Add Some Cute to your Thursday
Meet Narwhal, the “unicorn” puppy born with a tail on his head. He is up for adoption through Mac’s Mission, an animal rescue organization in Missouri focused on helping homeless animals.
Meet Narwhal, the “unicorn” puppy born with a tail on his head. He is up for adoption through Mac’s Mission, an animal rescue organization in Missouri focused on helping homeless animals.
A solo practitioner in a lawyers group asked what is a fair wage to pay a law clerk who is still in school. The responses went all over the place. Some paid little more than minimum wage while others paid slightly more. One paid a lot more. Since there is no recommended minimum as exists with the major law firms, it is anybody’s guess.
Some based their answers on what they got paid when they were a 3L. Others based the pay on the number of applicants they received. Or they base it on what they thought was the going rate by asking around or searching online.
The short answer is you can pay whatever you can get away with.
But just because you can pay a small wage to a law student, does it mean that you should? I have heard the typical reasons for not paying a lot to law students. They come with little-to-no experience, are likely to make mistakes, and the employer (and the client) should not have to pay for that. Also, since most law student jobs are likely to be temporary, the law student might not notice the higher wage. The on-the-job experience they receive is more valuable than the money. And some firms just cannot afford to pay more than the bare minimum.
Some have said that the pay is comparable to similar positions in government. While government jobs generally pay less than the private sector, the training is usually better, the work is less stressful, and employers generally prefer people with government experience. Most small firms cannot offer similar intangible benefits like these.
I may sound crazy or financially wasteful, but I think it would be beneficial in the long run for small firms to pay higher than market rate for law students. Why?
For starters, you will generally attract better employees. I know this sounds obvious but most lawyers aren’t famous for their business acumen. Let’s face it, money talks. Especially when law students today have $300,000+ of student loan debt chasing them. The best firms tend to pay the best salaries. A higher salary means that you will get candidates who actually want to work for you instead of seeing you as a last resort résumé gap filler. They will be motivated to stay and go the extra mile since they know they are paid better than their classmates.
Also, you should see this as an investment. You see, these 3Ls will one day become your colleagues, potential referral sources, or co-counsel. The sad truth is that some of them may end up being paid less as new attorneys. And others may not find jobs at all. A few years ago, I wrote about why small firm junior associates are paid relatively little. I think the struggle for new attorneys will continue, especially if Siri is one day allowed to give legal advice. You may be the one bright spot in their lives and they will remember you when they need to refer potential clients.
Of course, there are some steps you should take to make sure you don’t end up paying more than necessary. Start new law student hires on a part-time basis and with tasks that are appropriate for their skill level. If the new hire is not performing well, it is best to let him go as soon as possible.
This post was not meant to be a definitive “how to” on hiring clerks or staff in general. I only hope that it will make employers think twice before deciding to pay law clerks the least amount as possible. Most of us probably remember what it was like to work as a law clerk during law school. We did our best, no matter how much we were paid. Employers who pay the bare minimum usually end up with employees who do the bare minimum. Attorneys only have their reputation. This not only applies to future clients but also to future employees. If you want to attract the best talent, you will have to be known for paying for the best.
Today as a nation we are smarter in using energy and improving efficiencies because we have to be. By an example, it is documented that we can now deliver over 40% of greenhouse gas emissions reductions needed to meet global climate goals because we have improved energy efficiencies! If that is the case with energy then just think that if we can mimic efficiencies and alter some of the ways our business work just by avoiding duplicating efforts we can use that extra time in other areas in our organization. In addition, if small and mid-sized firms use automated processes whenever possible, that too will help minimize resources needed in our businesses. To be the most profitable and be a small law firm there is a need to do more with less. We have to begin thinking of building something worthwhile with what we have but which will improve productivity. We have to have a way to measure productivity and then we have to evaluate whether our goals can be met. In short, in order not to just stay in the race but to stay ahead, there is definitely a lot more we can do to create efficiencies. Part of that is to retain the personnel we have. Part of it is using our time more productively. Part of it is holding people more accountable. Part of it is using automated processes. Part of it is avoiding duplications. Part of it is evaluating where changes can be made.
1) Don’t try to offer everything to your clients.
2) Keep Focused on the Goals.
3) Evaluate everything you and your team does and discard duplicate processes.
4) Change the rules mid-stream and become more nimble and flexible, as needed.
Today, 50 percent of managers say employees dress less formal than they did five years ago. And 58 percent of employees say they would prefer to work at a company that has a business casual, casual, or no dress code.
“Dressing up for work continues to go out of style,” says Brandi Britton, District President at OfficeTeam Los Angeles.
Chances are if you work in an office today, your attire is more casual than ever before.
Some professionals are still split on the topic of dress code. Some question the seriousness, professionalism, and productivity of companies with a flexible dress code. Others question the culture, relevance, innovation, and management of companies with a strict dress code.
So why consider updating your dress code?
“It’s an employee’s market. People wearing suits and more formal attire seem to return in tougher economic times,” says Britton. “More casual dress codes seem to be the trend when economic times are good and it’s an employee-driven market. If there are more jobs than there are people, what are you as an employer doing to attract talent to your company? You do the things employees want: They want money and they want perks such as a more casual dress code. Right now, companies are having to be competitive for talent.”
As the demand for Millennial talent grows and more Millennials step into decision-making roles, expect the trend towards more casual to grow.
Forty percent of Millennials say their business inspiration is Mark Zuckerberg. With that much Millennial attention on the founder of Facebook, Zuckerberg’s choices to wear a hoodie to meet investors and to wear the same gray t-shirt and jeans everyday in order to be more productive have influenced the next generation of professionals’ views of appropriate workplace dress.
In addition, by 2020 at least half of U.S. households will be participating in the gig economy (or independent work) and 70 percent of Millennials might reject traditional business to work independently. People dressing formally while working independently is unlikely.
Employers’ dress policies are being held accountable by the desire and possibility of Millennials working for themselves where they could dress as they wish.
“We wanted to set a tone that we are a professional services firm and we should dress the part. However, when we’re at the office, we do not have many clients visiting (as we go to them more than they come to us) and our office had become more casual over the years as our partners relaxed enforcement of the business casual dress code,” said Williams.
I recommended they explore smart casual.
Smart casual can be considered a combination of casual, business casual, and business dress codes. Formal and casual clothing pieces can be mixed and matched to combine into a “smart” ensemble. It’s considered neat, conventional, and professional yet relatively informal. The best of all the dress code worlds.
The advantage is that smart casual is ambiguous which caters to Millennials desire for flexible dress and to other generations desire to keep it professional. The disadvantage is that smart casual is ambiguous and might require more guidelines than other dress policies.
I followed up with Williams a few months later to see how the transition to smart casual went. Below is her response.
“Our goal for smart casual was to allow people to wear jeans any day of the week (previously we only wore jeans on Friday) or wear tailored shorts along with a nice shirt tucked in. Jeans shouldn’t have holes and should be more fitted and put together. No tennis shoes or flip flops. More tailored outfits regardless of the fabric involved.”
“We previously allowed certain cargo shorts, flip flops etc. that do not fit in with the new dress code. Enforcing the new code for those people was initially a challenge but given the lenient boundaries of the new code, most people adapted nicely.”
“The benefits of the smart casual dress code are that we have a younger demographic of people in our office and through reading about trends, we learned that the easiest thing you can do for Millennials to make them happy is let them dress how they want. Given that we are a professional services firm, we applied some boundaries to that but overall employees are empowered to wear what works for them to get them through the work day and into the evening. Another benefit has been with recruiting. It is a selling point to potential new hires that we have smart casual dress in the office.”
“We continue to dress business casual and business professional at client sites and for various professional events, but we have received very positive feedback from employees. Overall I think we found a nice balance between ‘looking the part’ and allowing people to dress comfortably and appropriately for the office.”
Smart casual encourages Millennials to be unique and individualistic. A Millennial dream.
“This is always how we’ve dressed,” is not an acceptable answer in today’s 21st-century workplace. Revisit your company dress code to ensure it is positioning you for next generation growth and success.
Filed under Office & HR
The authority to set dress codes belongs to you. However, employers need to be especially careful that dress code requirements do not run afoul of anti-discrimination laws.
The manner of dress in workplaces can vary from uniforms to suits and everything in between. Especially due to the now accepted casual dress in various types of industries and businesses, including settings that formerly dictated formal business attire, there are standards of appearance business owners want to maintain. This is where a dress code comes in.
Do you need a dress code for your employees? If your employees deal extensively with the public, it may be appropriate to require certain standards of appearance, depending on what kind of business you have. If that’s the case, you should probably have some basic rules about what you want employees to wear. You may even require uniforms or similar attire.
On the other hand, if your employees have no contact with the public, perhaps it’s okay if they wear casual clothes. But how casual is appropriate? Even with a liberal policy, you may need some simple guidelines. When deciding whether you need a dress code and what that dress code should be, consider the following:
You will want to select reasonable restrictions and requirements to impose on the dress and appearance of your employees. And whether you want your employees dressing up, down, or somewhere in between, you should consider the legal issues involved when you impose a dress code.
While dress codes may seem harmless enough, you need to be especially careful that dress code requirements do not discriminate against members of protected groups, based on federal and state anti-discrimination laws.
Religious discrimination. For employees who contend that their religious beliefs require wearing certain apparel or refraining from wearing certain apparel, you need to:
If an employee is required by safety or health standards to wear a hat during work but because of religious reasons cannot wear a head covering, you could try several approaches.
You could explain to the employee that due to state or federal safety and health laws — which constitute a business reason — the employee cannot continue the job without that hat.
Or, you could ask that the employee go to his or her religious leader and ask for an exemption from the rule barring hats for business purposes.
If, after these efforts have failed, the employee will still not wear the hat, then perhaps you can give the employee something else to do that would not conflict with the his or her religious beliefs. Termination should be a last resort.
No-beard rules have been challenged on the grounds that shaving may precipitate a skin condition more common among black men than white. However, in one case, a court did not have to determine whether an employer had a business reason for the no-beard rule because the employee failed to show that the rule had adverse impact.
Gender discrimination. You can generally require different grooming standards for women and men as long as the policy does not do any of the following:
If you have a dress code rule that applies to all employees, regardless of gender, it must be enforced consistently for all employees. In one case, female employees were allowed to wear ponytails and earrings while the men were not, even though the company rule banning earrings and ponytails applied to all employees. While an employer can require different grooming standards for men and women, if the rule applies to both genders, the employer must enforce the rule equally. The court found the practice of not enforcing the rule equally to be discriminatory.
Sexual harassment. It is possible that the way in which you communicate your dress code, or violations of it, may constitute hostile environment sexual harassment.
The circulation of a memo among management staff that detailed inappropriate employee attire and named the employees who had worn such clothing, along with the resulting offensive jokes about the memo contents, created an abusive working environment.
Handling dress code violation can be a sensitive issue. Have any complaints alleging an improperly dressed employee directed to you or to an appropriate supervisor. Then take the following steps:
If the issue is a T-shirt that has an offensive or inappropriate slogan or picture, the employee could turn the shirt inside out and return to the work site. Or perhaps the employee could wear a sweater or jacket over the T-shirt to cover the offensive slogan or picture.
As the employer, you have the authority regulate dress in your workplace. While that authority may be limited by law, in most cases the authority to establish or to change required dress is yours. So, if you want to have a written policy on this issue, the following is the information to consider including in your policy:
In addition, the following is a list of some specific fashion-type of problems that you may wish to address in your dress code:
Position Title: Director of Human Resources and Facilities
Department: Human Resources/Facilities
Reports To: Managing Director FLSA Status: Exempt
III. ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS
This beauty is the largest hot spring you’ll find in the United States, and third largest in the world, behind New Zealand’s Frying Pan Lake and Boiling Lake in Dominica. The colors of the spring come from the pigmented bacteria in the waters. Can you dip a toe in it? No, but you can walk around the edge for a cool photo op.
Located in New York’s Finger Lakes State Parks, Watkins Glen State Park is a hidden gem famous for its 400 foot deep gorge with breathtaking waterfalls and scenic views. Whether you want to visit as a day-visitor or an overnight camper, Watkins Glen offers several activity options for any visitor with its picnic facilities, tent and trailer campsites, an Olympic size pool, and fishing sites where you can participate in the annual spring run of rainbow trout.
Drive 2 ½ hours from Reno and you’ll find yourself at Fly Geyser. This was created by some drilling done in the name of finding sources for geothermal energy in 1964. Minerals sprang from the hole to create this wonderfully odd formation. Fly Geyser is on private property, so don’t try to climb the tall fences that surround it. But it’s so huge that you can get a good picture from the road.
The moment you see Mono Lake in person you’ll believe you’re on another planet. Snowcapped mountains surround this salty blue lake that has plenty of Tufa, columns of limestone that have been formed by the salinity of the water.
Mono Lake is approximately a 3-hour drive from Reno, Nevada. Search for rental cars at the Reno Airport on Skyscanner.
It took millions of years for winds to erode Navajo sandstone in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of Arizona to make this trippy formation that’s a great photo opportunity. Permits are required to visit The Wave and are awarded via a lottery system online.
The Wave is located in a very remote area – on the border of Arizona and Utah – and the easiest ways to get there are to fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix and then rent a car for the 4+ hour drive to Antelope Canyon.
Let’s go back to the not-so-enlightened times of the 1900s when the locals would toss all sorts of household garbage over the cliffs and onto the beach below. Fast forward a few decades and the only thing the Pacific Ocean didn’t take was the glass and pottery that’s now been smoothed out from years of erosion.
You’ll never feel as small as you do when standing next to sequoia trees that are as tall as a football field is long. The biggest of the bunch is the General Sherman Tree – it stands 275 feet tall, is said to be around 2,500 years old and is the largest living tree in the world.
If you head to Oregon’s Cape Perpetua an hour before to an hour after high tide, you’ll be able to see one hell of a show at Thor’s Well. This saltwater fountain creates its show from the powerful ocean tides and is very dangerous, so try to enjoy it from a safe distance.
If you ever find yourself in Juneau, Alaska, a trip to these caverns are a must-do. The ice caves in this 12-mile glacier at the heart of the Mendenhall Valley give you the feeling that you’re walking through a tunnel of brilliant blue clouds.
Decorated with fragrant magnolia blossoms and 18th-century cobblestones, Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful city to enjoy the rich cuisine, art, architecture, history, ghost stories, and the good old Southern charm. Ride a carriage or trolley and make your way to Tybee Island to enjoy the sandy beaches and loggerhead sea turtle sighting.
This may look like it should be in a fairy tale, but it’s actually in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. This place is great to walk through on a warm summer day just to see the fern and moss that coat the walls.
Yes, there’s something even cooler beyond the uninhibited fun of Key West. Head 70 miles west of Key West and you’ll find Dry Tortugas National Park. Its home to Fort Jefferson, an unfinished fortress that the U.S. Navy began building in 1847. This place is secluded from the world. So much so that you can only access it by boat or seaplane. A fine way to unplug from the rest of the world.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someplace flatter on earth. The Bonneville Salt Flats are what’s left of a prehistoric lake that covered the area until about 14,500 years ago. Now it’s the home to Speed Week in mid-August, where racers look to break land speed records. The Flats can get awfully hot in the summer (120 degrees Fahrenheit), so maybe stay away during that time of year. We wholly recommend heading out to the area after a bit of rain, which turns the area into a giant mirror.
The Portland Lighthouses in Maine are a significant part of the cities location. Visit the famous 6 lighthouses: Portland Head Light, Ram Island Ledge Light, Two Lights State Park, Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, and Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse. All within a 20 minute drive from each other, the lighthouses offer a valuable insight to the maritime location as well as its rich history.
There’s a creepy beauty about this beach. You can take a walk or horseback ride along this secluded beach that’s dotted with limbs and roots of tree that have tossed about due to erosion on the north end of the island. It’s a great place for a sunset, and very popular for weddings.
This stunner takes a desert but makes the sand look as white as snow. You can take various tours of the area to find out how it formed and what creatures make their homes in the dunes.
Are you an adventurer seeking an adrenaline rush? If so, you should visit Lake Michigan. Or maybe you are someone who enjoys the great outdoors and natural beauty. If that’s the case, you should check out Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. Are you looking for a place to relax? Lake Huron is the lake for you. History enthusiasts? Lake Ontario is where you will find the fill to your interest or maybe you want a little of everything which you’ll be able to find at Lake Erie. The Great Lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes, is beautiful landscape filled with indigenous wildlife that has something for every type of traveler.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors hop in their car to drive through these tulip fields in April to see these beautiful flowers in bloom. The gorgeous mountains in the distance are just a bonus.
Niagara Falls State Park is full of attractions and activities for any visitor. From renting bikes to visiting aquariums, there’s something for every type of traveler. Experience the grandness of the falls from every angle and if you dare, stand as close to get front row seats in the splash zone.
Just outside of the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah is a beautiful recreational escape into nature where you can enjoy scenic hiking trails, waterfalls, vineyards, and stunning vistas. Whether you want to enjoy an annual festival or a picnic under the stars, you can find something to do for everyone.
It took millions of years for water to carve out these crevices you can take a walk through today. The colors you actually see on the walls will change depending on the time of year when you visit. There are no private walks to the area as the Navajo Nation only allow guided tours to enter the canyon. But that’s a good way to find out even more about the area.
This natural pool just outside of Austin, Texas, is a popular summertime hangout for tourists and locals alike. So how did it come to be? It actually used to be an underground river before erosion caused the dome to collapse.
Summer is coming. Vitamin D and the physiological need for fresh-ish air. The most focused among us begin to resist indoor endeavors. How do we continue to bring our A Game? How do we motivate our team to put their brain power behind the work at hand? How do we remind ourselves to work hard before we play hard?
Running a business is a tough enough prospect at the best of times, and that’s why building a good team to support you is crucial. As we reach the halfway point in the year, you may be seeing signs of your team starting to flag. It could be the result of finishing the previous year on a high, or a big push at the start of the current one, meaning many people do start to feel sluggish at this time of the year. Add to that the juggling-act nature of modern living that involves bringing up children, work, travel, and more. When your staff’s energy levels are going through a slump, it falls upon you as leader to try and motivate them to boost performance, morale and productivity.
So, how do you lift your workers out of the mid-year blues? The good news is that there are a few methods available that can break the monotony and inject fresh impetus into your company’s efforts.
Many businesses have annual targets that they set out at the beginning of each financial or calendar year to work towards over 12 months. Now may be a good time to revisit them and remind yourself and your staff of what those goals are. Doing so will make all the hard work more meaningful if everyone understands what‘s at stake and its importance to the success of the business. Revising your targets also allows you to work out if those goals are still relevant or realistic. Low morale is sometimes the result of a lack of belief in a project, so refocusing can boost motivation.
Revisiting and potentially revising annual targets is a great way to get everyone enthusiastic about the company’s goals and give them a better chance of being achieved. To keep your staff even more motivated, why not try breaking down annual targets into smaller, short-term goals? Breaking down what you want to achieve into weekly, monthly, or perhaps quarterly goals gives workers the opportunity to celebrate achievements more often and keep them keen and engaged.
As with refocusing on your goals, it also helps to provide your staff with small perks as rewards for good results. The types of perks you can offer your team will depend on the resources available to your company, but can include simple pleasures such as time off for special occasions, or perhaps a fun team-building event. If you feel someone could do with an extended weekend or a chance to work from home, you will actually be giving them something even money can’t buy.
Knowing that their boss will look after them and reward their hard work is a great way to keep workers motivated and loyal.
Something that is often underrated but is actually a priceless gift for any leader is the ability to lead your team from the front. A good leader should be able to read the mood of their colleagues and have the knowledge of how to turn things around when the company hits a slump. Lead by example and show the rest of the staff how optimistic, enthusiastic, positive and determined you are about the company’s prospects. Positivity is infectious, and your team will soon be feeling more inclined to be pulling together again.
Unfortunately, human nature makes us more inclined to notice when things go wrong, rather than when everything is going well. This is particularly true of successful companies, as workers achievements can easily start being taken for granted. Showing gratitude makes employees feel part of the team, and confirms to them that their contributions are being noticed.
You may be working on a long term project, or yours may be a high-pressured role within a competitive environment. Either way, getting to know each other better in a non-work environment is a good way to give your staff a boost. Again, ideas for this do not need to be complicated and can include a night out for the team for a few drinks, dinner, bowling or something more adventurous such as go-kart racing.
There is no doubt that any organisation can fall prey to a mid-year motivation slump. Whether it’s a team that has lost sight of the company’s goals, or your staff are flagging under relentless pressure, something will need to be done to arrest the slump. While financial rewards are one way of achieving an immediate uptick in productivity, the good news is that not every method has to cost the business a fortune. In most cases, it is the human touch that matters the most and will achieve better results in the long run.
That may just be the secret source to not only giving your team a boost, but to successful organisations in general. Always let workers know their hard work is appreciated, reward them and keep working alongside them towards common goals… and the rest will follow!
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Interested? Send your resume to email@example.com