Anchors Away! It’s Time to Pack and Go

Karen Glowacki
Karen Glowacki is Executive Director of Sherin & Logden LLP in Boston. She is current chair of the 2013 Annual Conference and served on the 2012 & 2011 Annual Conference committees.

According to weather.com, average temperatures in National Harbor for April are in the mid 60’s.  After the winter we’ve had in New England, I am thrilled to be packing light clothes and leaving my scarf and gloves behind!  I’m filling my suitcase with everything I could possibly need, and with each piece I pack, I can’t help but think of everyone who contributed to the conference.  Mark Bridgeman, appointed Chair of 2014 Annual Conference in Toronto, joined us and contributed much enthusiasm and new ideas; Barb Foley, my wonderful friend and mentor from our days on the regional team; Veronica Tiedt and Clara Onderdonk, old friends and confidants from Region 1; Jill Hirsch and Beth Fowler, new friends and tireless workers from the host chapter; Mary Jennings, Michael Keatts and Carol McCallum, experienced administrators who are truly “seasoned to perfection”; Lorri Salyards, volunteer-extraordinaire and the brains behind the Blogs; and Mario Rumasuglia who despite living in Florida, still cheers on my Boston sports teams.

As the rather large suitcase begins to fill, I also think about all the support we received from ALA headquarters staff, and the gratitude I owe to Lisa Mikita, Pam Stong, and Jan Waugh for their patience with my questions, their enthusiasm with my ideas, and especially for their sound advice over the last fifteen months.  A conference this size and quality could never have come together so smoothly without the ALA team who worked closely with our committee.  In particular, Patty Olejnik, Peggy Siems, Steve Carasso and Jackie Stasch have invested their expertise and creativity into this conference, which will undoubtedly help ensure its success.  And of course, my liaison to the Board of Directors, Janine Book, who always responded so quickly and wisely to my questions.

Now that my suitcase is overflowing, it will be a miracle if I can close it! ​Serving on the Conference Committee has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my career, and the friends I have made along the way are by far the most precious.  I look forward to seeing everyone from this team again very soon and sharing our conference and its accomplishments together.  I’ll take advantage of all the networking events, and I especially look forward to those that include my Business Partner friends.  This year the Networking Reception will be held in the Exhibit Hall on Tuesday where our American experience continues with light jazz from greats such as Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey.  I promise not to try to sing along.

The conference planning is finished after 15 months of hard work.  Now it’s time to finish packing, and look forward to reuniting with all my friends and meeting many new ones in National Harbor.  Are six pairs of shoes too many?  Nah…..See you soon!

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Conquering the E-Billing Challenge

Carlos Seoane is the General Manager for eBillingHub from Thomson Reuters Elite. eBillingHub is a SaaS e-billing solution that helps law firms quickly and effectively respond to client demand for electronic invoicing. For more information, visit eBillingHub.com or email info@ebillinghub.com.

For several years, it has been clear that, for law firms, electronic billing is here to stay. In theory, the benefits are clear — receiving bills electronically through a single interface allows the corporate legal department to route, review, and approve them. Thus, a law firm should be able to ensure compliance with clients’ guidelines, expedite dispute resolution, create valuable data that can be subsequently mined, “go green” by cutting down on paper, and ultimately accelerate payment cycles. In addition, corporate legal departments continue to embrace e-billing as the wave of the future.

Electronic Billing: It’s Complicated

However, along with the theoretical benefits come some concrete drawbacks. Unique client billing guidelines on top of over 35 legal spend management vendors has made electronic billing error-prone,  incredibly complex, and one of the largest expenses and greatest sources of lost revenue for law firms.

Based on our recent analysis, there is no indication that this complexity is going away any time soon. In fact, it will get worse: we at eBillingHub see a consistent 30 percent year over year growth in the number of e-bills our law firm customers submit. We also see a constant stream of corporate legal departments moving from paper to electronic billing—an average of 40 new corporate clients per month are being added to our library of almost 4,000 who already require electronic billing. In addition, anecdotal evidence shows that corporate legal departments are moving to e-billing faster than ever before, but are less prepared. And, the less prepared the law firm’s client is, the more issues and slower payment their firm will experience.

So what can law firms do about the incoming tsunami that is e-billing? Fortunately, there are several steps firms can take to stay on top of the wave. The first recommendation is to research reputable electronic billing software solutions, and then purchase the solution that best fits your firm’s needs. Electronic billing is simply too complex and too important to a firm’s bottom line to be done manually or with ad-hoc tools.

However, whether or not your firm uses electronic billing software, there are several steps you can take that reflect best practices and that make dealing with e-billing more straightforward and efficient:

  • Place your e-billing activities within your billing organization
  • Train your lawyers on billing codes and practices
  • Minimize hand-offs for fewer mistakes
  • Define an escalation path
  • Help your clients get set up with e-billing

Learn More at the ALA Annual Conference & Exposition
If you’re looking to gain additional information on electronic billing trends and insights, you’ll want to attend the Business Matters session “Stop Losing Revenue Today by Dramatically Simplifying Electronic Billing,” presented by Ryan Ladisic, Sales Director for eBillingHub. Ryan has been in the legal billing industry for over 10 years and has helped transform electronic billing at hundreds of law firms worldwide. Also, make sure to visit us at the Thomson Reuters, Booth #501.

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Communicating Expectations: A Candid Hour with Managing Partners

Foley_Barb-2013-03Barbara A. Foley, CLM, is Chief Operating Office at RatnerPrestia in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. She served on the ALA Board of Directors from 2007 to 2009 and is a current member of the 2013 Annual Conference Planning Committee and the ALA International Relations Committee.

Do you often wonder what your managing partner is really thinking? Are there conversations that leave you contemplating the underlying meaning of what was said? Do you often wish that you could read his or her mind? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, mark your calendars for: A Candid Hour with Managing Partners. This session is being offered at the ALA Annual Conference on Monday, April 15, 4:00-5:00 p.m., and promises to hold your attention!

As legal administrators we wear many hats, and each of us has management positions that differ from one another’s. One common element is the need to continually help increase the success of our managing partners in leading the firm. This is not possible without careful analysis and a clear understanding of their needs. If we don’t understand the requirements, we can’t be effective.

At the same time, the need to evaluate our own performance is also a critical component in a successful managing partner/administrator team. Honest self-evaluation is difficult and requires confidence, patience and integrity. When was the last time you asked your managing partner, “How am I doing?” Are you hesitant to ask? Perhaps your comfort level will change after you hear from our panel of managing partners who will discuss the ups and downs of their working relationships with their legal administrators. They will discuss some of the challenges that exist and suggest methods for improvement.

This is a fantastic opportunity to learn effective techniques for building a relationship with your managing partner based on trust and respect. You will learn how to improve your relationship with him or her, while developing a secure relationship and be able to function as a team. Regardless of how little or how much experience we have as legal administrators, we should all leave this session with a deeper understanding of what our managing partners really want. Start planning today, and make time for this important ALA session!

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Do You Have a Mobile Device Management Solution in Place?

JasonPictureJason Brown is the Technical Field Mobility Solutions Architect for CDW, helping inform customers about the ever-changing mobility landscape. He works closely with a team of internal and field Solution Architects, assessing the customer’s needs in all aspects of the mobility workplace. CDW is ALA’s 2013 Technology Partner and will be exhibiting at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Booth #413.

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that mobile devices have found their way into every aspect of our personal lives and also are becoming integral for corporate communications and efficiency. According to Cisco’s IBSG 2012 Horizons Report, knowledge workers will carry over three connected devices by 2014. AmLaw’s 2012 Tech Survey reported data security is a chief concern for 82% of law firms when considering BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). TrendMicro Decisive Analytics reports almost half (46.7%) of companies supporting user-owned devices have experienced a security breach attributed to a user device.

So what are your options for a Mobile Strategy?

1. Disallow allow mobile devices – This can be extremely secure, but is an unrealistic approach and will leave your users unhappy and looking for ways to circumvent your restrictions.
2. Allow unmanaged device access – This is the most flexible option for your users, but it leaves IT without any oversight and unable to secure your data and network.
3. Consider investing in a Mobile Device Management Solution – At last count there were 75 companies who proclaimed they offered some sort of Mobility Solution. By discovering your needs, CDW can tailor a solution that aligns with your organizational goals and requirements.

CDW conducts research, and partners with and supports solutions from the industry’s leading Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors. Many of these vendors also have solutions to address Mobile Application Management (MAM) and Telecom Expense Management (TEM).

What are the benefits of a Mobile Device Management Solution?

1. Mobile devices act as connected offices, providing users with email, secure documents, dictations and note taking capabilities. This allows users to increase collaboration and remain productive, even when away from their desks.
2. While managing mobile devices, an organization can enforce secure data and access policies that assist organizations in maintaining government compliance.
3. Many Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions also will assist with Secure Mobile Application Management. This will add the direct routing of secure data through your organization’s approved managed applications without the need of a total device standard.

“Capabilities of Mobile Device Management solutions are expanding exponentially, thanks in part to rapidly evolving mobile operating systems,” says Crystal Montvid Mobility Solution Architect for CDW. “This is leading to a higher rate of adoption of these solutions within organizations.”

So now you need to decide–are you are going to get engaged, help enhance your organization’s strategy, and get their mobile devices under control with a solution that provides data security and a friendly user environment?

Organizations that do not realize the importance of a Mobile Device Management Solution will continue to fall behind in today’s technology-driven world, missing out on the benefits provided from mobile adoption in the workplace. They will struggle to keep up with competitors who are better able to accommodate the needs of their employees and service their clients effectively.

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ALA’s Strategic Alliance Partners – Why We Need Each Other

Salyards_Lorri-2011-12Lorri Salyards, CLM, is Executive Director with Doerner Saunders Daniel & Anderson, LLP in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is also a member of the 2013 Annual Conference Committee.

Wow! We’ve come a long way, baby! In all the years I’ve attended an ALA Annual Conference, I’ve never seen happen what is happening for the 2013 Conference until being a part of planning this year’s conference. While there are the plethora of unique sessions and series of sessions (The Seasoned Administrator and the Future Law Firm) that you may have read about in various posts over the past few weeks on this Blog, there are also sessions that our strategic alliance partners helped us design.

Since 2007, ALA has been promoting its strategic alliance partnerships with other legal-related associations. Our strategic alliance partners include ILTA, LMA, AALL, ARMA, IPMA and NALP. You may have seen mention of this or met some of these strategic alliance partners at a booth at our Annual Conferences over the years and through the October chapter events where these groups come together to jointly present educational topics to promote our mutual associations. You may recognize these efforts previously promoted as Professional Legal Management Week (PLMW), which many chapters recognized in October each year by teaming with one or more of these organizations for the educational advancement of our profession.

This year, ILTA has helped develop a few of the sessions offered in National Harbor. The first will be presented on Monday, April 15, from 9:45-11:00 a.m. It is called iCan! Empowering Administrators with iPads (OM11) presented by Brett Burney, J.D. of Burney Consultants LLC. Mr. Burney will cover information many of us struggle with—how iPad integrates with the legal environment; how iPads can be used by all; identifying apps for the administrator, the lawyers, and for online research resources; and determining ethical responsibilities of using iPads in your firm. Good, huh?

The next will be on Tuesday from 11:00 a.m. to Noon and will be presented by Tim Golden, PMP of McGuire Woods and Judith Flournoy of Kelley Drye. The session is titled Security Initiative: LegalSEC (OM22) and will cover guidelines for smaller firms to enhance security strategy and identify clear road maps, milestones and documentation for ever-changing best practices.

The next two of these sessions will be presented on Wednesday, April 17 from 1:45 to 3:00 p.m. The first is called Security Issues of Remote Devices (OM33) presented by Jim Fortmuller at Kelley Drye and Jeff Lolley from Hogan Lovells. In this session, we will learn how to identify the most common remote data threats for today and the future, summarize steps to safeguard equipment and our data and guide us to establish appropriate policies and procedures to protect your firm’s data from these threats. The second is a session called Microsoft SharePoint Success for Smaller Firms (OM32) presented by Lisa Gianakoa from Pillsbury Winthrop and Mike Keenan from Nixon Peabody. In this session, we will learn how firms have implemented SharePoint to support their initiatives, and find out how far a firm can reasonably expect to develop SharePoint before needing to involve developers.

NALS has also helped develop a session in the education line-up called Extreme Makeover: Rebranding the Legal Administrative Assistant (HR30) will be presented by Patricia Infanti, PP, PLS of Ballard Spahr and Dee Beardsley, PLS of Latham & Watkins. They will lead us through determining core competencies of the legal administrative assistant and identifying necessary skills and cross-training needed to meet the needs of successful job performance. A basic evaluation process for competency-based performance will also be discussed so each of us will have a better idea of how to raise the bar for and keep our legal administrative assistants current with our firm’s needs. This session will be presented on Wednesday from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

I hope you are as interested in learning in these sessions as I am. These jointly planned sessions demonstrate yet another advancement of our profession. I look forward to seeing you there in just a couple of weeks!

Finally, on behalf of the 2013 Annual Conference Committee, I would like to thank ALA’s strategic alliance partners for their support and part in putting together this year’s conference. We certainly look forward to working together again in the very near future.

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Staying Up to Date with the Latest in Technology

bethlongleyBeth Longley is Director of Citrix ShareFile for Legal. ShareFile is exhibiting at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in Booth #329.

Keeping up with the Joneses. With all the latest and greatest in technology, it can be hard to keep up with what is hot and what’s not, what are the trends and what does the future bring. We know that new platforms and workflows are created constantly. So how do you determine where you should focus your attention and resources? Here are a few places to start:

  • Social media

In order for social media to have a meaningful impact for your firm or business, you need to determine yours and your client’s goals and ensure that you develop a consistent approach and have a meaningful message to deliver. It order to achieve this, it will be best to designate someone to manage your social accounts and to produce timely, regular, meaninful content.

What information should you post and what is message are you trying to convey? Take a note from Doyle Raizner’s Twitter feed when try sharing news from your firm or business. Be careful to avoid one-way conversations. Instead, it is critical to engage your audience in a two-way conversation by sharing relevant industry news and encourage inviting and engaging comments.

We have the tools available to you at the 2013 ALA Annual Conference in National Harbor: To learn more about how to make social media work for your firm, be sure to attend session LI13 Blogging, Tweeting, Social Networking–Making It Work for Your Firm, at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, April 15.

  • e-Discovery

Recent advances in technology have revolutionized the way discovery is performed and produced. Traditional document review is quickly becoming a thing of the past and is being replaced by computer programs that can quickly identify important documents.

While making the change from manual discovery to e-discovery initially requires some costs and setup, the returns can greatly decrease overall costs and burden on your firm or business. Moreover, attorneys who currently spend work hours on discovery will have greater availability for higher-value billable tasks. The earlier that review and analysis can produce workable data sets, the more cost-effective litigation e-discovery becomes.

  • Collaboration/mobile

It is no secret that our attorneys work with a large amount of sensitive data every day. To further complicate things, legal documents are often very large files. So how do you collaborate over such documents? Having a virtual collaboration space can save you time and improve data security for your firm. Tools like ShareFile for Legal provide the ability to transfer files with colleagues right from your desktop in seconds and to work from anywhere through mobile apps.

  • Secure email

This product can be essential for the hardworking law firm or legal department in maintaining the confidentiality of the attorney-client relationships. Many law firms and legal department rely on confidentiality disclaimers to ensure information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, but encrypted email is always preferable. Not only is it a much more secure means of communication, but it assures the clients that the firm is dedicated to protecting their information.

With the wide range of encryption software available, many solutions include value-added features that help you track documents and follow up with clients. For example, some attachment encryption services, including Citrix ShareFile, will notify you when documents are downloaded, so you can be sure clients have received their files in a secure fashion.

Although the ever-evolving technology scene can seem overwhelming, these four categories have proven effective for thousands of law firms, business and legal departments over the globe. With the right tools, you can lower operating costs and build stronger client relationships to set your firm apart from the competition. The Exposition and the education offered at 2013 ALA Annual Conference will undoubtedly be the ‘Hub’ for you to garner more information and provide you with the latest and greatest in trends in technology.

What ‘tools of the trade’ in technology will be the new future for your law firm, business or legal department?

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Risky Business

Hirsch_Jill-2012-06Jill D. Hirsch is the Chief Operating Officer at Slevin & Hart, P.C., and is a member of the 2013 Annual Conference Committee.

As a legal administrator, I know there is always more to learn about the business of law, and the ALA Annual Conference is one important way I stay on top of my game. Imagine seeing a doctor who never takes time for continuing education; would you be confident she is well versed in new developments in the medical world?

We take our work very seriously, but we’re not doctors with life-and-death responsibilities. Or are we? In 2012, a prestigious law firm missed the final appeal deadline for its pro bono client on death row. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which thankfully allowed the client to file the appeal.

There is plenty of blame to go around in this case, and this is not simply a legal issue. One of the failure points in the case was the mailroom. The truth is this could have happened in many firms. There are standard protocols in handling “regular client” cases, but are firms managing pro bono cases as thoroughly as they would any other client?

I’m looking forward to attending the session Pro Bono—It’s a Different Beast, in which an expert panel of attorneys will discuss ethics issues such as associates working with no real supervision and attorneys practicing without sufficient expertise. For example, think about your firm handling a criminal case; unless Perry Mason is one of your partners, chances are your attorneys need to brush up on criminal law. The panel will provide practical advice to administrators of firms both large and small.

Pro bono procedures are just one piece of the professional liability puzzle. The session Risk Management—One Size Doesn’t Fit All covers lessons learned in recent malpractice claims, tools to determine appropriate levels of coverage, understanding your firm’s risk exposure, and other ways to minimize your firm’s vulnerability.

I don’t think any of us look forward to our annual professional liability insurance renewal. All those forms and addenda are tedious at best and tortuous at worst. The session The Mystery Revealed: Completing Professional Liability Contracts, delves in to the practical aspects of completing your firm’s application. An understanding of the professional liability insurance industry, the underwriting process, and how to choose the right broker arms you with tools to get the coverage your firm needs at the best possible price.

I’ve learned a lot as an Administrator over the last 23 years; most importantly that there is always more to learn. What do you still need to learn about risk management?

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