Whether it is from a coffee shop, home office, or library, more people than ever are working remotely. This includes employees at a law firm or business, but many of the principles could be applied to a solo lawyer working at home. The benefits of working from a remote office include shorter commutes, potentially flexible work hours, saving money on office space, and having the best employees for the job regardless of locale. Drawbacks include production-based judgement on employees, isolation issues, and a reduced opportunity for learning directly from coworkers. Despite these drawbacks, many companies are now allowing their employees to work remotely. If this is your company and you are already working from home, or thinking about starting to do so, what are the main considerations and best practices to put into place?
In this episode of The Legal Toolkit, Heidi Alexander interviews Tim Baran, a remote employee at a cloud-based legal software company, about the benefits and drawbacks of working remotely, the hardware and software needed, and how to overcome the core issues that many remote lawyers encounter. Baran discusses how the benefit of bringing the work to the employee often outweighs the inability for those workers to interact with and potentially mentor other employees. By spending more time with friends and family, getting involved in industry associations, and going out for lunch, he explains, remote employees can avoid emotional isolation. This advice applies equally to solo lawyers who often do not have a lot of personal contact. Alexander and Baran then go over the practicalities of working remote. While you only need a computer and a phone as hardware, there are many useful apps for practice management, organization, communication, reading and writing, social media, and even encryption (see episode notes for a list of products mentioned).
Obviously, it is important for a remote employee to stay connected with their office and other employees. Baran recommends regular video meetings, daily standups, visits to the home office, communication even with non-urgent matters, and even a fun video activity that includes the whole company. The more communication the employees are able to have, he explains, the more opportunities for feedback, connection, and therefore productivity. At the end of the podcast, Baran gives some succinct but very thorough general productivity advice to all employees, whether remote or not. His systems include: touch everything once, keep a checklist, set a pomodoro timer, develop consistent habits with a calendar, plan the night before, and Alexander adds that the Getting Things Done (GTD) process by David Allen has worked for many lawyers.
Tim Baran is the Community Manager for Rocket Matter, a cloud-based legal software company that makes a law practice management tool. Previously, Baran ran his own CLE company, and has worked in library services at a law firm, a law school, and for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
Marilyn Wass ACP, CAS is the Senior Paralegal at Lopez McHugh, LLP, a nationally recognized plaintiffs law firm that takes on pharmaceutical companies, nursing homes, insurance companies, auto manufacturers, and the manufacturers of defective medical devices. Her job includes an incredible amount of responsibilities both over time and day-to-day. Being a Senior Paralegal for a firm like Lopez McHugh is one of the most prestigious positions in the paralegal world. How did Wass reach this position and what challenges does she face?
On this episode of The Paralegal Voice, Vicki Voisin interviews Marilyn Wass about the responsibilities of being Senior Paralegal, how her career began and evolved, and specifics about caseloads and technologies. Wass explains her many responsibilities in more detail. She manages the Junior Paralegals and Case Managers, overseeing their workload and making sure assignments are understood and completed in a timely manner. Additionally, Wass oversees and reviews work on the Lipitor mass tort case including ordering medical records and answering discovery. Finally she spends most of her time on estate work and settlement litigation, creating settlement packages for up to 100s of clients. She has to schedule time to talk to clients and government agencies like Medicaid and Medicare.
After describing her job description, Marilyn Wass goes into the evolution of her career. She explains how she went from a temp job in a law firm to Paralegal school at UCLA. She had interest in working for small firms in the medical field and for lawyers who wanted to teach her about litigation and other skills necessary to move up in the litigation field. She talks about the biggest challenges she faces in her position including prioritizing various jobs and keeping clients happy. In the second half of the podcast, Voisin and Wass discuss the software Lopez McHugh uses and how training is done. Overall, Wass advises paralegals to learn litigation in school and to seek out areas of legal work, not just available jobs.
Stay tuned to the end when Vicki Voisin answers questions sent in by listeners. You never know when another paralegal has the same question as you.
The Digital Edge host Jim Calloway interviews Robert Young about the 2014 American Bar Association Law Practice Division Fall Meeting. Young explains the rebranding of the division from the law practice management section of the ABA and the four core groups now included: marketing, technology, finance, and law firm management. He suggests that every lawyer be a member and gives some examples of available resources from the Legal Technology Resource Center. Robert Young has been a personal injury defense litigator for 25 years and is the current Chair of the Law Practice Division.
Legal Talk Network Producer Laurence Colletti interviews ABA Techshow Board Chair Brett Burney at the 2014 ABA Law Practice Division Fall Meeting. Burney explains how the Techshow is a 2½ day conference focused on providing lawyers with technology information. He encourages all lawyers, legal professionals, and law firm employees to attend to learn about technology such as iPads or going paperless on an individual level from devoted speakers. Burney and Colletti also discuss the Expo Hall setup, his board’s contribution to the event, and succession planning. In Addition to being the Chair of the ABA Techshow Board, Brett Burney is Principal of Burney Consultants LLC, and is very active in the Mac-using lawyer community.
New Solo host Adriana Linares interviews Tom Bolt, Chair Elect of the American Bar Association Law Practice Division at the 2014 Fall Meeting. Bolt discusses the all-encompassing nature of the division including legal marketing, management, finance, and technology, and opportunities to network nationally and internationally. The division is expanding local outreach to law schools and local communities and he is pleased with the connection to the Women Rainmakers Board. As Chair-Elect, Tom Bolt has many ideas about the future of the Law Practice Division in 2015.
Legal Talk Network Producer Laurence Colletti interviews President-Elect of the American Bar Association Paulette Brown at the 2014 ABA Law Practice Division Fall Meeting. Brown explains the concepts from her speeches at the ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop and the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association. She describes the need for female attorneys to not conform to expectations and seek out leadership roles within the legal profession. Brown also emphasizes the importance for all lawyers to find a balance in their lives including sleep, family, and finding something that helps clear the mind. She then gives her experience with the ABA, interaction with the current President William Hubbard, and why young lawyers should be involved. Paulette Brown has been a lawyer for 38 years, worked for Fortune 500 companies, owned a firm for 15 years, and is now a partner in the Morristown, New Jersey office of Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP. She has been involved with the American Bar Association since she graduated from law school.
New Solo host Adriana Linares interviews eLawyering Task Force Co-Chair Marc Lauritsen at the 2014 American Bar Association Law Practice Division Fall Meeting. eLawyering is defined as providing legal services to clients through a secure online portal. The eLawyering Task Force, Lauritsen explains, stimulates conversation among practitioners about the future of law practice and how lawyers can use the internet to serve the unmet legal needs of the middle class. He and Linares discuss benefits the Task Force can provide to attorneys, how the profession is changing, and how to include law students. Mark Lauritsen started as a legal aid lawyer, became a clinical instructor at Harvard Law School, was directed towards legal technology, and now runs a consulting firm called Capstone Practice Systems, Inc.
Legal Talk Network Producer Laurence Colletti interviews Cheryl Niro at the 2014 American Bar Association Law Practice Division Fall Meeting. Niro explains her negotiation training sessions at the Women Rainmakers Board Mid Career Workshop, and how law school does not have proper, in-depth negotiation training. She discusses gender-related issues and shadow negotiations, methods to overcome negative outcomes, and how to accept conflict as a facilitator of change. Cheryl Niro is the Senior Strategy Advisor to the Executive Director of the ABA, was the second woman President of the Illinois State Bar Association, started the Illinois Supreme Court Commision on Professionalism, and has been a practicing attorney across many fields of law.
The Kennedy-Mighell Report host Dennis Kennedy interviews host Tom Mighell at the 2014 American Bar Association Law Practice Division Fall Meeting. Together they discuss how the Law Practice Division helps new authors publish legal issues through their webzine, blog opportunities, and even book authorship. Many exciting new book topics being published by the ABA include alternative fees, internet legal research, encryption, ethics, and legal technology. Kennedy and Mighell talk about their new book, Flying Solo, which helps solo practitioners with operations, marketing, and finance management. Mighell finishes by discussing how he has benefited from the Law Practice Division, why lawyers should get involved, and how anyone can be considered to write a book. Tom Mighell started as a practicing lawyer for a defense firm in Texas, became a legal technology support coordinator and is now a consultant at Contoural. He became involved with the ABA through the Techshow Board, has been Chair of the Board, and has been Chair of the Law Practice Division.
The Kennedy-Mighell Report host Dennis Kennedy interviews Linda Klein at the 2014 American Bar Association Law Practice Division Fall Meeting. Klein discusses her involvement with the ABA and Women Rainmakers Board, the struggle for women in leadership roles, and how generational differences and technology are changing the path of female lawyers. In addition to her history of leadership positions at the ABA, Linda Klein has practiced law for over 30 years and is the managing shareholder at at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC.