Why are lawyers always so stressed?
It’s no secret that lawyers work in one of the world’s highest-stress professions. In fact, research shows that lawyers are nearly four times more likely to experience clinical depression than similar service professionals in other fields. But what specifically leads lawyers to get so stressed? Is it something inherent in the profession, or in the lawyers themselves? Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why lawyers get burned out so easily—and what can be done to fix it.
Extremely high expectations of workplace performance
Unlike many industries, the legal profession often deals with very high stakes—and in many cases, when lawyers make a decisions, their clients’ livelihoods, lives, and futures hang in the balance, meaning that lawyers have little error for mistakes, errors, or lapses in judgment, no matter how well-intentioned they are. These high expectations, often rigidly enforced by a strict hierarchical management structure, means that new employees are often harshly reprimanded for mistakes and not often thanked for their hard work. However, this is only part of the problem. The way in which lawyers and law firms get paid for their work is also a factor.
Since the mid-1970s, the majority of law firms have used billable hours as the primary method of charging their clients for work performed. Unfortunately, this has many potentially negative side effects for the lawyers that work for these firms. Considering that law firms are charged by the length of time it takes to complete an assignment, project, or case, workers are incentivized to work as long and hard as possible, not as efficiently as possible. Billable hours and the quotas they create are some of the primary reasons why many lawyers are expected to effectively work 80+ hour weeks—far beyond that of the average American worker and closer to the workload of resident physicians and junior investment bankers (other professions notorious for overworking their employees).
Recent changes to the legal profession
The 2008 recession was not kind to lawyers. Huge layoffs and closures among once successful law firms, as well as hiring freezes, demotions, and pay cuts affected tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of lawyers across the United States– many of which are still significantly affected by those changes today. However, it can easily be argued that the 2008 recession simply accelerated the process of shrinking and consolidation that began in the 1980s.
Online legal help websites offering standardized contracts, and automated processes gobbling up much of the routine work that used to be the daily grind of lower-level attorneys has made finding, and keeping a job far more difficult– and a glut of new law schools churning out graduates throughout the early 2000s has only increased job competition among both recent graduates and experience lawyers alike.
The expansion of technology
Today, most major law firms expect employees to be on call nearly 24/7, and smartphone access is seemingly required at all times. It’s very important for workers, especially those in high-stress professions, to have a clear distinction between work and leisure—and the emergence of tech like smartphones, Skype calls, email, and other new forms of communications constantly blurs this distinction.
The adversarial nature of the legal profession
Beginning in law school, law students are trained to identify potential problems and find ways to defeat their legal adversaries. While it’s a lawyer’s legal duty to protect their clients interests’, it becomes problematic when these adversarial (and sometimes aggressive) personality traits follow an attorney outside the courtroom. This style of thinking can lead to lawyers seeing everyday individuals as enemies (such as a rude driver who cut them off in traffic) and to assume the worst in friends, relatives, and spouses.
What can be done to fix the problem of lawyer burnout?
There are many things an individual lawyer can do reduce their own stress and take more control over their attitude, mindset, and thought processes. These include meditation and mindfulness training, exercise, healthy eating, speaking with a counselor, advisor, coach, or therapist, and making sure to spend time with friends and family. If these do not solve the problem, then it may be time for the lawyer take a look at his or her working conditions and see how they may be changed or improved to reduce stress.
For a low level employee at a major law firm it may be difficult or impossible to change or improve your working conditions without simply leaving the firm. However, a partner at a larger firm, a senior employee at a smaller firm, or a solo practitioner may find they have many more options. Some ideas for senior employees, partners, or solo practitioners include creating policies to reduce the amount of professional communications that occur outside work hours, to increase vacation time, among many others. Additionally, many firms are shifting the emphasis away from billable hours (or even getting rid of them altogether) in an attempt to fix many of the issues inherent in charging clients and tracking attorneys by billable hours.
It’s important at times to understand that in terms of working policies and conditions that make employees happy, being a lawyer is just like any other job—and law firms are just like any workplace. Employees given reasonable working hours, clear work expectations, positive reinforcement, and a respectful understanding of the difference between work and leisure time are much more likely to thrive– both personally and professionally, than those who are not provided with these working conditions. While many– if not most law firms struggle with employee burnout, small steps, like those detailed above, can go a long way towards making lawyers happier and more engaged at work.
To learn more about law firm management and other legal industry tips, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Show your staff you care with these thoughtful thank-you ideas
Law-firm life can be stressful—and when your employees work hard, it’s always a good idea to reward them for their efforts. Most people think that means a bonus or a raise, but with economic factors to consider, offering more money to thank your staff isn’t always easy (or possible, if we’re being honest).
Luckily, it’s likely your employees care about more than just money when they come to work; and that means there are lots of unique ways to reward and recognize their perseverance and dedication to your firm. Here are a few great ways to thank the people that make it all possible.
Thank you notes
While this might seem old fashioned or plain—a simple handwritten note can really brighten an employee’s day and show them that you’ve seen their hard work, and more importantly, that you care. While a sticky note with “thank you” on it is nice, it’s often better to write a more detailed note— thanking the employee for a specific project, accomplishment, or trait they bring to the office, like a great sense of humor or a relentlessly positive attitude.
A strict 9-5+ work week in the office is standard fare for law firm employees, but rigid office hours can be tough, especially for those with a lot of personal commitments such as family members or children to take care of. With flexible hours, you can allow trusted employees the option of coming in early, leaving late, and re-arranging their hours somewhat in order to make their lives a bit easier.
While flexible hours are a great way to help take the load off of employees with busy home lives or other commitments, it can still be tough to come into an office 40-50 hours a week. And depending on the situation, maybe some of your employees shouldn’t have to.
It’s a good idea to keep in mind why you hired employees in the first place—to get work done (not just to be in an office). Allowing experienced and tested employees to work remotely, whether full time, once a week, or just once in a while, shows them that you trust them, appreciate their ability to do great work, and are willing to go out on a limb sometimes to make their lives easier.
Many employees see parking as one of the biggest hassles they have to deal with on a daily basis; especially if your office is located in a crowded office park or densely populated urban area. A better parking spot doesn’t just show employees that you appreciate their hard work– it shows that you understand them; and by showing them that you feel their pain, you’ll likely come across as a more understanding, compassionate, and effective leader.
Paid time off
In many cases, paid time off results in more employee satisfaction than a simple bonus, and it’s often much easier to handle financially for you and your firm. Your employee(s) can enjoy their day with friends, family, or simply a really long nap, secure in the fact that they’re getting paid to relax.
Nothing says “Thank you!” to your entire staff like throwing a big office pizza party, especially if it ends with an early day at the office. Simply order everyone’s favorite pies from a great local place, along with some garlic rolls, breadsticks, and desserts (think brownies and ice cream) and you have a full-fledged office celebration. Throw in some wings and you might just become everyone’s favorite boss!
When it comes to giving your staff rewards, it ‘pays’ to think in terms of non-monetary gifts. But don’t just take our word for it—get out there and ask your staff what they want as a reward for a job well done. Simply asking them can go a long way in letting them know you care.
To learn more about effective management tips and strategic advice for law firms, contact Boss Reporting today to request a quote!
These five tips and tools can help you carry out your New Year goals
They say that most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by February. And while it may not be the end of the world if you can’t lose that stubborn 10 pounds or don’t finally learn how to play the banjo, some resolutions are important to maintain for one reason or another.
As a busy lawyer, you will want to–and probably need to–be as productive as possible. But if at the end of many long days this past year you found yourself wondering why you just couldn’t get more done, it’s time to take a step back and re-strategize. Here are some tips that can help you accomplish just that:
Make a to-do list for the next day
To-do lists are great tools for keeping you on task, and it’s a wise idea to write them out at the end of the day. This way, you can get started crossing things off as soon as you get to the office instead of spending time figuring out what you need to do.
Make it a point to create a to-do list each day (even if items on the list are not urgent). At the end of the day, or at the beginning of the next, make it a point to empty that to-do list into a calendar. Set aside the appropriate time needed to show attention to or to complete each task, and dedicate the calendared time to getting that task done.
Get rid of the ugly stuff first
Chances are, most days you’ll have some items on that list that are just unpleasant. But instead of doing the natural thing and putting them off for as long as you can, tackle them first. Once you get those out of the way, it will free you up to focus more on the stuff you enjoy (or at least don’t dislike as much!) and also give you a real sense of accomplishment.
These days the majority of distractions are tech-related. And while your smartphone or tablet can be awfully handy when it comes to things like reading briefs, it can also quickly derail your productivity. If you just can’t seem to stop glancing at it, turn it off and put it in a drawer while you get other work done.
The same goes for other types of technology—if it’s just getting in the way, then just turn it off.
Find more energy
If by 2 o’clock you feel like you’ve been working for about 12 hours, something isn’t right; and this doesn’t mean you should just pour a third cup of coffee. It could be time to start eating better or figuring out how to get more sleep. You are never going to be your most productive self without the right amount of energy. Balance your diet, start eating more greens, whole grains, and fresh fruits, and start limiting processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy alternatives.
Rely on some extra help
It can be tempting to try to do everything on your own, especially if you are a solo practitioner. But, as you may have discovered, this is a great way to burn yourself out. You’ll be amazed at how much more can get done when you bring in a paralegal or another lawyer even on a part-time basis.
Looking for more ways to stay productive? Save time and effort by ensuring that you have a reliable and efficient court reporter. This is where Boss Reporting can help. Our reporters are experts at quickly and accurately recording anything you’ll need them for, including trials, mediations, and depositions. To learn more about Boss Reporting or to schedule a reporter, call us at 954-467-6867 or just fill out our online contact form.
Before you send out cards to clients, consider these tips
‘Tis the season for fruitcakes, mistletoe, bad Secret Santa gifts, and of course, holiday cards! If you’re like most people, you probably have a stack of them somewhere that feature the smiling faces of friends and family members, and surely tons of children.
While holiday cards can be a nice way to spread some cheer, they can also be beneficial to your law firm. But don’t just think about just scrawling “Merry Christmas” on the back of your business cards and putting a stamp on it. To show your clients that you care, it’s worth the time and effort to put some thought into your cards. Be sure to follow these tips:
Do: Know who you’re sending to
When looking for cards, you may just grab ones that look cute or are colorful, but it’s important to take a closer look. For example, if you just represented someone in a difficult divorce, you definitely do not want the card to show a family happily opening presents. You may want to get a variety of different cards or just go with one that has a simple design or message.
Don’t: Get too specific
Unless you know that all of your clients celebrate the holiday featuring the big guy with the white beard, you should take the safe route and refrain from purchasing cards that mention Christmas. Ones that say Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, or feature a picture of a snowy cottage are the much better choice.
Do: Send a personal message
If you’re doing your job well, you know some little details about your clients. Even if you just include the name of their dog, this shows that you pay attention and have a sense of humor.
Don’t: Talk business
It may be tempting to want to push your business (or perhaps bring up an outstanding bill), but a holiday card is not the place to do it. Keep your message in line with the good ‘ole traditional outline: address the recipient, wish them the merriest or merry, and wrap up the card with well wishes heading into the New Year.
Do: Have everyone sign them
If you work for a very big firm, this probably won’t work, but otherwise, everybody should sign your holiday cards. Not just the lawyers either; be sure that the paralegals and receptionists in your office sign them too. And, unless you want to come off as cold as Scrooge, don’t use pre-printed name stamps.
Don’t: Send e-cards
While most of the communication you have with clients probably involves electronic messages, this is something you will want to avoid for holiday cards. Just like a stamp, an email blast is very impersonal and may come off as lazy. If you have the time and capability, a paper, personalized sentiment is much more effective.
When paper cards are out of the question and an email will have to suffice, don’t stress! However, if you are able to, personalize the subject line, greeting, or content of the email to the recipient that it is being sent to.
We hope these tips will help both you and your clients have a very happy holiday season! And to make 2017 the best year yet for your firm, Boss Reporting can lend a hand. We employ over 40 exceptional court reporters who precisely record trials, mediations, and other court proceedings. When you want to schedule a reporter, give us a call at 954-467-6867 or fill out our online form.
Give the perfect gift that will make any of your co-workers delighted—not disappointed
A Secret Santa game at the office can lead to unexpected gift surprises, both good and bad. If your gift goes over well, you’ll have a chance to make a good impression on a co-worker, your boss, or even the CEO (depending on who you’re assigned). However, if it doesn’t, it could lead to an awkward holiday office party and a damaged reputation for weeks (or months) to come.
Instead of stressing, follow these tips to give the perfect Secret Santa gift, and hear our recommendations for a few of the easiest gifts to give this holiday season.
Abide by the office price limit
Office Secret Santa games usually have a price limit, often between $20 and $50, so it’s a good idea to stick within these guidelines. Go too far under the limit, and you may look cheap, but go over, and you may look like you’re trying too hard to impress—especially if you’ve been assigned to a boss, partner, or other office superior. Getting an overly expensive gift could also make others feel better if their gifts are well within the price limit. That being said, if you’ve found the perfect gift that just happens to be a dollar or two over or under the limit, you should probably still get it; just make sure to take the price tag off, no matter how much the gift cost.
Try to get something personal (but not too personal)
Depending on how well you know your Secret Santa assignment, you may be able to choose a gift that’s uniquely tailored to their hobbies or interests. However, it’s smart to avoid any gifts with any overtly religious or political messages, as well as any gifts that suggest shortcomings in the recipient (i.e. acne cream or weight loss products).
Try to get a gift that the recipient will use often
While unique, one-off, or gag gifts might be fun in the moment, the best way to be remembered as a great gift-giver is to give a gift that the recipient can use every day. Try to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes—and if you can think of any great, relatively inexpensive products that save you time and money or brighten your day on regular basis, they could be great candidates for your Secret Santa gift.
Check out these gift suggestions to make your life easier this holiday season
Here are a few gifts inspired by Business Insider’s 25 Secret Santa Gifts for Under $25:
Three-way earphone splitter: At only $10, this device allows three people to listen to the same smartphone, tablet, or laptop at once. It’s a great choice for music, TV, or movie lovers who travel often or commute using public transportation; or anyone who likes to share music with others on-the-go.
Silicone tea infuser: While it may sound like an odd material for a tea bag replacement, this gift is a sure hit among any tea-lovers in your office. Plus, at $10, it’s another great Secret Santa steal.
Stainless steel ice cubes: While they’re intended for Whiskey, these stainless steel ice cubes are perfect for cooling down any kind of drink without diluting it with melted ice water. Just under $17, they’re priced quite reasonably—but, if you need to spend less, these soapstone ice cubes are available for under $9.
No matter what you get for your Secret Santa gift (or gifts), be smart, be tasteful, and put some thought in it to make sure your co-workers are excited by your presents; not creeped out. All you’ll need for the perfect gift and the perfect holiday party is a little luck and a lot of holiday cheer!
Holding a holiday party for a busy law firm this season? To learn how our court reporting services can help attorneys and law offices save time AND money, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation!
Make your staff happy with these useful and fun suggestions
The holidays can be a stressful time for any law firm team. While end-of-year deadlines loom large, employees often need time off to spend with their families– which often makes it difficult to complete big projects on-schedule. However, with a little hard work, some smart planning and a dash of creativity, you can make sure your law firm team gets their work done and has a great time this holiday season.
Plan company fun– inside and outside the office
The holidays are a festive time for everyone– and no matter how many upcoming deadlines your law firm has, your office should reflect this. To set the mood for the season, decorate your law office festively and bring in sweets like gingerbread cookies and milk, candy canes, and apple pie for your entire staff to enjoy.
While it might seem obvious, don’t forget to give employees gifts to celebrate the holiday season and to thank them for their hard work. Good holiday gift ideas include restaurant gift certificates, Amazon gift cards, and hardcover books (if you know the person well.) Extra paid time off is also an excellent gift that employees will certainly appreciate. Also, in addition to giving gifts to each of your staff, make sure to have at least one office holiday party or event to help your team bond outside of work and celebrate the holiday season. A team that makes memories together is equipped to work harder and better in pursuit of a greater goal.
Keep engagement high with challenging goals (and give back to the community as well)
The holidays may make it more difficult to concentrate for many members of your team– and a challenging goal can help focus everyone’s efforts toward the greater good of the firm. However, the team goal doesn’t necessarily have to be work-focused to help increase employee engagement in the workplace. Instead, you may want the team to work together on an office-organized fundraising event and set a specific donation goal for an agreed-upon charity. Any kind of event-planning or volunteering by team members can go a long way toward helping to improve team spirit– and there’s nothing quite as good for your team members as knowing that they’re making a positive difference in their community.Be flexible with time off
Be flexible with time off
While the holiday season means different things to different people, to most, it’s a time for family. Most of your employees will either be planning to host relatives, or alternatively, to visit them– whether they live across the state, across the country, or even across the world. Additionally, those of your team members with children will likely need time to attend holiday related school events such as holiday plays or music recitals.
Therefore, if you want to make your team happy, there’s nothing better than being flexible when it comes to their holiday off time. Keep in mind, the holidays are full of surprises– so if an employee needs to shift their off-days at the last minute, or even take a few days off in advance, the best thing you can do is to be accommodating. The holidays only happen once a year– and this is a special opportunity to inspire confidence in your team by showing them that you’re an understanding and caring leader.
When it comes to a happy team, attitude is everything
All the tips above will go far in making your team happier this holiday season– but the most important aspect of law firm happiness doesn’t come in the form of a box or extra days off; it results from the positive attitude of the team– and that starts at the top. Being a supportive, kind, and encouraging boss may be the best gift you can give your team this holiday season.
To learn more about law firm productivity and court reporting solutions that work for your law firm, contact Boss Reporting today for a free consultation.
Yes, it’s possible to actually enjoy a vacation this year
Lawyers are some of the busiest people on the planet. Whether part of a firm or a solo practitioner, attorneys always have something to do, somewhere to be, or somebody to talk to. This is why for most, the idea of taking time off instills laughter. How could I possibly leave for a vacation when there’s so much on my plate?
Well, with a good strategy (something you are probably adept at), you can take some time off. These tips will help you do it:
Put in on the calendar
If you are like most attorneys, you live by a strict schedule and plan out days and weeks well in advance. Instead of floating the idea of a vacation or thinking along the lines of “when I have time,” simply make time for it then and there. Write it down in ink on your calendar. Once it’s set in stone, you can then plan around it. Any court dates, appointments, or other obligations can be scheduled around your trip.
Notify your clients
It’s important to inform your clients ahead of time about your plan. Tell them when you’ll be gone, and if they need to meet or speak with you, that it will have to be before or after that time. Inform them (politely) that while you’re away, you do not want to be contacted.
Have a backup plan
If there is some sort of an emergency and a client needs help, have an alternate contact in place. If you work for a firm, this probably won’t be too difficult. If you’re on your own, this is a little harder. Surely you know other lawyers who could be used in a pinch, or perhaps you have a friend that would work. Whoever the person is, make sure your clients are aware.
Take just a few days off
If you are so swamped that a full-fledged week off is out of the question, think about taking a Friday or Monday off and going away for an extended weekend. As long as you do things to relax (and shut off your work-related devices), a short trip can really clear your mind and help you recharge and refocus.
Try a workcation
Okay, so if a real vacation just isn’t in the cards, you can try a workcation. What’s a workcation? Basically, you take a trip to some far off or tropical locale…and then you work from there. It may not be the same as lounging by a pool all day, but at least you’re away from the office, which may give you a little bit of a breather.
If you can squeeze in any vacation time, you’ll see what a difference it makes for your wellbeing and mindset. And to make things easier when you get back, get in touch with Boss Reporting. We’ll provide you with a skilled, real-time court reporter who will record court proceeding, depositions, or anything else you need. To schedule your reporter, call us at 954-467-6867 or just fill out our online form.
Show your appreciation with these tasteful and fun holiday gift surprises
When it comes to holiday gifts for employees, some bosses know how to give the perfect present… but most are completely clueless when it comes to getting gifts that the recipient will actually enjoy using. Carelessly choosing employee gifts might take less time than putting thought into the process, but it could give your employees the idea that you don’t really know them, or worse—that you don’t care.
However, choosing the right gifts won’t just make your employees happy at the moment. Showing that you appreciate their hard work could put you on their nice list for years to come.
Grocery or department store gift cards
Grocery or department store gift cards might not be the most unique present—but they’re incredibly useful. Everyone needs food and new clothes; and even if your employees don’t end up getting something special for themselves with the card, one less routine grocery or department store bill is surely a gift worth cheering for.
Plus, if you know a bit about employee’s shopping tastes, you can easily get a gift card for a specialty gourmet market or upscale boutique; making this ever-useful present just a little more personal.
Olive oil or balsamic vinegar
If your employee likes to cook (or if they have a significant other that does), olive oil or balsamic vinegar can be an incredibly useful gift. Used in everything from salad dressings to soups, sauces, fish, meat, and even some soufflés, these ingredients are available in a versatile array of prices, ages, brands, and flavors.
Extra paid time off
There’s nothing more valuable than having extra time to spend with family and friends during the holiday season, which makes paid time off a great way to reward your employees for a job well done. The beauty of paid time off is that it allows your employees to enjoy themselves without feeling guilty that they aren’t doing enough to support their families. And while it might seem like a cop-out, it’s an inexpensive way to give employees a gift they’ll almost certainly enjoy.
Restaurant gift cards
Experiences are often more valuable than things—and giving a restaurant gift card makes sure that your employee can enjoy a fun experience instead of just using a more generic gift. If you are giving a restaurant gift card, make sure it’s substantial enough to at least cover a decent meal for two; otherwise, employees who don’t often eat out to save money might not use the card at all.
A hardcover book is a great way to give an inexpensive gift that caters to an employee’s personal tastes and interests. Luckily, you don’t even have to know an employee too well to give a tasteful book gift; just one or two simple conversations about their personal interests should suffice to make a good choice!
Keep in mind that a great gift isn’t just about pleasing your employees; it’s about showing them that you appreciate their hard work. And whether you choose a personal gift, or something that’s universally appealing, you’re employees are sure to appreciate the fact that you thought of them this holiday season.
At Boss Reporting, we provide nationwide court reporting services for trials, depositions, mediations and conferences and serve as resource of valuable industry information to attorneys, law firms, and legal organizations. To learn how we can help you collect, catalogue, and organize your legal information, contact us today to get a quote.
Follow these tips instead of making trade-offs!
Females who choose to become lawyers often find themselves outnumbered, and that’s because 64 percent of attorneys nation-wide are male. And though many of them are strong and confident enough to hold their own, there are some ways that women attorneys can accelerate their level of success—even when you’re the only gal in the firm. Take a look:
Always be professional
When surrounded by men, it may be tempting to use charm and wit to win over colleagues, judges, and others, but in order to be taken seriously, it’s critical to act professionally at all times. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being warm and friendly, but professionalism is also very necessary in the industry.
Advocate and support other female attorneys
Some women (and don’t get us wrong, men too!) can be difficult—no doubt. But many times it’s because they feel threatened by others; especially in the legal arena that is so heavily inundated with men. No matter what, aim to steer clear of the drama. Senior female attorneys should mentor younger women entering the business and peers should help each other out whenever they can. Lifting each other up benefits everyone, and shows how classy, professional, and competent you are.
Understand that not everyone thinks like you do
Men are from Mars; women are from Venus. And no matter how alike you may feel to the men in your law firm, the very fact that you’re a woman sets you apart. And that’s really ok. But it’s also important to remember this fact when you’re working with male attorneys, judges, and others in the field. While you may expect glowing praise or a certain type of feedback from a senior in your firm after winning a difficult case, there are many who would only want a simple “thanks”. That’s not to say that there aren’t men who are looking for praise, but the key is that men and women think differently and it’s something to be aware of at all times.
Be good to yourself
It’s a tough job. Attorneys spend most of their time fighting against adversaries, which can be emotionally and physically draining. To be successful, remember to take the time to eat right, exercise, and get the sleep you need.
While you can expect to work long hours, ensuring that you take time to stay healthy and set aside to spend time with your family is key to your success (if not, you could burn out before you even get going).
Feel free to carve your own path
Everyone has their own definition of success. For many men and women, it may be working their way up to becoming a partner, while others may only wish to become a leader in their niche or would be happy to only practice part time. You can create your own successful career based on whatever your aspirations are and as long as you are determined, professional, and have perseverance, there’s nothing to stop you but yourself. Even if you’re the only woman in your firm!
Being a woman in a male dominated industry can be challenging, but your talent, skills, and knowledge will take you wherever you wish to go if you follow these tips.
Give us a call or fill out our quote request form if you are in need of real-time court reporting for your next deposition, trial, mediation, arbitration or conference. Boss is a leader in South Florida and the top choice among law firms across the state for court reporting services.
Things they don’t teach you in law school!
After four years as an undergrad, three years of law school, and another couple as an intern or associate, you’d think you were well equipped to be successful as an attorney. But the fact is that there are certain skills school doesn’t teach you and numerous other ways you may be unprepared to make your way in the industry. To help you navigate the career field, we’ve compiled a list of the most essential skills for success:
1. Ability to communicate well
Seems pretty simple, right? But the number of young attorneys who are able communicate well is much less than you’d imagine. Being an effective communicator has less to do with how well you’re able to speak, and more to do with how well you’re able to listen. It’s also about being able to read which clients prefer a quick phone call or email versus the ones who want a multiple-page letter outlining every detail and update in a case. Of course, the more experience you gain, the better you’ll be able to recognize and accommodate clients and their preferences. However, constantly working on communication as a whole is imperative to your success.
2. Express empathy
Although you may have been told by some well-meaning older attorneys not to get emotionally involved in any of your cases, compassion and care go a long way when it comes to serving your clients. When you think about it, people turn to you when they’re facing a difficult situation. Showing that you’re human, that you are interested, empathetic, and that you care should be part of how you operate. Detachment is a thing of the past and every young lawyer needs to understand this in order to truly be successful.
3. Time management and business acumen
Just because you’re working in a firm that has a bookkeeping and scheduling department doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be able to manage your calendar and the tasks at hand. A good attorney possesses the skills to plan, organize, and manage their resources and has a firm grip on how much time it will take for them to perform their job. Without it, you may likely be the lawyer who goes over budget, is always scrambling to file motions, and leaves fellow attorneys and clients frustrated.
4. Ability to collaborate
It’s common for attorneys to work on their own, and many consider themselves their own separate entity even in a small law firm. And while it is true that you will often be handling cases that are solely yours, those lawyers who are able to collaborate are more successful than those who don’t possess these skills. Collaboration brings out the best in people and helps spur ideas that result in better client outcomes. Plus, working with others and exchanging wisdom helps you grow as a lawyer.
5. Always be prepared
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re working long days and rushing around from meetings, court appearances, and back to the office. As a young attorney, a really important skill to learn as early as possible is to always be prepared. Make sure you make a to-do list every day and that you spend at least 15-20 minutes at the end of the day going over what needs to be accomplished the next day. This will help you get into the habit of staying organized and decreases the chances that you’ll be flustered in a meeting because you forgot an important document or some other detail pertinent to the case at hand.
Becoming a lawyer takes a lot of time, effort, and grit. And if you’re going to spend so many years in school and interning, it’s a good idea to hone your skills in these essential areas so you can be the best attorney possible.
If you’re looking for a court reporting firm to be your partner for trials, conferences, arbitrations, depositions and mediations, Boss Reporting is ready and well-equipped to serve you with highly skilled and experienced real-time reporters. Get in touch with us today!
Fostering outside relationships can positively influence your firm
Most of us can relate to the hesitation of taking on a job that we’re not comfortable with or that is outside our expertise. As an attorney, it’s likely that you’ve had people come to you for help in areas outside your wheelhouse—and in an effort to do the right thing, you turned them away.
While it’s not recommended that any attorney take on a case they are not equipped to properly represent, referring clients to others can be a valuable resource. Referrals can be beneficial to your practice and to the customers as well:
Referrals help expand your firm’s network
By building connections with other attorneys who specialize in different types of law than you do, you can expand your network and increase your knowledgebase. This type of networking benefits you, the other attorneys, and the client. And when you serve a client with a referral, it’s likely that they’ll return the favor next time someone they’re connected with needs your expertise.
Building your network can keep your workload workable
As a busy attorney, you know what it’s like to be overloaded and overwhelmed with too many cases. While you would like to help everyone, it’s not always practical since there are only so many hours in a day. But if you refer special cases, you’ll be able to help more people without adding to your workload.
If you work out a referral relationship agreement, you can still benefit financially by earning a fee on the case.
Referrals become a reciprocal relationship
Just as you appreciate someone recommending you for a case, the attorneys you send clients to will be inclined to do the same for you. In most cases, clients that have been referred to you are also ready to sign upon introduction because they’ve received a credible review from the attorney that they trust.
Establishing referral relationships can enrich your experience
Many attorneys who establish relationships with those in another type of law will remain involved in the case so they can learn more about that niche. And when you do this, you’ll be enriching your own experience and practice—because expanding your knowledge base is always a positive.
Referral best practices
Just like everything else you do, when it comes to referring clients out to others, it’s important to follow some best practices—especially if you’ve never done this before. Some good rules to follow include:
- Be open to opportunities: Don’t be afraid to reach out to other attorneys to break the ice and establish a relationship that could lead to referrals for both of you
- Be deliberate: Always recommend those attorneys you know or that have been referred to you by a reliable source
- Create a referral database: Keeping a record or lawyers that you are referring is key—and the more relationships you establish, the harder it is to keep track of who specializes in what. By creating a database, you can also keep track of clients who you have referred and their outcomes, so you know which relationships you want to leverage more in the future.
While it’s great to be knowledgeable and capable in as many aspects of the law as possible, it’s much more powerful to be a trusted expert in one or two areas. Having a network of other attorneys that you can access when needed will improve your firm’s reputation and expand your knowledge base.
If you’re in need of a court reporter for a trail, mediation, arbitration, or conference, request a quote today. We collaborate with numerous south Florida firms and are the leading resource for highly skilled, experienced real-time reporters.
The real question is—can your firm afford not to?
Whether you are just getting your start as an attorney or you’re a seasoned veteran, you are already familiar (and possibly overwhelmed) by the massive amounts of paperwork required for what your daily tasks. Think about the stacks and stacks of correspondences, faxes (yes, people are still faxing!), transcripts, exhibits, and boxes of documents piling up in your office.
If you’ve been fantasizing about going paperless, but wondering whether or not you could possibly pull it off, the answer is a resounding yes! Although most firms these days are not COMPLETELY without paper, they are drastically reducing the amount they use, and you can too:
It all starts with a plan
Whether your team is made of up of three or 30 people, you need a well-thought out plan to implement a paperless office. Make a comprehensive list of documents that you are required to keep (and whether or not they can be scanned and filed digitally). Next, list all the documents that must be kept in paper format, can be scanned and shredded, and which documents need to be sent to clients. There will be clients who cannot or won’t want to receive scanned paperwork. Knowing the limits ahead of time can help you determine how far you can go with your paperless plan.
Train your team
Everyone on your staff has to understand that the paperless plan is required—and how to use the technology that will help you keep digital records. Don’t assume that all your attorneys, legal assistants, and other staff members are familiar with Acrobat and other software. The good news is that Acrobat actually comes with a Bates Stamping capability and you can now send faxes from your computers. Take time to set up training sessions for the entire team and provide hands-on demonstrations for important processes such as digital file creation.
Invest in a quality scanner
While you will still need an office printer and copy machine for those documents that must be stored in paper form, a high quality scanner is key to keeping up with the amount of scanning you’ll be undertaking. You’ll also want to make sure that everyone knows how to scan and store these files in your firm’s digital network.
Start converting from within
Let your clients know that you’ll be beginning to send paperless statements and create a digital statement that can be used across the entire firm. Create digital newsletters, reports, and letterheads—you’ll soon realize just how much money you’ll save when you stop buying all those pre-printed envelopes.
Implement a document management system
It will take a lot of communication and discipline, but getting everyone in your firm onboard with using only digital documents and filing them within your new DMS is key. There’s even one created just for law firms called NetDocuments. These systems can be set up to alert attorneys when they have new documents to view—there’s no need for that massive amount of clutter that stacks of paper creates.
Create digital signatures
Have you ever printed a document just because it needs to be signed? Talk about waste! With a digital signature you no longer have to. Once created, you can insert your electronic signature into all documents.
There’s no doubting the benefits of going paperless. You will not only save loads of money for your law firm, but you’ll be doing your part to help the environment. Follow these tips and make the necessary changes in small, incremental steps.
And if you’re in need of a real-time court reporter, schedule your job online or give us a call at 954-467-6867. With a team of more than 40 of the area’s top reporters, we are the leading source of court reporters in south Florida.
Start by eating the frog
As a solo practitioner, it’s highly likely that you are juggling numerous tasks at the same time every single day. Being at the helm of your own law firm (and pretty much running it on your own), is a major undertaking and means that you’re not only communicating with and serving clients, but you’re also in charge of all things related to the business. Let’s also not forget that your personal life is just as important on the management scale.
If you’re shaking your head right now, especially at the thought of actually having any spare time to devote to a yourself and your family, then it’s time to figure out how to manage your minutes:
Take Twain’s advice and eat the frog
In book Eat That Frog by Brain Tracy, the author uses Mark Twain’s words of wisdom as advice for managing your time and tasks better. Essentially, the theory is that if you eat the frog (the frog being the most difficult or least pleasant task on your plate) first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will be easier and more productive. Many of us, not just lawyers, procrastinate and put off what seems like the most arduous projects. But doing this essentially creates a sense of doom that looms over our heads. Eat that frog—get the hard stuff out of the way and you’ll sail through the rest of the day with ease.
Implement the 3 +2 rule
Every busy attorney can relate to spending endless hours at the office trying to complete a bottomless pit of to-do lists. If you’re working all day and night, and still don’t feel like you’ve been productive enough, you desperately need an intervention. The 3+2 Rule was designed to help one focus only on the most important tasks of the day. The idea is to identify only 3 big things and 2 small things for each day. Allocate one to two hours for each of the larger tasks. Do the same for the three secondary tasks, setting aside 20-30 minutes for each. Although some lawyers have tailored the strategy to their liking, maybe adding one more to the primary list or two more to the secondary, you’re going to find that your practice runs smoother once you put the 3+2 rule into practice.
Enlist some fire-proofing tactics
Most lawyers can relate to being in a “firefighter’s mindset” pretty much every single day. But the problem with firefighting is that you’re always working in emergency mode, so you’re not able to focus on tasks that are long-term or business-building in nature. If you’re constantly fighting to keep your head above water, it would be smart to implement some fireproofing tactics:
- Plan out each day and use the 3+2 rule or a customized version that suits your practice
- Focus on relationship building activities
- Take care of yourself physically and emotionally
- Be clear of your purpose, values and goals
Reduce or eliminate distractions
Although it’s healthy to take breaks throughout the day, too many distractions can derail you and often end up pushing back deadlines. A good way to reduce distractions is to first track the time you spend on these activities; then make a plan that details how to wean yourself from them. By allotting time for your undertakings, you’re less likely to get caught up in what’s happening in the news or answering emails that can wait.
Make a priority list
At the end of each day, make a list of tasks that should be tackled the next morning. Define tasks that are urgent and need immediate attention. Focus on the most crucial tasks at hand and itemize the rest in order of importance. Completing this schedule at the end of the day ensures that you won’t rush in the next morning and start “putting out fires.”
Being the lone ranger in your law firm can be arduous and challenging, but if you manage your time effectively, you’ll find that your productivity will increase and chances of burning out will lessen.
Check our blog often for valuable resources and information that are necessary for success. And remember, if you need real-time court reporting services, schedule your appointment online or call us at 954-467-6867 for more information.
Lawsuit? Collection Action? Try these tips first!
As an attorney, you likely chose this profession because you wanted to help people. But even those lawyers who offer the most reasonable fees need to get paid—after all, this career does need to support you. And while it may be an unwritten industry rule to get your fees upfront, many solo attorneys or smaller law firms offer payment plans to clients who need such an arrangement. Because while they do need your help, a lot of working class people can’t afford to fork out a large amount of cash upfront. But what happens when a client who’s making payments stops paying their bills? Take a look:
Why would a client stop paying?
If you’ve taken on a case and allowed your client to make monthly payments (or some other arrangement), in most circumstances, something unexpected has probably happened. Either your client has experienced an unforeseen expenditure (like a hefty car or home repair) or they’ve been laid off or had their hours cut at work. Whatever the reason, people generally have good intentions and will make payments again as soon as possible while you work with them.
But when the situation begins to get out of control and your client has just stopped paying altogether—it may be necessary to take action. Some clients stop paying because they feel like they are not going to win their case. The mindset is that if they’re not going to have a favorable result, why bother to paying? In these situations, there are some things you can do to remedy the problem.
Stay on top of their case
When a client is unhappy or feeling like their case is a not a priority, it is much easier for them to neglect payment. But if they are receiving consistent updates from you as well as monthly statements, it’s much more difficult for them to ignore you. Make sure you provide progress reports on a regular basis, even if there’s been no dramatic events. It just makes sense that a client who is satisfied with your service will be more likely to pay your bill.
Pull back on the empathy
It’s not easy—but sometimes you have to be a bit tougher than you’d like to. Just as your client needs you to represent them, you also need to be able to pay your bills. And while it may be your first inclination to cut clients some slack, you might have to alter your policy and get more money upfront. Think about it this way—if you don’t pay rent, your landlord won’t wait too long before evicting you—it’s just business.
Withdraw from their case
A last resort of course, but if a client continually refuses to pay, you may have no choice but to withdraw your representation. Before you go that route, you could speak with the client and explain that without regular payments, you will either have to limit the time you’re spending on their case (thus reducing billable hours) or withdraw all together. Sometimes this is all it takes for them to come up with the money they owe you.
No attorney wants to deal with the issue of overdue or uncollectible payments. It’s not fun, nor is it why you got into this industry in the first place. And while most folks have truly good intentions, bad things do happen that force them to be unable to pay you. As a solo practitioner or a small firm, these situations are often more. But sometimes it’s best to just write it off as a loss. It’s not worth your time and effort to go after them for a settlement, especially since this would cost you and could result in a judgment that never gets paid.
Check out our blog for more useful information. At Boss Reporting, we strive to not only provide you with real-time court reporting services, but also to be your partner by offering valuable industry resources. If you need a court reporter, fill out on our quote request form or give us a call at 954-467-6867.
How strategy makes your practice even more successful
The world’s most successful companies not only understand the value of collaboration, they foster it through every aspect of their culture. From open workspaces to think tanks and more, nurturing the exchange of ideas and solutions is how many organizations manage their teams—and succeed. Law firms, comprised of young and seasoned attorneys as well as an array of legal professionals, can also benefit from the advantages of collaboration. But in order to really maximize the effort, a certain amount of planning is necessary:
Start by building a collaborative culture
If your firm operates in a business-as-usual environment, collaboration will take some effort. It’s not uncommon for attorneys to exist in survival mode, simply because the job itself requires you to consistently compete against an adversary. But when it comes to working together with your fellow attorneys, it’s necessary to let go of that competitive spirit and realize that you’re all on the same team. There are numerous ways to build a collaborative culture, including:
Create a team communication schedule
Implement a morning or afternoon huddle where everyone in the firm gets together to give a quick update on what they’re working on, if they need support on anything, and to give a shout out to anyone on the team that’s achieved something or provided support to their coworkers. Increasing communication among team members can help the entire staff feel more a part of a team, rather than an individual with their own goals.
Encourage peer-to-peer brainstorming
When more experienced lawyers can offer their expertise to new attorneys, these interactions help create a culture of teamwork and collaboration. Encourage all of your attorneys to seek guidance from each other, to brainstorm on complex cases, and to offer up solutions and new ways of handling particularly difficult litigation.
Establish firm goals
Establishing goals for the firm is much the same as determining how your lawyers are going to manage their caseloads, work together, and work with clients. When you create a set of goals, a mission statement, and core values that set your firm apart from others, you should also make sure that each and every member of your team buys into them and understands their role. By doing this, lawyers both new and experiences feel a sense of purpose in all that they do to help the firm achieve its aspirations.
Plan team building activities
Although it may seem hokey, team building activities can help build relationships among your attorneys and foster a collaborative environment. There are numerous ways to do this (and no, you don’t have to do the trust fall thing), but the key is that you get all of your team together to participate, including attorneys, legal secretaries, and administrative assistants.
All work and no play—you know the rest. And while lawyering is serious business, it’s important to encourage your firm’s employees to get to know each other and to build a certain sense of cohesiveness. Some firms create a committee or team that’s in charge of planning out special company lunches, happy hours, birthday celebrations, and the like. The important thing is not so much what you do, but that you get everyone together to relax, mingle and relate on a more personal (rather than business) level.
Although it is not a new concept, it seems the world’s most progressive companies are the ones with the highest level of collaboration going on. For many law firms, creating a culture that fosters this type of environment is challenging, especially since lawyers often focused on their own individual clients and cases. But collaboration is possible and can only serve to strengthen your firm..
For more valuable resources and information on improving your law practice, check our blog often.
If you need a real-time court reporter for your next deposition, trial, mediation or conference, get in touch with us today.
Read this before you lose your mind
Imagine being tasked with accurately recording every word spoken by every person for hours at a time. For court reporters, this is just another day in the office, so it’s no wonder that many of them experience high levels of stress. Add to that the fact that their job often requires them to sit for long periods without a break, and it’s easy to understand why court reporters can struggle with physical and mental exhaustion. It’s time we all learn to manage that pressure:
1. Cut yourself some slack
You’re anything but a slacker, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a break once in a while. Court reporters often bully themselves into believing they need to be perfect. But everyone makes a hiccup once in a while, and when this happens, it’s best to learn from it and move on.
2. Set yourself up for success
Make your work day smoother by prepping everything you need the night before—such as your clothes, lunch, and steno gear. Doing this eliminates rushing around and reduces the risk of forgetting anything.
It may even free up some of your morning time so you can enjoy a cup of coffee before heading out the door.
3. Create a what and when to-do list
Having hundreds of pages of depositions to transcribe can be absolutely overwhelming. Instead of letting all that you have to do weigh down on your mind, create a list that outlines what you’ll do and when. By mapping out a plan, you are freeing it from your mind—try it, it really does help!
4. Use breaks to move, stretch, and get out of your head
As a court reporter, your day will often include a lot of sitting and deep concentration. Even with a short break every few hours, it can be challenging to focus on something other than what’s in the next deposition, trail, or meeting. But if you can take a short walk, do a few stretches, or even head outside for some fresh air, you’ll find yourself better equipped to manage the rest of your day. Clearing your head, even if only for 15 minutes, can do wonders for your stress level.
5. Think about your progress not about what’s left
When there’s a monumental amount of work to be accomplished, it’s all too easy to stress about how everything is going to get finished. Instead, feel satisfaction by checking off tasks as you complete them and focusing on the progress you’ve made. Shifting your focus eliminates those feelings of self-doubt that you’ll get it all done.
6. Let it go
When your work day is done, leave it at work. Even on the days where you need to catch up after hours, letting it go after you finish (and not anticipating what you have to do tomorrow), allows you to de-stress, unwind, and enjoy some relaxation. Remember, the work will still be there tomorrow, so tomorrow is when you should focus on it.
7. Exercise, eat well, and get your ZZZ’s
Yes, it sounds trite, but living a healthy lifestyle is a key way to relieve stress. Because your career as a court reporter requires you to be sedentary, getting in exercise, eating lots of veggies and protein, and getting a good night’s sleep are crucial to staying physically and mentally fit. Also, don’t forget to drink your H2O!
Being a court reporter takes a keen eye for detail, a great deal of focus, and the gift of speed—it’s not for the weak! But if you follow these tips, you’ll find that your days will be less stressful.
For more helpful suggestions, check out our blog. And if you’re looking for a real-time court reporter, fill out our request form or give us a call at 954-467-6867.
What do companies like Google know that you don’t?
It’s no secret that lawyers often work long hours and experience elevated levels of stress and anxiety. And while there’s not a lot that can be done to alleviate the workload, there are ways to decrease stress and make the haul a bit easier to bear. Ergonomic workstations are becoming a popular asset for employees who want to get through their workday with less fatigue and discomfort. And those that do are also reaping extra benefits they didn’t expect.
Ergonomic workstations help attorneys achieve better posture, less exertion, and easier movements, which in turn allows them to be more productive. It only makes sense that if they are more comfortable, team members will have extra energy and get more done with less effort.
A higher quality of work
Whether writing a brief, a motion, or preparing opening and closing arguments, attorneys need to be free from distraction. In fact, any task that your firm needs to accomplish requires thought, creativity, and focus. Ergonomic equipment ensures that employees are not only comfortable, but that they’re working in such a way that’s beneficial to their bodies. And people who are healthy and free of pain do better work—it’s that simple.
Higher level of engagement
When you provide your team with workstations designed to keep them more comfortable, you’re demonstrating how much you care about them. And employees who feel cared about are more engaged than those who don’t. Top companies all over the world have implemented ergonomics into their workplace for this very reason—and are reaping the benefits of highly motivated employees who look forward to coming into the office.
Decreased absenteeism and turnover
Attorneys that spend 16 hours at their desk each day and even more time running back and forth between court and the office are burning the candle at both ends. It’s not uncommon for lawyers to lose sleep over their responsibilities and, as a result, get sick more often than other professionals. And while you can’t make them eat right, exercise, and sleep more, you can ensure that they’re staying safe in the office. Ergonomics improve posture, reduce stress on the body, and help reduce brain drain—and thus can decrease sick days among your team.
Investing in ergonomic chairs, desks, lighting, and other equipment not only makes your law firm more comfortable and attractive, it provides numerous benefits to your team. If your attorneys are regularly needing massages or constantly cracking their necks, perhaps the time has come to make the switch. The added comfort is worth it!
For more valuable information that can help you improve your law firm, be sure to visit our blog often. And turn to us when you are in need of experienced real-time court reporters for your next trial, deposition, meeting or mediation. Our team leads the industry with highly qualified professionals. Give us a call at 954-467-6867 or fill out our quote request form.