When new work comes into your law firm, whose desk should it land on? Oftentimes, the workload falls too heavily on a few, rather than being balanced amongst firm members. Jared brings on Dov Slansky to talk us through operational structure and how adaptable technology can help workloads in your law firm get pushed through to the right people.
Also–calling out the movie industry here–you’ve been failing Jared with a serious lack of R-rated comedies in the past decade or so. Can you guys do something about that?
Finally, our Rump Roast topic centers around “The Jeffrey Toobin Experience.” Jared proclaims Dov a video-conference etiquette expert, so the guys examine a variety of real-life workplace Zoom blunders to get Dov’s take on how to avoid tanking your career.
Dov Slansky is an accomplished attorney and Vice President at Litify.
In honor of the legendary Ricky Bobby, let’s listen to some songs about racing. Start your engines!
Our opening track is Two Cigarettes by Major Label Interest.
The music for the Legal Trends Report Minute is I See You by Sounds Like Sander.
Our closing track is Finessed by JessGuy.
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Male: It’s The Legal Toolkit with Jared Correia, with guest Dov Slansky. We play around the Jeffrey Toobin experience, and then to build our brand (ph) with the ASMR crowd, Jared slowly whispers selections from Black’s Law Dictionary. Ooh, yeah. That’s the stuff.
But first, your host, Jared Correia.
Jared D. Correia: It’s time for the Legal Tool Kit podcast. Batman’s favorite podcast, just kidding. Batman’s a fictional character. He’s not real. And so, he doesn’t listen to podcasts. And yes, it’s still called the Legal Tool Kit podcast, even though I’ve never actually held a better (ph) rank. I’m your host, Jared Correia. You’re stuck with me because Joan Rivers was unavailable. She was (00:01:35). I’m the CEO of Red Cave Law Firm Consulting, a business management consulting service for attorneys and bar association. Find us online at redcavelegal.com. I’m the CEOO of Gideon Software. We go build chat bots so law firms can convert more leads and conversational document assembly tools so law firms can build documents faster and more accurately. You can find out more about Gideon at gideonlegal.com.
Now, before we get to our interview today with Dov Slansky of Litify, I have another series of dick jokes to tell. The movies are dominated by superheroes, and Disney owns pretty much everything. And so, I ask you, who has left a curse drink heavily or fu– put another way, what happened to the R-rated comedy? Back in the 90s and early 2000s, it was the best of times. R-rated comedies do great box office. Now, they’ve all but disappeared from movie theaters. What the hell happened and why do we suck so much? So, I’ll spill the beans early. I don’t know why R-rated comedies are dead. Is it the Disney thing? Could it be that lame superheroes dominate everything else? Is it that everybody’s so goddamn sensitive now? Maybe we are just too serious and treat everything like life or death when it’s all just a black comedy anyway. But I just want to laugh my ass off again while feeling slightly ashamed and awkward about it at the same time.
If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, here’s a murderer’s (ph) show of R-rated comedies you should consider. First, all four American Pie movies are amazing. All four. May I ask you, what other film series has four high quality films than that and which film series of a trilogies length or longer is batting a thousand? Look, I love Back to the Future but Back to the Future 2, it’s not great. The first Lord of the Rings is boring and Godfather 3 sucks. In American Pie 3, Stifler went to dance battle at a gay bar, and fu–s Jim’s grandma in a broom closet. Has Marlon Brando ever done that sh–? Speaking of Stifler, he’s in Road Trip. A super underrated R-rated comedy that you should watch immediately. And Role Models with Paul Rudd and McLovin from Superbad. A Stifler whose real name I refuse to use was even casted as Bo Duke in the Dukes of Hazzard movie that was reframed probably poorly as an R-rated comedy.
Now, if you are an R-rated comedy aficionado, like myself, you’ve no doubt heard of McLovin AKA Richard Fogle from Superbad. Superbad basically kicks off much like this podcast did with Jonah Hill’s character talking about his obsession with drawing dicks, but that’s okay, because something like 8% of kids do it. This is also Emma Stone’s film debut. Emma Stone was also in Easy A, an R-rated comedy about high school student who pretends to be a slut. Hilarity Ensues.
Now, I will pause here to say that there have been a lot more female focused R-rated comedies of late. A number of which are excellent like Book Smart and Bridesmaids and I think that’s fantastic. But Christina Applegate was holding it down in Anchorman as co-lead before any of that ever happened. And the American Pie movies had an ensemble cast made up of males and females. But look, man. Like, male, female, alien; will someone please greenlight more R-rated comedies that you can actually see outside of streaming?
Because you might imagine, I’m a seeker and I’ve been looking around for new R-rated comedies to watch and I found a couple of decent ones I like recently. One is called The Package that’s produced by Ben Stiller for Netflix. Now, let me set the scene. Camping trip before college, guy accidentally cuts his dick off, friends must deliver said dick to the hospital before it’s too late. High jinks ensue. If you haven’t figured it out already, there’s a lot of dick in R-rated movies.
I also like Blockers, short for cock blockers. Here we go again, which features John Cena butt chugging almost an entire 40. It’s some really funny scene. Incidentally, Geraldine Viswanathan appears in both films and she’s really good in both of them. But even so, it’s has only two movies. So, looking back is where it’s at. And there’s one guy you can pretty much count on every time to do the R-rated comedy thing, right? Now, a lot of you might signify Ben Stiller as the top R-rated comedy maestro from the Golden Age of R-rated comedies. But really, aside from Zoolander and Tropic Thunder, his sh– is just not that good. Owen Wilson was funnier in Zoolander and while Tropic Thunder is epically underrated, maybe one of the most underrated R-rated comedies of all time, both Robert Downey, Jr. and Jack Black are better in that movie. Something About Mary, also overrated. Don’t at me. Who among us has not accidentally moussed their own hair with semen?
Now, the Godfather of R-rated comedies is Will Ferrell. Listen to this collection of titles. Old-school, the best R-rated comedy ever. We’re going streaking through the quad and into the gymnasium. Anchorman. Brian, I’m going to be honest with you, that smells like pure gasoline. Talladega Nights, the Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Look, I like the Christmas Jesus best and I’m saying grace, and who could forget Step Brothers? The Catalina fu–ing wine mixer. I mean, even Get Hard is pretty funny. So, when you settle into bed tonight and pray to grown-up Jesus or teenage Jesus or bearded Jesus, or whoever you want, just make sure you ask for the return of the R-rated comedy so I have more stuff to quote that annoys my family.
Now then, dear tiny Jesus, with your golden fleece diapers, with your tiny little ball death fist. Before we get to our discussion on workload and task management for law firms with Dov Slansky of litify, we’ve got this week’s edition of the Clio Legal Trends Report with Joshua Lenon, in addition to sling and stats, when he wakes up in the morning, Joshua pisses excellence.
Joshua Lenon: Did you know that 66% of consumers consider online payments their top choice when paying for legal services? I’m Joshua Lenon, lawyer and resident in Cleo; and this is just one finding from our recent legal transfer board. If you’re still only accepting checks by mail, you may want to reconsider. Online payments are helping lawyers introduce greater flexibility and convenience to clients. In fact, in addition to online payments, preference for automated payments and ones made through mobile apps, outranks mailed in checks by 13%. And here’s what’s in it for you. We found that firms using online payments collect as much as 16% more revenue per lawyer. To learn more about the impact of online payment technology on law firms, download Clio’s Legal Trends report for free at clio.com/trends. That’s Clio. Spelled C-L-I-O dot com forward slash trends.
Jared D. Correia: All right. Let’s get into to this savory crone out of podcast. It’s time. Yes. It’s time to interview our guest. My guest today is Dov Slansky, the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at Litify. Hey, Dov. How are you doing?
Dov Slansky: I’m doing great, Jared. Thanks for having me.
Jared D. Correia: You and I were talking before we came on today about workload management, which is a big problem for lawyers and law firms; and maybe they don’t even know, it’s its larger problem, it is really is. So, do you want to give me your quick take on workload management and then we’ll dive into a little bit further/
Dov Slansky: Sure. I think you kind of summed it up there in a couple of words. So, this will be relatively brief take, I guess, at the top. But I don’t think people understand how much of a problem it is and I’m not coming at this from the angle of people don’t understand that people are overworked and need a vacation. I don’t think that’s the topic of discussion we want to have in the moment today, as much as it is the summer and people probably want to take a vacation. But I think what we were talking about was just the idea that maybe it’s workload balancing is really what it is, right? The inability for most firms to understand how much work is on the plate of each individual lawyer at the firm, and therefore, when new work ideally comes in, how do you place that with the right person at the firm?
Jared D. Correia: So, in my experience, like a lot of friends don’t have any kind of strategy around this at all, and they’re just dumping work on to people without any conscious knowledge of like what they’re worth volume is right now, whether it would be better suited for someone else. Is that like your experience as well? Are we building from like almost no foundation?
Dov Slansky: I love building with no foundation. It looks really strong.
Jared D. Correia: Pretty strong.
Dov Slansky: Yeah. Very solid for sum. But yeah. I think that’s actually what’s going on. What I think what’s going on is that a lot of firms are just having work come in and then they sort of developed that gut feeling of who’s best to do certain things at the firm, and the work that’s routing in that way. Obviously, if someone brings it is, they’re going to want to keep it for themselves for the most part. But work that comes in, again, it’s ,more of a gut feeling like, “oh, this is the guy who does this and she does this best and let’s send it there” with really nor regard to the fact that yesterday, this other massive matter came in and you just did the same thing.
Jared D. Correia: So, it’s interesting. Do you think that some of this relates to what you mentioned, which is like, I want credit for this work, either the work that I do or origination fee for the work I commence. Is that like the main issue here or is it more about a data collection thing where you have to understand better what somebody’s workload is? Or is it both? Is it a combination of those two things?
Dov Slansky: I mean, there’s definitely some origination in there, right? Everybody wants to get paid and get credit for work they’re bringing in. So, even if they’re perhaps have too much work on their plate and they originate a new matter, they’re going to want to keep it, right?
Jared D. Correia: Yeah.
Dov Slansky: Because, that’s just simply the rules of engagement and they’re going to want to do that. But I think the larger problem is all of the work that comes in, regardless of where it comes from, that cumulative amount of work is not really being monitored, right? There’s hours that people are watching and no one wants to refer to a quota, an hourly quota as a real thing, but they’re there.
Jared D. Correia: Yeah. Right? That’s like the whole thing, isn’t it? At legal.
Dov Slansky: So, I think that’s really what’s driving, right? A lot of these firms have — they want to make sure that work is getting done. Lawyers are obviously driven to do that. You want to excel; you want to grow in your career. So, it’s not that they’re taking on work and then burning themselves out. It’s simply not in the best interest of the firm to have the work not balanced. If you have a lot of lawyers in the firm, what happens is people get overloaded, the firm doesn’t necessarily realize that, and by the time they do, what’s their answer? “Let’s just hire somebody else.” I’m not advocating not hiring, especially today, and people should know why not hire more people, it’ll work for you, but throwing bodies at the problem is Legal’s favorite way to answer a problem and it’s not really the answer here.
Jared D. Correia: Now, but this is an interesting topic because I talk with people about this all the time. So, when I’m consulting with clients, I’m basically like, “look, you want to make everyone in the firm whether it’s a solo firm or like 20 people working for you, get everybody as efficient as possible, make sure you know what kind of work will they’re handling and then make choices based on that.” Like that’s step one for you. And then step two is considering whether and how you hire people. But it doesn’t sound like firms in your experience are doing that at all either.
Dov Slansky: Yeah. And step one should be really easy, right? I mean, it sounds easy. Understand what people are doing. And I think there’s honestly just that lack of transparency comes into play because other than the hours, the firms are not generally looking beyond that and the hours don’t tell the story of the work necessarily.
Jared D. Correia: So, I know a number of firms who are starting to track individual employee performance, utilization rate for associates, that kind of thing. But what you’re talking about is sort of like an overarching view into the workload of the firm in its totality. Almost no one’s looking at that, right?
Dov Slansky: Yeah. No one’s looking at that. And I think the utilization rates of the employees is probably the place where everybody needs to start. And if you’re seeing it, that’s fantastic because that means your clients are definitely a step ahead, right? We don’t see consistency amongst firms in managing that utilization. So, what happens when they maybe do a review or there’s some sort of time period that comes up and they’ll do a retrospective to look back when they finish a matter, they’ll sort of try to round out the circle and be like, “okay, well what did we do on this matter here?” and they’ll figure out sort of how much work went into it and against how many other cases where there. But it’s generally done very siloed, it’s generally (00:14:20) practice.
Jared D. Correia: Yeah. I think that’s the perfect word.
Dov Slansky: Yeah. It’s not really seeing firms with consistency. Look at the utilization on a regular basis, right? So, look at the lawyers, the firm, and look at their utilization. You should have an idea of how much work people can handle and it’s obviously practice area-specific and it’s even employee-specific by sort of how much work is out of the firm with their level of seniority, a touch of their other balancing factors you want to work in. But we’re not seeing firms to do it. I honestly think it comes down to probably a big part of it as not having the tools to track it.
Jared D. Correia: Yeah.
Dov Slansky: The time and building tools that they have today are not well suited for those kind of things. But if you’re seeing it, that’s fantastic. Your clients are definitely a step ahead.
Jared D. Correia: So, I want to take a slight detour here. And then, I want to come back to that technology question, which you just addressed because I think that’s pretty important here. So, I know you’ve worked with a number of firms that are personal injury-based firms. They work on contingency, obviously different kind of model. But we’ve also been talking about like the hourly fee arrangement. So, how many hours are you working? It’s a big component of how law firms make money and that kind of promotes inefficiency. But yet, they’ll still here and most firms. Is part of the solution here looking at alternative fee structures?
Dov Slansky: Move on to the AFA.
Jared D. Correia: I know. We basically ask everyone. What do you think about alternative fee arrangements?
Dov Slansky: It’s been both the dream of every law firm and the bang of their existence.
Jared D. Correia: Right. Right. Right.
Dov Slansky: I don’t want to bring you back to technology question but I the reason why law firms have not fully adopted the AFA model in the way that other industries perhaps have is simply a lack of understanding of what goes into a matter. And every lawyer will tell you, “I’m a lawyer. Everything I do is different. I’m unique. I’m a snowflake. No one can tell what I do.”
Jared D. Correia: Yeah.
Dov Slansky: I had this discussion with another lawyer once and he told me he’s like, “my kids asked me what I do and I say, “I’m a lawyer.” And they said, “well, what do you do?” I really struggled to answer the question. It was like, you know, it’s like I talk a lot for a living. I guess I help people. But I really struggle to answer what I do as part of that.” I mean, that’s obviously a joke. But I think some of that translates into reality, right? The firms just simply don’t understand enough about the work to get to an efficient place for an AFA. But leaving that aside, —
Jared D. Correia: I feel like, yeah. If you want to do value billing, you need to communicate the value, right? I think that’s part of the issue here. I’ll tell you quickly. When my kids tell people what I do, they’re like, “oh, he’s on video conferences like all day and tells dad jokes.” So, apparently that’s what I do.
Dov Slansky: Oh, my kids say that I’m on calls all day but they don’t say that I say dad jokes. I have to step up my game.
Jared D. Correia: It’s alright. It’s alright. You can get there. I’ll write you some jokes. Yeah, for the value of proposition is part of it, and like you mentioned before, the tech piece is part of it as well, right? So, like, if we’re coming at this from like a tech solution standpoint, in your view, what kind of software, what kind of features do you need to figure out like holistically what kind of work do we have and how do we push it down to the right people?
Dov Slansky: That’s a loaded question.
Jared D. Correia: It’s totally loaded. I did that on purpose.
Dov Slansky: Thanks, Jared. So, I will say, in typical lawyer fashion, I’ll sort of answer your question with a question. Have I tend to come out at more from an operations angle than a technology.
Jared D. Correia: Okay.
Dov Slansky: Although I work with a technology company. Right? I think that the number one impediment is actually understanding what goes in. And it’s a bit of a circular analogy. We’d have to understand what goes in and you need technology to help you understand that. But I think, honestly, the firms have to have a desire to have an operational framework to understand it. The days of a managing partner and a practice group leader and a bunch of lawyers just doing work, those days honestly need to be behind us to a certain extent. Right? The firms have to have an operational structure and there, the operational people, their job is not to do the legal work. It’s not to excel to legal work. It’s to understand who is doing it, how much of it is being done, how much more can done and is it being done by the right people. If you have an operational firm where you can place them, yes, you want to look at technology.
Jared D. Correia: So, let’s just pause quickly one second here, because I think this is an important thing that people don’t realize. So, you build the structure and then by the technology rather than I think what most people do, which is buy the technology and just trying to build a structure off of that. It sounds like that’s the clear way to go. Would you agree?
Dov Slansky: 100%.
Jared D. Correia: Okay. Okay. So, I think a lot of people skip that step.
Dov Slansky: Yeah. Because there’s a lot of people out there who work in sales. And they’re contacting me from something like my piece of technology, whatever it might be. It’s going to solve your problems, it’s going to make your life amazing, and the firm obviously gets sold and they buy and they turn around and go, “sh–, who’s going to run this now?”
Jared D. Correia: Right.
Dov Slansky: What do I do with this piece of technology? Now, my firm is not set up to use this piece of technology. So, sometimes, it just falls by the wayside depending on how much they spend. But some of them try to use it and the adoption rate suffer, it’s just not set up properly. And that’s because they didn’t really put the structure around the firm before they put the technology in place.
Jared D. Correia: Right.
Dov Slansky: We see success — a quick personal vignette from Litify, but like where do we see —
Jared D. Correia: Yes. You’re getting to dad jokes. This is great. Go ahead.
Dov Slansky: I was just like, where do we see success is where the firms actually have a strong operational structure. Right? We also have people who work in sales and they’re great, and they can sell things to firms all they want. But where we see success is where the firms have the right people that can actually understand the process, implement the technology, and make sure that’s being used properly. And I hear the technology of the firms are looking for is broad.
Jared D. Correia: Yes. One more quick detour, because I love taking these like ad-lib detours on the show here.
In terms of — you talked about having operational components in the firm, and previously, you talked about like lawyers doing legal work, non-lawyers specializing in other things. So, part of this is bringing in operational people, right? And finding non-lawyers to work in the law firm who specialize in others things, which I think is a big jump from most law firms, right?
Dov Slansky: Yeah. Yeah. I think law firms tend to — that’s a dangerous question to answer in a legal industry. But law firms tend to hire lawyers.
Jared D. Correia: There’s only thousands of people listening.
Dov Slansky: Wonderful. And again, I’m a lawyer but I think I was miscast as a lawyer. I’m an operational person or technology person and far better than I am as a lawyer. If you find me handling legal work for you, you’ve done something terribly wrong. But I think that’s the point. The point is that law firms need to embrace bringing in people who have the right skill set and a lawyer skill set is not generally an operational skill set. Their brains just are not trained to think in the same way. Their problem-solving people, right? Lawyers are — their task is, here is a problem solve it. An operational person’s goal is to actually find the problem, right? Only when you find a problem can you fix it? They have to find the problem. The lawyers have to solve the problem. So, different skill set that you have. Bringing in the right people, whether they’re from another law firm like the lateral move or whether they’re from outside technology completely, they’re going to have to understand the legal business for sure, or they can’t just walk in cold. But you do have to bring in the mindset of operations in order to really, really get a good understanding and set that foundation of the firm more properly.
Jared D. Correia: Great. I think that’s a good answer. I don’t think anybody’s been offended about that.
Dov Slansky: Oh, by the time they’re offended, it’s too late. This is recorded.
Jared D. Correia: It’s too late. Yeah. So, sorry, everybody. We apologize in advance for this show and future shows. All right. Let’s talk about the tech, because you’re talking about like a broad base of technology to actually accomplish this. So, what’s that look like for a law firm?
Dov Slansky: Well, law firms have the same general technology framework, right? Their outlook and word processing tools, it’s going to be Microsoft based. They’ll probably have some sort of CRM. I know you talked about that recently. Not everybody has one but they definitely should.
Jared D. Correia: Yeah.
Dov Slansky: But let’s assume for a moment, they have some sort of CRM and, either words used by everybody or it’s definitely at least used by their business development department so they have some understanding of how business gets into the firm. They probably could do a better job at least, there’s some understanding and there’s obviously a time and billing system like you got to make money and you had to go get paid for it.
I think the thing that firms are missing is the center of that, if you will. If you think about — it’s a very tired analogy but I think it works well, the hub-and-spoke analogy, right? If you plug all the different things that we just mentioned in, you have your email and you have your Microsoft Word and you have your document management system and you have your CRM and you have your time and billing, the thing at the center that actually ties all that together is the matter. And I think when firms look at matter management from illegal project managing, — by the way, a side note, I love how law firms have taken project management and they put an L in front of it and think it’s something different now. It’s not project management. It’s illegal project management.
Jared D. Correia: It’s for the course of law firms, right? Legal, whatever we want to call it, now it’s special. Everybody’s a special little snowflake. You said that before.
Dov Slansky: Yep. But I think that’s the key, right? If you have to actually look at your matters, take a look at what’s going on holistically, put a project framework in place to understand where did this get to me, what is the scope of the engagement that we’re doing, who is working on and how long did it take. Right? What are the different skills that were utilized in this engagement? How much did we get paid versus how much we thought we were going to get paid? You need all of that to live in one central location.
Jared D. Correia: Yeah, yeah. I’ve been a big advocate of matter management for law firms for years. So, I think it’s like that’s the only type of tool that’s going to organize everything via matter, as you mentioned. And so, bring this kind of full circle, that’s also a way to track for the things you’re talking about before workload management in a very broad way, right? As long as you have like some notion of getting into a matter and being able to see all the matters in the firm in the same place.
Dov Slansky: Yeah. I think there’re a lot of pieces of technology out there that sort of masquerade as matter management systems. I think a true matter management system does exactly what you said. It puts the matter at the center and everything else sort of keys off of that. The systems that masquerade, put the time at the center, put the billables at the center. Again, it’s not a bad thing. It’s just not going to get you to that understanding of the work that’s being done with the firm.
Jared D. Correia: So, let’s say you’ve got a law firm that’s listening to this, or I guess law firms people who would listen to this. Think you got a law firm manager who’s listening to this. Let’s do that instead. And they’ve got no systems whatsoever. And this is the first time they’re hearing about this idea of workload management outside like the NBA. What’s the first step? Like how do you begin to build those systems?
Dov Slansky: My suggestion is to find something that has broad application to your firm. You are going to end up with a time and billing system if you’re an hourly-based firm. If you’re a contingency-based firm, you’re going to end up with something that tracks your fees. You don’t even want to avoid it. You’re not going to avoid it. You’re going to get a tool that does that because without that, you’re simply not going to be successful. You know, if you’re a really really small firm, a couple of people, you could probably run it off as spreadsheets. Once you get past a couple of people, you’re going to have to have something that tracks the money.
Okay. Outside of this something that tracks the money, the tool that you buy should be something that has broad adaptability. And that’s a dangerous thing because law firms love taking something and using it for an unintended purpose. Use Microsoft Outlook into a CRM is a favorite one. A favorite pastime of lawyers. I’m not suggesting that you take a tool and just use it for everything. That’s how Excel becomes your entire operating system. I’m suggesting you buy a tool that has the ability to do multiple things but in a connected way. So, there are matter management systems out there that also have time that also have a CRM. There are matter management systems that also have a document management system in there. Take a look at what your needs are at the firm and which area is more important.
If you have a time and billing or a tool that you like, then maybe your matter management system should focus on matters plus CRM or matters plus documents. Find one that has broad adaptability to your firm. I think what you’ll find is number one, you’ll have a lot more information about the business because it’s centered in one place. So, you as the law firm manager who’s listening to this, will end up holding more information. A woman that we work with just told us that after rolling out technology at our firm which they had been completely devoid of in your example other than a time and billing system, she said, she’s like, “I’ve been using this now for three weeks. I know more about my practice than I have in the last 35 years” which is a crazy sentence. I mean, it’s literally a crazy sentence. It’s absolutely unbelievable. But I think the point that she was trying to make was that, “I have access to the information. I can actually have access to the other things that are going on at the firm. I don’t have to ask people for it. I don’t have to make it up. I actually have access.”
So, if you’re setting things up and you want to look for technology, look for one that does a few things at once. You’ll probably grow, you’ll probably want to change that over time unless you’ve selected one that has scalability, another session for another podcast, but find one that does a few different things that your staff can actually adopt and invest your time in setting it up right.
Jared D. Correia: That was a good stuff, man. As always. Can’t say, I’m surprised. Thanks for coming in. Are you going to hang around for the last segment?
Dov Slansky: I think I have to. Based on your recent segments, I mean, how can I pass it up?
Jared D. Correia: Yeah. I believe we have a contract in place. That’s all right. All right. We’ll take one final sponsor break so you can hear more about what our sponsors can do for your law practice. Then, stay tuned. Yes. That’s right. It’s the rump roast. It’s even more supple than the roast beast.
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Jared D. Correia: Welcome back. Here we are the rear end of The Legal Tool Kit. As always, we finish up with the rump roast. It’s a grab bag of short-form topics, all of my choosing. Why do I get to pick? Well, naturally because I’m the host. Dov, I want to talk to you about something that I think you’re an expert of. Video conference etiquette. I don’t think anybody here is better in addressing this than you.
Dov Slansky: Oh, boy.
Jared D. Correia: You like the Miss Manners of video conferences. So, I’m going to call this segment the Jeffrey Toobin Experience. And I want to talk to you about actual crazy things that people have done on video conferences. And then, I want you to tell me like, is this appropriate behavior on a video conference? So you’re our arbiter of etiquette.
Dov Slansky: Let’s roll.
Jared D. Correia: So, let me start off. Number one. The actual things I’ve seen or things I found online that people have done on video conferences.
Number one. Building a barbecue and installing a ceiling fan. Appropriate behavior on a video conference?
Dov Slansky: That’s a definite yes. That’s a definite yes. I think it’s an engaging activity especially for one who struggles with focusing on one task at a time. It’s engaging. It’s stimulating. It’s a left-brain activity, if you will. I think as long as they can keep the drilling noises to a minimum, absolutely acceptable.
Jared D. Correia: All right. This time, I’m going to ask you, the challenge here is like, can you do it on a conference call where you actually have a video going, and then how do you manage the muting? Like do you just have like a silencer for your drill? Logistically, how does one manage to this?
Dov Slansky: Doing it on video is tough because you end up having to bend over, you get into weird angles. Doing it with the other stuff.
Jared D. Correia: Yeah. All right.
Dov Slansky: I think the real key is if you wear a headset that has a mute function in it, you can manage them pretty easily. The trick is to only drill when you’re not speaking. It’s a lot to juggle, I’ll be honest. I did not see that for a personal experience, of course.
Jared D. Correia: No. Of course not.
Dov Slansky: Thinking about what it would be if I were —
Jared D. Correia: Hypothetically. Yeah.
Dov Slansky: Yeah. Of course.
Jared D. Correia: What do the logistics look like? All right. Let’s talk about another Zoom based scenario that I’ve seen. And I want to know again from your perspective, appropriate behavior or not. Putting on a video screen that is not your real face. So, I read a story from the UK. several years ago, where a guy went to every meeting with a giant cut out cardboard thing of Danny DeVito instead of his own face. And this guy was like adamant about having the Danny DeVito cutout in every meeting, and he got fired from his job, and his wife was super pissed at him. So, if somebody’s working for you in a work scenario, is it viable to put up a picture of someone else, potentially a celebrity on your screen? Or in this case, have a giant cut out of Danny DeVito sitting next to you for every single Zoom meeting.
Dov Slansky: Speechless? I’m more so stuck in the fact that his wife was upset. Was she not — she knows this person, but she surprised? Absolutely crazy.
Jared D. Correia: Yeah. That’s what I was thinking.
Dov Slansky: Did she not see this coming? Like all of a sudden spring up his affinity for having Danny DeVito next to him at all times.
Jared D. Correia: The Danny DeVito obsession is kind of a weird thing. And I could see why it would get you in trouble at work. So, I vote no on this. This seems to be a bad choice, as far as I’m concerned.
Dov Slansky: That’s a bad choice. File it under bad idea.
Jared D. Correia: Okay. Let me ask you a similar question, related. There’s a lady that worked for a company. She wore the same Hawaiian shirt for 264 meetings in a row. No one said anything. On her last day at work, she tries out the same Hawaiian shirt and retires it and goes to the next job. Say somebody on your team does that like is that appropriate work behavior? Just trolling people at that point.
Dov Slansky: Trolling people, a part of it I think is fun. The only thought I’m having was did she wash the shirt? Because if she did, then that’s fine. I’m okay with it. You want to wear the same shirt every day, I mean it’s weird but it’s not offensive. It crosses the line into offensive when you don’t wash it.
Jared D. Correia: Yeah. All right. So, this is good. So, we’re really getting into the logistics of this. Like you got to have a silent drill, and then need to wash your clothes. Low-level stuff, I think. All right. I got more for you. Appropriate behavior on a Zoom call or not. This woman was on work, phone calls for I think a week in a row, and she was using a green screen. So, her husband bought one of those suits that you could wear this all green like a full body suit like a body stocking that only revealed his face. So, he would walk behind her video constantly and people could only see his face. How do we feel about that? I, personally, I really want to do this now.
Dov Slansky: The creativity there is tremendous. To be inside of the mind of the man who though that idea just being a floating face —
Jared D. Correia: It’s brilliant.
Dov Slansky: Absolutely brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Probably not acceptable, but absolutely brilliant. And honestly, it’s only probably not acceptable because I think people will be terrified as to what’s going on. If they understood that someone’s just playing a prank, I think they would laugh along. But otherwise, they’d be like, “what is — hey, excuse me, miss. What is happening behind you?”
Jared D. Correia: I think the first time is going to be very off-putting. But the second time, you’re probably really enjoying it. I know I would be.
Dov Slansky: I’m with you though. I kind of really want to try that now.
Jared D. Correia: I do want to try. But then, like I got to be the guy who orders the body stocking. There’s going to be a lot of questions about that. If I didn’t already have one. All right. Two more questions I got for you on Zoom. One is animals. Animals are popping up on Zoom constantly. You got the cat lawyer guy who uses a cat filter. Then there’s all these news correspondents whose cats come up and basically, like just invade the Zoom conference.
Animals. Children. Since we’re getting to the logistics, how do you guard against this as a frequent Zoom conference attendee?
Dov Slansky: So, they had an invention. It’s a couple of years old.
Jared D. Correia: Yes.
Dov Slansky: It’s called a lock. It goes on a door.
Jared D. Correia: Tell me more about this lock.
Dov Slansky: And I would encourage people to take advantage of said invention. I mean, look, if you’re working from home, it’s unfortunate. There’s going to be things that go on behind you.
Jared D. Correia: Right.
Dov Slansky: You’re going to need to learn to minimize those because I can tell you as a frequent conference call attendee, when someone has something going on behind them, there is no chance I’m listening to what you’re saying. I am only focused on what’s going behind you. So, just know that when your daughter is climbing up the kitchen cabinets, I’m out there fearlessly slacking (ph) co-workers in the pool, “Yo! Some kid’s climbing up the cabinet. Who wants to throw in $5 she falls off?”
Jared D. Correia: Amazing. That’s what I hoped the answer would be. Now, as we learned before, you could say to yourself, “Oh, I’ll just put in a green screen.” But then, your spouse comes by wearing a full body stocking and their head floats through the video conference screens, like we got issues coming from everywhere.
All right. Last one. One of the more painful features of videoconferencing that have come out recently which is in several platforms is like this spotlight feature where the person who is talking is spotlighted. Even if you’re in a group of like multiple people. And this could be a problem if you’re potentially flatulent during a meeting. So, I was watching this video the other day where there’s like a 20-person conference call. This guy, rips this huge fart and then spotlighted immediately. There’s no escaping at that point. So, like how do you control yourself? No burritos prior to conference calls? Do we have to like watch our diets as well? Like, what’s the world coming to?
Dov Slansky: Honestly, the only question I think I have is whether or not you need a hobby?
Jared D. Correia: Isn’t this my hobby? I have a couple more sh– online for the podcast. That’s what I do.
Dov Slansky: I podcast and I look up weird sh– for the podcast. It’s called preparation.
Jared D. Correia: You’ve just relayed my CV to everyone. Thank you. If anyone’s hiring; yes, that’s what I do.
Dov Slansky: I’m an expert at looking up sh– for a podcast. Hosting a podcast, I’m so so. But the sh– for the podcast, I have it on lock.
Jared D. Correia: I think you’re avoiding the question, though. What will you do?
Dov Slansky: Honestly, use the mute button. Use the mute button. I’m not going to tell you not to eat a burrito. Who doesn’t love a burrito? You can’t stay away from a burrito.
Jared D. Correia: I know.
Dov Slansky: That’s not fair. Use the mute button. Also, that spotlight thing, I’m pretty sure there’s a setting that you can turn it off. Now, if you’re not the organizer, good luck.
Jared D. Correia: Yeah. You’re in trouble at that point.
Dov Slansky: You’re in trouble. Yeah. You’re in trouble. And I don’t know if I’ll always be the organizer. It’s just sound strategy. Someone sends you a Zoom link; I’m sorry but I’m going to have to send you my Zoom link.
Jared D. Correia: I just ordered Taco Bell. So, like, this meeting’s going to be mine. Hey, I thought this was really helpful. I hope everybody — like I said, this is usually not an instructional or educational portion of the show. But I frankly learned a lot. I don’t think I’m going to get in as much trouble as Zoom anymore. And hopefully, Jeffrey Toobin, the gentleman we named the section after, is listening. Keep in your pants, Jeffrey. Dov, thanks for coming in, man. This is fun.
Dov Slansky: My pleasure, Jared. Thanks for having me.
Jared D. Correia: All right. Take it easy.
If you want to find out more about Dov Slansky at Litify, visit litify.com. That’s L-I-T-I-F-Y dot com. litify.com. Now, for those of you listening in Neversink, New York, we’ve got a Spotify playlist for you to feature songs about racing, because if you ain’t first, you’re last. Unfortunately, I provided time to provide you with some ASMR selections from Black’s Law Dictionary. So, I guess you’re just going to have to figure out what’s corpus delicti means on your own.
And that will do it for another episode of Legal Tool Kit podcast. Feel free to send me your recommendations. I left out a few, I missed a few. Now, this is Jared Correia reminding you that packs of stray wild dogs control most of the cities in North America. Remember, stray dogs are not your friends. However, if you see one, walk right up to it and lay down. If it starts to sniff you, that’s a good sign. If he begins to bite, you’re in trouble, friend. Grab a pole. That just happened.