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Three Ways to Hook and Capture Attention in Your Presentations

Three Ways to Hook and Capture Attention in Your Presentations

The power of the hook.

The ability to give an effective presentation is necessary for the legal field. Whether you’re presenting to a client, judge, jury or any other party, you must be able to persuade your audience that your argument is correct. It’s not an easy task, of course. Giving a presentation or speech takes special skills that must be practiced and honed. There is also a structure you must follow for the audience to grasp the most important points and come to the conclusion you desire.

Lead a speech with your hook

“The first 30 seconds and the last 30 seconds have the most impact in a presentation.” – Patricia Fripp, award-winning speaker, sales presentation trainer, and speech coach.

One of the most important aspects of a successful presentation is the “hook” or the method used to capture attention from the first sentence. If you don’t have a strong hook, you are in danger of losing your audience, no matter how powerful your argument might be. So, how do you come up with a good hook?

Let’s look at three ways to capture attention in your presentations

 1.  Tell a story

“If you don’t want to preach, put stories in your speech.” – Andy Harrington, Public Speakers University, and Professional Speakers Academy.

A Ted Talk Takeaway lists eight of the most popular hooks, and number one on that list is the “story.”

Why are stories such an effective means of grabbing attention in a speech or presentation? Well, it’s part of who we are as people. Humans are natural storytellers, whether drawn on cave walls, written on paper, or typed into a laptop. Stories teach us how to understand the world and impart important lessons and morals that we carry with us throughout our entire lives. Everything from fairytales and mythology to plays and books is meant to present ideas in a way that reaches the mind and emotions. A legal presentation is not much different. Yes, you’re presenting facts or evidence, but you’re doing so in a way that keeps your audience engaged.

2.  Show a video, image, or graphic

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” Fred R. Barnard

You’ve probably heard the quote many times before. One of the tenants of good fiction writing is a concept called, “show, don’t tell.” What it means is that writers need to “show” a character’s thoughts and emotions through dialogue, facial expressions, and body language. Rather than simply telling the reader that a character is sad or angry, authors must show the emotion.

When it comes to a legal presentation, it’s also important to “show” your facts or evidence using pictures, videos, and graphics. Plus, people process images faster than text. So, start off with a compelling image, an interesting graphic, or a video that will instantly convey your main idea or argument.

3.  Make a provocative or interesting statement

“Start with a statement that is designed to arouse curiosity and make the audience look up and listen to you attentively,” Bruna Martinuzzi, American Express Open Forum.

A provocative or engaging statement will make your audience sit up to hear what you say next. Here’s an example of an opening from a presentation by author Dan Pink in one of his TED Talks. “I need to make a confession, at the outset. A little over 20 years ago, I did something that I regret. Something that I am not particularly proud of, something that in many ways I wished no one would ever know, but that here I feel kind of obliged to reveal. In the late 1980s, in a moment of youthful indiscretion, I went to law school.”

A strong presentation starts with your first sentence. Use these three tips to create your best hook to engage your audience.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

TED Talk Tips to Help You Be a More Persuasive Public Speaker

TED Talk Tips to Help You Be a More Persuasive Public Speaker on bossreporting.com

Simon Sinek knows a thing or two about public speaking

More than 38.6 million views. That’s how many times people have gone to the TED Talk website to watch Sinek talk about his simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership. What makes this video so popular?

You’ll have to watch it to find out. What you’ll discover is that it isn’t just what Sinek has to say about leadership. It goes beyond his entertaining stories about the Wright brothers, Martin Luther King, and Steve Jobs. It has much to do with the fact that Simon Sinek is a superb public speaker. He’s also generous with what he knows, so he has shared his tips on how to be persuasive when speaking in public.

Here’s some of his advice.

Not so fast!

Watch what happens when Simon Sinek takes the stage to deliver his TED Talk. What happens? Well … nothing!

Sinek says it’s done on purpose. “A lot of people start talking right away, and it’s out of nerves,” Sinek told Entrepreneur magazine. “That communicates a little bit of insecurity and fear.”

He recommends that you quietly walk out on stage. Find your place, then take a deep breath. Wait a few seconds before you begin. Sinek says this shows your audience that you are totally confident and in charge of the situation.

Be a giver

This piece of advice from Sinek will resonate with you if you understand the value of advice freely given. “We’re highly-social animals,” observes Sinek. “Even at a distance on stage, we can tell if you’re a giver or a taker, and people are more likely to trust a giver – a speaker that gives them value, that teaches them something new, that inspires them – than a taker.”

Sinek recommends asking yourself how you can demonstrate that you’re not just there to sell a product or idea, or even to convince people to like you. He calls people like this “takers,” warning that your audience can see through you. When they do, he says, they disengage.

Infrastructure

Ever heard the phrase “scanning and panning?” It’s where a presenter gets up on stage and starts talking as he or she constantly looks out over the audience. “It’s your worst enemy,” says Sinek. “While it looks like you’re looking at everyone, it actually disconnects you from your audience.”

He advises that it’s much easier and effective to look directly at specific audience members throughout your speech. Deliver an entire sentence or thought just to one person, without breaking the gaze. Then move on and connect with another person.

If it’s a TED Talk, you’re certainly not going to get through every person in your audience. Sinek says that’s not the point. Making these individual connections, he explains, is like you’re having a conversation with the audience. “You’re not speaking at them,” says Sinek, “you’re speaking with them.”

Slow down

Sinek admits this may be the one piece of advice most difficult to follow because it’s rather hard to believe. You are speaking much faster than you realize. You’re nervous. Your heart is racing – and you don’t realize it but so are your words.

“The more you rush, the more you turn them off,” he says.

Sinek is fond of saying he believes it’s impossible to speak too slowly on stage. Debate that with him if you ever meet him – but watch his TED Talk and you’ll see there are times where he speaks so slowly that several seconds go by between each word. And, it won’t bother you.

Practice gratitude

The master of TED Talks wants you to remember your manners at the end of your public presentations. Did you receive applause? Sinek says that’s a gift. “When you receive a gift,” he says, “it’s only right to express how grateful you are for it.”

Which is why – no matter what Simon Sinek talks about on stage – he always ends his presentations with two powerful words: Thank you.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

The Danger of Recording Privileged Conversation, and the Preferred Alternative

The Danger of Recording Privileged Conversation, and the Preferred Alternative on bossreporting.com

If the recording is heard by anyone other than the client or their lawyer, both the confidentiality and the privilege has been breached.

Blame it on television. Many people think that a privileged conversation between themselves and a legal professional is a confidential conversation. These are two different concepts but recording the conversation has the same outcome.

Confidentiality is an ethics rule prohibiting lawyers from disclosing information related to their client’s representation. The attorney-client privilege allows lawyers to refuse to testify against their own clients. Both can be rendered useless if the conversation is recorded. If the recording is heard by anyone other than the client or their lawyer, both the confidentiality and the privilege have been breached.

Better than a recording

If it’s determined that there should be a record of a privileged or confidential conversation between a client and his or her attorney, a stenographer should handle it. As an agent to the attorney, they are prohibited from divulging what they record, and they cannot be commanded to testify what they have recorded in a court of law.

The decision to record this conversation means that the topic is important. Every word must be captured. Stenographic recordings can be superior in terms of accuracy. Here’s why. A stenographer will take down every word. A digital recording is only capturing sound. And there are no backups.

This means that the recording may pick up background noises that may make it impossible to make out every word that was said. All it takes is a rustling of papers or a car rumbling by in the background to make a recorded voice unintelligible. There’s also the possibility that more than one person might speak at the same time.

If there’s just a recording, that moment is lost. If a stenographer is capturing the conversation, he or she can stop the conversation and ask that it be repeated.

Back to what counts as privileged/confidential

Everything someone says to an attorney does not automatically qualify it as confidential and privileged. Only communications relating to the attorney representation are. If you consult an attorney for a divorce, everything pertaining to that is privileged and confidential. If during those conversations the client disclosed an unrelated crime, an attorney could be compelled to testify about it in court.

The privilege protects an attorney from being compelled to testify about communication with their client. That particular conversation is protected. It does not apply to facts known by others outside the conversation.

What’s more, it’s not possible to make something confidential and immune from being used in court by telling it to an attorney and then invoking attorney-client privilege.

Attorneys generally tell their clients not to assume that a conversation is protected. If it is, but it’s been recorded, the confidentially is breached if that recording is heard by anyone else. In some cases, the use of an online service to transfer, store, or send the recording can also breach the attorney-client privilege. For example, if you use your cell phone to record a conversation and it’s backed up to a cloud-based service, you may run the risk of having attorney-client privileges denied.

Contact us if you establish a true need to make a record of a conversation with a client. We can help you keep it confidential and privileged.

Try Not to Put Them to Sleep

Try Not to Put Them to Sleep on bossreporting.com

5 tips for crafting more effective legal presentations

Presentations are a way of life in the legal profession. Whether you’re arguing a case in court or hoping to land new business, it is essential that you communicate in a way that persuades the audience to your side, whether they are a jury, a judge, or a client. A good presentation can win the day; a disjointed or poorly executed one could put your audience to sleep.

Here are 5 tips to create legal presentations that work:

1.  Incorporate some of the latest high-tech presentation tools

PowerPoint used to be the only option available for creating presentations. Today, there is a host of software options and apps that can help you create more dynamic and engaging presentations. They offer better organization and eliminate the need for reams of paper. They also help you easily organize slides and give you the ability to jump ahead or go back to your presentation seamlessly.

In terms of tech tools, the iPad has revolutionized legal presentations. There is also trial software such as Apple’s Keynote and Prezi, apps like TrialPad and TrialDirector, and dozens more that can help you do everything from creating 3D timelines to research case law.

Check out these past Boss Reporting blogs for more ideas about presentation software and apps:

Modern presentation tools for the courtroom

There’s a legal app for that

2.  Tell a good story

Human beings are storytellers. We’ve been spinning tales since the dawn of time, whether they were carved into cave walls, written on Papyrus paper or entered into a computer. Legal presentations are essentially stories. You are telling the audience what happened or why they should trust you with their business. How do you tell the best story possible story?

One suggestion is to start at the end of the presentation and then work your way back, making sure that each slide leads to the conclusion you want. It’s also important to be flexible and make adjustments along the way. If you sense restlessness, boredom, or confusion in the room, change the pace or go back and explain something more clearly.

3.  Practice…a lot

Nothing will kill a presentation faster than boredom. In order for the story to flow, you’ll need to practice. Become familiar with the material so you are telling a story in a natural way. Try not to simply read the slides verbatim as this can quickly become rote.

Another tip is to be careful of using slang or phrasing that might be unfamiliar to jurors of different ages and backgrounds. What makes sense to a married, fifty-year-old man from North Carolina might mean nothing – or even be offensive – to a single, twenty-five-year-old woman from South America.

4.  Make sure your presentation is carefully designed and looks good

Poorly designed slides can kill a presentation as fast as boredom. You want to create simple, clean templates and graphics that are easy to read. It’s a good idea to create your slides and then view them as a juror or potential client would.

Here are some design tips:

  • Use section headers that clearly identify important information and let listeners know what they’re looking at
  • Choose a font that is easy to read and make sure the text is large enough to be seen from a distance
  • Keep slides simple by avoiding cluttered blocks of text or multiple photos
  • Stay away from long slides, distracting fonts, small fonts, and colors that make the text hard to see on a screen
  • Utilize Bold, Italics, and Underline to ensure your most important points stand out

5.  Incorporate different ways to communicate your story.

If you create a hundred slides filled with nothing but text, you are likely to lose your audience. Think about what happens when you visit a website that has page after page of nothing but words. Your eyes grow tired or you just get bored.

Remember…boredom is your mortal enemy.

Mix things up with key images, graphics, and videos. Try not to go crazy as too much can be overwhelming, but a blend of different elements can help emphasize a point and keep your audience engaged.

When it comes to pictures, if you don’t have original images and you can’t afford custom, professional photography, consider using royalty free stock photos from websites such as StockSnap.com, UnSplash.com, CanStockPhoto.com, iStock.com, or any of dozens of sites. Some sites offer free images, while others require a subscription that allows you to download a certain number of images.

An effective legal presentation is essential. Use these 5 tips to ensure you create an engaging and informative story that will win the case – or the client.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Cybercrime, Technology, and the Future Workforce of Law Firms

Cybercrime, Technology, and the Future Workforce of Law Firms on bossreporting.com

7 challenges facing the legal profession today … and tomorrow

As with every industry, the legal profession has seen many changes in the last few years. The law is steeped in tradition and precedence, but evolution is inevitable.

Technology has brought convenience, but it comes with unique challenges. There are also issues relating to increased competition, finding and keeping talent, and the succession plan of law firms, both large and small.

Let’s look at 7 of the biggest challenges facing the legal profession today.

Challenge #1: Cybercrime and Internet security

We’ve all seen news reports of hacks and data breaches from major companies, and the legal profession is not immune to this type of digital crime. Law firms store an incredible amount of sensitive data, documents, and private information. It is essential that firms adopt best practices to ensure that information is as safe as possible.

This includes taking steps to secure all communication tools, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Firms can also incorporate 2-factor authentication, use mobile apps and vendors with the highest level of security, and set policies regarding how and where sensitive data is stored.

Challenge #2: Adoption of new technology and software

There is so much technology out there. Every day brings a new app, new software or new program. Attempting to implement everything – or conducting long-winded training sessions for programs that seem to hold little value for attorneys – is the quickest avenue toward frustration. Especially when many of the so-called “solutions” create more problems than they claim to solve.

Firms should ensure that any new technology is as user-friendly as possible, and keep training sessions to a minimum.

The software also poses a problem when it quickly becomes obsolete. The need for constant updates means a firm’s IT department has to devote critical time just to manage updates. One solution may be switching to a cloud-based IT service provider. Cloud-based technology makes it easy for people to access information from anywhere. The service provider also often takes on the responsibility of performing maintenance, updates, and support, allowing a firm’s IT department to devote its time elsewhere.

Challenge #3: Lagging behind in adoption of technology

While it’s not advisable to adopt every type of new technology, failing to recognize and incorporate vital tools in time could also jeopardize a firm’s future success. Firms that fail to “get on board” may lose ground to competitors, alternate providers or in-house departments that understand how to use such technology.

Challenge #4: Understanding online marketing and social media

Social media has changed the way we all communicate. It provides a new avenue to attract clients and retain current ones. It is essential that firms understand how to harness this powerful resource.

However, it’s also important to know the best places to devote marketing dollars and which avenues will generate the most return on investment. Doing “everything” might cast a wide net, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will catch the right type of fish.

Challenge #5: Slow growth of the legal services market

A report from Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group states that legal services should expect only single-digit growth in revenue and profits per equity partner in 2018. Even firms that sustained growth in 2017 are not guaranteed the same success this year.

To combat this slowdown, many firms are consolidating and merging. While this might be the answer for some firms, the tactic is not without challenges. The restricted growth means even more competition to attract and retain clients.

Challenge #6: Increased competition for talent

A Green Target Report on the Legal Industry Outlook states that “The talent pool for traditional firms also continues to shrink, as competition increases from in-house legal departments and alternative service providers.”

The days of young lawyers starting and ending their careers at the same firm are becoming rare. Attracting and keeping talent is increasingly difficult.

“To ensure that high achievers stay put, firms need to redouble efforts to prepare a younger generation of lawyers for success. Key areas include business development training and protecting work/life balance, similar to the opportunities and benefits available in non-traditional legal roles,” according to the same report.

Challenge #7: A lack of succession planning within law firms

A large number of senior attorneys and equity partners are preparing to retire in the coming years, and many industry experts believe that firms are not equipped to handle the loss. The main reason is a lack of qualified, young talent who stand ready to take the place of departing attorneys. There is also the issue of chronically under-performing lawyers and a growing overcapacity at firms.

The legal field faces many challenges in the coming years. The firms that come up with innovative solutions for solving these problems will achieve success.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

How Law Firms Can Improve Online Marketing Efforts

How Law Firms Can Improve Online Marketing Efforts on bossreporting.com

7 online marketing statistics law firms need to know

The legal profession has become very competitive. Attracting and keeping clients is as much a part of the job as depositions, trials, and brokering settlements, and online marketing has become an essential component.

Law firms, big and small, must have a marketing plan in place in order to reach clients. So, what can law firms do to create or improve their online marketing efforts?

Here are 7 important marketing statistics that can help guide and influence your strategy:

1.  Attorney searches often start online

Yes, referrals are still one of the most important ways to generate business, but today, over one-third of potential clients start by searching for an attorney online. Having a strong presence via a website, social media, and on search engines is a key to success in this increasingly digital world.

2.  Websites are still the main source of new clients

The focus of marketing efforts may have shifted toward social media, but law firms still generate most new business through their website. Make sure your site is search engine optimized (SEO) with keywords and content that pertain to your firm. The content needs to be relevant to your area of practice and serve as a strong lead generator. It is also absolutely essential that you make it easy for potential clients to contact you. That means including a strong call to action and displaying contact numbers or emails in a prominent place on each page.

3.  31% of people conduct attorney searches via mobile devices

About one-third of all law-related website traffic now comes via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. It’s important to ensure that websites are optimized for viewing on mobile devices so that it’s easy to scroll and read all the text on a smaller screen. In many cases, search engines like Google will actually suppress websites that are not optimized for mobile.

4.  The video is becoming more essential to marketing efforts.

A 2017 Cisco Report stated that videos will make up 82% of consumer traffic by the year 2020. The trend has much to do with the increased use of mobile devices. Videos are a quick and efficient way to get your message across. They tend to carry more weight in Facebook’s algorithms, meaning they generate more organic views than text alone.

Videos also increase traffic on search engines like Google by 41%. Law firms must be able to incorporate this medium in order to reach a target audience that is increasingly on the go and has little time to invest in reading lengthy text.

5.  Social media is a powerful tool for increasing awareness and attracting new clients

A couple of statistics: Potential clients spent an average of 16 minutes per hour on social media platforms. A 2017 study of law firms revealed that more than half grew their client base thanks to social media engagement. 45% of traffic to law firm websites comes via LinkedIn.

However, when planning your marketing strategy, it’s important not to forget the “social” aspect of social media. Engagement on any platform hinges on generating conversations, becoming a trusted resource, and providing answers people (potential clients) need. Above all, use social media as a vehicle to drive traffic to your website – where clients can read relevant info and contact you.

6.  Nearly half of law firms attract new clients through lead generation.

An American Bar Association survey indicates that 49% of law firms say their best-performing advertising medium is lead generation services, including pay per lead and online directory services. Lead generation is the process of identifying and cultivating potential customers (clients) by offering something of value that entices them to take an action (e.g., enter an email, make contact, or make a purchase).

The value can take the form of free downloads or exclusive online content. Law firms need to have a strong system for generating leads, whether these efforts are done in-house or through an outside service. Again, an effective website needs to be the hub through which leads are driven, from interest to contact.

7.  Content still rules in online marketing.

Content is still the main source of online traffic and lead generation. However, with so much content, it’s important that you offer something unique that has real value to potential clients. Along with blogs, content can include infographics, white papers, eBooks, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

Online marketing is essential in order for law firms to attract and keep clients in this digital age. Remember these 7 statistics when developing your marketing strategy so that you can make connections that will increase business.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Online Marketing Strategies for Small Law Firms

Online Marketing Strategies for Small Law Firms on bossreporting.com

Change the playing field and make size and specialty your advantages

What do you do when your small firm doesn’t have the resources to compete against the giants? Change the playing field and make size an advantage. It could be that you’re looking at your perceived weaknesses from their point of view. What if, instead, you looked at your advantages?

Client acquisition through inbound marketing is a narrow targeting process for your small firm, whereas it’s a widely-cast net for large firms. For you, it’s quality. For them, it’s based more on quantity.

Think like Google

The search engine giant knows that we’re really not that interested in nonspecialized businesses. We’re looking for experts who can help us solve specific problems. What’s more, before we’re even interested in hearing about how a business can help us, we want to be sure they understand our problem in the first place, and we want to know why.

For this reason, Google lets businesses help searchers know what, specifically, a business does, so we can match it up with our nongeneralized needs. In the world of attorneys, nobody wants to hire one who claims to be an expert at everything. It often means they’re an expert at nothing.

Google will reward your website with higher placement when you take a highly narrow focus with your content. You’ve already got limited resources, so creating specific content relevant only to your specialty is the optimal way to put those resources to use.

Determine your strength. Pick your playing field. Focus all your effort on content only about your value proposition. You’ll establish yourself as an online authority in this specific practice area, and you’ll see your client acquisition efforts pay off.

A few words about the content that will help with this inbound marketing strategy.

  • Create general awareness content that helps people gain a deeper understanding of the problem. Show that you are an expert in this area by offering insight.
  • Create more content that offers solutions in the specific practice area. It’s crucial that this content offers objective advice on finding the best attorney to help with this legal challenge. This content is not self-promotion.
  • Create content with the understanding that it is not intended to sell your firm’s services. It’s either offering insight into the problem, or it’s offering perspective about the solution. In both respects, it’s positioning you as a subject matter expert.

Don’t skimp on your website

Unless it’s word-of-mouth recommendations, your lead acquisition is going to come from your online efforts. Social media posts, online display ads, YouTube videos – whatever marketing strategy you decide to use – will all point to your website.

So, does it have to stand up in comparison to the largest law firm’s web presence in your area? Stop comparing yourself to them and start looking at it from the perspective of your prospects. They’re interested in knowing only a few things:

  1. Do you understand my problem?
  2. Can you help me find a solution?
  3. Why are you the best source of information about my problem and the solution?
  4. How do I engage with you to find out if you can help me?

When used for lead-generation, your website should be set up to help prospects go through this process of discovery. Everything else – all those other website sections that larger firms may feature – could be a distraction.

Market with prospects in mind, not your competitors

Make your website all about your prospect. Yes, you’ll include information about your area of practice, as well as testimonials and other material that underscore your positioning as an authority and expert. But remember that prospects aren’t coming to learn about how you do it, they want to know why – and they want help with how to put your small firm into their worldview.

They go to a giant firm’s website and they’re greeted with what? Mostly, it’s intimidation. Marble pillars. Gavels. The scale of justice. Okay, it’s all beautifully done – but it can be highly impersonal. A marble pillar and the scale of justice are not going to represent you in the courtroom. A human lawyer is.

Make your website about the people in your firm. Show those people in action. That doesn’t mean you need a professional photographer snagging dramatic images of them cross-examining a witness. Again, put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. They want to see images of reassurance and problem-solving.

Pay particular attention to your “About Us” page. It’s often one of the most visited pages on your website. Take a look at our own “About Us” page for an example. It’s all about people.

Are Ladies Changing the Legal Landscape?

Are Ladies Changing the Legal Landscape? on bossreporting.com

The state of women in the legal profession

As of 2016, for the first time in history, women accounted for the majority of law students in the U.S. According to The New York Times, the female-to-male ratio had been equal for many years.

More women law students means more women attorneys, of course, but does that mean the legal profession is better for females now than it has been in the past? Are there more opportunities for women in leadership positions? Do women still face the same pressure to meet work and family demands?

Here is a look at some of the issues facing women in the legal profession:

Issue #1: Lack of leadership representation

Although discrimination may not be like it used to be, women in the legal profession still face certain obstacles, notably a lack of representation in leadership positions in firms, corporations, and law schools.

Here are some statistics according to a 2015 Washington Post article:

  • Women constitute more than a third of the profession, but only about a fifth of law partners, general counsels of Fortune 500 corporations, and law school deans.
  • Women account for only 17 percent of equity partners.
  • Only 7 of the nation’s 100 largest firms have a woman as chairman or managing partner.
  • Women are less likely to make partner even controlling for other factors, including law school grades and time spent out of the workforce or on part-time schedules.
  • Studies find that men are two to five times more likely to make partner than women.

There is also a possible double standard when it comes to behavior, personality, and aggressiveness on the job. According to The Washington Post, “…Research suggests that what is assertive in a man seems abrasive in a woman, and female leaders risk seeming too feminine or not feminine enough. They may appear too soft or too strident – either unable to make tough decisions or too pushy and arrogant to command respect.”

Issue #2: Balancing work and family demands

Many women struggle to find a balance between responsibilities at work and with family. The legal profession can be extremely demanding, especially for newer associates who must prove their worth, and that means long hours. Working mothers face an even tougher situation as there is a constant pull to meet obligations at work, while also being there for their children.

Many law firms have policies in place for part-time schedules, however, only about 6% of lawyers take advantage of them. “Many women believe, with good reason, that any reduction in hours or availability will jeopardize their careers. Those who take reduced schedules often find that their hours creep up, the quality of their assignments goes down, and they are stigmatized as slackers,” according to the Washington Post.

Issue #3: Harassment in the workplace

Women facing harassment in the workplace has been a hot topic for some time now, with dramatic headlines splashed all over newspapers and the social media-driven #MeToo movement. Some of these issues affect women in the legal profession as well, from derogatory comments about their appearance and dismissal of their abilities to inappropriate advances from colleagues and others. “More than one-in-three women in the legal industry still experience this sexual harassment,” according to Ms-JD.org.

Issue #4: Gender-wage gap

Female attorneys continue to lag behind male counterparts when it comes to pay. Some findings by 2015 Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest the gender-wage gap was as high as 40%, with women earning 60 cents for every dollar earned by a man. “Women at top positions are also subject to gender-based pay inequality just like associates, non-equity partners, and trainees. According to the latest survey, female equity partners’ total compensation lagged almost $95,000 behind male equity partners in 2015. The pay gap has, in fact, increased by $5,000 in last five years,” according to Ms.-JD.org.

Women in the legal profession do face still face many challenges, however the opportunities can only grow as more women graduate from law school and enter the field.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Reporting for Duty

Reporting for Duty on bossreporting.com

Learn about the many duties of a court reporter

When most people imagine any sort of court case, they probably think about the different people involved: the lawyers talking about evidence or examining witnesses, the black-robed judge glaring down from the bench, perhaps even the jury eagerly listening to everything. But the person who often gets overlooked is the court reporter.

Though they rarely get a lot of attention, court reporters play vital roles during trials and other legal proceedings. But what do they do exactly? Here are their main tasks and why they are so important:

Ensuring testimony is accurate

The main duty of a court reporter is to get a precise recording of the proceeding. They need to make sure every word is heard accurately and taken down. This is why actual people are almost always preferred in this capacity; technology has come a long way, but humans are still better.

Keeping things moving

Court reporters may just be thought of as silent members of a courtroom typing away, but they often play an active part in a trial or hearing. Frequently, they have to ask speakers to talk louder or more clearly. They need to remind people to respond verbally instead of using gestures. And when the judge wants something to be read back, they have to be able to find it quickly.

Doing the necessary research

A court reporter has to be prepared. Depending upon the circumstances, testimony from a previous case may need to be obtained, and it is the court reporter’s job to locate these documents in a timely manner.

Preparing the transcript

Perhaps the most critical element of a legal procedure is the transcript. During a trial or deposition, a court reporter uses a special machine to take down everything. But unlike a computer or typewriter, it uses shorthand. When the proceedings are finished, the court reporter then has to translate it into language anyone can understand. But that is just the first step; there is also:

  • Editing – Even after a transcript is translated, it often has to be edited to ensure that everything is accurate and makes sense.
  • Filling in the blanks – This could include researching names to confirm they are spelled correctly or clarifying any references that may be ambiguous.
  • Proofreading – Once a transcript is complete, it will be printed. But the process isn’t over yet; it will then be looked at thoroughly to see if there are any errors.
  • Corrections – If something does need to be fixed, it will get taken care of and then the finalized transcripts will be printed again.
  • Assembly – The court reporter will have to make the necessary number of copies and then collate and bind the transcript.
  • Certification – Most jurisdictions require that every transcript gets certified to guarantee that it is true and accurate.
  • Delivery – While a court reporter probably won’t be the one delivering the transcript, they do have to ensure it gets to the right people, and usually time is of the essence.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what a court reporter does and why they are valuable members of the legal profession. If you need to hire an experienced reporter for a trial, hearing, meeting, arbitration, or anything else, you can count on Boss Reporting. We employ dozens of Certified Realtime Reporters who have years of training and regularly expand their knowledge and skills through continuous education.

You can learn more about us here, and quickly and easily schedule a job through our online form.

How to Survive Your First Year as a Lawyer

How to Survive Your First Year as a Lawyer on bossreporting.com

There’s a lot of pressure to say yes to everything, but burn-out is not what anybody wants for you

Ever notice that the most prestigious professions seem to start out with a bang? The bang being in the form of an infamous time period where it’s all about showing you’ve got the right stuff. Lawyers certainly go through something like this.

The first year is supposedly what’s going to make or break you. It’s all about doing the right things and being in the right places with the right people. Every successful lawyer has his or her own collection of “first-year” stories. Distill them down and they provide common tips on how to land on your feet and get a great review when you hit your anniversary mark.

Learn to be okay with not feeling secure

You graduated. Then you passed the bar exam. But, guess what? All you’ve got at this starting-out point is a lot of knowledge. You haven’t applied it much. The application comes with time and experience. In the meantime, you will be far more respected for understanding what you don’t know and asking for guidance than proceeding and possibly jeopardizing a case – which will jeopardize your burgeoning career.

Pursue substance

Briefs have formats. It’s crucial that these formats are followed. After all, you’re presenting information that has to be consumed, referenced, and compared. Don’t follow your own layout or design preferences with written documents. Does the punctuation go inside or outside of the quotation mark? Now you’re moving past form, and it might be time to stop and think about what’s important. Pay attention to the substance of your communication. Let your word processing software keep track of the format.

Pay attention to the timing cycle of your mentors

The right mentors can make all the difference during your first year as a lawyer. And while it might feel as if a mentor with decades of experience can offer you the best advice, you may discover that a mentor who is just a step or two ahead of you can be a better choice. What you’re going through is still fresh in their mind.

Make paralegals and legal assistants your new best friends

Let’s be honest. Who really does the grunt work? Who really knows the inner workings and the politics of the firm? Who often doesn’t even have to pause and think about it in order to advise you on who to talk to when you need something for a case? These employees are often overworked and underappreciated, and often they have some of the highest seniority in the office. Approach your relationships with these support professionals with care. They have it in their power to help you succeed.

Don’t expect anyone to set your boundaries

This is the year you prove yourself, right? You unfurl your sails and take on as much as you can to show the decision-makers you’ve got the bandwidth. There’s a lot of pressure to say yes to everything. Keep in mind that the people you’re trying to impress are also watching and gauging your ability to say no. Burn-out is not what anybody wants for you.

Take advantage of life hacks

If you want to be judged well at the end of your first year, you’ve got to optimize your output by minimizing the amount of work you put into everything else. You’re probably dealing with the reality of paying off student loans, but don’t discount the return on investment in using a professional laundry service or having a house cleaner. This money spent outsourcing activities that detract from a focus on your job is money well invested—even if it’s just to help you get a few extra hours of downtime.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

What Happens During a Deposition?

What Happens During a Deposition? on bossreporting.com

The purpose and process of a deposition

A deposition is part of the legal process of discovery. It involves the sharing of information, evidence, and testimony between both parties involved in a case before a trial begins. The sharing can take place in the form of documents, interrogatories (written statements), and depositions. According to the American Bar Association, “A deposition is an out-of-court statement given under oath by any person involved in the case. It is to be used at trial or in preparation for trial. It may be in the form of a written transcript, a videotape, or both.”

A deposition is the only form of discovery that involves a witness answering questions directly, rather than submitting documents or taking written statements.

There are two main purposes for a deposition:

  • Find out what a witness knows about the case
  • Preserve the witness’ testimony for trial

“The intent is to allow the parties to learn all of the facts before the trial so that no one is surprised once that witness is on the stand. Contrary to what countless movies and TV shows would have you believe, springing a surprise witness at the eleventh hour of a trial is regarded as unfair. By the time a trial begins, the parties should know who all of the witnesses will be and what they’ll say during testimony,” according to FindLaw.com.

It’s essential that both sides of the case are aware of what a witness knows or plans to say. For example, defendants have a right to know what will be said against them in court, so their attorney can prepare an adequate defense or rebuttal.

“Often a witness’s deposition will be taken by the opposing side and used to discredit the witness’s testimony at trial if the trial testimony varies from the testimony taken during the deposition,” according to The American Bar Association.

The process of taking a deposition

During a deposition, the witness will give sworn statements based on questions from attorneys. The answers are recorded by a court reporter and put into a transcript, which will form the basis of evidence and examination (and cross-examination) of the witness during the trial.

Unlike a trial, depositions don’t take place in a courtroom. They are generally conducted in an attorney’s office. According to FindLaw.com, “The attorneys will ask the witness, or deponent, a series of questions about facts and events related to the lawsuit with the entire deposition recorded word-for-word by a court reporter. The reporter is present throughout the session and will produce a transcript at a later time.”

Although the witness and attorneys are generally present in the same room, a deposition can be videotaped due to the illness of the witness or if he or she will not be available during the trial.

Attorneys for both sides are present during a deposition. For instance, in the case of a criminal trial, the prosecutor and defendant’s attorney would both be in the room. Following the oral examination, a cross-examination might take place by the opposing attorney. Even though attorneys may ask whatever questions necessary to get the answers they need, their role is reduced somewhat in a disposition.

“Attorneys for the deponent or parties to the lawsuit may make objections to some inquiries, but the deponent is usually obligated to answer all proper questions despite objections, which will get ruled on later since judges are not present at depositions,” according to FindLaw.com

The deposition process can take anywhere from a couple of hours to weeks, depending on the complexity of the case.

Depositions are an important part of the legal process. A trained court reporter is necessary in order for witness testimony to be transcribed and usable for trial. If you need a court reporter for an upcoming deposition, contact Boss Reporting today.

How Attorneys Can Find Balance Between Work and Life

How Attorneys Can Find Balance Between Work and Life on bossreporting.com

Your perspective changes when you focus on managing your activities, rather than attempting to manage time.

It’s a myth. If you’re an attorney, there’s no such thing as work-life balance. That’s how it might seem from the inside—especially if you’re just starting out practicing law.

Is it really even possible to have a successful career as a lawyer while also enjoying a satisfying personal life? It is. And while it might be easier to attain if you’re further along in your career than when you’re just getting started, there are simple and attainable things you can do to find that balance.

Synergy

It’s likely we don’t think work-life balance is possible because we don’t quite understand the concept, to begin with. Simply put, it’s a synergy between your career and the other commitments you make in your life. These would include your family and friends, as well as your health and fitness and your social activities.

When we think of balance, we may envision equal parts. That 50/50 partition is something to shoot for, but you might find you’re just as happy with a 60/40 split, too. This is especially true for lawyers, who do spend more time on the job than those in other careers.

This balance makes the assumption that you have enough time in your day to accomplish your work-related tasks, and then participate in the activities representing your other commitments. When this doesn’t happen, we often chide ourselves. We’re not able to manage our time, we say.

It’s impossible to manage time. We all have all the time there is. More cannot be made. Truly, the only thing you can control in this regard is what you do with your time. Your perspective changes when you focus on managing your activities, rather than attempting to manage time.

Cleaning out the closet

Here’s an analogy if you need it. Think of time as something tangible. It’s a container, and the laws of physics dictate that only a certain number of items can fit into a container.

It’s like saying you are going to manage your closet. We know what we mean is that we are going to manage what is in the closet. If we want more clothes or shoes to fit, we’re going to have to get rid of some of the stuff already in there.

If you want to bring more balance to commitments other than your job, you’ll need to make room in that closet by getting rid of a few things.

More billable hours

It’s estimated that a full-time attorney typically billed 1,300 hours early in the 1960s. Large practices today have pushed this up to 2,000 hours or more—which translates to 60-hour workweeks. This is an even higher priority for associates, who want to show they’ve got what it takes to be a partner.

There goes the whole make-room-in-the-closet analogy; might as well just light a match and throw it in.  But try this before you start a bonfire:

Balancing checks

How do you know if you’re moving toward managing your activities instead of your time? You need a few balancing checks—or stop points where you can assess and re-plot your course if you find you’re not moving toward a work-life balance. Use these activities to create balancing checks.

  • Define your priorities and values. Many things you do on a daily basis as a lawyer contribute little toward what you care about. But you don’t realize this because you probably haven’t defined what matters to you. Clarify them. They determine what becomes a priority.
  • Identify and isolate your distractions. The biggest obstacle to work-life balance is not the lack of time. It’s the abundance of distractions. The majority of these distractions are expectations you place on yourself to please others at work and at home. Your job as an attorney is to advocate for others. You won’t find balance in your life unless you advocate for yourself, too.
  • Create weekly time blocks of personal time. You’re already used to slicing up billable hours into 15-minute increments. Book a few of these—no less than 30 minutes each—as non-reschedulable appointments. Do anything you like with the time, as long as it’s not work-related. Maybe it’s actually sorting through the clothes in your closet.
  • Create boundaries around your personal commitments. If you are good at your job, there will always be more work to do. You will discover this earns you additional respect, rather than disappointment. And, for good reason. You’re displaying an important leadership quality. You can only offer stability from a firm foundation.

These balancing checks give you an opportunity to assess the direction in which you’re traveling. Work-life balance for attorneys is not a myth. It won’t be a reality, either, unless you renegotiate your relationship with time—which will reset your approach to how much of it is appropriate to give to your job vs. the rest of the commitments in your life.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner!  For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

How to Become a Stenographer or Court Reporter

How to Become a Stenographer or Court Reporter on bossreporting.com

Your route to becoming a key player in the world of law

For a short form of writing, stenography has a long and interesting history. Few roles can boast a professional legacy of 5,000 years! From Ancient Rome to America’s early history, the art of recording events in a fast and accurate style has drawn the support of Queens and Congress.

The role of the stenographer/court reporter (SCR) is not only a rewarding career but one which plays a vital role at the highest levels of our society. There are a few other names the profession may operate under, but the level of responsibility is always high. The rewards can be, too.

What’s more, now may be the best time to consider this job because the country is in dire need of these skills. Demand is high due to factors such as significant retirement of these professionals and a growing number of situations requiring transcription talent.

Here is a more in-depth look at the duties involved and if it is the right path for you.

The responsibilities of stenographers and court reporters

Stenographers and court reporters are responsible for keeping a written record of events during legal proceedings such as trials, pretrial hearings, depositions (the act of giving sworn evidence), mediations and more. It is essential that words and physical gestures be recorded precisely.

This provides a record of events that can be referred to reliably at a later date by judges, attorneys, jury members, the press or the public. The speed and precision of the job is aided by the stenotype machine. Despite having fewer keys than a standard keyboard (22 compared to 101-104), stenotypes are specialized tools which allow a great level of recorded accuracy.

Words, numbers, phrases and even sounds are coded in shorthand for full transcription later. Increasingly, modern stenographers and court reporters are leaving behind the paper records created by stenotypes in favor of computer-aided records. The benefit here is that digital transcripts are immediately generated from the shorthand.

Stenography also helps people in need as an invaluable aid to those who are deaf or hard of hearing. In any event, where information is being provided via the spoken word, the stenographer’s quick transcription skills allow everyone to keep up with events.

Is being a stenographers or court reporter the right path for me?

Here in Florida, we are in the U.S top five for stenographer and court reporter employment. Many enjoy this occupation, so it could very well work for you.

There are several core personality skills needed to be successful in this field. A person must be an excellent listener and able to focus their attention to a superior degree. Outstanding ability in this field is not only a core requirement for every document produced; the outcome of an entire case may rely on accurate transcription.

The ability to retain a cool head under pressure is a benefit anywhere in life; especially when court reporting. Emotions can run high in court, but the stenographer or court reporter must always be able to remain calm and transcribe events as they happen.

In the end, when tempers have cooled and court is adjourned, it is the transcript that will endure as a vital, impartial record. Integrity and discretion are also bedrock character traits. Stenographers and court reporters can be privy to very private and sensitive information and must be relied upon to maintain the confidentiality inherent in their work.

Qualifications and pay rate

A keen interest in reading and writing are a great advantage. Having a high school diploma with experience in business or typing can be good preparation; stenographers can reach typing speeds up to 225 words per minute and even 300.

Don’t let this figure discourage you. It’s a gradual improvement to get there and is achievable when professionals develop their manual skills and stay clear and focused on their environment.

From there it is important to develop talent in shorthand along with familiarity and affinity with stenotype devices and technology. Stenographers and court reporters must have a solid grasp of legal terminology as well as that of other fields, such as business and healthcare, as their work may require.

An Associate or Legal Transcriptionist Degree can be achieved as education progresses. The NVRA (National Verbatim Reporters Association) offers six certificates of merit to help stenographers and court reporters gain respected credentials. The USCRA (United States Court Reporters Association) also offers qualifications.

Pursuing the career in Florida

If you live in Florida and are interested in pursuing a career in stenography, then you can refer to this page. The NCRA acknowledges the commitment of these institutions toward excellence in real-time reporting education.

If you’re wondering how much the role pays, recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics placed the median salary at over $50k per year. Interestingly, the Bureau predicts particular job growth in helping deaf or hard of hearing people through real-time captioning and CART (Communications Access Realtime Translation) leading up to 2026.

The future of court reporting

There’s no doubt that computer-aided transcription can be made this job even swifter. In some circles, there are concerns that autonomous digital stenographers may replace humans in this role. They cost less to employ and are every bit as quick.

There are two principal concerns that seem certain to secure a lasting place for human stenographers and court reporters. Judges and attorneys alike are aware of the technological risks of digital transcription, namely that files may be prone to corruption, alteration or deletion. The loss of testimony or other vital evidence could spell disaster for a case.

We must also consider the human ability to ask for clarity in the event of an unclear word or phrase. A computerized version lacks that ability and may simply approximate or omit the sound in question. A human providing a written record alongside the digital options is the surest way to guarantee integrity and security.

There has never been a better time for interested individuals to enter this field. Stenographers and court reporters have an opportunity to contribute to the integrity of the nation’s legal system while also being a bridge for people with disabilities. America is waking up to how important stenographers and court reporters are, and prospective applicants can be sure they are entering a sector where they will be valued.

At Boss Certified Realtime Reporting, we’ve been providing nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and more since 1995. If you’d like help or more information, you can call us at 954 467 6867 or complete our contact form to let us know how we can assist you.

The Difference Between Mediations vs. Arbitrations

The Difference Between Mediations vs. Arbitrations on bossreporting.com

How arbitration and mediation are used to solve legal disputes

Mediation and arbitration are both processes designed to resolve a dispute between two parties. They have both emerged as alternatives to the expensive, lengthy, and uncertain litigation process (a trial). In many cases, they are used to try and negotiate a settlement before moving to litigation or in the place of a trial. This reduces the time, effort, and expense for everyone involved.

“Both arbitration and mediation employ a neutral third party to oversee the process, and they both can be binding. However, it is common to employ mediation as a non-binding process and arbitration as a binding process. In simpler terms, binding arbitration replaces the trial process,” according to FindLaw.com.

Arbitration explained

Arbitration uses a disinterested third party to evaluate the merits of a dispute and achieve a resolution.

Arbitration can involve only one “arbitrator,” but often there is a panel of arbitrators who, in a sense, become the judge. This panel has the authority to make decisions about the evidence and prepare written opinions, which may or may not be binding. “The most common procedure is for each side to select an arbitrator. Then, those two arbitrators select a third arbitrator, at which point the dispute is presented to the three chosen arbitrators. Decisions are made by majority vote,” according to FindLaw.

Steps involved in arbitration:

  1. The case starts when one party submits a Demand for Arbitration. The respondent is notified and the deadline set to receive a response.
  2. A preliminary hearing is held by the arbitrator(s) to discuss the case and procedures that will be used for witnesses, depositions, and how information and evidence are shared between the parties.
  3. The hearing commences, with the parties giving testimony and presenting evidence to the arbitrator(s). After the hearing is over, the two sides might still present more documentation to prove their case.
  4. The arbitrator(s) then close the case and give a decision, which might include a reward, depending on the type of case involved.

Mediation explained

Mediation is generally the less formal process of the two. There is usually one mediator, rather than a panel. It can be voluntary, but in some states (Florida for example), the parties must go through mediation before the case can be brought to trial.

According to The Balance, “During the mediation, each side presents its view of the issue, and the mediator will work with each side in a caucus to attempt to work out a settlement. At the end of the process, the mediator can present findings and present a potential solution to the issue.”

Steps involved in mediation:

  1. Mediation begins by having the mediator introduce both parties, explain his or her role, and the rules of the process.
  2. Next, the mediator gathers statements from the parties, often asking questions in order to come to a more complete understanding. The parties don’t usually direct questions at each other.
  3. After the statements have been made, the mediator might ask more questions.
  4. The parties might then go to caucus, a process where they get together to discuss the issues and try to come to a decision. During this time, the mediator tries to propose solutions and settle the matter between the parties.

“The mediator works to find points of agreement between the parties, in an effort to reach an agreement. At some point, the mediator may pose a final agreement for the parties and urge them to accept,” according to The Balance.

Both mediation and arbitration can resolve disputes, though mediation is non-binding, and either process is often preferable to the expense, time, and public exposure of a court case.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner!  For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Workplace Bullying, and How to Deal With It

Workplace Bullying, and How to Deal With It on bossreporting.com

Document, report, and confront – or leave

Workplace harassment and bullying became one of the hot-button issues of 2017, and this year will no doubt bring even more attention to the subject. From verbal abuse to sabotage and even sexual harassment, it’s important to know how to deal with it.

The facts and prevalence of workplace bullying and harassment

According to US News and World Report, “Office bullying is defined as “repeated, health-harming mistreatment” that involves verbal abuse, work sabotage and/or humiliation and intimidation, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute, a research, and advocacy organization.”

Other statistics according to the same study:

  • 4 million Americans are affected by workplace bullying
  • 19% of Americans are bullied, another 19% witness it
  • 61% of Americans are aware of abusive conduct in the workplace
  • 70% of perpetrators are men; 60% of targets are women
  • 40% of bullies are bosses
  • 40% of bullied targets are believed to suffer adverse health effects
  • 29% of targets remain silent about their experience

Signs of workplace bullying

Aggressive, abusive and bullying behavior is more serious and enduring than the mere incivility of an occasional rude remark from a co-worker. Types of bullying include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Sexual harassment
  • Threats
  • Humiliation
  • Gaslighting
  • Ostracism or isolation
  • Withholding resources or information
  • Intimidation
  • Sabotage
  • Reputation damage due to rumors
  • Unfairly negative evaluation of work

How to handle workplace bullying

Confront the person directly

Start by telling the person exactly that you view their behavior as bullying. Be specific and try not to use phrases like “you’re mean” or “you don’t respect me.” Instead, say, “You disparage my ideas in front of everyone.” Or “You’re in my personal space trying to read personal correspondence.”

Tell the person point blank why the behavior is upsetting to you and that you expect it to stop. It might be frightening to confront the bully, but many times this can cause the person to back down.

Document the bully’s action.

“Anytime you are feeling bullied or experiencing bullying behavior, document the date, time and details of the incident. Note if another employee witnessed the incident. If you eventually seek help from Human Resources, documentation, especially documentation of the bully’s impact on your business results and success, gives HR information to work with on your behalf,” according to The Balance.

Note: If the bullying occurs in emails, make sure to keep hard copies of each correspondence.

Find out if other co-workers are being treated the same way.

Bullies often have more than one victim, so chances are you are not the only person being targeted in the office. Notice if incidents also happen to other co-workers. If others have experienced the same behavior, it will give you a stronger case when you talk to the HR department or manager.

Go to HR or management.

If you’ve tried telling the bully to stop with no change, it might be time to report his or her behavior to Human Resources or a manager.

“Go to HR or your manager with your evidence, especially the evidence that demonstrates the impact of the bully on the business, and files a formal complaint. Most employee handbooks describe the HR investigation process that your complaint sets in motion,” according to The Balance.

One note of caution before choosing the HR department to lodge your harassment complaint…

According to US News and World Report, “Human resources departments are first and foremost loyal to the employer, so they may not be the best place to take workplace bullying grievances, especially if the bully has a lot of power within the organization or performs at a high level. The department may chalk bullying up to ‘personality differences’ rather than ‘an abuse of power.’”

You might be better off going to a senior manager or director. When you do speak to a manager, couch the comments in terms of how it is affecting the workplace environment and productivity, which could end up costing the company money. If the bullying continues unchecked, it could lead to high employee turnover, reduced productivity, lost revenue, absenteeism, and even legal fees if someone decides to sue.

Find another job.

While the subject of workplace bullying and harassment is getting much-needed attention, many firms are slow to direct changes that make reporting such incidents easier. In many cases, making a claim does little to alleviate the problem, especially if the bully is your boss or another senior manager with a lot of authority and influence.

If you’ve reported the conduct and nothing happens, it might be time to look elsewhere for a job. Though our sense of justice says it’s wrong that you have to suffer because of a workplace bully, your mental and physical health is more important than your principles. “If it’s reached the point where your self-confidence is being shattered, that’s not a healthy place to be. Sometimes it’s easier to cut your losses and find a better work situation. The exit strategy is sometimes the one that’s the smartest,” according to US News and World Report.

Workplace harassment is a new “old” subject and one many of us have dealt with before. These tips may help you resolve the issue so the workplace is a safer, healthier environment for you.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner!  For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

5 Ways Criticize Others at Work Without Making Them Feel Bad About It

5 Ways Criticize Others at Work Without Making Them Feel Bad About It on bossreporting.com

Focus your observations and attention on the problem, rather than the person.

It is better to give than to receive. Unless it’s criticism. Then it’s pretty much a losing proposition on both sides of the coin. Most people will admit that being on the receiving end of even constructive criticism stings. What about giving it? Is there a way to go about it that helps the recipient feel okay?

There’s one thing totally outside your control. Choose whatever words you like, but you still will not have total control over how someone will interpret them. You mean well, but they don’t have to take it that way. Here are 5 ways you can offer constructive feedback to coworkers without making them feel bad about it.

1.  Nothing personal

How can someone not take constructive criticism personally? Nobody said deciding to offer criticism of any kind would be easy. It’ll be taken personally because it is aimed at someone specifically.

Trying to deliver your criticism in a way that won’t be taken personally may not be possible. You can, however, separate someone’s work behavior from their personal behavior. Focus on highly-specific actions so that the person receiving the feedback doesn’t convert it into a general observation.

“You’ll have less trouble with the accounting department if you respond to their expense report questions as soon as you get them,” is specific. “You’re slow to get back on some things” leaves plenty of room for interpretation.

2.  Keep it inspirational

Criticism is useless unless its objective is to seek mutual improvement. Do you really want to help this coworker improve? Make sure your intent is communicated. It’s the reason why they call it “constructive” criticism.

The objective is to volunteer positive feedback—as well as suggestions—that identify a problem. Focus on the problem and not the person. The more targeted and specific you can be, the less the recipient of the criticism will feel as if they are being personally singled out and made to feel bad.

Motivational experts often call this the “sandwich approach.” Your likely-to-be-construed-as-negative criticism is positioned between two positive observations:

Compliment | Criticize | Compliment

The delivery may help to soften what might feel like personal attack. It also can help with retaining their attention. Many people tend to tune out when they start hearing things they don’t like. The most important thing to remember about the sandwich approach is that you must be sincere with your positive observations. Otherwise, your sandwich is more like throwing gasoline on a fire.

3.  Skip the instruction

Don’t tell me what to do. We hated it as a kid, and we develop no love or tolerance for it as adults. We especially don’t appreciate being instructed by coworkers.

Stick with observations. Be specific about how your coworker’s actions impact you. Here’s the big, important thing: Don’t offer advice on how the recipient should fix the problem. Observe. Simply identify the issue.

Then, volunteer to help your coworker fix the problem. Skip the instruction. Offer only support. It’s already bad enough that you’ve brought something negative to their attention. Now you’re going to offer them advice on how to fix it, too?

4.  Phrases to avoid

There are certain approaches to constructive criticism that just set you up for a fall. As you formulate your observation, steer clear of these phrases:

  • You should…
  • I wish…
  • You never… or you always…
  • I can’t believe…
  • How can you not see…

5.  Steering clear of judgmental language

Keeping it about the situation and not the person means navigating past any type of accusatory language and moving toward neutral statements that communicate nothing but an observation. Try approaches starting with:

  • I’m curious about understanding…
  • I’m feeling disappointed because what’s important to me is…
  • I notice that…
  • Can you help me understand…
  • What happened?

Offering constructive criticism means you will be dealing with ego. Emotion takes over and it’s difficult to continue at a logical level. Even so, you’ll find offering constructive criticism works better when you remember to keep it as a conversation. The person to whom you’re giving the criticism should be doing as much talking as you.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!

Writing Wrongs: Tips for Effective Proofing

Writing Wrongs: Tips for Effective Proofing on bossreporting.com

Legal writing remains one of the places where excellent grammar is required, and good proofing skills are a necessity

The comma police are giving up the battle. Grammar gaffes in workplace communication have reached epidemic proportions. Who is to blame? Is it the 140-character world of Twitter, or maybe 18.7 billion text messages sent daily? IDK. Blame it on the Millennials. JK. Really, JK!

Most industries will tell you they take their guidance from the consumer. It’s important for them to communicate in ways that will be understood. It’s a valid thought process, but it might not hold up in court. Legal writing remains one of the places where excellent grammar is required, and good proofing skills are a necessity. Here’s why, along with some proofing tips:

The confusion of a comma

A misplaced or missing comma has been instrumental in deciding many court decisions throughout history. One of the most notable and recent involved Maine truck drivers and overtime pay. The irony was that no one argued about whether the overtime pay should be paid. Instead, the case hinged on a missing comma that made it unclear whether a state law covered paying the drivers for distribution or excluded it.

The case made it all the way up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which found in favor of the truck drivers. It was the court’s opinion that the absence of the comma created enough uncertainty to rule in favor of the drivers.

Poor writing does more than reflect negatively on legal professionals. It weakens cases and it wastes the time of everyone connected to the court systems. Writing for clarity isn’t difficult. Use these tips to catch your wrong writing.

  • Pause and refresh. Set what you’ve written aside for a few hours. Proofreading at a later time helps you read what you actually wrote, rather than remember what you intended to write.
  • Read it backward. Huh? See the tip above. We often miss errors because the writing is still fresh in our mind and we’re remembering what we thought we wrote rather than seeing what we actually wrote. By working your way through what you’ve written in reverse order, you require your brain to see what’s really there instead of what you meant to write.
  • Look for one type of problem at a time. It might take more time, but you’ll end up catching more errors. Start with spelling, and then move on to punctuation. Consider your sentence structures next, followed by word choice.
  • Proof a hard copy. But the trees! Not to worry, paper is recyclable. Printing out what you’ve written—especially in a different font—can help you catch errors that are hiding in plain sight on your screen.
  • Turn on the spellchecker when you’re writing. This software has become far more sophisticated. It’ll catch, for instance, reversed letters and repeated words. They’re not spelled incorrectly, but they are used inappropriately.
  • Don’t take the spellchecker’s word for it. This software tells you if a word is spelled correctly, but not necessarily whether it’s the correct word. Again, the software is getting pretty good at looking at word usage in context. It’s not wise to rely solely on your spellcheck software, though.
  • Read it aloud. We speak to be understood, and most of us do a good job of it. Strive to write how you speak, and you will be better understood. Read your text aloud. It may be easier to hear word usage errors than see them.

Take the time to be assured that what you’ve written is clear and concise. You can only do this by proofreading it. Or, by letting someone else do that for you.

Writing riddled with citation errors, bad grammar, and confusing typos can and will get thrown out of court when a judge decides that causes confusion or uncertainty. The purpose of this writing, after all, is to help everyone agree on something, and in some cases, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Boss Certified Real-Time Reporting provides court reporting services for everything from trials and mediations, to dispositions and conferences. We’re accurate, fast, and in your corner. For more information call us at 954-467-6867, or connect with us online today!