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Holiday Gift Guide 2018

Posted By Larry N. Zimmerman, Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2018

man in white dress shirt and red tie with Santa hat holding present smiling

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.

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Tags:  8710  Author: Larry N. Zimmerman  Holiday  Journal  November/December 2018  tech gifts  tech toys 

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Law Firm's Guide to a Low-Risk Holiday Party

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, November 29, 2017

THE REALITY OF 2017

Law Firm’s Guide to a Low-Risk Holiday Party

By  | Nov.28.17 | Daily DispatchLaw Firm CultureLaw Firm ManagementProfessionalism

I know, I know — another cautionary tale about law firm holiday parties. We all know the drill: Have fun, but not too much. Keep in mind the party — whether it includes staff, spouses or clients — is a professional work event. What happens reflects on not only the individual but the firm itself.

You have no doubt heard the same old warnings as each holiday season approaches. And as you should; everyone attending a firm’s party should keep those in mind. But what about those hosting the party? Is there is a separate set of guidelines for partners and firm management to make the night a professional — and social — success?

If you’ve attended more than a couple of years’ worth of parties, you know it as a source of lucid folklore. Everyone remembers the year Jim did this, or Jenna did that, or what Jim and Jenna did together. Blowing off steam after a rugged journey to reach economic and business goals at year’s end is implicitly expected to generate juicy gossip or myths of scandal and embarrassment. Anything less is seen as boring, an unwelcome post-party verdict.

But this year is a little different.

Welcome to the most dangerous party in your firm’s history.

The Reality of 2017

As you are well aware, not much is the same in the practice of law today, and those changes are manifestly affecting the outdated template of the holiday party. For example, it has been found that 21 to 36 percent of practicing lawyers are active problem drinkers. Another growing segment medicates their stress or exhaustion with opiates, sedatives and stimulants, often problematically mixed with alcohol. Welcome to an open bar party at the end of the year!

Further, the issue of sexual harassment has dominated daily news feeds in recent months, across all industries. Past deeds are uncovered while current misbehavior is subject to new and severe in-house scrutiny. DUIs are no longer acceptable to the firm or the licensing and disciplinary boards. The firm’s legal liability for its holiday party can extend to physical harm, harassment, discrimination, workers’ compensation and a host of other legal theories to come.

According to studies, more than 10 percent of attendees at holiday parties act out in some manner that compromises their professional standing. They do so under the watchful eye of countless phones and cameras, waiting to be tomorrow’s Instagram post. And mind-altering substances are not always the culprit — many lawyers have strong personalities that become enhanced in the environment of the annual bash.

As defenses fall with each drink, lawyers might act out on their yearlong peer or subordinate crush. They may drink too much just to relax, even if they are not typically problematic drinkers (often a more destructive scenario than with the seasoned drinker). Others may decide to vent their frustration or anger about the firm, often when impaired and exhausted, or even attempt to drive home while legally incapacitated.

But on a Positive Note …

Although it might seem as if holiday parties are littered with landmines, the reality is they serve a positive and necessary purpose. In fact, because firm culture often is more impersonal and businesslike these days, hosting such events is critical to boosting spirits.

The end of the year is a milestone and a reckoning, good or bad. Lawyers, professionals and staff have been in the trenches together for a year attempting to reach personal and professional goals. The holiday party is essentially “shore leave,” an opportunity to bond, celebrate, find inspiration, build camaraderie, blow off steam, laugh, enjoy one another outside of the office, and give a nod to the holiday season. It is both a recognition of the sacrifices and achievements of the past year as well as a pep talk for the upcoming year.

In other words, a holiday party can and should be a wonderful experience filled with relatively sober and relaxed conversations, a toast or speech from firm leadership, and perhaps a fun activity. (I was at a firm where each year the associates made a video for the partners, which premiered at the party.) Attendees may even experience some gratitude for their bond with the firm.

Every firm is different, and some decidedly have more of a “family” culture, but this party should serve as a positive experience for all, no matter what the nature of your firm.

Predictable Problems: Mitigating the Risks

Taking a few discrete actions, including the below, can minimize predictable problems.

1. Send invitations and emails outlining the firm’s expectations:

  • What to wear
  • The importance of respectful physical and verbal behavior
  • The notion that the party is an extension of the workplace
  • A heads-up on the enhanced scrutiny of workplace behavior and a gentle warning to behave accordingly

2. Limit opportunities to become intoxicated:

  • Provide a certain number of tickets for alcohol for attendees.
  • Make the length of the party shorter rather than longer.
  • Don’t permit shots.
  • Offer good food and non-alcoholic alternatives (and include low-alcohol punch).
  • Give a relatively early “last call.”
  • Designate a member or two of management (not HR) to be sober observers to monitor potential problems.

3. Provide Uber or another ride-share service for every attendee to and from the party. It is impossible to identify every person who may be impaired, so the money will be worth it. My recommendation is that Uber be paid for even when the attendees go to an after-party or meet at a bar. These post-party gatherings are common and it’s often when the attendee has that one drink too many. This policy also protects attendees who choose to have a “pre-party,” a not uncommon tradition for nervous associates who may be socializing with senior partners for the first time.

Final Words

At the end of the day, a party is still a party, with all the fun and risks attendant to a gathering with alcohol, music, food, and scores of different personalities and skills. As host, your firm can certainly put some boundaries and practical tools in place to avoid potential damage to guests and to the firm itself. Neglecting to do so in December 2017 would be a serious error.

Make this year’s party memorable for all the right reasons, even if there are fewer war stories to add to the firm’s history.

 
 

Link Christin is Executive Director of the Legal Professionals Program at Caron Treatment Centers, and works extensively with impaired lawyers through the treatment and recovery process. A former lawyer and firm partner, he also educates and provides training to law firms about these issues. He is a licensed and board-certified alcohol and drug addiction counselor.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

Tags:  Holiday  Law Practice Management 

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How to Wish Clients Happy Holidays

Posted By Sara E. Rust-Martin, Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Ask Daliah: 5 ways to wish clients happy holidays (without the clutter of cards)

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Daliah

Daliah Saper

Dear Daliah: What is your opinion on mailing out greeting cards to clients for the holidays?

Dear readers: Every year, toward the end of November and beginning of December, my desk starts to pile up with greeting cards. The majority of them are part of a mass mailing with either a stamped signature or sometimes no signature at all. I look at them for 5 seconds, set them aside, only to look at them again for 5 more seconds right before I throw them out.

Every year I wonder why firms think it is a good idea to invest hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on these cards. Firms, especially smaller firms, should allocate their holiday marketing dollars more effectively.

This year, instead of sending out greeting cards to clients, consider one of these five alternatives:

  1. E-cards. Instead of spending your firm’s hard-earned money on physical cards, send electronic greeting cards. Most e-blast programs allow you to quickly and efficiently personalize each email and track which clients actually open your greeting card. Additionally, an electronic greeting gives you more room to discuss your firm and highlight important and interesting news about your year.

  2. Gifts to charity. Since e-cards cost a fraction of what regular cards do, use the funds allocated for physical cards to donate to a charity that resonates with your law firm. In your holiday news blast, let the recipient know you are donating the dollars you would otherwise have spent on greeting cards.

  3. Physical gifts with social impact. Sometimes you have to give an actual gift along with a card. In those cases, rather than a fruit basket or a flower arrangement, give a gift with impact. For example, Packed with Purpose partners with socially conscious companies to create unique gifts that help give back to the community and people in need. You can choose from a variety of curated gift sets or create custom gift boxes to send your clients.

  4. Gifts your clients sell. Or if your practice is like mine and you represent a variety of businesses, use this holiday season as an opportunity to promote your clients. Give gifts sold by your clients or work with them to create holiday promotions that you can share. In my latest news blast, I promoted my client Birchbox, and included a discount code they gave me specifically for my network. Your clients will appreciate the gift of increased exposure and your network will appreciate the gift of a good discount.

  5. Holiday parties. In addition to sending a holiday greeting or meaningful gift, consider throwing a holiday party. Holiday parties allow you to communicate with your clients in a more relaxed setting. Plus, everyone benefits from the opportunity to make new friends and just have a good time. I usually photograph and video my holiday parties and include links to view the holiday party album in a follow-up email. You can view some of those videos here.


Daliah Saper, founder of Saper Law Offices, is answering reader questions about building a 21st-century law firm. She can be reached at AskDaliah@ABAJournal.com.

Daliah Saper opened Saper Law Offices, an intellectual property, digital media, entertainment and business law firm based in Chicago, in 2005. Saper is regularly interviewed on national TV, radio and in several publications, including Fox News, CNN, CNBC, ABC News, 20/20, the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. She is an adjunct professor of entertainment law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Tags:  Holiday  Law Practice Management 

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