Working Part-Time Before Retiring From Your Law Practice

For reasons that escape me, many people in the legal profession believe the practice of law is not amenable to working part-time. While this issue usually arises for new parents, part-time work is also a great option for senior solo and small law firm attorneys to consider before they completely exit the profession. Read More Read More

Go Above and Beyond When Interviewing for a Job

I sit on a nonprofit board. As part of my duties, I recently participated in group interviews for a high-level executive position. We interviewed three candidates. I’ve always had my own ideas about how to effectively interview for a job. I rarely find myself in a position to assess what will actually impress me in a real live job interview setting, however. Now that I have had the opportunity, though, I want to share what I learned ... Read More

The New Solo: Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

Many new solo practitioners wrestle with the issue of whether to focus their practice in one area of the law to the exclusion of other areas. Some are afraid to walk away from any business and, therefore, think it best to go to market as a generalist. Unless you practice in a very small town, this strategy is usually a mistake. If you practice in a suburban or metro area, limiting yourself to certain practice areas is the best strategy. Here’s why . . . Continue reading this post on Read More

Get a Better Job: When and How to Pursue an Alternative Career

At one time or another, many lawyers consider ditching their legal career and doing something else. It’s no surprise why. A recent Forbes article reported that the number-one unhappiest job in America is associate attorney. Continue reading this post at Read More

Face Time in the Office

How important to career success is “face time” in the office when compared with the same amount and quality of work done at home? Yahoo! and Best Buy recently received a considerable amount of press (traditional and online) regarding this issue. In both cases, the companies made changes to increase face time in an effort to improve communication and collaboration, as well as profits. Yahoo! starts the trend First to take the stage was Yahoo!. In late February, new CEO Marissa Mayer announced that Yahoo! employees may no longer work from home. This is the same Marissa Mayer who was hired last year while pregnant, came back to work after a two-week maternity leave and has a nursery next to her office (paid for with her own funds). The rationale for the new policy according to Yahoo HR: To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together. Best Buy cancels ROWE Best Buy was next. Early this month, the company proclaimed that its innovative flexible work program known as ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment) was no more. Through this program, corporate employees could work flexible hours outside of the office. It was based on the premise that level of productivity was more important than number of hours worked, and location. According to Best Buy: In the context of a business transformation, it makes sense to consider not just what the results are but how the work gets done. It’s ‘all hands on deck’ at Best Buy, and that means having employees in the office as much as possible to collaborate and connect on ways to improve our business. Does this apply to law firms? These company leaders clearly believe that collaboration is a critical driver of maximum productivity and results. Is the same true for law firm leaders? Probably not. In a company, measuring employee productivity can be difficult. In a law firm, it is easy to measure billable hours. Measuring productivity by revenue billed and collected is a darn good metric when profits are the desired result. Many law firm leaders probably don’t care whether the billing is done at the office during regular office hours or done elsewhere. They don’t care much about collaboration, as long as the hours are billed and collected. From an analytic perspective (favored by most lawyers), the debate over the wisdom of the new policies at Yahoo! and Best Buy is probably irrelevant to lots of law firms. However, there is still a lesson to be learned. These developments should be a wake-up call for lawyers to reassess the value of face time in the office. Perception is reality These two prominent corporations, and probably many more, perceive that collaborative face time is very important. That same is likely to be true of some law firm leaders. A lawyer who exceeds a firm’s billable-hour targets while working outside the office may be perceived as less of a team player than a colleague who bills the same number of hours while in the office. On the face of it, that doesn’t make much sense. But in fact perception is extremely important. Liking and trusting your colleagues Also crucial but often underestimated are the “soft” benefits of collaborative face time. The legal profession is relationship-based. This is the rule for clients andco-workers. Successful attorneys have clients and colleagues who like them and trust them. It takes sufficient face time to create that relationship with colleagues. Plus, associates who hope to make partner need at least one good mentor.Face time is required to create and nurture this important relationship. Finally, there’s office “intelligence.” In order to know who’s “up” and who’s “down” — and why – a lawyer needs to spend face time with colleagues. Showing up is a big part of the battle Don’t get me wrong. I am a strong believer in work/life balance and well aware that flexible hours and working from home can be very important for many who strive for better balance. But make this choice with your eyes wide open. Carefully calculate the benefits of “showing up” at times, rather than working remotely. Read More

ABA report: No New Rules Needed for Law Firm Rankings

When U.S. News & World Report decided to rank law schools, this ranking – for better or worse — fundamentally changed the law school admissions process. So when U.S. News announced that it would join forces with Best Lawyers to publish rankings of lawyers, that announcement got the ABA’s attention. Would this be a game-changer in the already-controversial issue of law firm and lawyer rankings? Apparently, the ABA thought it might – and felt compelled to examine the issue. Continue reading this post on Read More