Category Archives: Advice for New Associates

Solving Legal Workplace Problems By Using Project Management

Today’s post falls under the category of using project management in law firms and other legal workplaces and institutions. (I have blogged numerous posts on this category in the past; check posts in the blog under the Category of “Project Management for Lawyers”).

The Legal Business Development Blog, http://adverselling.typepad.com/, has a recent post entitled “Eight Common Problems Solved by Legal Project Management.”

The post raises eight common problems that law firms and other legal employers face in their practices or businesses, which the blog writers assert can be solved by using principles of legal project management.

The eight problems and their proposed solutions, as discussed in the blog post, include the following (each of which is discussed in more detail in the blog post):

1. PROBLEM: Unclear, expanding or shifting objectives and scope. SOLUTION: Set objectives and define scope.

2. PROBLEM: Lack of organization. SOLUTION: Identify and schedule activities.

3. PROBLEM: Ineffective management of valuable personnel. SOLUTION: Assign tasks and manage the team.

4. PROBLEM: Budget guesstimating. SOLUTION: Plan and manage the budget.

5. PROBLEM: Failure to prevent problems before they occur. SOLUTION: Assess risks to the budget and schedule.

6. PROBLEM: Compromising quality. SOLUTION: Manage quality.

7. PROBLEM: Excellent legal work that nevertheless fails to meet client expectations. SOLUTION: Manage client communications.

8. PROBLEM: Scope-creep. SOLUTION: Negotiate change orders.

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How Do you Know When You Are Done Researching?

First year law students often ask how they can feel confident that they have done enough research on a legal issue that they’ve been assigned to analyze and provide client advice about. Law librarians at Rutgers-Camden prepared a useful three-minute video that explains the questions that legal researchers should ask themselves to determine whether they have adequately researched their assigned issue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elay1hLqTgk&feature=youtu.be

(Hat Tip to the Legal Writing Prof Blog).

Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States

Today I’m blogging about a very informative source about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law has an Institute on the Supreme Court of the United States (ISCOTUS), which is directed by Professor Carolyn Shapiro. According to its website, ISCOTUS “provides information, educational resources, and scholarship” on the SCOTUS, and has three main components:

the ISCOTUS Academic Center;

the Oyez Project (providing courtroom audio and briefs) and ISCOTUSnow (a blog on the Court); and

the Civic Education Project (promoting public education about the Court).

You can read more about each of these components at the links above.

The ISCOTUS website, ISCOTUS now, also has various useful features including Featured Stories on the Court, and a Weekly Roundup of news items about the Court.

The Weekly Roundup for October 10 can be found here: http://now.iscotus.org/news/weekly_roundup_october_10_2013

The site also links to an interesting recent segment from Chicago Tonight on WTTW, where Professor Shapiro and other commentators preview the Court’s new term. The piece can be seen at http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/10/08/supreme-court-s-new-session

A Move to Avoid in Email Communication

NPR had a very interesting piece on a practice that’s commonly used in the legal workplace, unfortunately, often in an unprofessional and unproductive way. It’s the practice of copying a third party late in an email exchange, to gain the upper hand over the original participants.

The piece is at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/09/26/226154772/the-worst-kind-of-email-cc-not-a-bcc-but-an-a-nnoying-cc?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

Lawyers Have Wicked Project Management Skills

I just ran across an interesting blog post on Ms. J.D., http://ms-jd.org, discussing the fact that those trained as lawyers have extremely well-developed project management skills. They can and do bring these to bear in legal jobs, but perhaps more suprisingly and, in the current economy, equally valuably, they can also carry project managment skills learned in legal environments over to almost any other kind of complex industry in which they may seek to work.

The blogger points out that those trained in law know “how to balance competing priorities (i.e., life and work or life and school) and, moreover, can see the general overarching themes (rules) of various problems (issues) that will help you solve problems (Paula Plaintiff’s claims, Defendant Danny’s defenses, and the likely outcomes of each) over and over again, back and forth, upside down and under.”

The blog post can be found at: http://ms-jd.org/combining-things-you-have-make-stuff-work-non-legal-skill-set

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Exemplary Legal Writing 2012: The Green Bag’s Honorees

The Green Bag: An Entertaining Journal of Law (www.greenbag .org), has chosen its annual “Exemplary Legal Writing” honorees for 2012. Samples of their work will appear in the forthcoming 2013 edition of the Green Bag Almanac and Reader, http://www.greenbag.org/green_bag_press/almanacs/almanac_2013_excerpts.pdf. The … Continue reading

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Stress Reduction Tips for Lawyers and Law Students

As final exams approach at this time of year, law students understandably may feel an increased level of stress. This post is about tips to manage and lessen stress levels. The American Law Institute’s Continuing Legal Education section (“ALI-CLE”) publishes … Continue reading