make an in-person interview. By giving this option for international candidates, your office can have a bigger pool of top talents as well as a further diversified staff.

To conclude, it is important to incorporate these staffing trends into your business strategy because there is a new generation of workers with different expectations. Today, employees work extended hours and are continuously connected through devices. They seek a work life and culture that is flexible, meaningful, developing and rewarding. They also expect benefits and many options to feel autonomous. So, in order to have a company with the best talents, you must stay on top and ahead of the curve of recruiting and staffing trends, as change is inevitable.

BY: HOLLY DEVORE

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS REDUCE LEGAL SPEND WHILE MEETING CHALLENGING DEADLINES. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., ATLANTA, CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND LOS ANGELES. HOLLY IS CURRENTLY THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF TOWER’S CHARLOTTE OFFICE. FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER @Holly_Devore.

Learn more about Tower Legal Solutions: www.towerls.com

3 Great Ideas from “Careers in Legal Technology: the Numbers, the Buzz, and the Shift”

Legal technologists are a hot commodity in this market. How do employers really find and retain the top talent? What can technologists do to posture themselves for continued career development? These are just a few of the questions that were covered by the panel at ILTACON this year.

It was standing room only during this break-out session at a conference with a record-breaking attendance. Careers were definitely on the mind of ILTACON attendees. Here are the three top points made during this panel discussion:

  1. Titles Can Be Arbitrary

Comparing job titles across organizations can be confusing and tough (if not impossible). This is particularly true in law firms where the non-attorney positions are viewed under an entirely different lens. For example, one organization may call someone a “director” while another might reference someone doing the same job as a “manager” or “analyst.” These variables make it difficult for prospective employers to objectively compare candidates or to obtain the necessary buy-in from senior leadership to expand a department.

So, what does matter? The audience was polled and an overwhelming 94% thought that it was experience that propelled someone’s advancement over college/university name (2%) or certifications (4%).

poll1

The panel agreed with the audience on this question. The panel reiterated that it is substance in performance and knowledge over superficial things like titles that matter most when identifying real talent.

This discussion prompted the question- how do people get that experience? This can be difficult to obtain or even harder to communicate to prospective employers. Brownie Davis, of Fish & Richardson, aptly noted during this conversation that this can uniquely be challenging for technologists as they “often do not have the best interpersonal skills.” To help address this, Robert Wickstrom, of Paul Hastings, said that technologists should never stop learning as there are many free opportunities always available

2. JDs Can be Useful

Although experience may be key, there are some certifications that can make a technologist stand-out. Our own Rob Gibbs, Placement Director, observed that there are many software specific certifications that are highly valued by employers in the current market. These certifications include SharePoint, various eDiscovery tools, and Technology Assisted Review (TAR).

The audience was also polled to determine whether they believed that a JD might give a technologist an advantage. The audience leaned toward a benefit with 60 percent saying “yes” and 40 percent saying “no.” The panel agreed that a JD would likely give a legal technologist an edge in doing their job. For better or worse, the degree provides a certain credibility that cannot be duplicated by anything else when dealing with lawyers. This credibility can be the key to getting something done most efficiently.

3. Money Matters

Money can make challenges easier and help recruit the right people to the table. On the candidate side, offering a higher compensation package can go a long way in attracting the right talent. However, the culture of the organization and the fit of the individual is often what makes the talent stay for long-term. Jamar Haywood, Managing Director of Tower Consulting, said that the intangibles, “how and whether you can look at someone when the walls are falling down at 3 a.m.,” is what matters most.

Interestingly, money can also play an important role in overcoming the biggest challenge for technology implementation or team building. Specifically, the audience said that their biggest challenges are:

poll2

The panel unanimously agreed with the audience that building senior management buy-in is often the biggest hurdle to technology related challenges. The panel noted that the answer to this politically challenging problem is often to trace money. Attorneys understand money—how much things cost, importance of generating revenue, and cost-cutting pressures from their clients. Start small and carefully illustrate the return on investment for any proposed change. This will most likely make it easier for attorneys to fall in line, even if they may not fully understand the underlying technology.

These are just three of the top thoughts from this engaging panel at ILTACON. A more detailed account of the live tweets during this engaging panel discussion can be found here. Many thanks to those individuals who contributed to the conversation during the live panel and on social media. Tower Legal also sincerely thanks ILTA for being such gracious hosts during this amazing conference. We look forward to a bright future with ILTA, its members, and its sponsors!

BY: L. KATHLEEN HARRELL-LATHAM

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS REDUCE LEGAL SPEND WHILE MEETING CHALLENGING DEADLINES. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., ATLANTA, CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND LOS ANGELES. KATHLEEN IS AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE IN MINNESOTA AND KANSAS. SHE IS CURRENTLY THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER. FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER @KHARRELLLATHAM.

Learn more about Tower Legal Solutions: www.towerls.com

 

 

How to Navigate the Intersection of Law and Technology

Tower Legal Solutions is pleased to be presenting “Careers in Legal Technology: the Numbers, the Buzz, the Shift” at ILTACON on August 31, 2015. I will be moderating an esteemed panel that includes:

This panel will be discussing a number of hot topics that have a direct impact on those attending ILTACON, ranging from job-seekers to senior executives. This interactive session will cover questions such as:

  • What certifications or credentials are the most sought after?
  • How can organizations best leverage technology while cutting costs?
  • Does a JD give someone an advantage in the technology background?
  • What is the best approach in developing buy-in to support acquisition of new technology or to build out a department?
  • What can firms do to compete with start-ups and to recruit the best technology professionals?
  • What should law firms or corporations invest in now to be best positioned in 2020?

Make sure to join us at 2:30 p.m. on August 31, 2015 to participate in this important discussion. Feel free to follow us on Twitter at @TowerLegal to stay updated on our panel #ILTA030. We look forward to seeing you at ILTACON 2015!

BY: L. KATHLEEN HARRELL-LATHAM

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS REDUCE LEGAL SPEND WHILE MEETING CHALLENGING DEADLINES. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., ATLANTA, CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND LOS ANGELES. KATHLEEN IS AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE IN MINNESOTA AND KANSAS. SHE IS CURRENTLY THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER. FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER @KHARRELLLATHAM.

Learn more about Tower Legal Solutions: www.towerls.com

 

Why is it Important for Companies to Give Back?

Last month, I had the opportunity to give back to a local charity through corporate giving. Although it was a small donation, my staff and I developed a newfound empathy for this cause and found personal satisfaction from giving. It was a great way for us to become more familiar with members of the community and understand the dire conditions some are facing. Also, after learning how impactful our contribution was, my office was motivated to continue the sponsorship and be part of the movement. However, as a managing director in charge of expanding Tower’s presence in Los Angeles, I realized that there were even more benefits that came with corporate giving. For both sides, the company and charity, this interaction proved to be valuable for the cause and the vision of the company, which is an overall win-win. I was able to see how important it is for companies to give back and am now encouraging other offices to do the same. Here are some of the benefits I learned from a corporate perspective:

  1. Brand Recognition

The first benefit is the increased visibility and awareness that comes with participating in a cause. From a marketing perspective, this is one of the ways to get the company’s name and logo out to the public, increasing public awareness and leading to greater brand recognition. This is especially helpful for a start-up company or a company branching out into a new market. Physically participating in a charity event is important and needed, but if your company is time constrained, it may serve better to become a donor first and plan a future event to attend. The company’s philanthropy won’t go unnoticed by the media and the coverage will have a positive impact on the company.

  1. Positive Reputation

When a company participates in a charitable act, that company presents itself in a positive light and a favorable reputation ensues. It is important that a company presents itself as socially responsible about its community as a whole as it will humanize the company, attracting attention of firms and candidates alike. When it comes time for recruitment, people will look to work for companies that care, as it will be an indicator of how they will be treated as employees. Companies that care about their community will also care about their staff’s well-being. Clients will also be more willing to make buying decisions based on the perception of the firm, which could result in an increased profit. The staff also benefit from contributing to causes as it unites individuals towards a greater good and provides an overall sense of well-being.

  1. Cultivating The Company

In order to be a thought leader of a specific industry, most, if not all companies have turned their efforts to increase consumer engagement brand recognition through social media and online content. Social media plays a crucial role in brand recognition, but becoming the face of fresh content and “retweetable” thoughts is hard to achieve since everyone competes in that respect. However, through charitable giving, which will lead to new knowledge about a cause, you can become a source for fresh, rich and shareable content. Your social feed could produce engaging topics and content while taking a break from company updates and recycled content. Sharing about a charity can help humanize and cultivate the company, making it a place where employees feel proud, and future generations will want to work.

In the end, although all of these benefits from giving back are essential, I would refrain from being a sponsor of random charities. It is important to donate and give back to a charity that will best represent your brand, and what you feel impassioned towards. In this way, the company’s benevolence can be genuinely shown through its content and interaction with the community. Giving back to a cause as a group vs. individually is beneficial even to the staff’s bond, creating a positive, cohesive work environment. I encourage everyone to give back to an appropriate cause, not only for personal satisfaction, but also for networking and marketing opportunities.

BY: DANIELA DAKSHAW  

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS REDUCE LEGAL SPEND WHILE MEETING CHALLENGING DEADLINES. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., ATLANTA, CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND LOS ANGELES. DANIELA IS CURRENTLY THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF TOWER’S LOS ANGELES OFFICE.

Learn more about Tower Legal Solutions: www.towerls.com

When Technology Matters for Successful Recruiting Efforts

When Technology Matters for Successful Recruiting Efforts

Recruiters have an array of tools that aid in the process of making the ideal match between a candidate and a position.  Successful engagement of customers, both clients and candidates, is at the core of business and today’s technologies can help with these relationships.  However, “traditional” approaches to communication and relationship building are still essential to what makes for meaningful engagement, resulting in a successful match from both the client’s and candidate’s perspective.  So, it is important to focus on human touch while using technology in recruiting efforts.  Striking that balance will result in people driving technology — not the other way around.

  1. Reaching Candidates

There are a number of tools to get your message to the marketplace: Company website, online job boards, mass emails and social media.  These tools by themselves, however, do not achieve what human interaction can generate.  Recognizing the human touch, in-person interviews and telephone screens, where you evaluate candidates to accurately assess their skills and behavior, is still very much needed.  In respect to other technologies that are used to reach the market place, human input is necessary to develop meaningful content so that customers can learn about the company’s culture and what it has to offer.  In using the variety of online tools visited by today’s job searchers, you should decide the right “mix” of online tools that can generate the ideal candidates.  It is best to take into account the type of candidate you are trying to reach when determining what technology to utilize.

  1. Responding to Both Candidates and Clients

Quick responses are necessary in this business and can have a lasting impact on your customers.  It is the key to relationship building.  But even with technological enhancements, personal interaction is still key, memorable and meaningful.  If candidates feel that they have been respected and communicated with, they will have a positive experience even if the outcome becomes by chance, negative.  Prompt and informed responses will enforce the company’s position as a trusted business partner.  Today’s tools, which include mobile devices and broadcast emailing, help with timeliness and also assist with reaching a large number of individuals quickly.  In our word of mouth and reputation-driven business, people remember the personal touch that technology can facilitate but cannot replace.

  1. Keeping Thorough and Accurate Records

With many candidates and clients, there is a need to make a way to capture all the information that can help navigate the recruitment process.  This includes resumes, interview notes, contact information and work histories. Database technology helps to capture and manage information better, but it is human input which determines what information is important and how to use this acquired intelligence most effectively.  Technology helps to be organized and to track pipeline, but in the end, you will be the driving force behind maintaining and using this information efficiently.

  1. Working in a Diverse Environment

A successful staffing firm relies on the interaction and intersection of several departments (business development, finance, administration and marketing) across many locations, while technology can help you share databases and the intranet can help access information and communicate to help make jobs more effective in achieving successful outcomes.  While technology helps with making communication and information-sharing across departments and offices easier, human engagement is also a valuable, internal tool.  Technology should support and enhance working relationships, not be a substitute for effective and meaningful interaction.

  1. Being Informed

Part of what makes a successful recruiter is understanding the field of expertise of your customers.  Your human intuitiveness allows you to do this in a way technology cannot match.  The most valuable knowledge comes from talking to customers and using information to develop a reasoning process as to who would make a good fit for a particular role.  This is not to say that the wealth of information via the Internet is not helpful, but process and use of reasoned information can yield more of a positive result.

A successful recruiter is adept at wearing many hats, and while technology can help with all the moving parts during the staffing process, it is essential to keep the traditional approaches at the forefront, and use technology as an enhancement.  We should partner with technology, but remember that your efforts are what will drive a successful partnership.  While using technology is an integral part of what we do on a daily basis, remember to emphasize the human aspect of human resources.

By:  ANNA ABRIGO

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVE TO HELP LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS IDENTIFY AND HIRE HIGHLY SKILLED CANDIDATES.  TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, ATLANTA, D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS AND LOS ANGELES. ANNA ABRIGO IS A GRADUATE OF NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL AND HAS OVER 15 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN LEGAL EDUCATION ADMINISTRATION AND STAFFING. SHE IS CURRENTLY THE RECRUITING MANAGER OF THE NEW YORK OFFICE OF TOWER.

Learn more about Tower Legal Solutions: www.towerls.com

Thoughts as a Woman CEO

“Is there something off-putting, if not downright sexist, about ranking women?” Adrianne Pasquarelli asks in her recent article where Crain’s ranked this year’s top 50 powerful women in New York.  She acknowledges that Crain’s does not rank men, so why women? One explanation could be that there is still a disparity between the status of women and men, whether it is in the form of a wage gap or different expectations. “Women earned only 82.5% of men’s weekly salaries last year, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Embarrassingly few—4.6%—of the CEO positions at S&P 500 companies are held by women.”

Because of this troubled and ongoing truth, it is only appropriate to cater more attention to women and the power and influence they hold. By creating a rank, we don’t try to downgrade the accomplishments of men, but rather applaud the accomplishments of women while recognizing their harder and longer road given. Since 1998, the number of women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies has been steadily increasing. As of 2014, there were 24 women CEOs, a small fraction compared to the number of male CEOs. However, it is a large increase compared to 1998, when there were only two.

As a woman CEO who just celebrated her company’s 8th year anniversary on July 2, 2015, I agree that recognizing the accomplishments of women is crucial to a healthier future of equality. I look back on the past eight years and feel grateful for the moments I took a risk and disregarded my fear of failing. I vividly remember Tower’s first day and the question that went through my mind: would the phones ring? Would former clients take a chance on me? Would I succeed? Initially, I never felt challenged, fearful or treated differently because I am a woman. My success came from my skills, not my gender. Although in the early days, I remember hearing industry gossip from competitors who falsely stated that my success stemmed from the fact that Tower Legal is a woman-owned business. They thought that was the reason why we have the client following that we do. None of that was and is true. Based on my experience, diversity does not get you the business nor does it get you in the door. It may however, tip the scale if everything else is equalized. I was never given a contract because I am a woman. Instead, I was awarded business based upon my knowledge, transparency, skills, reputation and customer service.

Overall, it was a challenging road to get to where I am today, but I am still driven with the same confidence and independence I had when I started. I want to applaud these 50 women who were able to recognize their full capabilities and achieve a high standard, again. I hope to mimic their powerful qualities so that I can trickle these essentials down to the rest of the company and continue to keep my diverse team running strong.

By: LESLIE FIRTELL

ABOUT TOWER 

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVE TO HELP LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS IDENTIFY AND HIRE HIGHLY SKILLED CANDIDATES.  TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, ATLANTA, D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS AND LOS ANGELES

Learn more about Tower Legal Solutions: www.towerls.com

How Lawyers Can Protect Their Firm from a Cyber Attack

Law firms are a hot target for cyber-attacks due to the nature of data in their possession. It is estimated that about 80 percent of the largest 100 law firms have had some sort of data breach. Breaches can happen to firms of any size and can take countless forms, from phishing to cloud compromise. The stakes are high and frequently require technical protocols that can seem overwhelming to many lawyers. Beyond the jargon, here are some of the things that lawyers need to understand to help mitigate any risk of an attack:

  1. Lawyers’ Ethical Duties Are Triggered When Breach Occurs

Lawyers have a duty to protect the confidentiality of their clients’ information regardless of where or how it is stored. Any type of breach that would compromise confidential client information may become the basis for a disciplinary action under the Rule 1.6 of the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. Lawyers must take a reasonable standard of care when selecting or utilizing technology vendors, such as cloud providers.

The specific professional obligations in this context can vary dramatically depending on the state where the attorney is licensed. For example, nineteen states currently have issued advisory opinions on the use of cloud technology. Here are some examples of those requirements:

State Responsibility
New York
  • Require confidentiality and notify lawyer if served with process
  • Use available technology to guard against breaches
  • Investigate whether vendor security practices are up to date
  • Investigate potential security breaches
California
  • Ascertain the technologies capabilities and limitations
  • Consult an expert
  • Weigh proportional considerations
Nevada
  • Select reasonably relied upon vendor
  • Require vendor keep client information confidential
  1. Practical Ways to Mitigate the Breach

Cyber-attacks invariably happen without warning, but the impact of the attack does not have to result in firm or client devastation. There are a number of technical and sophisticated approaches aimed at preventing the attacks. Lawyers typically engage IT or IG professionals to implement the nuanced aspects of such an initiative.

Lawyers need to understand and develop protocols for their firm in order to facilitate the overall implementation. This includes the development of internal protocols to mitigate exposure on the front-end by seeking outcomes, such as:

  • Implement a company like firewall to prevent unauthorized remote access.
  • Establish minimum requirements for passwords for all devices that require multiple characters, symbols, and case variations.
  • Provide cyber-training to all employees to cover risks, treatment of unknown emails, and unknown client inquiries.
  • Implement encryption protocols. In certain jurisdictions, a firm may not be liable for the lost or stolen data if the data was encrypted.
  • Create a written response plan to implement when a breach is discovered. The plan must be tailored to anticipated types of breaches and back-up protocols. For example, if your firm does business in China, a response plan should be tailored toward attacks coming internationally.
  • Purchase cyber-liability insurance or only utilize technology vendors who carry cyber insurance.

Installing and planning these protocols may seem too time-consuming or costly. However, that cost pales in comparison to the potential malpractice claims, licensure issues, or notice requirements, if malicious outsiders succeed in the breach.

  1. Notice Requirements When the Unthinkable Happens

Financial institutions are already federally mandated to give notice to victims of a data breach. Congress is currently debating a bill that would expand the federal notification requirements to include any business that uses, accesses, transmits, or stores personal information. Until that bill is passed, consumers must rely upon and the law firms should be knowledgeable about, the 47 different state notification.

Each state has a different rule regarding when, what type, and how soon notification is needed after a data breach occurs. In every state with a notification requirement, companies are required to notify affected customers, clients, or employees as expediently as possible without undue delay. There may be additional requirements if the data breached is of a particularly sensitive nature, such as personal health information or that requiring ITAR compliance. Examples of the spectrum of state notice requirements include:

State Other Duties, Responsibilities, or Triggers Requiring Notification
New York Other Notification Allowed: TelephoneNotice to the State: Notice to the NY Attorney General, Consumer Protection Board, and the state Office of Cyber Security and Critical Infrastructureis required for any breach.Encryption Safe Harbor:  No duty to notify if personal information is encrypted and encryption key has not been compromised.
California Notice to the State: Notice to Californiamust be given if more than 500 Californian residentsare affected by a breach.Private Cause of Action: A business may be liable for a civil action for violating breach notification statute.
Nevada Risk of Harm: Notification is only required if a breach materially compromises the security or confidentiality of personal information.Private Cause of Action: Only permitted for data collector to bring suit against person who unlawfully obtained or profited from personal information.Encryption Safe Harbor: No notice is required if data is encrypted.

There is considerable cost in providing this level of notice. Complying with these obligations may be challenging if the firm’s tech provider fails to provide sufficient notice when the breach happens. Lawyers should consider how to best allocate this cost and risk when negotiating and documenting contracts with their technology providers.

4.  Conclusion

Law firms and corporations of all sizes face the unknown threats and potentially devastating impacts of a cyber-attack. Clients and the demands of practice can make it challenging for any lawyer to worry about the uncertainty of potential cyber-attack. Your firm’s problems may grow exponentially after a breach happens. Lawyers have ethical duties that vary across states to reasonably act to protect their client’s information against these unknown threats. Knowing how to respond and proactively considering safety measures can make the difference in the scope of damage done when a cyber-attack happens. Companies like Tower Legal Solutions can help manage this risk while allowing you to focus on representing your clients.

By: JACOB CRAWFORD

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVE TO HELP LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS IDENTIFY AND HIRE HIGHLY SKILLED CANDIDATES.  TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, D.C., ATLANTA, CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS AND LOS ANGELES.  JACOB IS A STUDENT AT WILLIAM MITCHELL COLLEGE OF LAW AND EXPECTED TO GRADUATE MAY OF 2016.  HE CURRENTLY IS AN EXTERN AT THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER.

Learn more about Tower Legal Solutions: www.towerls.com

 

How to Reduce Legal Spend and Still Address Risks

Companies of all sizes face real legal risks that can directly impact the sustainability of their operations. Rising or unexpected legal spend can impact the bottom line of any company. At the same time, not all types of legal work can be effectively brought in-house. Thus, companies often face a balancing act in determining work allocation between outside counsel and the overhead of an internal legal group.

Addressing this pertinent issue requires an objective and holistic analysis. Here are three crucial steps to consider when evaluating whether to utilize outside counsel or build out a legal department.

  1. Assess Actual Needs

Small and mid-size companies face many of the same legal risks as large, multi-national corporations. These risks include issues such as cyber security, taxes, and contractual risks. The only difference is the impact they may have on the bottom-line. Small and mid-size companies have a lower threshold to successfully absorb the risk of an adverse judgment or failed transaction.

An objective analysis of the business is the most effective way to avoid that “bet the company” impact. There is no universal formula, but important factors to consider when analyzing each company include:

  • Nature and cost of any prior or current litigation
  • Historical data of any legal spend
  • Role of intellectual property and impact on the profitability of the organization
  • Industry-specific regulatory factors and climate
  • Complexity of employment or labor matters
  • Sophistication of IT department and organization’s utilization of technology
  • Trajectory of organization in terms of growth, cultural changes, and evolving business lines
  • Size of footprint and anticipated changes – regional, national and global

Routinely performing this analysis is critical to a realistic business plan. Legal spend can be unexpected but it does not have to be a total knock out (TKO). In fact, proactively navigating the legal risks can be the most efficient way to beat the competition in the long term.

  1. Look for Creative Options

The next step is to assess options to meet the legal needs of an organization. Companies that proactively demand creative solutions rather than look to outside counsel for answers are most likely to save money in the long run. The options can be entirely customized to the organization or a particular need and include features such as:

  • Long-term contract attorneys that provide substantive legal support (I.e. Contract management, franchise and corporate governance)
  • Outside non-traditional legal partner that provides part-time General Counsel (GC) or Assistant General Counsel (AGC) for a growing company
  • Leased employees that provide due diligence or other Mergers and Acquisition (M&A) support
  • Contingent paralegal that compiles all real estate or leasing documents
  • An attorney that serves in dual roles (I.e. Supervises HR department and provides counsel to resolve employment related disputes)

Legal professionals working in-house are more mobile than their counterparts in private practice. Substance and flexibility are powerful lures for the most talented pool of legal professionals. Businesses that embrace this changing legal culture are more likely to capitalize on the skills of the best available individuals without incurring unnecessary expenses.

  1. Compare Costs of Strategies

Traditional legal service models are astronomical in comparison to the evolving options in the current market. These costs and savings can vary dramatically across markets and practice areas. A basic comparison of the economics to draft a purchase agreement and oversee related UCC filings could look like this:

Provider Hourly Rate Total Cost(for 10 hours)
Associate(Outside Counsel) $200 $2,000
Leased Attorney(Working In-House via Staffing Partner) $50-$150(Variable based on function within project) $500-$1500
Savings   $500-$1500

Alternatively, not every need can be cost-effectively met in-house. Volume, time required, infrastructure, available talent, and existing resources are key points to consider when determining whether to continue without outside counsel or to build out the company’s legal department.

Shifts in operational strategies may unexpectedly alter even the best laid out plans. Migrating the provider of the legal services in-house, even if just temporarily, can be an efficient way to reduce legal spend and mitigate risk. Solutions to these changing legal needs can range from bringing on a temporary legal professional to help close a deal to hiring a general counsel. At the same time, performing this analysis and sporadically shopping the options is time-consuming. So, companies like Tower Legal Solutions can help with all aspects of this process including performing the underlying analysis, assisting with RFPs, and providing experienced professionals to meet the internal legal needs for any duration. Alternatively, not every need can be cost-effectively met in-house. Volume, time required, infrastructure, available talent, and existing resources are key points to consider when determining whether to continue without outside counsel or to build out the company’s legal department.

BY: L. KATHLEEN HARRELL-LATHAM

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS REDUCE LEGAL SPEND WHILE MEETING CHALLENGING DEADLINES. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., ATLANTA, CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND LOS ANGELES. KATHLEEN IS AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE IN MINNESOTA AND KANSAS. SHE IS CURRENTLY THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER.

Learn more about Tower Legal Solutions: www.towerls.com