ABA Commission on Women in the Profession started several years ago and began research on what makes women lawyers successful. Grit and growth mindset were two traits that have been shown to impact the success of women lawyers. The Commission has now expanded its research from large law firms to encompass other legal environments including solo practice, small and medium law firms, corporations, government, and nonprofits. This a book of over 45 women sharing their inspiring stories of grit from many varied legal environments.
Posted By Danielle M. Hall,
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2019
By Danielle M. Hall, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, Office of the Disciplinary Administrator
Have you ever noticed that the default setting in Microsoft Word is to ignore words in uppercase? As a result, the correct spelling functionality will ignore anything in uppercase such as headings and titles. There is a way, however, to change this setting. Here is how you do it:
Under the File tab, click Options.
Under “When correcting spelling in Microsoft Office programs,” uncheck Ignore words in UPPERCASE.
Click OK to save.
Once you have saved this change in your settings, anything you type in all uppercase will now get spell checked!
E-filing is great. It allows us to file documents anytime, anywhere. What it's not great for is filing proposed orders with physical signatures. That is because proposed orders must be filed in a word processing format, while scanned, physical signature pages aren't compatible with that type of a file. But why do we need to worry about this issue? We generally use our electronic signatures (i.e., "/s/ Richard Whitman"), after all.
Nevertheless, there are still a few instances where filing a proposed order with a physical signature is helpful:
-When you are dealing with pro se parties, and you don't want them to later claim that they didn't sign off on an order;
-When you're incorporating settlement agreements into a proposed order, as in a friendly settlement with a minor plaintiff; or
-When the judge physically signs a proposed order, such as a docket call.
Adding a physical signature page to a proposed order isn't difficult, but it does take a few steps. The following directions will allow you to add a physical signature page in Microsoft Word.
1.Scan the signature page (or other pages) that you would like to incorporate into the proposed order.
2.A) Save it as an image file (e.g., .jpg).
B) Alternatively, you can use Windows’ “snipping tool,” to take a screenshot of the document and save it as an image file. (Press the widows key + “s,” and search for “snipping tool.”)
3.Go to your proposed order.
4.Find the location in your document where you'd like to incorporate the signature page.
5.Select the “insert” tab at the top of the screen.
6.Select “pictures.” Find the location of the signature page on your computer or server. Select the picture, then select "insert."
Now you have the signature in the document, but it may not be centered, may be too small, or may have fouled up some text in the document. There are a variety of ways you can remedy those problems, but the following additional steps should fix them:
7.Move the image in front of the text by:
A) Selecting the picture;
B) Selecting “format” at the top of the screen;
C) Selecting “wrap text”; and
D) Then selecting “In front of text”;
8.Center the image by dragging the image around the page; and
9.Resize the image to your liking by dragging on the corners of the image.
By playing with those settings, you can obtain a centered, properly sized, physical signature page within your document. And, you'll be able to submit your proposed order with the physical signature, as desired.
By Danielle M. Hall, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, Office of the Disciplinary Administrator
Interested in case management software, but don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the vast number of products out there. There are, however, resources available that can help you narrow down your choices.
For instance, the American Bar Association has a comparison chart available on its website. This chart is created by the association’s Legal Technology Resource Center (LTRC), and it is available to both members and non-members. It lists many of the case management software options available and does some of the homework for you by comparing the features offered and price, for instance, as well as offering other useful information. This comparison chart can be found here.
In addition to the LTRC’s comparison chart, the KBA also has a variety of partnerships with different software companies. So be sure to check out the KBA membership benefits page, as you may be able to get a discount on certain products through your membership.
Lastly, make sure you take a good look at the product. Ask if there is a trial period or if you can have access to a dummy account so you can test the program and its features. Also, make sure you are asking the right questions specific to your needs and doing your due diligence when it comes to security concerns.
Stayed tuned to this blog for more information about what questions to ask and what issues to consider when choosing software.
When I wrote about user reviews of courts and judges available on Yelp back in 2016, there were barely a handful of courts with reviews on the site. Since publication of that article, Google reviews have provided stiff competition for Yelp. Any time someone searches for a business or government office on Google, their Google reviews are prominently displayed in a call-out box to the right of search results. Realizing that this simplified obtaining and leaving reviews, I turned to Google reviews to see how our courts in Kansas rate with users.
I searched for every district court in the state together with the Supreme Court, the court of appeals, and the judicial branch generically at the end of November 2018 and created a spreadsheet of the data. Within those searches were 172 total reviews left about 55 of our courts—and 31 of those courts received at least one review in 2018. Instead of just a few outlier courts with a Yelp review page, we now have some data from just over 50 percent of our district courts with most of the reviews left in the past two years.
This is still a modest dataset, and it is important to note that 24 of the courts reviewed have just one review. I anticipated that a user taking the time to leave a review would most likely be an upset customer. That does not appear to be the case. While seven of these reviewers left a 1-star review, 11 left a 5-star review. Johnson county is at the other end of the spectrum with 28 reviews. While it is the largest county by population in Kansas, it is not the largest court by case filings. That would be Sedgwick county and it only pulled 13 reviews. Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Shawnee round out the top five most reviewed courts with 14, 11 and 8 respectively.
The subject of a court review is often not narrowly focused on judicial branch performance. For example, several of the Leavenworth reviews were related to racist remarks of a county commissioner whose story was blowing up nationally around the time I compiled results. Politics played a role in one of the Supreme Court’s 1-star reviews, which was also left with a comment, “Liberal idiots!” Multi-use county courthouses received several reviews about how county offices processed tags and titles and many reviews contain no content at all. Other reviews aim for humor: a 1-star in Sherman just says, “It’s a courthouse,” and the Supreme Court’s other 1-star review laments, “I didn’t win.” None of those are helpful.
Critiques and Compliments
Not all of the reviews should be tossed aside, however. The most common complaint across the counties is particularly interesting. A 1-star review very often relates to inaccessibility of court staff by phone. Phones are not answered. Messages are not returned. Staff cannot provide relevant information when a call is answered. The Supreme Court is attempting to address those types of complaints through the eCourt initiative which aims to centralize data, publish more information online and explore options for a call-in help center.
The most common compliments accompanying positive reviews related to helpful, friendly and polite staff. One reviewer shared that court staff went out of their way to assist her and her family. One reviewer in Harper county wanted the internet to know that Debbie, in particular, was friendly and helpful. Words like professional, polite, courteous and helpful were repeated across positive reviews and seem to display what the public’s expectation is from interactions with court staff. A court with an isolated comment about staff not rising to these expectations may be able to chalk it up to a bad day or outcome for the reviewer, but if negative reviews about staff interactions with the public are consistent, it should prompt some managerial introspection.
There are very few reviews that relate to judges themselves. Two negative reviews addressed concerns with courtroom demeanor. One judge allegedly rolled her eyes and suggested she could make matters worse for the reviewer who appears to have been challenging a ticket. The other review gave a 1-star to the judge for refusing to read evidence. Two other reviews dealt more generally with how rushed the court proceedings were, denying the reviewer opportunity to ask questions or understand what was going on in the proceeding, and one was quite upset with a 60-day sentence for public urination. That is as specific as judge reviews get in the data. Reviewers leaving positive comments seem less likely to leave details beyond saying their cases worked out. n
Google reviews are not perfect. They can be gamed and are often unfair with reviewers cherry-picking or making up narratives for personal aims. I am not a fan, and that is not just because I have a lousy 3-star average rating myself. Regardless, the reviews are a comment card, and it is worth reading them regularly. We read all of ours as a firm and explore the complaints (and compliments) to see where we can improve. Reviews offer a chance for courts and the judicial branch to do the same and it does not cost a dime.
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Installing “anti-virus” software is obviously a must these days. Most people are familiar with the big names out there: McAffee, Kaspersky, AVG, Symantec, etc. And those tools are great for detecting and preventing your computer from traditional forms of malicious programs that use a computer to replicate and spread.
However, “malware,” is not synonymous with “viruses.” Malware can include all kinds of programs that aren’t necessarily meant to spread beyond your system, and can include “spyware” (i.e.: a program that tracks what you’re doing), “ransomware” (i.e. a program that renders your files unreadable and literally holds them ransom), “adware” (i.e., a program that forces you to view unwanted ads), and “cryptomining” malware that hijack your computer to “mine” cryptocurrency like bitcoin (i.e.: run the verification calculations to make money with bitcoin).
The first defense against malware is to avoid clicking on strange links, visiting strange sites or downloading strange files. However, anti-malware software is necessary, as well. There are free versions available that provide decent additional protection, such as “Malware Bytes.” Many of those types of software offer paid, premium versions that run scans automatically on a daily basis for a reasonable fee, and even have additional products that can provide some mitigation against firm-halting events such as a ransomware attack.
The start of a new year is the perfect time to review your business and set goals. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you look forward to 2019:
Is your law firm a corporation? If not, should it be?
Review your balance sheet: What goals should you set for cash on hand, line of credit, loans, and distributions/salary?
Review your profit/loss statements: Pull the last 5 years of your yearly profit/loss statements – is your firm going the direction you would like and what tweaks or major changes are needed?
Review staffing: Set a goal to appreciate your staff more and determine what that would look like.
Are you happy? What adjustments are needed?
(check out the book from UMKC law professors Nancy Levit & Douglas O Linder – The Happy Lawyer or if you are the website/podcast type -https://thehappylawyerproject.com/
The Center for Work-Life Policy published a series of intriguing reports starting in 2005 called Off-Ramps and On-Ramps. The reports examine professionals who temporarily leave careers (off-ramping) and barriers faced when trying to return (on-ramping). The lawyer-specific data indicates that 31-42 percent of women temporarily leave practice primarily to care for children, parents, or family members. As many as 15 percent still in the workforce would like to off-ramp temporarily but indicate they cannot afford to or worry an on-ramp back will not be available. By contrast, some 15 percent of men off-ramp but usually due to frustrations in the profession or to change careers altogether.
Private Sector Efforts
While men and women graduate law school and are hired on as new associates at similar rates, women start disappearing at the mid- and senior-levels in firms and industry. The OnRamp Fellowship aims to address the “leaky pipeline” of capable women lawyers by improving the on-ramps back into practice. OnRamp places returning lawyers with top law firms, legal departments, and financial services firms for six month and one-year paid positions. In addition to opening an employment door, lawyers have access to free continuing education, business training, and one-on-one coaching. (Information available at onrampfellowship.com.)
Another attempt to improve the on-ramp comes from the insurance world via ALPS. Leah Gooley, ALPS Underwriting Manager, indicates that over 30 years of claims data revealed that women lawyers have a lower propensity for malpractice claims—almost a full 20 percent better risk than male counterparts. Retaining women or easing their on-ramp back into practice would improve the ALPS bottom line and that data-driven information prompted ALPS to survey how to better serve women in law. ALPS is interested both in retention and in improving the on-ramp back into the practice. (The survey is available at available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/FHP3R8C.)
Public Sector Barriers
Despite private sector interest in helping lawyers find an on-ramp back into practice, the actual mechanics of doing so under the rules of the Kansas Supreme Court are obscured. Multiple Kansas lawyers interviewed indicate that planning an orderly exit and return was difficult given the open-ended nature of Supreme Court Rule 208(g)(2). This often results in a less formal off-ramp through administrative suspension under (g)(3). A number of barriers to on-ramping were identified:
The Kansas Continuing Legal Education Commission has discretion in setting terms for return for lawyers inactive for less than two years. If a lawyer remains inactive for the national off-ramping average of three years, then the Supreme Court may impose its own conditions for return. The Court’s discretion is open-ended and undefined, leaving one lawyer to note, “It was very frustrating not knowing what I needed to do.”
While not written anywhere, the requirements were addressed tangentially in an unrelated disciplinary hearing by Justice Carol Beier: “When somebody, for example, wants to come back from inactive status, we have kind of a rule of thumb that if it’s been 10 years, they need to take a bar review course or if it’s shorter than that, then they certainly have to be up on CLEs.” (Remark by Justice Carol Beier during oral arguments, In the Matter of: Rosie M. Quinn, No. 119,148, Kan. Sup. Ct. Archived Oral Arguments, Oct. 25, 2018, available athttps://www.youtube.com/embed/5bRE6ZeWzcE, at time marker 6:54 (link provided on http://www.kscourts.org/kansas-courts/supreme-court/archive/archived-arguments-October-2018.asp).) There is, however, no data supporting bar preparation courses or making up years of CLE protect the public or effectively prepare a lawyer to on-ramp back into practice.
Returning from inactive status requires completion of an Application for Reinstatement or Return to Active Status form. Unfortunately, the form is available nowhere on the Supreme Court’s website. Lawyers wanting to know what to expect must request it from the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
Despite Rule 208(g)(2) being clear that an inactive lawyer is still a lawyer, the inquiries on the application read like an initial application for fitness to practice. A lawyer must provide information about divorce and probate cases in which she has participated and detail certain financial situations including revoked credit cards, bankruptcies, and past due student loans. Those inquiries are not part of annual registration for active lawyers so their relevance to protecting the public and profession are unclear. While active lawyers’ personal finances are private, inactive lawyers must waive privacy in financial matters and consent to open-ended financial investigations by the Office of the Disciplinary Administrator.
Interestingly, anecdotal stories from some lawyers interviewed indicated the application may not always be required. Some who had returned to active status had never heard of the application nor did they provide the sensitive, personal information it requires.
The overwhelming majority (93 percent) of lawyers who take the off-ramp from practice plan to return. The on-ramp back into practice is easier to find in some states than others. In several of our neighboring states, for example, requirements are spelled out in rule or statute, forms for status change are available online, and CLE requirements to return are capped at one to two compliance periods required as make-up. States with clear and manageable requirements to reactivate appear to view off-ramping as a normal part of modern practice, and procedures simplify the return of legal talent to the profession.
On-ramping in Kansas is more complicated. Whether a lawyer can on-ramp is discretionary and not tied to documented requirements. In application, the requirements to return can be daunting. As a reactivated Kansas lawyer recalled, “It didn’t feel like they wanted me to return to the law,” and she wondered, “Is it even going to be feasible for me to come back?”
1. Review income statements on a monthly basis. It is necessary to see where the firm’s money is coming in and going. Software bookkeeping options allow users to create a specific report for a specific purpose. Detecting when expenses in a particular category are getting out of hand minimizes drain on yearly profits.
2. Set spending on realized revenue, not what “might be”. As you develop more clients, re-visit staffing needs and office space.
3. Monitor account receivables, credit lines and rates. A client account that is thirty-plus days overdue in payment means lost earnings, and breeds a credit line dependency.
By Danielle M. Hall, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator, Office of the Disciplinary Administrator
When it comes to using Microsoft Word, everyone has their own personal preference regarding the window size. Some people like to work with the window zoomed in to 150-200% to better see the font type, while others may like to work at 75-100% to eliminate the need to scroll left and right to view the entire document. If I had to guess, however, I would bet most may find themselves in situations, where depending on what you are working on, you may have the need to zoom in and out to better see things. Of course, you can always adjust your zoom percentage in the View tab of the Microsoft Ribbon. Here’s how:
Click the View
Select your preferred percentage.
These four steps may not seem like a lot, but if you find yourself switching in and out of different zoom preferences while working on the same document it can get burdensome after a while. If that is the case, know there is an easier way to quickly adjust your zoom preference. Say hello to the Zoom Slider!
You can find the Zoom Slider in the right-hand corner of your Word document. All you do is slide to the percentage zoom setting that you want or click - or + to zoom in gradual increments. This tool eliminates the need to switch tabs and go through extra steps to change your preferences.
Take a quick trip through the office and take a video of each office and cubical—open drawers and doors. This will help spark your memory of things that need to be replaced if disaster strikes. Set a reminder to do this annually.
The holidays are upon us and the number of shopping days left is dwindling. There are no earth-shattering technological innovations this year as gadgets are in ment stage. Old ideas are being tweaked to improve and features. While quality is increasing, prices are decreasing—often into stocking-stuffer range. It is an especially good time to be a road warrior as gadgets to make the office away from home base more workable are more accessible than ever.
JBL Flip4 Speaker ($99) – The Flip4 delivers room filling sound via a Bluetooth connection from a device barely larger than a pop can. The rechargeable battery onboard lasts for up to 12 hours of playtime and the speaker is even waterproof (IPX7 rated). The selling point for lawyers is the Flip4’s usefulness as a conference phone on the go. The Bluetooth connection to a cellphone is rock solid and its microphone sensitivity and clarity rival big-name conference phones clocking in at five times the price. The Flip4 is now a regular part of our travel kit.
Duet Display ($20) – Working with a single laptop screen on the road instead of a dual or triple monitor at the office can slow you down. Duet Display solves that problem by turning an iPad into a second monitor for your PC or Mac. The software was developed by former Apple engineers, and it shows in the simplicity of setup. A comparable product for Android tablets exists – iDisplay – but it is much buggier and nonexistent support. (There may be issues with Duet Display on Mac OS depending on version; read FAQs and releases before dropping a credit card.)Available at duetdisplay.com.
ActiveWords ($30/year) – ActiveWords is a powerful “macro” tool for Windows that allows you to trigger certain programs or actions by simply typing a word. For example, if you regularly send an email report to a partner, you can type “partner” and your email client would fire up with a message composed to her email address. If you want to insert a boilerplate section in an agreement or import an Excel table to a document, you can set a trigger word to initiate those actions. ActiveWords understands lawyers may work on multiple PCs, so it is cloud-based and allows access to the triggers you set from any PC. Available at activewords.com.
3 in 1 Display Adapter (About $40) – This little dongle converts the display output of my Surface into either HDMI, VGA, or DVI so I am ready for any connection a venue’s projector might throw at me. Virtually all such adapters available are basic, no-name products from China and lifespan can be suspect. That said, Microsoft-branded cables—HDMI in particular—are not terrifically reliable either. Maybe pack a spare?Available from a variety of sellers on Amazon.
SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD ($90-500) – A portable hard drive is incredibly handy and the solid state drives (SSD) are many times faster than and more durable than prior generations with spinning platters. The drives are available in sizes up to 2 TB and incorporate drive level encryption for genuine security. If a portable drive is still too bulky for your needs, SanDisk also makes 400 GB microSD cards in multiple speeds. Just be aware how incredibly easy it is to lose a microSD card (smaller than a dime).
Omnicharge Omni 20 Battery Bank ($200) – The Omni 20 is a monster of a battery bank capable of outputting 60W to charge even laptops via two USB-C connections. An OLED screen displays detailed battery level and remaining time to charge as well as access to other features like depletion control which prevents discharge at rates that would damage the unit’s cells. The Omni 20 can be restored to full charge in just three hours and even serve as a USB hub. The compact device is available on Amazon.
TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones ($55) – Noise cancelling, over ear headphones are a lifesaver on planes and the TaoTronics are as cheap as you can go for a set that actually works. Battery life approaches 30 hours for listening only but the headphones also incorporate a mic for hands-free phone use. An airplane-compatible power cord is also included. Available on Amazon.
Clio (+ Lexicata) – Clio has long been one of the most popular, robust, and reliable law practice management platforms for solo and small firms (and it’s a member benefit of the Kansas Bar Association). Clio offers a full range of features from matter management to billing to document creation. In late 2018, Clio purchased Lexicata, a market-leader in client experience management. Lexicata provides client intake software, contact management, and automations that Clio will begin incorporating in 2019, securing its place as the market leader for affordable cloud-based case management.
Personalized Lawyer Gifts at Etsy – Etsy is a one-stop-shop for personalized gifts – either vintage or handmade. My personal favorite is a mug proclaiming, “I am a lawyer but I can’t fix stupid.” Etsy is a marketplace so you are buying from a variety of sellers. Unfortunately, that means shipping can add up fast but that has been the only downside in the years I have used them.
Keep overhead low. For every dollar you earn, if you can reduce your overhead by one dollar, thereʼs your salary.
Distinguish between a want and a need.Malpractice insurance coverage and a back-up server should be categorized as needs. Likewise, a disaster plan binder and electronic folder that detail who does what, when, how and where in emergencies.
An organized recordkeeping system is a must.Calendar small business tax deadlines. Compliance with tax obligations is a requirement for attorneys to maintain “good standing.”