3 Reasons Lawyers Should Move Outside the City

This job market demands that lawyers need to be more creative in order to find meaningful employment that utilizes their hard-earned degree. For some lawyers, this means a lengthy job search that may ultimately end in a career outside the legal field. For others, it may mean that they choose to relocate outside of the city where they graduated from. In fact, many lawyers are choosing to relocate to rural America to places like North Dakota, Mississippi, or Kansas.

There are lots of reasons why a lawyer may scoff at such a drastic move. But, when digging deeper, this is becomes a strong contender for many in the context of the tough job market and inevitable lateral movement from their first legal job within a few years. Specifically, here are three reasons why lawyers should seriously considering making this move:

  1. Increasing Demand Creating Opportunity for Lawyers

According to the New York Times, about 20% of America’s population lives in rural areas, however; only 2% of small law practices are in those areas. The consequences of these numbers include:

  • Justice Gap. The lack of legal representation for rural Americans has created a “justice gap” between the rural and urban parts of this country. For example, this gap has grown so wide that there is not a single lawyer in 12 counties in Nebraska. Similar stats can be found in the Dakotas, Kansas, Missouri, and Minnesota.
  • Retirement. Many lawyers in rural America are retiring without a lawyer to take their place. This forces their former clients to drive hundreds of miles for legal assistance. Many clients will choose to not obtain counsel or not pursue potential class actions simply because of this inconvenience.
  • Incentives. Some states have taken meaningful steps to attract legal talent. For example, South Dakota has enacted the Rural Attorney Recruitment Program that offers an incentive payment for the first five years of practice (about 90% of USD’s law school in state tuition). Other states, such as Nebraska and North Dakota are considering or testing similar programs.
  1. Immediate Opportunity for Real Practice Experience
  • Competitive Advantage. As the sole lawyer in town (or even county) you will get immediate experience advising clients and trying cases. These hands-on skills and real opportunity are things that your competitors who stayed in the city can only dream about. Sometimes, the only way to become a contender for that dream job is to put yourself out of the market for a little while.
  • Transferable Practical Experience. The disparity in representation between rural and urban Americans means that most lawyers in small towns are generalists. Few practice what they think is the dream after they graduate. Instead, most lawyers try several different practice areas and roles before finding the right fit for them. A broad background boosts the future marketability of your legal career for the long term.
  • Business Savvy. The business of the practice of law can be challenging and few graduate with any knowledge of what this actually means. Practicing in a small town requires relationship building, business development, marketing, and acquiring all of those business skills that are not taught in law school. You will not get the same depth of expertise in these areas if you stay in the city or take a job outside of the legal field.
  1. Balancing Expectations with Experience

The grass is not always greener. The reality of small town living also means that there are some downsides to choosing to move outside of the city. These lifestyle matters must be carefully balanced against your personal desire to put that title of “Esq.” to work. For example, this can include:

  • Salary. Lawyers in rural areas make on average less than their city counterparts.  For some, this lower salary is still better than no paycheck in the competitive job markets of most cities. Fortunately, the lower cost of living in rural America will help offset the lower starting wage.
  • Social Life. Networking, dating, major league sporting events or hot concerts are something that just are not the same in a small town. Life in a rural area is simply different. Appreciating that you will likely be the youngest (if not only) lawyer (or even person under 40) in town goes a long way to helping you formulate a plan on how you will adapt to the culture.
  • No Traffic. Say goodbye to rush hour and bumper-to-bumper traffic. Not only will living in rural America help you appreciate your car more, you may also decide to expand your available modes of transportation. Imagine riding a horse or a boat to your next deposition! In fact, some lawyers have decided to even learn to fly in order to reach the most remote areas of the country.

Living and practicing law in rural America certainly has its advantages. But, the decision to move to the country is not a choice to be made lightly—particularly at the beginning of your career. Evaluate all options and seriously take stock of what you want out of your law license and your personal life. If relocation is for you, then actively begin your search across all areas. Many of the rural opportunities are not posted in the more traditional ways that you may be accustomed to in the city. Instead, the corporations or firms in those areas may rely heavily on referrals or staffing agencies to help fill the need. Connect with companies like Tower Legal Solutions to best understand your options and opportunities outside the metro area.

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., 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

3 Recruiter Questions Every Candidate Should Answer

Looking for a job can feel like a full-time position in and of itself. The legal job market is improving but it can still feel like your resume is getting lost in a sea of applicants. Involving a recruiter in your job search can save you time and energy. It can also provide a way of keeping your resume towards the top of the stack of submissions that sought-after firms and companies will inevitably generate. Every job starts with a description, however in addition to qualifications and skills, employers are also looking for traits that are difficult to quantify. Search Directors are in a unique position to understand exactly what employers, their clients, are looking for. They make their living by finding, screening and presenting candidates that meet those expectations. In order to do that effectively, a recruiter needs to ask every candidate she works with many questions, some of which seem personal or hard to answer. Providing honest and specific answers to these questions can feel overwhelming. Doing so will result in being presented with the kinds of opportunities you want and, can lead to a permanent placement.

1. Money
What you are making now and the compensation you are looking for can be hard to open up about. Most people do not discuss this information, even with those closest to them, so it can feel difficult to answer, especially when asked by a search director during an initial screening. Here’s how to tackle this head-on:

  • Be as specific as you can.

Don’t be vague or non-committal. Not committing to a specific number or range may feel “safe” but a lack of specificity actually hobbles your search. A recruiter needs to understand where you are at currently and what kind of compensation you are seeking in order to present you with opportunities that make sense for your career objectives. It is completely acceptable to answer this question with a range but there is almost always a bottom dollar and your recruiter needs to know what that is.

  • Do your research

Look at the positions and titles you are interested in and get a feel for what the market will support. Examine the skills and qualifications you bring to the table and adjust that figure accordingly. Know what you are hoping for and what you will take.

  • Examine your variables.

Search directors understand that your number has some play in it. There are convenience factors and experience-building variables that may affect your bottom line. You may be willing to trade a lower salary for working at a firm closer to home where parking is provided. Or, you may consider a lower base salary with a more aggressive bonus structure if you have talent as a rain-maker. Knowing what variables are important to you and what you would be willing to trade monetarily for them will help you be prepared to address the question of compensation.

2. Motivation
Whether you are actively or passively looking for opportunities, the specifics of why you are looking to make a change are important. Follow these rules of thumb when discussing your motivation with a search director:

• Be forthright.

If you are looking because you have concerns about the stability of your current firm or because the leadership of your organization has changed and the environment is no longer a good fit, then say that. Being as open as you can will help your search director put the right opportunities in front of you. An open discussion about what is troubling you can help her understand what firm or corporate cultures might not be a good fit for you and what you are looking for in an ideal workplace.

• Embrace the awkward.

Sometimes candidates gloss over trouble spots thinking that any discussion about a negative or difficult situation places them in a bad light. This is seldom the case. When your recruiter knows the good, bad and the awkward, she is able to weave that into your story if necessary. She can also help you find ways to discuss it in interview scenarios that demonstrate your skills and resilience.

Define your dream.

Every candidate has a dream about where she wants to be. For some it is a specific employer, for others a salary or a title. Share your dream with your search director. Whether your dream job is one step away or several, this information can help your recruiter see the path you are on and what makes sense as a next step.

Be aware of the horizon.

Whatever the reason you might be looking, if there is a timeline you have in mind, make sure you are upfront about it with your recruiter. It can feel less than comfortable to disclose that your severance is running out, or that your contract will be ending in three months. However, this is exactly the kind of timeline information your recruiter needs to understand where you are and the speed at which you want to move. Sharing this is not a guarantee that your recruiter will be able to make something happen in that timeframe, but the more information a search director has, the better prepared she is to assist you and the less time is wasted presenting you with options that will not meet your needs.

3. Competition

Recruiters ask the following questions to get a feel for the scope of your employment search. Here’s why:

• Where else are you applying?

This may not seem relevant but your answer provides lots of helpful information. It gives your recruiter a good feeling for the kinds of employers you are interested in as well as the titles you are seeking. Are you seeking a partnership? Will you bring a book of business? Recruiters are very familiar with the employers in their territory and are often aware of other opportunities in the area that might be very similar to those you are already considering.

• Have you had interviews?

Specific answers to this question also help a search director understand how active you are in your job search and the length of time you have been at it. All of these pieces of information help to flesh out where your job search needs to go from this point forward and helps her develop a more effective marketing plan for you.

• Who are the non-contenders?

Where you won’t go provides almost as much, if not more, information to your recruiter as where you would like to go. Knowing the kinds of places you do not want to work and why you would like to avoid them gives your recruiter a valuable insight into how you work and what kinds of things you want to stay away from in employment environments. A third-party recruiter is neutral on positions and organizations so you are able to be transparent about your concerns.
Sharing information with your search director not only takes your resume from black and white to full-color, it allows her to present you as a candidate to employers in three dimensions. This contrasts starkly with every other two dimensional resume in the stack in front of them. Whether you are just starting to look around or you have been actively looking in the legal market for some time, search directors at Tower Legal Solutions are ready to help you examine what you are looking for, where you would like to be and how to get you there.

BY: JESSICA BERNS

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 IDENTIFY AND HIRE HIGHLY SKILLED CANDIDATES. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS AND LOS ANGELES. JESSIE HAS A JURIS DOCTORATE FROM HAMLINE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW AND IS EXPERIENCED IN BOTH MANAGEMENT AND STAFFING SERVICES. SHE CURRENTLY WORKS IN THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER.

How to Decide When to Invest In Outsourcing to Increase Attorney Profitability

Clients and the practice of law can be fickle. The uncertain duration of demands and limited time certainly make it difficult to know when or how to bring in help. Evaluating this problem does not require a long-term solution or considerations of inter-office politics. Instead, it simply boils down to the numbers.

Performing a basic economic analysis of the true costs can make it crystal clear when to tough it out and when to outsource that help—even if just for the short term. Here are some basic steps to help objectively tackle the calculation:

  1. Take Stock of all the Demands

It is impossible to know just how much time is spent or all of the things that need to be done if it is not tracked somewhere. Reacting or continuously responding to fire drills only hurts the long term profitability and sanity of everyone involved. Instead, commit to having everyone track everything—especially the non-billable. Commit to at least a week, but a month would likely be better.

There are two easy ways to start tracking everything. Here are some suggestions when tackling either approach:

  • Make To-do Lists:
    • Write-down everything that needs to be done tomorrow at the end of the day.
    • Mark a “B” and “NB” or some other symbol whether the work is billable
    • Check off everything that actually was accomplished at the end of the day.
    • Take everything that was not done and roll it on to the to-do list for tomorrow.
  • Utilizing the Billing System:Track all of your time whether billable or not.
    • Create separate billing codes or other methods to categorize the non-billable time.
    • Run a report at the end of the week to determine time spent under each category.
    • Investigate whether there is a reporting or reconciliation function in the system to compare time and money invested in business development and return on investment.

Regardless of approach, make sure that everyone participates in the tracking progress. This should include timekeepers and any non-timekeepers in order to understand the full scope of work within the office. The mere task of tracking will help everyone to better reflect on her day and to identify opportunities for future improvements.

  1. Calculate the Opportunity Costs

Take the time to calculate all of those other costs besides the non-billable time. This does not have to be precise and even the rough estimates can be useful in guiding the decision process. These additional opportunity costs can include things like:

  • Loss of employees, attorneys, or clients. There are inherently costs in marketing, recruiting, training, or technology that result from each one of these events.
  • Periods of considerable stress or an unusually high volume of billable time are frequently followed by lost productivity. Imbalanced workload inherently leads to shorter days, extended time off or even departure. Monetizing these costs can be challenging but inherently present a huge economic drag if not addressed.
  • Lost new business. Time spent overworking on a matter or stuck in administrative backlog means time away from landing a new client, building existing client work, or some other revenue generation potential. This costs money and presents real problems over time—even when the imbalance is episodic or incremental.
  1. Do the Math

Most lawyers avoid math like it is the plague. But, math does not have to be intimidating or feel useless. Simply insert the numbers fleshed out above into the some of the calculations below to better understand the economics of your practice or firm. This can significantly take the stress out of any outsourcing or staffing decisions. The calculations below can also be applied at the firm level or even at a client/matter level to determine or maintain profitability for a particular matter:

  • Cost of Non-Billable Time:
    • Attorney (or paralegal) hourly rate x Number of Non-Billable Hours = $ Cost (per person)
      • Example: 10 NB hours x $200 hr/rate = $2,000 (Per person for a week)
    • Add All of the Non-Billable Costs=Firm Costs
      • Example: $2,000 x 5 attorneys = $10,000 (total cost per week)
  • Calculate Cost Per Billable Hour:
    • Materials + Labor = Direct Cost of Billable Hour
      • Example= $48/hr (attorney salary) + $20/hr (assistant time for proofing) = $68

Cost will vary depending on type of work performed, using what, and by whom.

  • Profit Per Billable Hour:
    • Hourly Rate – Cost Per Billable Hour= Profit Per Billable Hour
      • Example = $ 200 – $68 = $ 132

Assumes a static cost per hour that is subject to change.

  • Overhead:
    • All (fixed cost+ fixed cost + fixed cost)=Overhead
      • Example: $1,000 rent + $100 insurance + $100 taxes = $1200
  • Cost of Operations:
    • Overhead (i.e. lease, insurance, utilities, taxes, etc) + Cost of Non-Billable Time= Full Cost of Operations
      • Example: $1,200 + $10,000 = $11, 200 (total weekly cost of operations)

Includes opportunity costs of NB time. Assumption that timekeeper would have billed.

  • Break-even:
    • Overhead / (Profit Per Hour )=Break-even
      • Example: 11,200/$132 = 84.84 hours

Break-even means=point at which sales exactly cover expenses. No loss, no gain.

  1. Identify Priorities and Opportunities

Client demands may prevent even the best intentioned attorney from fully crunching the numbers to evaluate the decision of when to outsource, expand, or just tough it out. In that case, invest a little time to meet with a company that specializes in legal staffing and consulting—like Tower Legal Solutions. The companies who are best at doing this understand that the important issue is what is going on with you—not some cookie-cutter approach. Some examples of types of outsourcing that can lead to the biggest improvement of profitability include:

  • Administrative assistant support to scan documents, edit drafts, and file documents.
  • Billing specialist to reconcile invoices, payments, and follow-up on AR.
  • Paralegal to compile documents, review technical materials, and finalize PTO filings.
  • Attorney to perform research, review record, and prepare draft of appellate brief.

The right strategic partner can provide the support needed for whatever circumstances regardless of form or duration. Big, small, long, short, intermittent. Any need can be met with the right legal staffing partner.

The needs of every practice and organization is dynamic. Outsourcing with the right provider can build in the flexibility which is critical to ensure long-term profitability. Time and money are always at a premium. Maximize your time and investment by reaching out to companies like Tower Legal Solutions who will customize the approach to improve your profitability by using the right people to support your objectives.

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., 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

3 Ways eDiscovery Project Managers Deliver Success Before Project Start

Project managers and eDiscovery teams face a number of challenges during the lifespan of a project. Challenges can range from the expected (i.e. periodic technical difficulties) to the unforeseeable (i.e. large increase in size of database). Effective project management is the key to ensuring deadlines and budgets are met even in face of the biggest hurdles.

Change and challenges happen in every eDiscovery project. These forces will arise suddenly and may continue throughout the project. Strong project managers know to take steps in advance of any eDiscovery project to prevent some problems and minimize the impact of others. Consider the following to proactively minimize challenges on your next eDiscovery project:

  1. Hire the Right Team Leader(s) for this Project. Team leaders are often brought in to support project managers in various aspects of the case. They are also responsible for reviewing documents. An effective team leader is extremely helpful to ultimate success of the project.

Project managers should take the time to consider which person will best fulfill the needs of the project in question. Not everyone is right for the job or for such roles on all projects.
Identifying the right person for the role requires looking at the following:

  • Leadership qualities exhibited by the person regarding answering questions, identifying appropriate issues to elevate and solving problems;
  • Confidence and experience with the use of the relevant technologies;
  • Comfortable working relationship and communication style with the project manager;
  • Experience level regarding the substantive legal issues in question.
  1. Review the Database before the Project Starts. It is often unclear what issues the documents will present until the review starts. Those uncertainties can be minimized if the Project Manager reviews the overall structure of the database before the projects starts. Project managers consider the following issues based on a review of the database before beginning of the project:
  • Whether the size and makeup of the batches appears to be correct;
  • Whether the number of documents within the database is consistent with previous communications with the client or vendor;
  • Whether recurring types of documents exist within the database; this analysis can help the project manager ask more effective and insightful questions of counsel during the initial training call;
  • Whether there are alternative and more effective ways to set up the document batches or coding palette; these alternatives can be discussed with the client and/or requested from the vendor;
  • Whether opportunities exist for analyzing data and reducing the size of the database; this can save the client money and/or time.
  1. Begin to Plan a Quality Control (QC) Process Before the Project Start. The QC is often managed on-site by the project manager and performed by reviewers during the project. This can take many forms and may be subject to the approval and input of the client and/or counsel. An effective QC adds a great deal of value to eDiscovery projects.

This process works best when it is developed in advance of the project start. This allows the project manager the flexibility to start QC very early in the project if desired. Also, it results in a more focused and efficient QC. Project managers should consider including the following when developing an initial QC process:

  • Substantive key terms from the review protocol that will likely need to be searched;
  • Whether the QC search process will be batch by batch, reviewer by reviewer or database wide;
  • What type of QC feedback is planned to be shared with review team members.

Experienced project managers, like those at Tower Legal Solutions, recognize that the best way to address the challenges that arise during every eDiscovery project is to develop solutions before the start of the project. Projects can move very quickly and challenges can develop suddenly. This style of proactive management has proven to benefit clients through increased efficiency and effective decision-making.

BY: GABE KUHFUSS

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP COMPANIES REDUCE THEIR LEGAL SPEND AND TO COST EFFECTIVELY MANAGE EDISCOVERY PROJECTS. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS AND LOS ANGELES. GABE IS AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE IN MINNESOTA. HE IS CURRENTLY THE PROJECT MANAGER IN THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER.

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

4 Reasons to Return the Next Cold Call from a Recruiter

Hiring for a position in any organization can feel overwhelming at the best of times. This is particularly true when trying to fill experienced or specialized roles in law firms or corporations. . .Working with outside staffing firms can help to relieve the administrative and economic burdens of this process. Outside agencies are an easy way to supplement the traditional methods utilized by any organization while expanding the reach of the search. Not all staffing agencies are created equally, but consistently exploring the options is the only way to identify the best options available. Here are four reasons to return the next call you receive from a recruiter:

  1. Time is Money Better Spent Elsewhere

Every search takes time, money, and involves a great deal of documentation. This is time costs the firm money and directs precious resources away from more pressing business. Legal staffing firms are able to eliminate this burden by identifying and screening candidates. The ideal recruiter goes a step further by inquiring about the firm, the role, and culture to focus the search. The agency will also perform all background checks, review writing samples, investigate experience, and perform conflict checks before the candidates are ever presented. This allows the firm and its staff to stay focused on the business or practice of law until the right candidates are ready for consideration.

  1. Best Candidates Are Not Found in the Classifieds

People who review the classifieds regularly are often the unemployed or the inexperienced. The best candidates are frequently those people who are too busy in their current roles to read the classifieds. These passive candidates are interested in making a change for a number of reasons and can only be reached by more creative approaches.   A competent recruiter builds personal relationships with a wide variety of candidates from senior partners to paralegals.  This relationship based approach is necessary because passive candidates want to make the right moves for their careers and the long term. Prospective employers can tap into this network that is otherwise inaccessible by utilizing a range of staffing agencies.

  1. Perfection is Possible.

The perfect candidate for any position is out there, but it takes legwork to find the person. Working with a legal staffing firm can make perfection attainable without the burden.  Quality recruiters, like those at Tower Legal Solutions, know how to find the right candidates and create excitement about your opportunity. This step is crucial because high-caliber candidates have options—including your competitors. A recruiter is your advocate to these candidates who will take the basics and build a compelling story about why they should select your opportunity. The recruiter is also the intermediary who can help provide the realistic input to filter out someone who may not be a good fit.

  1. Nothing to Lose. Everything to Gain

Most legal staffing agencies only charge a fee if they are successful. These fees should be negotiated and documented up front. This transparency ensures that the recruiter is motivated to find the right person for the firm because there is no payment unless you are satisfied. Meanwhile, the firm enjoys the benefits of seeing an added depth to its search without any risk. In fact, many firms often work with multiple staffing firms to have the greatest reach possible with any search.

All firms and legal departments most likely have made some decisions about legal staffing firms in their market. However, it never hurts to open up that approach for the next search. Returning the next cold call or email from a recruiter, like those at Tower Legal Solutions, can provide tremendous benefits with little downside. But you will never know until you answer her call.

BY: JESSICA BERNS

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 IDENTIFY AND HIRE HIGHLY SKILLED CANDIDATES. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS AND LOS ANGELES. JESSICA HAS A JURIS DOCTORATE FROM HAMLINE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW AND IS EXPERIENCED IN BOTH MANAGEMENT AND STAFFING SERVICES. SHE CURRENTLY WORKS IN THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER.

 

How to Avoid Ethical Complaints When Outsourcing Legal Work

Outsourcing is a common practice across industries in the current economy. Legal services, including those of representation, are no exception. The types of services outsourced also now commonly extends well beyond traditional document review projects. Lawyers choosing to outsource any part of the representation must be careful in who they select to provide the services and how that work is structured. Similarly, non-lawyers charged with vendor selection need to understand the ethical obligations to fully understand the costs involved and the required interactions with outside counsel.

Understanding the duties is the easiest way to ensure that ethical problems and unexpected costs can be avoided. Here are five questions that decision makers should ask when selecting a vendor or a location for any project:

  1. How are Conflicts Monitored?

The outsourced services can be performed by lawyers or non-lawyers depending on the type of work performed. Lawyers choosing to outsource must comply with Rules 5.1 and 5.3 to make reasonable efforts to ensure the performance complies with the applicable state enactments of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Compliance with such rules includes those governing conflicts and waivers. Here are a few questions to ask the prospective provider to determine whether the conflicts duties are met:

  • Is there a standard conflicts protocol?
  • How are conflict checks performed with candidates?
  • Do you have a protocol for updating conflicts checks?
  • Can conflicts be waived? If so, what is your protocol?
  • Can you take additional steps for my particular client/project/etc?
  • What steps are taken if a conflict is discovered mid-project?
  • How are conflicts monitored amongst the project management team?
  1. What Procedures are in Place to Protect Confidentiality?

Steps must also be taken to ensure that the client’s information is protected in accordance with Rule 1.6 at all times. IT professionals or technology vendors should be consulted with to ensure that all electronic information is properly transferred, protected, and backed up while the outside provider is performing the necessary services. Some questions to contemplate during this phase include:

  • What security measures are in place to protect dissemination of the information outside of those working on the project?
  • Is there segregation of workspaces?
  • Has any additional certifications or insurance been obtained to protect the technological obligations? For example, is the provider Safe Harbor certified or does it have Cyber Insurance?
  • Have there ever been any leaks or instances of candidates improperly disclosing information? How did the organization address such situations?
  • Are there security systems in place like electronic access cards or video cameras? Is there a reporting function from such systems to investigate issues if necessary?
  • Are there any measures in place to prevent copying or downloading of confidential information from the work stations?
  • How does the organization dispose of confidential information after the project is completed?
  1. How can Counsel Supervise the Outsourced Services?

Counsel must also have protocols in place to oversee or supervise the services which are outsourced. The degree of necessary supervision can vary dramatically depending on the nature of work to be performed. Adequate supervision by counsel does not necessarily require proximity to the location of services being performed. Consider the following when making any provider selection or establishing the logistics for any project:

  • Does the vendor routinely perform reference checks of its employees?
  • Are criminal background checks performed? How can this information be properly disclosed to counsel without creating privacy issues?
  • What are the hiring practices of the organization? How does it ensure that candidates are properly screened and of the right fit for the particular project?
  • What communication protocols are standard to keep counsel informed of issues, performance, and questions?
  • Can additional steps or modifications to the standard protocol be implemented to address specific needs on a particular project?
  • What training is required for candidates and can additional training be added upon request?
  • Who is primary contact if there is a performance, attendance, or behavioral issue with the candidate?
  • Can additional staffing or management support be provided if needs were to change once the project is underway?
  • Is there an opportunity to tour the site and meet the management team?
  1. What Precautions Can be Taken If Work is Sent Outside the US?

Offshoring is increasingly popular as companies push for results at lower costs. However, there is a bigger picture of cost to consider when assessing the overall price tag of any outsourced work. In fact, lawyers should be particularly hesitant in sending any legal services offshore because it may not be possible to fulfill all of your ethical obligations. See ABA Formal Opinion 08-451 and comments 6 and 7 to Rule 1.1. The following questions must be considered if contemplating sending any legal work associated with US matters outside of the country:

  • Are there any additional costs that must be incurred? For example, licensing, taxes, or travel costs to establish or supervise the project. Is it possible to obtain an estimate of these costs?
  • Is the legal education system training the lawyers comparable to the US?
  • Does the professional regulatory system in that country instill comparable core ethical principles similar to the US legal system?
  • Is there a disciplinary enforcement system policing the lawyers? How does the vendor ensure that candidates working on the project are in good standing?
  • If the training and discipline is inadequate in the country, what steps can be taken for counsel to supervise the particular project? Can that be realistically achieved and what additional costs will be necessary as part of such supervision?
  • Is there a risk of seizure of personal property or information in the judicial or administrative system in the country notwithstanding claims of client confidentiality?
  • What is the risk of loss of client information or disruption of the project in the event a dispute arises between the vendor and counsel?
  • Will sending the project to this particular country create any contractual or public relations problems for the client?
  • Do the time zone variances make it impossible or impractical for counsel to oversee or properly supervise the project?
  • Are there lower cost alternatives in the US that can achieve the same result at a comparable overall price?
  1. What Client Communication and Consent Is Required?

All 50 states have some variation in their enactment of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. The interpretation and application of such state rules can create additional variations. Thus, lawyers and those other decision makers should understand the requirements of the particular rules of the state or the governing law of the underlying fee agreement. Some states permit variation from minimum requirements by contract while others do not. Clients may always impose additional requirements in their outside counsel guidelines or engagement letters that go above and beyond the specified minimums for notice and consent. The only way to understand or enforce the requirements for notice and consent in any particular situation is to evaluate the specifics of the agreement and the legal requirements.

Creatively outsourcing parts of the representation can help keep costs down while staying competitive in the current market. Understand the options and the obligations to guide the client through the process or to better protect your rights as a client. Time and money are always at a premium in any representation. The right relationships can be invaluable to achieving even the most challenging deadlines. Companies like Tower Legal Solutions are fully able to establish customized protocols for any outsourced legal work to help meet the ethical obligations while avoiding unexpected costs.

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., 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

4 Tips for Legal Professionals Reaching for Work/Life Balance

The press of clients’ legal demands can make life chaotic. Attorneys, paralegals, and everyone else in the trenches understand the importance of the deadline. The trick to staying at top performance and avoiding burnout often requires a commitment to try to get some kind of work-life balance. The balance never seems to stick, but there are often opportunities for realignment. The effort is worthwhile even if not long-lasting because it will improve productivity, job satisfaction, and loyalty. Thus, here are four tips to consider whenever you are looking to make an adjustment while still meeting those deadlines:

  1. Take the Small Step First

The hardest part is getting started. Identify one small step. Then do it and stick with it. Do not over think it. The change, no matter how small, is a powerful choice that you get to make. This is empowering and helps to serve as the light at the end of any dark day. Some quick first steps could include:

  • Breathing exercises.
  • Walking and getting fresh air on breaks.
  • Block out 15 minutes on your calendar for you.
  • Delegate out what can be.
  • Have a new nightly ritual like have a glass of wine, online shop, read a book, walk the dog.
  • Splurge on that pricey bottle of wine or fancy chocolate. Know that it’s there waiting for you.
  • Take that client to the new restaurant you want to try.
  • Make a game out of it. Identify a way to keep it entertaining and reach your inner competitor.
  1. Use the Time you Have

Time is finite. Simple enough, yet some seem to get more out their time than others do. Law firms, in-house, vendors—we all work more than 40 hours a week. The trick is managing your time to ensure that priorities are met but they aren’t overwhelming. Here are some tips to help manage through those rough spots while keeping your sanity:

  • Look at what can be shifted off your plate and do it.
  • Ask for help. It’s ok to work as part of team, look for opportunities to rally the troops.
  • Be strategic. Think about outcomes and how that fits into your overall goals. Does it really matter?
  • Identify important relationships and leverage them appropriately.
  • Block out 10 minutes at the end of your day to plan tomorrow. This allows you to just do rather than trying to think through the tough stuff before you’ve had some coffee.
  1. Understand What Matters

This is true of your work and personal life. What matters to you and what matters to your boss is where your work life balance meets. Priorities can be challenging if you get any choice at all in how they are set. Here are some things to think about when considering how to assess importance:

  • Identify three short-term goals for both personal and professional context.
  • Identify three personal and professional goals you want to accomplish in the next year.
  • Perform a SWOT analysis and create a plan to achieve those goals.
  • Consider an exit strategy. If you cannot make a plan to obtain goals you really want to achieve, then chances are you are in the wrong place.
  • Follow-through on the exit plan and be ok with the results.
  1. Take Care of Your Health

The benefits of making your health a priority are of high value to all involved, especially yourself! Your body and mind will operate more efficiently allowing your best work qualities to shine through in any work assigned. Here are some tips to take care of yourself even when the conditions are not the most favorable:

  • Keep track of water intake and increase it if needed
  • Avoid too much caffeine. Do not stop, but maybe lay off that fourth or fifth cup of coffee. Look for opportunities to walk or take the stairs—even if it is just once more during the day.
  • Eat consciously and regularly. Choices are not always possible, but portions can make a meaningful difference in overall calorie intake.
  • Avoid the sugar induced highs and crashes. Pick up the apple rather than that stale donut in the breakroom. Chances are you will probably enjoy the apple more anyway.

There is always another deadline, trial, large eDiscovery project that will conflict with something personal you do not want to miss. Sometimes you can balance both and sometimes you cannot. Be ok with trying your best and understand that at some point the case will end and you will have a day or two to catch-up on life.  Take care of yourself, use time to your needs, understand your role in the picture, and get moving on that first step. You will soon be rolling through the busy seasons with a more productive and balanced approach. If not, you can always look at your options. Staffing firms like Tower Legal Solutions would love to help you land the dream job.

 

BY: SARAH STAUFFER

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP HIGHLY SKILLED CANDIDATES FIND THE RIGHT POSITIONS IN LAW FIRMS AND CORPORATIONS. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS AND LOS ANGELES. SARAH HAS A BACKGROUND IN CUSTOMER SERVICE AND IS EXPERIENCED IN BOTH STAFFING AND DOCUMENT REVIEW SERVICES. SHE IS CURRENTLY THE RECRUITER IN THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER.

 

 

3 Reasons Why To Onshore EDiscovery Projects To Minnesota

Technology advances have diminished the need for proximity to eDiscovery projects. Cost pressures have forced many law firms and corporations to send these projects outside the US. However, there are plenty of cost effective alternatives to keeping your project in the US.

Here are three reasons why to consider Minnesota as your onshore alternative for a cost effective and high quality eDiscovery project:

  1. Large Pool of Skilled Attorneys     

Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Twin Cities, boast a substantial number of well-trained lawyers. Some notable evidence of this deep attorney pool in this area include:

  • Four law schools accredited by the American Bar Association are located in the Twin Cities metro area which generate a constant stream of new lawyers.
  • About 1,000 people take the bar each year and there is an average passage rate of 80%.
  • Minnesota ranks 7th highest in the country in number of lawyers per capita.
  • There are approximately 24,000 licensed attorneys currently in Minnesota.
  • Minnesota is ranked 12th on the number of lawyers per capita with 11.2 lawyers per 10,000 residents. Trailing states like New Jersey (11.7), Florida (11.7), and Pennsylvania (11.9) by a relatively minimal difference.

 

  1. Trained by Local Fortune 500 Companies

Minnesota is a training ground for high talent because of the sophisticated employers/clients in the market. Here are a few reasons why this makes Minnesota more than just fly over country:

  • Concentration of sophisticated clients. Minnesota is home to 19 of the Fortune 500 companies. Only eight states, all with much larger populations, boast more corporate headquarters than Minnesota.
  • Minnesota knows how to handle a crisis. From extreme sub-zero temperatures to infrastructure emergencies, this city has figured out to keep working while staying safe.
  • “Minnesota Nice” is more than a colloquialism. This is a phrase that started during the tough pioneer times and continues in modern times. People in the Twin Cities really do care and take care of each other. This translates into a loyal, conscientious, team-oriented workforce.
  • Corporations train lawyers. The legal departments in these international corporate headquarters employ a lot of lawyers. The size of these legal departments are equivalent or larger than many of Minnesota’s top 20 largest law firms. Most lawyers work for, with, or on behalf of these corporations in some capacity during their careers even if never technically in the legal departments.
  1. Avoid the Practical Hassles of Sending Jobs Out of the US

Offshoring legal work to countries like India and China is a controversial cost containment option considered by many firms and corporations. Minneapolis provides a viable option for these companies to have a cost-effective domestic option without sacrificing quality. Benefits to on shoring to places like Minnesota include:

  • Quality control performed by attorneys licensed under the rigorous US standards.
  • Saves international travel (and billable) costs to send counsel abroad.
  • Effective and clear communication without language barriers.
  • Practical ability to consistently communicate with eDiscovery team without having to navigate wide deal with dramatic time zone differences.
  • Social considerations and ability to say that the company is helping the US economy.

BY: Dan Bikus

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP ATTORNEYS AND THE ORGANIZATIONS THEY WORK FOR TO MAINTAIN THEIR COMPETITIVE EDGE BY NAVIGATING STAFFING, OPERATIONAL, AND ECONOMIC NEEDS. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND LOS ANGELES. DAN IS A SALES AND MARKETING PROFESSIONAL WITH 10 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN THE LEGAL SERVICES FIELD. HE IS CURRENTLY THE MIDWEST BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANGER BASED IN THE COMPANY’S MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE.

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

6 Practical Tips for Busy Attorneys to Optimize Networking

As a law student in my second year of law school and future attorney (fingers crossed), I know all too well how important networking is in our profession. Networking is important to all legal professionals—even if seems tedious or time consuming. The results of networking, the relationships that we form, are invaluable throughout our careers because the legal market in any city is often a close-knit group.

Attorneys are smart and we all know what we should do when networking. But, those best practices are not always possible given the demands of school, practice, family, and life. Instead, here are six tips to practically maximize your networking even when time is at a premium:

  1. Evaluate Your Objectives for Networking at Every Event

Think about why you want to network. The reasons change at various points in our careers. Some questions to ask:

  • Why do you want more contacts?
  • Who are the people you want to connect with?
  • Will those people be at the event?
  • Will there be an opportunity to actually connect with the people I want to meet?

Then, look at each specific event to see if it makes sense for your current objectives. Do not go just to say “I’m soooo busy.” Prioritize instead. Only go to an event if it makes sense for what you want to accomplish now.

  1. Be Prepared at ALL Times

Make sure that you are prepared when entering any networking situation. Some practical ways to do this include:

  • Have some stock questions in mind. Starting and keeping a conversation going is half the battle. Be the one who can do this.
  • Investigate. Google and Linkedin can be your best friends. Look up information on:  work history, interests, volunteering, cases they are currently working on, etc.
  • Introduce yourself. Find the people you looked into. If they aren’t there, then introduce yourself to the event host. Do not be afraid to ask the organizer for introductions to others at the event.
  1. Keep it Real

Always be yourself. Do not pretend to be someone other than you. It is ok to have your own interests or differing opinions from whoever you are talking to—regardless of their title. Attorneys can see through the fake. In fact, we are trained to do just that. A real connection is far more likely to be formed if you express interests genuinely. But, be confident—not cocky.  You do not want to be branded with the wrong attitude because of the wrong approach. Remember, the bar is a small community in any city and word will spread.

  1. Follow-up. Follow-up. Follow-up

The hardest part of networking is the follow-up. It takes some thought and persistence to truly maximize the relationships over time. Here are some easy ways to follow-up with your contacts:

  • Send a thank-you. It can be a hand-written note or an email. But, do it after every meeting no matter how informal it felt. A little thought can go a long way to keep you on someone’s radar.
  • Send an email or Linkedin message. Do not over think this. It can be as simple as “I hope things are well.” A single email once in a while makes all the difference in the world.
  • Forward an article. Send something of relevance to the person. Again, do not over think this. It need only be of relevance to the recipient or your conversation with the person. Say something like “I thought of you when I saw this…” when sending it.
  • Invite to an event. Pass along an invite to an upcoming event or ask if the person is going.
  • Ask them for coffee or lunch. Follow-up in person every so often to keep the connection. Could be brief and informal, but an easy way to touch base.

These are easy ways to keep in touch. Use whatever feels right for the connection. Regardless, you would rather be on their radar than off. Period.

  1. Mine Your Existing Contacts

Everyone knows someone. A warm introduction to a hiring manager or senior partner is always better than sending a cold email. Never underestimate or turn down help from your friends and family who may not be lawyers. Ask for help from everyone. Know who they are, what they do, and share anything you have learned that you think could be helpful to you.

  1. The Ride Never Stops

Networking is an ongoing commitment and attorneys continue throughout their career. Should that path change, your network becomes even more valuable. You never know when knowing that old colleague of yours might come in handy and you need to go to them for a favor.

 

BY: ELLEN TOVO-DWYER

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIFIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP ATTORNEYS AND THE ORGANIZATIONS THEY WORK FOR TO MAINTAIN THEIR COMPETITIVE EDGE BY NAVIGATING STAFFING, OPERATIONAL, AND ECONOMIC NEEDS. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESERNCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND LOS ANGELES.  ELLEN IS A SECOND YEAR LAW STUDENT AT WILLIAM MITCHELL COLLEGE OF LAW IN SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA. SHE IS CURRENTLY AN EXTERN AT THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER.

 

 

6 Ways Attorneys Can Keep Their Legal Writing Sharp On Projects

Attorneys cannot escape the importance of legal writing. This skill matters even when attorneys are not actively practicing or even technically working in a legal capacity. People have certain expectations of “attorneys” regardless of actual title or responsibilities. Those business people or colleagues will almost always defer to the attorney in the room.

Attorneys looking to or have chosen a different path can still remain relevant by maintaining their writing skills.

Due to the voluminous nature of the work, attorneys often do not have the luxury of developing their work product over several drafts. Fortunately, most writing done on a project does not typically require an extensive editing process. Here are a few easy tips to keep the quality while getting things done while on a project or otherwise working outside of private practice:

  1. Remember your audience: On most eDiscovery projects you are writing for other attorneys that are familiar with the subject matter. But not always. Your audience could be a non-attorney or it could be an attorney with limited knowledge of the case material.  Know who you are writing for and write to that reader.
  2. Legalese: Who actually uses the word “hereinafter”? Or how about “notwithstanding” or “aforementioned”? This is not the time to impress the client with all of your archaic legal jargon. It does not make you sound smarter and it adds nothing to the communication. At worst it confuses or distracts the reader, and at a minimum it annoys. Use the “playground rule” and avoid words that would get you beaten up on the middle school playground.
  3. Avoid the temptation to exaggerate: Who does not want to be the hero of the team by finding the document that is going to make the whole case? Project attorneys see a lot of material over the course of a review and can provide additional context beyond what is apparent on the face of a document. If the client can benefit from that knowledge then it should be shared. But if a document does not really say what you say it says, your comment undermines the client’s trust in your team’s work. Be accurate.
  4. Humor: A little levity goes a long way in breaking up a long day of reviewing documents but save it for the water cooler or the happy-hour outings with your coworkers. The client hired you to perform legal analysis–not to insert funny movie quotes into document notes. Humor or cleverness can overtake the communication and distract from what you need to tell your client.
  5. Full sentences please: There is a lot of work to be done and efficiency is important on any eDiscovery project. A short sentence may be all that is required. But make it a sentence. Capitalize that first word and conclude with a period. This keeps the appearance of professionalism in any context. Rmr ur a pro KIR.
  6. Spelling: We have all experienced the Homer Simpson “doh!” moment of noticing a typo just as we click send on an email. A little effort can catch most spelling errors. Take a second to give your note a second read and run the spell check. Do not rely on spell check exclusively, however. The following is a popular poem to illustrate the limitations of spell check that you may have seen in a chain email:

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks aye kin knot sea.

Aye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is made
It nose bee fore to long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.

Above all else, your writing should be clear and concise. Large eDiscovery projects can involve millions of documents. Clear language helps to organize complex information. The legal conclusion, the reasoning, the tone, the spelling. All of it matters. Make it clear and error-free however brief or infrequent your legal writing may be on any particular project or in your current role.

BY: NICK WASSON

ABOUT TOWER AND THE AUTHOR

TOWER LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND TOWER CONSULTING SERVICES HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE THAT HAS PROVEN TO HELP ATTORNEYS AND THE ORGANIZATIONS THEY WORK FOR TO MAINTAIN THEIR COMPETITIVE EDGE BY NAVIGATING STAFFING, OPERATIONAL, AND ECONOMIC NEEDS. TOWER HAS A NATIONAL PRESENCE WITH OFFICES IN NEW YORK, WASHINGTON D.C., CHARLOTTE, DALLAS, MINNEAPOLIS, AND LOS ANGELES. NICK IS AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE IN MINNESOTA. HE SPENT HIS FIRST YEAR AFTER LAW SCHOOL AT AN INTENSIVE LEGAL WRITING WORKSHOP, ALSO KNOWN AS AN APPELLATE COURT CLERKSHIP. HE IS CURRENTLY A PROJECT COORDINATOR AT THE MINNEAPOLIS OFFICE OF TOWER.

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