Rocket Matter https://www.rocketmatter.com Making the Lives of Lawyers a Whole Lot Easier Mon, 22 May 2017 15:34:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 77784083 A Change in the Law: Should Judges Grant Continuances to Lawyers Who Need Parental Leave? https://www.rocketmatter.com/in-the-news/judges-to-grant-continuances-to-lawyers-who-need-parental-leave/ https://www.rocketmatter.com/in-the-news/judges-to-grant-continuances-to-lawyers-who-need-parental-leave/#respond Mon, 22 May 2017 15:23:40 +0000 https://www.rocketmatter.com/?p=24097 While women make up 49.3% of first year law students and 48.7% of summer associates nationwide, they only comprise 36% of the legal profession overall. Why the discrepancy? Female lawyers often leave the legal profession during their childbearing years.

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Parental Leave for lawyers

 

While women make up 49.3% of first year law students and 48.7% of summer associates nationwide, they only comprise 36% of the legal profession overall. Why the discrepancy?

Female lawyers often leave the legal profession during their childbearing years. In other words, women have babies and because they typically shoulder more of the responsibility at home, they give up their careers.  However, the good news is the departure of many talented women hasn’t gone unnoticed, and from politics to the corporate world, we’re beginning to see a shifting perspective. For instance, corporations trying to attract the best talent know that offering employees a work-life balance, or at least work-life flexibility, is increasingly essential. Even in the 2016 Presidential Election, the candidates agreed on something: The need for better parental leave policies.

The legal profession itself hasn’t always been so kind to working moms. For instance, Georgia lawyer Stacy Ehrisman-Mickle  was forced to bring her baby to court because the judge on the case didn’t believe in maternity leave. But now, states are starting to vote on whether continuances should be mandatory in cases where both women and men need parental leave.

On May 26th of this year, the Board of Florida Governors will consider a proposed amendment to the Rules of Judicial Administration that would require judges to grant continuances to lawyers who need parental leave. The Florida Bar’s Rules of Judicial Administration Committee has turned down this rule twice, but Florida lawyers aren’t giving up.

The rule would state in part, “A motion for continuance based on parental leave of the lead attorney in the case shall be granted if made within a reasonable time after learning the basis for the continuance unless substantial prejudice to the opposing party is shown. Three months shall be the presumptive length of a continuance granted for parental leave absent good cause for a longer time. If the court denies the requested continuance, the court shall state on the record the specific grounds for denial.”

Those against the rule believe the ultimate discretion in granting or denying a continuance should rest with the court, while supporters believe the rule sends a message that society should accommodate pregnant women or new parents. Other states around the country are looking to see what happens in Florida before taking action.

Become part of the conversation by lobbying your own state bar association for a similar rule. Childbirth is hard enough.

 Berkley Sweetapple Vitale is an attorney at Sweetapple Broeker & Varkas in Boca Raton, FL. She is the author of the law and lifestyle blog Lady J. Berkley lives in Boynton Beach with her law school sweetheart, son, and yellow Labrador Retriever.

 

 

 

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A Member of Our Legal Community Fights Friedreich’s Ataxia https://www.rocketmatter.com/in-the-news/a-member-of-our-legal-community-fights-friedreichs-ataxia/ https://www.rocketmatter.com/in-the-news/a-member-of-our-legal-community-fights-friedreichs-ataxia/#respond Fri, 19 May 2017 16:23:59 +0000 https://www.rocketmatter.com/?p=24135   Imagine finding out that your child had a disorder that would interfere with walking, talking, and running. Imagine he or she would likely be in a wheelchair by his or her late teens. Imagine discovering that your kid, as a result of the disorder, would develop scoliosis, diabetes, and a heart condition that reduces […]

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Randy Juip

 

Imagine finding out that your child had a disorder that would interfere with walking, talking, and running. Imagine he or she would likely be in a wheelchair by his or her late teens. Imagine discovering that your kid, as a result of the disorder, would develop scoliosis, diabetes, and a heart condition that reduces average life expectancy to early adulthood.

This scenario is the reality for a personal friend of mine and leader of the legal community. Randy Juip and his wife Maureen do not have to imagine this situation.  They’ve experienced it. Twice. Two of their five amazing kids are afflicted with a degenerative neuromuscular disorder called Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA).

Take Action: Donate to Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA).

As tomorrow is Friedreich’s Ataxia Awareness Day, we thought it paramount to highlight the Juips’ journey and their efforts to combat this disease.

Randy is a very involved man, not just with his family, but also with his community and his profession.  He’s active in Scouting, serving as a Cub Master for four years. He served multiple years on the board of ABA TECHSHOW and is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), dedicated to preserving civility in the courtroom and preserving the 7th amendment.

The diagnosis for their son Jake was their first exposure to the disease.  Initially, the Juips were trying to understand what appeared to be a problem with Jake’s coordination and motor skills.  Jake talks about his odyssey and explains the mechanics of this disease in this amazing video:

Because of his work as a medical malpractice defense attorney in Detroit, Randy’s understanding of the intricate workings of this degenerative neuromuscular disease is sophisticated.  Maureen, a chemical engineer and MBA, also understands Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA) on a deep level.  As such, they are able to communicate effectively about FA and bring awareness to this rare disorder which affects 1 in 50,000 people.

I asked Randy what he wants people to know about FA and he said this:

“Friedreich’s Ataxia is something we don’t have a therapy or cure for right now, but we can and will cure it as long as the financial support and political will is there to support the current research being done.”

Help Speed the Cure for Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)

According to Randy, it’s a matter of time before a cure is found. “There are a bunch of different ways researchers are attacking FA,” he told me. “They are exploring ways to allow the body to better use the frataxin (a critical protein that FA sufferers have trouble expressing).  They’re seeing how to make more frataxin, to add artificial frataxin, or make frataxin last longer.  The end game would be gene therapy that would remove or silence the faulty section of the DNA that causes the disease.”

Since FA is a genetic disorder, Randy and Maureen had all of their children tested.  Heartbreakingly, it turned out that their little girl Claire also has the disease.  Like her brother, she made her own video, here:

As Randy said to his friends on Facebook, “We are committed to continuing to raise funds to support these incredible scientists and physicians in their efforts to #CureFA!”

“In the meantime, as before, life goes on. Although FA is a part of Jake’s—and now Claire’s—life, it will not define them or our family.”

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Rocket Matter’s New Series: Shelter Animal of the Week https://www.rocketmatter.com/general/rocket-matters-new-shelter-animal-week/ https://www.rocketmatter.com/general/rocket-matters-new-shelter-animal-week/#respond Thu, 18 May 2017 19:08:20 +0000 https://www.rocketmatter.com/?p=24120   Caring is one of our core values at Rocket Matter. We’ve decided to extend our caring beyond the way we treat each other and our customers, so Rocket Matter is now championing two main causes: Social justice and animal welfare. Previously we’ve written about our involvement with the Anti-Defamation League and highlighted lawyers fighting […]

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Caring is one of our core values at Rocket Matter. We’ve decided to extend our caring beyond the way we treat each other and our customers, so Rocket Matter is now championing two main causes: Social justice and animal welfare.

Previously we’ve written about our involvement with the Anti-Defamation League and highlighted lawyers fighting the good fight in our Legal Freedom Fighter series. Now, we’re adding shelter pet adoption into this mix.

It’s no secret that we love animals here at Rocket Matter. We’ve collectively got dogs, cats, bunnies, a turtle, and a pet bird. Our law firms send us pictures of their animals. My family has its own menagerie: Two sweet dogs and a cat that I like to believe loves us very much (she just doesn’t know how to express her feelings.)

However, we know that far too many animals out there aren’t so lucky. That’s why we want to help create awareness about the millions of loving creatures in desperate need for a home.

I know a lot of people might be wary of getting a pet from a shelter. There’s the whole “You don’t know what you’re getting” train of thought. I totally get it. But on the other hand, may I humbly present Brody:

 

My family adopted Brody from Animal Aid, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale a few years ago, and I’ve got to say he’s the most loving creature I’ve ever met. We took this picture shortly after we brought him home, and he’s still ridiculously cute. Also, I don’t know if this is possible, but many other shelter parents will tell you the same thing: The animal seems genuinely grateful for being adopted.

(We rescued the aforementioned cat, too, just not from a shelter. She showed up on our doorstep, dying of malnutrition, infections, and parasites. We fed her a can of tuna fish, one thing led to another, and now we have Kitty Cupcake).

Once a week on Legal Productivity we’ll feature a Shelter Pet of the Week—an animal you can adopt. Of course, not all of them will be in your area, but maybe you know someone who can provide a home.

The bigger idea is that, hopefully, our Pets of the Week will help remind you to contact your local shelter next time you’re looking for a pet.

It’s no secret that lawyers deal with a lot of stress. And it’s definitely no secret that having a pet can make people happy and reduce anxiety. So if you’re a lawyer, it just makes sense: Get a pet!

So here’s the first guy we want to feature: Ranger, a Shepherd/Doberman mix from Rocket Dog Rescue in San Francisco. (No particular reason we chose this rescue organization to kick off this series!)

 

Here’s what the site has to say:

Meet Ranger- an energetic 3 year-old Shepherd Mix that is 45 pounds of fun! Ranger is an affectionate goof that loves toys, treats, and cuddle sessions with his people. He has a very calm and mellow energy inside the house–you’ll likely find him snoozing on your feet. Outdoors he’s a happy bouncy boy that will play fetch with a passion. He also loves to please his person by following commands and has mastered all his basic obedience. What a smart boy.

Ranger is great with dogs! He loves doggy daycare and could be a 2nd dog in the home. He would probably not get along well with a cat though. He is fully house trained, crate trained and right around 5 he’ll fetch his food bowl to remind you it’s time for dinner.

If you live in California, you might be able to welcome Ranger into your family. Fill out the adoption application today.

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Legal Freedom Fighter Series: Adriana Lafaille, Matthew Segal, Carl Williams, and the ACLU of Massachusetts  https://www.rocketmatter.com/featured/adriana-lafaille-matthew-segal-carl-williams-and-the-aclu-of-massachusetts/ https://www.rocketmatter.com/featured/adriana-lafaille-matthew-segal-carl-williams-and-the-aclu-of-massachusetts/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 16:00:42 +0000 https://www.rocketmatter.com/?p=23968 We’ve seen it repeatedly throughout our history: When people’s rights are threatened, it’s the lawyers who step up to to the plate. They fight hate, they defend our Constitution, and they give a voice to people who can’t speak for themselves. More than ever before, we need lawyers...

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Freedom Fighters

 

We’ve seen it repeatedly throughout our history: When people’s rights are threatened, it’s the lawyers who step up to to the plate. They fight hate, they defend our Constitution, and they give a voice to people who can’t speak for themselves. More than ever before, we need lawyers to help ensure that everyone’s rights are protected. Thousands of lawyers across the country are doing this. However, some are true Freedom Fighters and they deserve special recognition. That’s why each month, we will feature a lawyer who is really making a difference.

Today, we are proud to feature Adriana Lafaille, Matthew Segal, and Carl Williams of the ACLU of Massachusetts.

These three lawyers have made history. Their years of litigation and advocacy (Bridgeman v. District Attorney for Suffolk County) led to what is the single largest dismissal of wrongful convictions ever in the nation: 21,587 drugs cases involving former state chemist Annie Dookhan. For years, Dookhan falsified and fabricated evidence, causing thousands of people to be convicted of drug crimes based on tainted evidence and fraud. Many of those people went to jail. These lawyers, along with the national ACLU, the state public defender’s office, and the law firm Fick &  Marx LLP, made sure that justice prevailed.

Individually, these lawyers are also heroes:

Adriana Lafaille is a staff attorney at the ACLU of Massachusetts. She has focused on immigration detention and immigrants’ rights issues. The Massachusetts Bar Association selected her as the 2015 Access to Justice Rising Star, and Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s 2015 “Excellence in the Law” event recognized her as an “Up and Coming” lawyer.

Matthew Segal is the legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. Matt was named a 2015 Massachusetts Lawyer of the Year by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, and in December 2016 he was elected to membership in the American Law Institute.

Carl Williams is a staff attorney at the ACLU of Masscahusetts. He is an activist and organizer on issues of war, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, racial justice and Palestinian self-determination. Carl is also a member of the National Lawyers Guild and has served on its Massachusetts board of directors.

 

Adriana Lafaille, Matthew Segal, and Carl Williams of the ACLU of Massachusetts
Photograph courtesy of Rachel Tine.

 

Here’s an interview with Adriana Lafaille, Matthew Segal, and Carl Williams:

What will the dismissal of the drug convictions mean for the accused and their families?
The dismissal of these drug convictions is a major victory for justice and for those impacted by the scandal. It is regrettable that it required litigation and came years after most of the victims had completed their sentences and suffered from the collateral consequences of their convictions. But hopefully these dismissals will help thousands of people to rebuild their lives and move on from those consequences, which can include lost employment opportunities, lost housing, and even deportation.

How might this case help protect people in the future?
We hope this resolution will be a model for addressing wrongful convictions in Massachusetts and around the country. Here in Massachusetts, for example, we hope that adversarial litigation will not be necessary to help the thousands of people whose cases were tainted by the misconduct of former chemist Sonja Farak, who is alleged to have used drugs throughout her years on the job. The Commonwealth should act quickly to notify those defendants and dismiss their discredited convictions. Around the country, we hope that the innovative legal rules that grew out of the Dookhan litigation—especially the rule requiring prosecutors to identify cases for dismissal—will become the customary way to address convictions tainted by government misconduct.

Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., the director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School,  described the dismissals as “wholly unprecedented.” He said,“There will be literally tens of thousands of people whose lives will change.” What is that like knowing that your work not only led to the largest dismissal of wrongful convictions in history, but that you deeply affected so many lives?

We are gratified to have achieved a meaningful impact on the lives of so many wrongfully-convicted people. Of course, the problem with helping people who are the victims of injustice is that something awful happened. The tainted convictions, and the failure of the Commonwealth to promptly and meaningfully address them, should never have happened. They are symptoms of an addiction to the war on drugs. So we hope that these dismissals will both help the people who had tainted convictions and also help thousands more, by showing that it is possible for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to quit its needless and harmful addiction to imprisoning people for drug offenses. If we continue to try to prosecute our way out of our drug problems, we will continue to devastate the lives of already oppressed and vulnerable people, including those who actually do suffer from addiction.

You’ve had so many successes besides the Dookhan case. Which one stands out the most for you? 

We have been fortunate to be part of several cases that have made the law more just and have, we think, improved people’s lives. For example, we have been part of successful challenges to the criminalization of poverty in Massachusetts, and we participated in a landmark case in which the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court addressed the reality of racially discriminatory policing in Boston.

But the case that really stands out is our challenge to President Trump’s Muslim ban. We were all in federal court late at 2 a.m. on January 29, 2017, when we and our co-counsel won a 7-day halt of the ban. That order helped people to return to the United States, and we were glad to be part of a community of lawyers and activists around the country who struck early and powerful blows against the Trump Administration’s discriminatory actions.

In this day and age, what challenges do you face that you never faced before?
The current president campaigned on a platform openly hostile to Muslims and immigrants, and he has attacked our civil rights and civil liberties in ways that are unprecedented in recent memory. The ACLU has always been a multi-issue organization, and it must continue to respond simultaneously to threats in many areas, including racial justice, reproductive rights, immigrants’ rights, and LGBTQ rights.

What inspired you to become a lawyer in the first place?

Adriana: I became a lawyer because I wanted to fight for justice. As an immigrant, I had seen families in my community being separated by harsh immigration laws and experienced the climate of fear created by middle-of-the-night home raids.

Matt: I studied math and sociology in college, and it seemed to me that law combined the two; it was how society applied mathematical-style rules to shape people’s lives. I wanted to make sure that the law improved people’s lives and achieved justice.

Carl: The first time I visited a prison, I was both terrified and also quite happy. I was terrified because of all of the slamming doors and gates. However, I was happy to visit a loved one. This experience inspired me to know why places like this existed. I was four years old.

If you could give one piece of advice to other lawyers across the country, what would you say?
Listen to the voices of oppressed and vulnerable communities. And show up.

If an attorney wants to get involved in social justice, how can they get started?
There are a lot of ways to use your legal expertise for social justice. Visit aclum.org/attorneys to learn about becoming a cooperating attorney with the ACLU of Massachusetts. Offer your pro bono services to another organization, including those representing immigrants. Volunteer as a legal observer at protests. Show up to events and support the work being done in your community.

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Rocket Matter Subscriptions Now Include LexCharge Payment Processing for Law Firms https://www.rocketmatter.com/company-news/lexcharge-payment-processing-for-law-firms/ https://www.rocketmatter.com/company-news/lexcharge-payment-processing-for-law-firms/#respond Tue, 16 May 2017 13:12:21 +0000 https://www.rocketmatter.com/?p=24056 We started working with LexCharge, the legal-specific payment processing service back in February to provide credit card processing for Rocket Matter Payments. Our law firms have the ability to email an invoice and have the client pay online, offer pain-free recurring billing, and permit...

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rocket matter and lexcharge

 

We started working with LexCharge, the legal-specific payment processing service back in February to provide credit card processing for Rocket Matter Payments. Our law firms have the ability to email an invoice and have the client pay online, offer pain-free recurring billing, and permit clients to pay over time with payment plans.

Rocket Matter has used other payment processors in the past, but we were looking for a partner that would provide good prices for our customers and excellent customer service. Now, both companies have teamed up to provide free monthly access to LexCharge with a Rocket Matter subscription.

“For law firms to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive and price-sensitive market, they must automate as much of their process as possible,” says Rocket Matter CEO, Larry Port. “Having LexCharge as part of the Rocket Matter subscription price will help firms become more efficient and profitable. With our automated recurring billing options, we’ve created ways for law firms to reduce the overhead related to billing.”

Rocket Matter customers have attested to this. “We’ve heard about law firms reducing their billing time from days down to 30 minutes,” explains Port. “Now, we’ve enabled all sorts of options for law firms, allowing for as much creativity for pricing and services as they can come up with.”

While per-transaction processing fees still apply, law firms will not have to pay for any regular monthly fees such as gateway or statement fees.  Usually, payment processing companies charge a monthly fee in the neighborhood of $20 for these services; however, these charges are simply included with the Rocket Matter subscription.

LexCharge offers guaranteed lower payment processing rates, so if you’re currently working with another payment processor, switching to LexCharge goes straight to your bottom line. They’re happy to take a look at your statements and show you how much money you can save each month. LexCharge will also cover cancellation fees up to $300.

When a law firm signs up for Rocket Matter, a LexCharge account gets configured along with it.  Existing firms can reach out to their Customer Success representatives to get started.  Either way, a friendly Rocket Matter staffer will walk you through the application process and warm-transfer you to the helpful people at LexCharge.

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What Law Firms Need to Know About the Ransomware Cyberattacks https://www.rocketmatter.com/in-the-news/what-law-firms-need-to-know-about-the-ransomware-cyberattacks/ https://www.rocketmatter.com/in-the-news/what-law-firms-need-to-know-about-the-ransomware-cyberattacks/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 19:00:52 +0000 https://www.rocketmatter.com/?p=24029   On Friday, hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe were taken hostage by a type of attack known as “ransomware.”  In this latest attack, cybercriminals threatened to destroy all data on infected machines unless an online payment was made. Here’s the most critical takeaway for you to know: These attacks were entirely preventable. […]

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What Law Firms Need to Know About the Ransomware Cyberattacks

 

On Friday, hundreds of thousands of computers across the globe were taken hostage by a type of attack known as “ransomware.”  In this latest attack, cybercriminals threatened to destroy all data on infected machines unless an online payment was made.

Here’s the most critical takeaway for you to know: These attacks were entirely preventable.

Microsoft issued a patch for the exploited vulnerability nearly two months before this episode occurred.  Had everyone played by the rules, the “WannaCrypt attack” as it is known, would have been a non-issue.

Imagine if a category 5 hurricane made landfall in an area where none of the homeowners had insurance or took any precautions. This situation is unthinkable, but it is analogous to what happened with this cyberattack. Sloppy update policies, out-of-date systems (Windows XP), and pirated Windows software created an environment for a global cybersecurity nightmare.

As Microsoft put it, “This attack demonstrates the degree to which cybersecurity has become a shared responsibility between tech companies and customers. The fact that so many computers remained vulnerable two months after the release of a patch illustrates this aspect. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, there is simply no way for customers to protect themselves against threats unless they update their systems.”

If you’re not taking the following steps, you are putting yourself in harm’s way. Follow these tactics to best protect yourself from similar attacks:

1) Make sure your computers are on the latest versions of Windows or Mac OS with the most recent security updates applied.  As soon as a security update is released, install it IMMEDIATELY.

If you’re using legacy software that necessitates the use of older operating systems or computers, you’re putting your entire firm at risk.  Law firms running Time Matters, Amicus Attorney, PC Law, older versions of QuickBooks, or other legacy systems may be especially vulnerable. Fast-track your decision-making to either upgrade to newer versions of that software or to switch to a different vendor.

The same advice goes for smartphones, your Nest thermostat, Visio smart TV, or anything else you have attached to a computer network.  Keep everything up-to-date with the latest versions.  Do not invest in a smart home unless you’re willing to do what it takes to protect your network.

2) Backup all your data to a machine not connected to your network. Ideally, use a trusted offsite cloud provider.  Google Drive, Rocket Matter, Dropbox, and Box are all great options for law firms for document storage.

3) Never log into sensitive websites from a link in an email.  I don’t care how legitimate the email or linked webpage looks. Just do not click on the link.  Doing so can activate malware or seduce you into forking your username and password over to bad actors.  The only exception is if you get the go ahead from someone you trust that they’ve sent you an email and it’s safe to click on the link.

4) Use good passwords and change them every 90 days.  We all need to do better here, and I recognize that changing passwords frequently is a pain.  But it’s critical. Use password assistants like 1Password or LastPass to help you here.

5) Turn on two-factor authentication for your web apps.  What two-factor does is send a code to a trusted account on record (this could be a smartphone or via an app like Duo or Google), making it nearly impossible for a malicious actor to gain access to your account.

6) Consider getting involved in policy discussions about cybersecurity after you get your ducks in a row security-wise   If you are so inclined, you might want to consider taking your persuasion skills into the public arena to advocate against government stockpiling of vulnerabilities.

This attack was stockpiled by and stolen from the National Security Agency, or NSA, in the United States. According to Microsoft, “We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world.”

Bottom line: We all have a role to play in our interconnected world. Cybersecurity is the responsibility of everyone—technology companies, governments, and increasingly so, consumers.

 

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7 Tips for Building Trust at Your Firm Through Written Work https://www.rocketmatter.com/practice-management/7-tips-for-building-trust-at-your-firm-through-written-work/ https://www.rocketmatter.com/practice-management/7-tips-for-building-trust-at-your-firm-through-written-work/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 14:56:36 +0000 https://www.rocketmatter.com/?p=24008   Trust is key to every lawyer’s success. Until your name is on the marquee of a white shoe firm, trust is earned not given. At the associate level, you must convince your law firm’s partners to trust you and your work so that they keep giving you opportunities. So how do you do that?  Since lawyers spend […]

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build trust

 

Trust is key to every lawyer’s success. Until your name is on the marquee of a white shoe firm, trust is earned not given. At the associate level, you must convince your law firm’s partners to trust you and your work so that they keep giving you opportunities.

So how do you do that?  Since lawyers spend so much of their time writing, I recommend improving the quality of your written work as a path to deepening your trust relationship. In other words, nothing builds trust better than consistently producing correct, high-quality, timely work.

Here are seven tips for doing just that:

  1. Get Ready to Learn
    Partners are really depending on you when they task you with a research assignment—your findings can determine the direction of the case, so you must get it right. Use secondary sources to gain an understanding of the topic. Work with research librarians to get a feel for what you should be finding or to confirm what you have found. And use legal research tools such as CARA to check your research to make sure that you’ve addressed the most relevant law. If you miss referencing a major case, your reputation will suffer.
  2. Check Your Work
    The cases that you cite are the backbone of your work, and partners trust that the cases stand for the propositions for which you cited them. Trust will evaporate if you either cite a case that turns out to be overturned or if you misstated the legal proposition that served as the basis for your case. Using Keyciting or Shepardizing is a critical final step in ensuring that you deliver a document that others can trust.
  3. Touch Base Occasionally
    Partners hate it when associates receive a project, don’t ask any questions, and then scurry off to hole up in their offices for days on end without contact. They don’t know whether you’re on the right track or whether you’re working on their assignment at all. Emerge from your office every so often to let the partner know what you’re finding and to ask follow up questions. This helps ensure that you’re not wasting any time.
  4. Always Proofread and Spellcheck
    Be meticulous in presenting your work. Unclear writing, abundant typos, and incorrect citations will make other lawyers think that you are careless which, in turn, can hurt your reputation. Even one sloppy project can destroy trust—and you may not get a second chance. Use tools like American Legal Style for PerfectIt to ensure that your writing is error-free. There’s a free trial, so try it once. You’ll be surprised how much your work can improve.
  5. Don’t Be a Perfectionist
    It is better to produce B+ work product on time than to produce A+ work product late. That’s because in law, we live and die by deadlines. If you cannot be trusted to meet deadlines, you cannot be trusted to be a part of the team. So use calendars to prompt you to start projects on time so that you finish on time. Calendars will also help you to visualize your workload so that you can plan better, stay focused, and, if necessary, negotiate extensions.
  6. Become the Expert
    If you have done all of the research for a case, other lawyers will expect you to be a go-to resource on that case. You should be able to state your client’s issue in 100 words or less and have a single line ready for what each case is about. If a partner asks you such questions, you should be able to immediately answer with confidence. In other words, it’s unacceptable to say that you have to do the research again simply because you are disorganized. Instead, always save, organize, and manage your work so that you can use it again at any time. Use tech tools such as Evernote that will help you find and report on details from your research without having to slowly shuffle through a stack of papers.
  7. Always Ask for Feedback
    After you have submitted your work, follow up to make sure that it met your partner’s needs. Seek feedback on your work and then implement the advice.  Keep in mind that you will make mistakes at times, and you will receive less-than-glowing responses to your work. How you act in response to your mistakes will help determine whether you will be trusted with another chance. Do not abuse the opportunities that partners give you by ignoring their advice or reacting defensively. Instead, graciously accept and implement feedback to show that you are a worthy investment of time and opportunity.

Ivy B. Grey is the author of American Legal Style for PerfectIt and a Senior Attorney at Griffin Hamersky LLP. She’s been named as a Rising Star in the New York Metro Area for three consecutive years. Ivy received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center where she was Chief Notes & Comments Editor of the Houston Business & Tax Law Journal. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Ivy spent nearly a decade working in public relations and advertising.

 

 

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From Inaction to Action: Working with the ADL in the Fight Against Hate Speech https://www.rocketmatter.com/featured/from-inaction-to-action-working-with-the-adl-in-the-fight-against-hate-speech/ https://www.rocketmatter.com/featured/from-inaction-to-action-working-with-the-adl-in-the-fight-against-hate-speech/#respond Fri, 12 May 2017 18:47:59 +0000 https://www.rocketmatter.com/?p=24013 I admit: For a long time, when it came to social justice issues, I was nothing more than a couch potato.  Any time I came across something that fired me up, the furthest I would go is share a strongly worded status update or an article to my like-minded bubble on Facebook. Fast forward to this […]

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I admit: For a long time, when it came to social justice issues, I was nothing more than a couch potato.  Any time I came across something that fired me up, the furthest I would go is share a strongly worded status update or an article to my like-minded bubble on Facebook.

Fast forward to this week, when I attended the Anti-Defamation League’s National Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.  All of sudden I found myself on Capitol Hill, participating in representational government and hearing directly from senators and other national leaders on what we can do to combat hate crimes.

The ADL taught me how to take specific action about issues that mattered to me.  They booked an appointment with my local Congressman’s office, and along with my fellow Florida delegates I advocated for HR-1566, the NO HATE Act.

Here we are in the office of our representative Ted Deutch.

The NO HATE Act will, among other things, incentivize reporting of hate crimes into the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (getting better data is key, as anyone in modern law enforcement will tell you).

It turns out that it’s really not that hard to talk to your congressperson or their staff.  It is the opposite of intimidating. In front of each office, there’s a plaque that says, “Welcome, Please Come In”:

Discrimination and tolerance is not a right versus left issue and, as such, the ADL is a bipartisan organization that fosters genuine and thoughtful dialog (which IMHO is sorely needed in our country right now.)

At the conference, we heard passionate speeches from leaders on the right, such as Senators John McCain and Marco Rubio, and their counterparts on the left, Ben Cardin and Al Franken. They spoke about the bipartisan nature of eliminating the divisive element of hate in our communities. We heard from Jeh Johnson, former Director of Homeland Security, as well as James Comey, on what turned out to be one of his last days as the head of the FBI.

 

The conference itself was comprised of hundreds of the nicest, most intelligent, and action-oriented people I’ve ever met.  Lawyers represent a huge percentage of ADL people, so as a software executive I was in a minority.  However, because of my extensive work with lawyers and my alignment with their commitment to social justice issues, I felt right at home.

I learned about efforts to minimize bullying at the school level, hearing from people in the LGBTQ, Sikh, and Jewish communities.  We heard from black, Muslim, and Latino leaders on discrimination issues facing their communities.  Immigration reform was also top of mind because of the anti-immigrant rhetoric emerging from last year’s presidential election.

Essentially, the message from ADL leadership is that an attack on one is an attack on all, and we are there to support any group discriminated against.  As ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt put it, “When we fight for others, we fight for ourselves.” I couldn’t agree more.

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[Webinar Wrap-Up] How Lawyers Can Easily Offer Alternative Fee Arrangements https://www.rocketmatter.com/webinars/webinar-wrap-alternative-fee-arrangements/ https://www.rocketmatter.com/webinars/webinar-wrap-alternative-fee-arrangements/#respond Fri, 12 May 2017 13:18:23 +0000 https://www.rocketmatter.com/?p=24001 In case you missed it (or if you want to see it again!), here are the slides and video from our recent webinar with Daniel Poterek— How Lawyers Can Easily Offer Alternative Fee Arrangements. This webinar will help you figure out exactly how to start offering AFAs to your clients. How Lawyers Can Easily Offer […]

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In case you missed it (or if you want to see it again!), here are the slides and video from our recent webinar with Daniel Poterek— How Lawyers Can Easily Offer Alternative Fee Arrangements.

This webinar will help you figure out exactly how to start offering AFAs to your clients.

How Lawyers Can Easily Offer Alternative Fee Arrangements from Rocket Matter on Vimeo.

Presenters:

Daniel Poterek is a Partner at The Burton Firm, P.A. At his firm, Daniel manages all aspects of complex litigation in state and federal courts. He has built a client base for a diversified legal practice that focuses on employment disputes, business consulting, commercial law, family law, business transactions, and real estate. Daniel has experience with cases involving violations of state and federal employment laws, retaliation claims, wrongful death, defamation, fraud, negligence, civil conspiracy, tortious interference, breaches of contract, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Daniel received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami in 2007 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law in 2010.

Nefra MacDonald is the Business Development and Strategic Partnership Coordinator at Rocket Matter. After working in various capacities at law firms, corporations, and non-profits, she decided to use her experience to help address the pain points that practicing lawyers feel every day. She currently co-chairs Rocket Matter’s Product Advisory Committee, which serves as a source of targeted feedback for the company’s product improvement strategy.

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The Surprising Benefits of Stress (Yes, it’s not all bad!) https://www.rocketmatter.com/attorney-wellness/the-surprising-benefits-of-stress-yes-its-not-all-bad/ Wed, 10 May 2017 12:26:46 +0000 http://www.legalproductivity.com/?p=23329   This morning I slept right through my three alarm clocks, hit every red light on my way to work, got stuck behind an extremely slow driver, and then realized I was driving around on empty and had to stop to get gas. Oh, and I also left my notes for a meeting at home. My […]

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benefits of stress

 

This morning I slept right through my three alarm clocks, hit every red light on my way to work, got stuck behind an extremely slow driver, and then realized I was driving around on empty and had to stop to get gas. Oh, and I also left my notes for a meeting at home. My heart was pounding and my head was spinning.

Sound familiar?

Of course, we all experience stress from time to time—some more often than others. In fact, according to the The American Psychological Association, the number of people who experience chronic stress has increased to 24% in 2016, versus 18% in 2014. And when you’re in a high pressure profession such as law, those cortisol levels can skyrocket.

It’s no secret why stress is bad for you: Prolonged stress can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers. However, that’s not all. Stress can also lead to weight gain, irritable bowel syndrome, hair loss, constant headaches, interrupted sleep, blurred vision, sexual dysfunction, adult acne, fatigue, and a whole host of other issues.

However, it’s not all bad news! Here are some ways that stress can actually be good for you:

Stress Motivates You.
Occasional stress can actually be a good thing to get your adrenaline pumping and to release the feel good hormone, oxytocin.  This, in turn, make people seek out the support or social interaction they need to get through whatever is actually causing the stress.

By viewing stress as a positive force to motivate you, you can possibly reduce or even avoid its negative biological results.  Oxytocin fine tunes the brain’s social instincts, which causes people to reach out to friends or family during difficult times.  Simply the act of reaching out to others for help can protect your heart.

Stress Can Boost Memory and Learning.
Scientists at UC Berkley found that stress can temporarily improve memory.  Here’s how:  The hippocampus is the section of the brain that handles stress response and regulates learning and memory.  The study on rats discovered that when exposed to short-term, moderate stress, stem cell growth was stimulated and new cells grew. This, in turn, led to a boost in the rats’ mental performance. So if you’re stuck in traffic on your way to an appointment where you’ll have to retain a lot of information, that might not be the worst thing.

Stress Makes Your Resilient. 
How individuals view and handle stress itself can determine how it will affect the physiological response in the body. Experts believe that people who are more resilient and confident can manage stress more effectively than others who might have more vulnerability to stressful situations (such as military veterans suffering from PTSD after active duty.)  The takeaway here is that, by working on increasing one’s self-confidence and positive self-talk, the effects of stress can be diminished.  This is where mindfulness and meditation can take a leading role in a person’s wellness journey. As Daniela Kaufer, associate professor at UC Berkeley who studies the biology of stress, recently said, “If you tend to have a positive attitude—a self-confident sense that you can get through a rough period—you’re more likely to have a healthy response than if you perceive stress as catastrophic.”

Stress-like Symptoms Can Signal Underlying Health Issues.
If you’re dealing with chronic stress, talk to your healthcare practitioner to develop stress management techniques and possibly look for other medical issues.  Often times seeking help for stress can actually lead to more health-related findings, such as blocked arteries or digestive disorders.  For example, patients may wind up in a gastroenterologist’s office after being treated for an alleged panic attack, only to learn they have a hiatal hernia or acid reflux.  Symptoms of heavy chest, difficulty swallowing, and regurgitation of food can be considered stress-related, but they can also be evidence of other issues or illnesses. In other words, listen to your body!  Don’t discount any unusual physical ailments just because you believe they are stress-related; sometimes there may be more to the story and stress can actually clue you in to that.

Julie Weidenfeld is a fitness expert and author of many articles on the subject for publications such as USA Today and The Huffington Post. Check out her blog at www.travelfitinc.com.

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