I Need a New Career

by Camille Stell

I had lunch with a friend recently who is exploring new career opportunities. Nothing is wrong with her job; she’s just ready for a change, but not sure how to get started. Here are some tips I shared with her to help during the transition. Weak ties I heard about the concept of “weak ties” for the first time twice in one day. At the Alt JD conference hosted by the NC Bar Association, speaker Ginny Allen and keynote speaker Dorie Clark talked about the importance of weak ties. Here’s the quick science on the subject. As part of his Ph.D. thesis research in the late 1960s, Mark Granovetter surveyed 282 workers with regards to the type of ties between the job changer and the contact person who provided the job lead. Strength of measure… Read More

New Look for LAP Website

by Jay Reeves

The North Carolina Lawyer Assistance Program has revamped its website – and that’s good news for everybody. LAP – which traces its roots back to 1979 – helps lawyers, judges, law students and family members dealing with: Anxiety Stress, burnout and balance Depression and suicide Anger management Compassion fatigue Substance abuse Process addictions Grief and loss Over-functioning The current incarnation of LAP is a merger of two programs. The Positive Action for Lawyers Committee (PALS) provided assistance for lawyers recovering from alcoholism and other addictions. FRIENDS covered mental health issues unrelated to substance abuse. Today, both of these causes are under the umbrella of LAP, which has a full-time staff and a… Read More

On the Docket: Harper Lee and Rosa Parks

by Jay Reeves

It’s sad to read of the legal controversies swirling around Harper Lee and Rosa Parks. Both of these women are heroes of mine. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the main reasons I decided to apply for law school. And Rosa Parks inspires me by her personal courage, dignity and strength of character. So it was discouraging to learn that the 88-year-old Lee has been mired in multiple lawsuits – including a nasty squabble with a museum in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama – and that some of the most precious personal items of Ms. Parks are being sold to the highest bidder. The law is, indeed, a double-edged sword. To Sue a Mockingbird In 2013, Ms. Lee – in poor health and residing in an Alabama assisted-… Read More

4 Questions That Can Make All the Difference

by Jay Reeves

Every practicing lawyer is also a student. We learn new things each day. We are tested all the time. We have to deal with homework, lesson plans and pop quizzes. And we are graded by our performance. I began thinking about how education and the law are linked when I attended an assembly at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where my youngest son is a student. College president Barry Glassner gave a brief but powerful talk to the student body and parents. His remarks were specifically aimed at incoming freshmen. But they applied to everyone who was there – and they might resonate with you as well. 4 Questions to Ask Yourself President Glassner asked the students several questions: What are the top five issues that you most care about? … Read More

The cybercrime dangers you need to address

by Dan Pinnington

The cybercrime dangers firms need to address are many and varied. This list provides will be followed by individual blogposts that review these dangers individually in more detail and will help you start on the work that is necessary to address them so you can reduce the likelihood that cyber criminals will breach your law firm’s systems. The topics covered in individual posts are: Avoid the dangers of email. Lock down your browser and avoid surfing dangers. Avoid infections with antivirus and/or anti-malware software. Lock things up by using passwords properly. Address security vulnerabilities by installing operating system and program updates. Keep the bad guys out with a firewall on your Internet connection. Stump hackers by changing key defau… Read More

State Bar Considers Ethics of LinkedIn

by Jay Reeves

LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool. Through it, you can connect with State Bar certified specialists. You can get to know the Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court. You can find out what’s happening at the Mecklenburg County Bar. You can network with colleagues from Benson to Black Mountain. But what about linking up with judges? What is the boundary between permissible activity and improper ex parte contact? Proposed 2014 Formal Ethics Opinion 8 This ethics proposal – released on October 23 – provides the most comprehensive analysis of LinkedIn ethics to date. Here is the proposed opinion in its entirety: Facts: Lawyer has a profile listing on LinkedIn, a social networking website for people in professional occupations. The website … Read More

Could You Pass the Unplugging Challenge?

by Jay Reeves

Want to start 2015 on a positive and productive note? Unplug all your electronic devices and leave them off for a day – or better yet, a week. That advice comes from Arianna Huffington, the founder of HuffingtonPost and an advocate for healthier professional and personal lives. A few years ago, Huffington launched a one-month Sleep Challenge. The project – sparked by medical evidence showing the importance of sleep and the detrimental effects of getting too little of it – encouraged working women to make whatever changes were required to get a good night’s rest. The result: lives were improved all over the world. Thousands of people posted online accounts of how making sleep a priority had worked miracles at home and at work. Unplug … Read More

The 25 Worst Passwords Ever

by Jay Reeves

By now you probably know it’s not a good idea to use the numbers “123456” as a password for your online accounts. But did you know “sunshine” is just as bad – and “qwerty” and “shadow” are even worse? Password protection is on everyone’s mind following a string of massive data breaches that rocked the cyber-world. One of the more disturbing incidents happened in September, when a Google Gmail hack compromised 5 million user accounts. Gmail users worldwide were surprised – to say the least – to log onto sites like this one and find their passwords openly exposed to the public. What made this attack notable was that the bad guys did not target Google directly. Instead, they hacked in… Read More

Avoiding the Curse of Continuous Representation

by Jay Reeves

The statute of limitations on legal malpractice starts running when you finish working on a case. But what if you never finish? What if your representation of a given client keeps going and going like the energizer bunny? Well, your malpractice exposure might just keep going as well. The idea of continuous representation gives liability insurance companies nightmares. In most cases, the statute of limitations (usually three or four years) begins when the case is concluded and the attorney-client relationship comes to end. But in some situations, the professional relationship continues. Perhaps differently than before, but it continues nonetheless. As a result, since the relationship does not come to a clear and definable end, the statute of limitations is to… Read More

Setting Priorities

by Anna Hedgepeth

As the end of the year rapidly approaches, you might be a bit too busy to even think about resolutions for 2015, but now is the time to start thinking about what you want in the New Year.  As a law student, you are juggling multiple assignments, projects and trying to pace your preparation and studying for end of semester exams so everything isn’t left until the end.  Well, I have news for you – life doesn’t get less busy.  In the life after law school “real world” you will be juggling multiple clients, assignments and projects. In this first of my four part series, I will discuss the importance of planning to understand how you are spending your time so you can allocate it in line with your priorities.   I… Read More

Who’s The Boss?

by Jay Reeves

Who is the boss: you or your client? Answer quickly. Your initial, unfiltered response will speak volumes about how you view your job and its income-generating relationships. If you think you are the boss, you are probably focusing on the fact that you are the one with the law degree. You have knowledge, skills, resources and access that the client lacks. That is, after all, why they are coming to you. If, on the other hand, you say the client is the boss, it is likely because they are the ones who pay the bills. The truth – at least according to the rules of ethics – is that both answers are correct. In some areas, clients have the sole authority to make decisions and direct the action. In other areas, you get to call the shots. Scope of Repre… Read More

Why Have a Website?

by Camille Stell

Today I wanted to hire a lawyer. I looked up 13 lawyers by name and couldn’t find websites for 9 of them. How do you expect people to find you without a website? For most of the 9 lawyers, I did find a generic listing on a website such as yellowpages.com, lawyers.com or yelp.com, however, I didn’t take those lawyers seriously and many potential clients may not either. For one thing, I was looking for a lawyer with a specific skill set. I’m not sure the yelp review is the best way to determine that you have the skills I need. What holds lawyers back from creating websites?  The top 3 reasons are lack of technical knowledge, concern about the cost of the website and the time spent learning about the technology and then creating the content… Read More

Land a Law Job by Volunteering

by Jay Reeves

Got a law degree but no job? Consider volunteering. It could be just the ticket to a rewarding career. And it doesn’t even matter so much where you volunteer, as long as you show up with open mind and a good attitude. One study showed that volunteering increases your odds of getting a job by 27 percent. It worked for Sonia Bonsu of New York. After law school Bonsu volunteered as a student mentor at the Calhoun School in Manhattan, her alma mater. Those efforts led to a full-time job as the school’s Director of Annual Giving. It also helped that she had volunteered in political campaigns, which gave her hands-on experience in fundraising. No, she’s not practicing law. But she’s tapping into her interests in finance and education ̵… Read More

How A World War II Poster Can Improve Your Practice

by Jay Reeves

“Keep Calm and Carry On” wins my vote for best law office motto.             The phrase fits our profession perfectly. Amid the tumble and turmoil of a lawyer’s day, few attributes are more valuable than a cool head and steady nerves. And faced with an endless grind of title examinations, document revisions and photocopier jams, what better advice than to keep on trucking?             Most likely you’ve seen “Keep Calm and Carry On” adorning coffee mugs, bumper stickers and billboard ads. Usually the words appear under an image of the British crown. That’s because the slogan originated on UK propaganda posters … Read More

How to Get Law Work From Corporations

by Jay Reeves

Want to attract corporate clients? Get to know their in-house lawyers. Take them out to lunch. Show them why you would be the perfect candidate to handle some of their outside work. And while you have their attention, assure them you’ll be taking a hands-on approach to their work and won’t farm it out to an assistant or associate. Companies crave that personal touch. Those are some of the nuggets gleaned from a survey of 90 major US corporations that shelled out more than $16 billion in fees to outside counsel from 2007-2013. The survey, conducted by CEB-Datacert-Tymetrix, analyzed billing and invoice data from 5,600 law firms in the U.S. and internationally. The bottom line: corporations are increasingly calling the shots when it comes to hiring… Read More