Category Archives: Legal Careers

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Litchfield Cavo is Shaking Up the Law Firm Experience

Flexibility is the name of the game for Chicago-based firm, Litchfield Cavo.  In 1998, Litchfield Cavo was formed by a group of attorneys who were frustrated by the structures and policies of the typical American law firm.  The founding partners felt some firms of the time lacked synergy and true ambition for the future.  They sought to create a firm focused solely on client service in the areas of defense litigation, business litigation, and insurance coverage on behalf of the insurers which streamlined the legal process.  They soon realized they had created a firm culture which was highly desired in the legal community.

The firm soon grew from a small group of attorneys with a dream to the National Law Journal ranked firm of today.  The members of the firm grew their ranks by networking with attorneys they believed would thrive in their culture and business model.  Alan Becker, the firm’s Managing Partner, recently told Nancy Grimes, a legal recruiter for GLI, “the type of professional who is often interested in the firm is an up and coming partner in another firm who has begun to develop business but whose firm bases compensation on seniority.”  In situations such as these, attorneys feel undervalued and feel less obligated to perform excellent work.  Often attorneys in situations like this thrive in a business model such as Litchfield Cavo’s because they are able to perform superb work for their clients while they are compensated accordingly.

Litchfield Cavo operates as a meritocracy.  The leaders of the firm value contributions more than the age or reputation of an attorney because they want to see results.  In this firm where partners outweigh associates, the youngest partner can be the highest earning.  Compensation is transparent and determined based on contributions to the firm.  This approach allows the firm to be effectively entrepreneurial and appealing to potential attorneys.

Office Staff

Another characteristic of Litchfield Cavo which goes with their flexibility is their agility and lightning speed reaction time when special circumstances dictate it.  Becker takes pride in the firm’s terrific support staff, which is able to provide quick turn-around.  Just last year, the firm was able to add a team member and provide them with their own email address, office and support staff in just a matter of days.  Becker attributes much of the firm’s flexibility to the office staff who makes it all possible.  Becker says that he is focused on recruiting and developing the best office support possible for his firm.

Apart from the firm’s flexibility, the firm also enjoys stability.  The firm does not try to tempt fate by adding new offices; they simply open new offices as they are needed.  The offices are then built up through networking.  Typically, a chain reaction begins with a new hire: the attorney becomes a part of the firm, is impressed with the firm’s management and culture, calls other attorneys they know to tell them about the firm, and the firm makes another new hire through the networking process.

An additional stabilizing factor is the firm’s lack of debt.  The firm is completely self-capitalized, apart from office lease obligations.  This lack of debt allows its members to have comfort in knowing there is a Litchfield Cavo office today and there will be tomorrow.

Unlike so many other firms where the Managing Partners seem to be viewed as the “Great and Alan BeckerPowerful Oz,” Becker ensures he is personally involved in the decision making for all new employees.  If the recruit is in Chicago, Becker personally does the first interview.  He also participates in a teleconference interview for those who are not local.  Since Becker’s implementation of an electronic voting and partner nomination system, the firm can guarantee quick firm-wide decisions.  The firm’s flexibility also expands into their two-tiered partnership.  The firm is able to quickly bring new members on board who will be participating partners.  Qualified candidates may also come aboard as capital partners, although the interviewing process is more extended.

Becker believes the most challenging part of being a managing partner is maintaining the firm’s overall profitability.  He understands the more the firm makes, the more the firm’s partners will make.  Alan Becker has been the Managing Partner of the firm since its inception in 1998.  On top of managing the firm, Becker also maintains a full case load.  He believes that no matter what other responsibilities he has, his clients always deserve his best service.

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Learning How to Become a Leader

By: Dorie Clark

As we rise into leadership roles, it’s not always easy to walk the talk. Of course, we want to be wise sages, counseling our charges and inspiring them to greatness. But that’s easier said than done. The challenge was particularly acute for Karl Allen, co-founder and CEO of Planet Jockey, a company that creates management courses in the form of online games. He knew it would be a sad irony if the head of a company selling leadership games wasn’t much of a leader, himself. So he vowed to step up – and here are the lessons he learned through playing his company’s games and vowing to become the right kind of CEO.

Recognize where you’re starting. Planet Jockey’s game teaches the principles of “buoyant leadership” – what Allen describes as “a concept whereby, as a leader, you float [on top] because the people you lead believe you deserve it.” (The concept is discussed in depth in a book called The Case of the Missing Cutlery by Kevin Allen, Karl’s partner in business and life.) But Karl recognizes that while buoyancy is the goal, he won’t always be perfect. “I can do it at times,” he says. “But sometimes [negative] instinct takes over, and it takes over really fast.” These days, he can recognize when he feels his temper rising at work, and can guide himself back into a more inspirational mode of leadership.Lets talk

Say what you mean. In evaluating his leadership style, Karl Allen recognized that sometimes in the past, he’s prioritized being ‘nice’ – which has driven him to avoid saying what he really means. That doesn’t serve anyone, he’s concluded. He recalls one incident where he felt one of Planet Jockey’sUdemy classes wasn’t gaining traction fast enough. The best possible reaction, he says, would have been to tell his staffer, “You’re doing an amazing job, and I’ve got a great idea for all the ways we can grow further.” He also could have directly discussed the critiques he had of the marketing. Instead, he recalls, “I phoned her up and said, ‘I think we’re really dropping the ball.’ It’s passive-aggressive, because when I say ‘we,’ I mean ‘you.’ And that’s terrible and destructive.” Planet Jockey’s games have helped him to realize where he went wrong.

Meetings are critical. One of the areas where Allen knows he fell short initially was in running staff meetings. “Before, I’d just get everyone into a meeting and start chatting and people would shout at me and I’d shout back at them,” he recalls. “What I learned after playing the game is that you need some rules. It’s not just about inspiring people; meetings need to be structured. For instance, you need smaller meetings, so you should try to limit it to 6-8 people. That way you know you can get to hear everybody’s point of view and everyone gets a chance to talk.” Overall, he says, “You need to know what needs to come out of the meeting, and have a clear sense of who’s there and why they’re there.magnifying talent

Search for hidden talents. Early on, says Allen, he would sometimes take too narrow a view of what others could contribute. “The game taught me that people within your team have a lot more to offer than sometimes you realize,” he says. As a result, he started a team practice in which staffers sit down and share what they’re doing outside of work. That’s how he learned about one employee’s side calligraphy business, which she was pursuing with a friend who worked at a company Allen was targeting. Allen had always thought of his staffer as being expert in “digital marketing, not face-to-face sales.” But with a little coaching, she was able to persuade her friend to make an introduction at her company. “I realized she has an amazing sales persona,” says Allen. “She built that skill and we got a huge piece of business.”

The conversation is what matters. When it comes to a topic like leadership, there will never be 100% agreement about the best approach to a given situation. That’s how Allen came to realize that the real value of the game is in the conversation it sparks. “The learning from the game wasn’t even so much from the game itself,” he says. “The learning is from the reflection on the game – how well you did, or thought you did…You learn because you have to fight it out and discuss it [with colleagues]. The answers are ambiguous and part of a learning process.”

Becoming a great leader isn’t easy. It’s especially challenging when you’re running a company that’s predicated on teaching others how to lead. As Karl Allen shows, opening up about your mistakes and the learning process along the way is part of what it takes to truly succeed.

Clark, Dorie. “Learning How To Become a Leader.” Forbes. Forbes, 8 Jan. 2015. Web. 9 Jan. 2015.

6 Factors To Consider When Planning The Path To Partnership

Ask most associates and (if they’re honest) they’ll tell you: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Or a dollar today is worth three tomorrow. You’ll “never” make partner, so better to gun for prestige, compensation, a practice you love or some combination of the three, then escape into an in-house career before it’s too late.

Looking at the stats, the majority of associates, oftentimes chasing the immediate gains mentioned above, will lateral a little less than once every three years during their law firm careers, which is to say your average associate (factoring not only those who make partner but also the vast majority who don’t) will be on his or her fourth job before even being eligible to make a run. Needless to say, chances of partnership under such circumstances are an insignificant percentage of miniscule at best, which is why it is important to make only the “right” move (assuming you need to move at all). As an aid to your decision-making, we’ve compiled a list of six things to consider when planning your long-term path to partnership and any lateral moves you might make as an associate.

There’s no substitute for experience. Although it is true that many law firms require a track record of business generation or associated skills and abilities, it is equally true that legal expertise must come with.  In this respect, size can play a role: you want a firm that is sizeable enough that it can provide plenty of support staff for your practice and also where you can get valuable hands-on experience.

Career Direction

Politics may be king. Firms differ in their structure and the distribution of power within partnership ranks. One firm may operate its practices in clearly defined silos, each of which represents its own power base and profit center, while another is more collaborative across practices, encouraging the sharing of credit and the more equal exposure of associates across practice groups to partners of influence. If you’re considering a firm using the former model: who will you be working with? When it comes time to seek support for your partnership bid, which “power centers” will be behind you? For those considering firms of the latter kind: entrepreneurialism, initiative and personal merit factor in that a little bit more.   It is important to choose the kind of firm which best suits your individual style.

Know who is your competition. Believe it or not, answers to this question can range from “other associates” to “other partners” at your current or intended firm, and it is important not to be misled by reference to past partner promotion statistics. Has the firm recently promoted or brought in senior associates and/or counsel? If so, you may be facing some pretty hefty odds at best. Are partners at the firm barely pushing 55? Has the firm recently jettisoned its mandatory retirement policy? If so, you might be in for a longer ride than you had bargained for. Yes, partners lateral away (and often, these days). Still, do not forget that succession plans are paramount.

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What’s their poison? The above notwithstanding, statistics are always worth a quick look. A major question to be asked is the following: from where does the firm in question tend to source its partners? From the ranks of its associates?  From those of other firms? Perhaps even from outside partners and counsel?

Don’t forecast the entire decade. In the current climate, you’ve no doubt noticed it’s difficult enough to forecast just one year—think of all the surprise mergers over the last year—never mind the next eight or ten. Firms can rise and fall quickly—Dewey, Howrey? Anyone? Instead, while you’re doing what you can to make the right friends and gain the right experience, make sure, too, that your current position offers a strong foundation and positive growth: a good platform from which to explore partnership opportunities elsewhere if necessary.

For those considering these things: danger signs of firm failure can include sharp drops in PPP, unsustainable leverage, multiple years of gross loss (if not offset by a rise in PPP) and poor profit margins.

What’s your endgame? When evaluating your career choices, it’s important to determine your ultimate goals. If your ultimate goal is to make partner: sketch a rough map of your career and always be mindful of how present actions impact the future, and take those three dollars tomorrow if you can afford it. A partnership will pay more dividends than any associate bonus ever could.

If you are looking for additional career advice, contact one of our career counsellors.  Often times it helps to have a third party to evaluate your situation to assist you in making the best decisions.  Whether you are looking to make a move or just in need of counsel, a call today could make all the difference for tomorrow.

How to Build Your Book of Business From the Inside

Top Legal Recruiter, Nancy Grimes agrees with Above the Law author, Kevin McKeown, that the best way to increase your business is to focus on your existing clientele.  Like Gina Rubel states: these clients already trust you with their business.  As mentioned below, it is 50% easier to sell to existing clients than to new clients.  Nancy believes your best bet is to network with other attorneys within your firm in order to locate new opportunities and provide additional services to existing clients.  If your clients trust you, and you vouch for the attorneys who would be taking over their other business needs, it will build their credibility and bring more business under your origination belt into the firm.  You should also consider networking with other attorneys within your firm to determine if their clients have needs with which you may assist. Below is Kevin McKeown’s article:

This mash-up is inspired by a lawyer I know who thinks that signing new clients solves all his problems. He’s certainly not listening to Gina Rubel:

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“As a legal marketer, I am constantly reading articles for lawyers about business development. Common titles are “Biz Dev for Lawyers,” “How to Be a Law Firm Rainmaker,” “How to Bring Business to Your Law Firm,” “Using Social Media to Grow Your Book of Business,” and so on. While everyone is pushing the acquisition of new business, how about focusing on the low-hanging fruit — the clients who already trust you with their business.”

Smart businesses don’t chase new clients at the expense of keeping and growing existing clients. And, law firms shouldn’t either. Consider:

  • 80% of future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing clients–Gartner Group
  • It’s 50% easier to sell to existing clients than to new clients–Marketing Metrics
  • Existing clients convert at 60-70% compared to new prospects at 5-20%–Marketing Metrics
  • Repeat clients spend 33% more compared to new clients–CMO.com
  • Boosting client retention by 5% can raise profits by 75%–Bain and Company

A 10% rise in customer retention yields a 30% increase in the value of the company–Bain and Company

Look to the business world for how they view the significance of an existing client relationship. Here’s a sampling of the research I complied:

From It’s Cheaper to Keep ‘Em by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart:

“Growing businesses tend to spend so much of their time and money acquiring new customers that they often overlook their best source of growth: retaining and growing their existing customer base. It’s cheaper, easier, and more effective to retain current customers than it is to acquire new ones.”

existingclientsFrom To Sell More, Focus on Existing Customers by Rick Reynolds:

“Seeking new sales without strong account management and operating teams is like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it. Identifying and fixing the holes — the gaps in customer satisfaction — can help your company retain existing accounts and increase new sales. When attempting to generate a sustained increase in sales, the first place to start is with existing customers. Your selling investment is lower, you have an existing relationship…”

From Five Customer Retention Tips for Entrepreneurs by Alex Lawrence:

“   …[M]any entrepreneurs are so focused on gaining new clients and customers that they fail to effectively address the need to retain those they already have. This is counterproductive… …[B]eing passive about customer retention only leads to greater attrition.”

From Customer Retention Should Outweigh Customer Acquisition by Jerry Jao:

“Customer retention and customer acquisition don’t have to be two parallel lines that never meet. In fact, when done right, customer retention campaigns can actually bring in new business. How? Through word-of-mouth and referrals, of course. By implementing smart retention strategies and treating your customers well, you are increasing the likelihood of getting referrals. Referrals are priceless to just about any type of business…”

From Customer Retention: The First Pillar of Social Media by Debra Ellis:

“When people have good relationships with individuals within an organization, they are more loyal. The only way to guarantee a loyal customer base is to create unbreakable bonds. This is done one person at a time. Social media changes the playing field because it provides a venue for the one-to-one connections that create unbreakable bonds.”

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Here are some practical strategies from client-retention expert Ross Beard that will help you improve client retention and raise your bottom line:

  • Set client expectations: set expectations early and deliver faithfully on those expectations to build retention.
  • Be the expert: trusted advisors proactively communicates with clients about issues in their industry that will affect them.
  • Build trust through relationships: client relationships must be based on trust and shared values; blog about issues that help your clients and signal your interest in their business.
  • Implement anticipatory service: avoid negative client experiences by being proactive: stop problems from happening by checking in with your clients each quarter.
  • Make use of automation: standardize your processes and set expectations for service levels to increase client loyalty.
  • Build KPIs around client service: measure and incentivize your firm based on levels of service/performance tied to the client’s goals.
  • Build relationships online: your clients are online so build relationships with them while they are fixed to their computer screens via Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc.
  • Go above and beyond what’s expected: look for opportunities to woo your clients to build long term loyalty.
  • Listen to your clients: implement client surveys, etc.

Read Beard’s 9 Customer Retention Strategies For Companies for more insights, strategies and examples.

How are you building enduring client relationships? How do you retain your clients for the long haul? How are you managing your client accounts? How do you deal with that buffoon lawyer who chases clients away?

McKeown, Kevin. “Focus On Keeping And Growing Your Existing Clients.” Above the Law. Above the Law, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.

The Compleat Bank Lawyer

In 1653, Isaac Walton wrote “The Compleat Angler” a book that is still read by avid fishermen desiring to learn all they can about the sport. One might ask today what makes a complete bank lawyer. The answer is usually not understood by bank senior management. They often fail to differentiate between legal and compliance. Both functions are critically important and they must work together as a team; however, while the lawyer should be a resource to compliance officers in helping them interpret complex or ambiguous regulations, it is not the lawyer’s responsibility to make sure they are followed by bank personnel. This is the role of law librarycompliance.  Why is it important for senior management to be aware of the differences between the two functions and the scope of their respective responsibilities? Because these are key functions and, as in the case of other key functions, they should know what they do, and the knowledge and experience required of the individuals they hire to fill these key positions.

To become a complete bank lawyer, it is necessary to have both curiosity to learn new things and to have been presented, over time, with the opportunity to provide counsel to all areas within a bank as well as a bank’s board and senior management. Unfortunately, in this age of specialization, young lawyers are not afforded the opportunity to gain this broad based experience. This is why banking generalists are a dying breed. Large banking organizations can afford to hire specialists who concentrate on specific areas of the bank’s operations. Small banks cannot. One solution for them may be to hire a semi-retired generalist on a part-time basis. If this is not possible, outside counsel with experience in the various areas discussed herein, whether found within a single firm or in multiple firms, should be engaged.

It is important for all banks, large and small alike, to have a lawyer present at all board meetings, and not in the capacity of a director. This does not mean just any lawyer, but one that has some expertise in banking law. Some lawyers claim to be bank lawyers because they represent banks in connection with loan transactions, but this, alone, is not enough to qualify one as a bank lawyer. That individual need not be knowledgeable about the full range of legal issues that may be encountered by a bank, but should be conversant with laws such as the following:  Bank Merger and Change in Control Acts; Bank Holding Company Act; laws and regulations governing financial subsidiaries, operations subsidiaries and other permissible investments; dividends; management interlocks between banks and public utilities;  securities law restrictions regarding insider trading; and banking laws and regulations regarding restrictions on transactions with affiliates and insiders. The individual must also be knowledgeable about laws relating to corporate governance. In addition to their general oversight responsibilities, directors are required to review or approve of specified policies and procedures. The lawyer should know what specific reviews or approvals are required and ensure that each director receives an adequate executive summary of the underlying law or regulation.

Here are some things with which a bank lawyer, or the bank’s lawyers, collectively, should be familiar. To begin with, obviously, they should have a thorough knowledge of banking laws and regulations. They should also be aware of the interplay among them. For example, state member bank dividends are subject to restrictions applicable to national banks under the National Bank Act, and certain provisions of the FDIC Act apply to all banks, regardless of who their federal regulator is. A thorough knowledge of Articles 3, 4, 8, and 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code is also required. Collectively, these Articles apply to the core bank functions of receiving deposits and making loans. If the client issues letters of credit, knowledge of Article 5 is also required. In addition, since Article 5 expressly provides that an issuer’s liability can be governed by the Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credit if the letter of credit so provides, it is Complete Lawyerimportant to be familiar with this document as well. The Uniform Customs is published and updated periodically by the International Chamber of Commerce.

If the client issues stock that is sold to the public, it is necessary to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of securities law in order to know when to call for the assistance of experts in this area. Even if the client does not sell securities to the public, securities law questions can arise. For example, SEC Rule 141 could impose restrictions on the sale of publicly traded stock offered as collateral by prospective borrowers, who might be subject to the Rule’s conditions.

These days banks, like all businesses, often face employment law issues, and so a general familiarity with this area of the law is important. However, it is essential that they be knowledgeable about legal limitations on executive compensation under laws and regulations addressing safety and soundness. They should also be familiar with limitations on life insurance taken out on the lives of senior executives, commonly known as “BOLIs’”, a short hand reference to bank owned life insurance.

In the ordinary course of business, contracts will have to be drafted or reviewed, so the lawyer should be acquainted with the fundamental principles of contract law. The same is true with respect to real estate law, not only because of real estate lending activity, but also because the bank itself may be a buyer or seller of real estate. With regard to the former, they should be aware of the legal and regulatory limitations and conditions applicable to bank ownership of real estate.

Banks are frequently both plaintiffs and defendants in lawsuits. Litigation experience is invaluable. It not only enables the lawyer to understand the litigation process and to assess the quality of the bank’s litigation counsel, but also is it is helpful when drafting documents to have a sense of how they may be perceived if introduced in court someday. The lawyer should also follow case law involving banking industry wide issues such as, for example, the ability of banks to charge a fee for cashing checks of non-customers and how it handles the order of posting checks. Legal questions can also arise in connection with proposed new products or services. Services such as Remote Deposit Capture and ATMs initially raised the question of whether they would be considered as tantamount to a branch, and subject to branching restrictions under federal law. Those issues were subsequently resolved (the issue would be moot today because Dodd-Frank removed these restrictions). Branch personnel often call for advice about how to handle legal processes served on the bank and other claims and demands by prosecutors, private attorneys and customers that the bank take or refrain from taking certain actions respecting customer accounts. It is important to know how to distinguish the efficacy of those coming from out of state tribunals or officials from those issued by state courts and officials and restrictions on release of customer information requested by federal government officials under the Financial Right To Privacy Act as well as other conditions and limitations respecting disclosure of customer information to third parties.

The variety of legal questions that might be presented by branch personnel typically involve a broad range of issues and are impossible to catalogue. Some common questions are: The lessee or joint lessee of a safety deposit box dies, what action should I questionstake; What do we do when a depositor declares bankruptcy?; What documents should we receive to verify the authenticity and signing authorities of business entities (there are typically 6 types of business entities recognized under state law, corporations, LLCs, general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability limited partnerships); How should we handle custodial accounts under the Uniform Transfer to Minors or the Uniform Gifts to Minors Acts and how are they distinguishable; What are Totten Trusts and how should deposit accounts established by the trustees be handled;  How should we respond to a dispute among stockholders or members of non-corporate entities, each demanding information about or access to accounts in the name of these entities;  Or when do we need to file a suspicious activity report? Although Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance falls within the domain of the compliance department, since it is so critically important, bank lawyers should be familiar with it and implementing regulations of the US Treasury Department and the banking agencies.

Ideally, the bank lawyer should review the Federal Register every day to look for proposed or final rules and regulations of the banking agencies. Hardly a week goes by when none appear. The Federal Register is available on line. The web sites of the federal banking agencies should also be reviewed regularly. They often set forth Guidance and Policy Statements applicable to various bank activities. The bank lawyer should also be familiar with Examination Guides and Handbooks issued by the Federal banking agencies.

If the bank client has trust powers or if it is a non-deposit trust company, the lawyer should be familiar with basic principles of trust law and also the fiduciary regulations of the OCC. Even if the client is not a national bank, these regulations are important because they have been given deference by the other banking agencies. The Federal Reserve has characterized them as being the industry standard. Because of the importance of tax law in estate planning, typically a bank will have separate trust counsel with expertise in tax issues, typically lawyers who have earned a Masters Degree in Taxation.

Finally, the bank lawyer should also be able to handle unanticipated matters, which can make the position even more interesting.  I once heard a great example of this from well-known banking attorney who experienced this while he was serving as the head of a bank’s legal department. Because the bank’s directors preferred to travel to board meetings via helicopter, he was asked to take all steps necessary to authorize a heliport on bank property. This entailed contact with the FAA and state and local authorities and learning about all applicable legal requirements.logo

As you can see, there are a great many banking attorneys in the United States, however, a complete banking attorney is much harder to find.  GLI/Grimes Legal, Inc. A Global Legal Recruiting Network, has partnered with some of the top banking lawyers in the country in order to locate and qualify top banking attorneys who bring the whole package to today’s banks, organizations and law firms.  Our seasoned experts know exactly what it takes to be a truly complete bank lawyer because they have walked the halls of some of the most prestigious banks and firms in the country and they are ready, able and willing to assist your organization in locating the best banking talent in your area.  To further discuss your needs, we welcome you to call.  Together, we will find the complete banking lawyer for you.

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Three Doors

Remember Your First Time

(A Great Article for Law Graduates)

By: Brittany Smith

There is a first time for everything: the first time you spoke, walked on your own, moved to a new city, switched schools, attended college or walked in the door at your first firm.  In fact, society encourages change, trying new things, and documenting your first milestones.  Along with your “first” time in doing anything come the butterflies in your stomach mixed with the excitement of taking on a new adventure.  You are running through scenarios in your head of how you think the experience will play out and preparing yourself for anything that will be thrown your way.  Reflecting back on the experience, you either feel a large weight taken off your shoulders or you feel as if you want to crawl into a hole, go to sleep and forget all about what just happened.

Sometimes the thought of bringing these changes upon you can be scary.  However, the benefits of making a change can easily outweigh the nerves of taking that leap.  You very well may have cut your teeth at your current firm, but it is important that you determine, “is what was good for me right out of law school still right for me now?”  If the answer is yes, count your blessings and be thankful because you are in a rare position.  However, working with new people at another firm can help you to further your development, challenge you to be better, and give you a fresh outlook you never thought possible.

It is easy to keep life the way it is but, by living a repetitious life, you’ll never know the greater opportunity just around the corner.  Take a chance and walk down that blurred little alley and, after the haze clears, there may just be a shiny pot of gold waiting for you.  Although first times and new experiences may be scary, in the end they are milestones that help a person grow.  For a moment, think about where you stand and whether or not you are happy where you are in life.  Have you reached your full potential?  Are you looking for a new adventure?  Maybe you feel you just need to shake up the status quo so you don’t fall into a monotonous cycle.  Now could be the time to relocate to a new city, start talking about what a new firm could offer you for growth and support, or go out and buy that sports car you have always wanted but were too frugal to buy.  Life is full of unlocked doors; you just have to open the door to see what is inside.  If you don’t like what you see behind door one, you can proceed to door two and be confident that you didn’t miss out on what else is out there.

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9 Signs You Should Quit Your Job Now

By:  John Rampton

It’s not uncommon for employees to have a bad day or two — or week. And it’s pretty common for the average person to gripe about a boss or co-worker from time to time. But how can you tell if it’s just “one of those days” or something more serious?

I’ve quit several jobs in my life. I left my first job in an epic way, tearing off my uniform and walking out of a bagel shop after a stupid dispute with a boss. I don’t really recommend walking out on a job, but everyone should know when to quit. While leaving a position can present an inconvenience to your personal life, it may be the best option for your long-term satisfaction.

At my very last job I recognized that I needed to quit when my desires to become an entrepreneur overpowered my wishes for a stable paycheck. Indeed many entrepreneurs realize over and over they should leave their job but the financial security it provides often Unhappykeeps them firmly entrenched. I understand this totally as I’ve been there. Save your money wisely so you can become the entrepreneur you want to be if that’s your dream.

Pay attention to the following nine signals. They can help guide you in gaining clarity about whether it’s time for you to quit your job and start your next adventure.

1. You’re bored and uninspired.

Remember when you first started working at your current job? Were you full of passion and excitement each morning? Even if that wasn’t so, taking this particular job may have seemed like a good decision once because of the pay, location or opportunity for advancement.

Now you’re showing up every morning feeling bored, uninspired, defeated and hopeless. I know the feeling well and have watched several people go through this. Consider if you really want to continue putting up with this job eight hours (or more) every Monday through Friday.

2. You keep promising yourself that you’ll quit.

Many people experience a day or two of feeling fed up and ready to quit that crummy old job once and for all. But take another look after a good night’s sleep and keep in mind that you may have just had an extremely stressful day.

I remember the three-month period when I promised myself day after day at my web-hosting company job that I was going to quit. That position became my very last job. While working there I had become increasingly interested in starting my own business. I was making more money outside work than I was on the job. So I took the leap.

Instead of promising to quit your job every day, start being proactive outside work in making yourself presentable to the next company you’d like to work for or start transforming yourself into who you want to become.

While it’s not always easy to leave a job, putting off a promise isn’t going to help your situation either.

3. You don’t fit in.

Hopefully you have an awesome job with a great paycheck. You probably tolerate fairly well most of your co-workers. But you just don’t belong at the company. Maybe you require more structure and your current employer is a bit too easygoing — or the opposite is true. Sometimes there might not really be anything wrong with the job itself but the company or the boss just doesn’t jibe with your morals, ethics or personality.

This is a tough situation because another job might not be any different. Think about what might happen if you reached out to your superior and tried to find a way to better fit into the current operation. If that’s not an option or you can’t find a different department or team that works better for you, it could be time to go.

Threatening Boss4. You don’t want the job your boss has.

One reason you’ve been staying put is that your current company promotes advancement. But what happens once you figure out you that don’t want a managerial job like the one your boss has? If you can’t stand the idea of being in your boss’s shoes, then probably you should think about getting out before your go-getter peers pass you by.

5. You don’t care for the products or services.

Forget the pay, position and all your great co-workers. If you can’t become invested in the products or services sold by your company, then how can you succeed by promoting them or working for the firm?

Remember, companies thrive on having employees who are brand advocates or ambassadors. It’s not fair to the company (or you) if you can’t get behind the products or services.

6. You have a horrible boss.

Sometimes all it takes is terrible manager to push you to the door. Why deal with someone who’s demanding, incompetent, miserable, selfish, immature or controlling every single day? Unless you’re certain that this boss is going to be leaving soon, perhaps you should begin searching for a new gig.

That being said, I’ve been that boss before and all it took was one employee to tell me some of the things I was doing wrong. I was able to change — and I still work with that same employee years later. This won’t always work out this way, though. Only you can be the judge of that.

7. You’re always underperforming.

Despite your capabilities, you find yourself consistently delivering less than the job demands because you lack passion for it. Then again, you might be underperforming because the job is too big or you can’t navigate the office politics. Regardless of the situation, it’s probably a good idea to think about looking for a different job if your performance isn’t up to par.

8. You’re stressed, anxious and unhappy.

Of course you’ll have those days when you wish you could just stay home and sleep in. But if that becomes a common occurrence, perhaps there’s an underlying problem. Work might not always be much fun, but if you’re becoming anxious, unhappy or stressed out just from thinking about work,, then do yourself a favor and get out while you can.

9. Your skills aren’t being tapped.

If you keep being passed over for high-profile projects or promotions, then clearly someone up top hasn’t realized how talented you are. Instead of wasting your potential at a place where your work isn’t acknowledged or respected, find somewhere else where you might thrive.

Rampton, John. “9 Signs You Should (Maybe) Quit Your Job Now.” Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur.com, 5 Sept. 2014. Web. 9 Sept. 2014.

LeBron James

Live Like a King

Just like any other sport, basketball is a game of strategy and decision-making. Because of his basketball skills, LeBron “King” James was the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft.  After joining the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron excelled, making history by becoming the first Cavalier to be named “Rookie of the Year” and then become an all-star.  Although LeBron was content with how his team was progressing and how they were improving, another opportunity arose in 2010.

LeBron had to take the time to decide where he wanted to be in the next five years.  Once this was decided, he had to plan and define a strategy that would land him where he wanted to be.  Ultimately, LeBron determined that the Miami Heat gave him more of what he needed to be great.

It is at the beginning of one’s career, as you gain experience, hard work and knowledge, that a person demonstrates their discipline and shows signs of becoming that superstar and it is during those early years that you excel.   However, it is through “reflection” and “introspection” that you determine who you want to become and what you want your career to be.  It is through that reflection process that you determine which stepping stones and opportunities you might pursue and which will lead you in the right direction.  If you are like LeBron you may be happy no matter what team you play on because you are doing what you enjoy.   However, you will never know about a more perfect opportunity unless you have the courage to investigate the possibilities.

In 2010, LeBron saw an opportunity to be courted by several major teams: the Bulls, the     Clippers, the Knicks, the Nets, the Cavaliers and the Miami Heat.  At the time of LeBron’s move, the Cavaliers had made grand strides towards improvement: coming from having one of the longest losing streaks in NBA history.  It was clear that LeBron had been of great benefit to the team.  However, in your career, it is important that you be like LeBron and think of what your “team” can do to benefit you.  After LeBron’s move to Miami, Cleveland fans were visibly upset and they protested LeBron’s decision.  He was considered a traitor to his team and to Cleveland, but after LeBron made the decision, he had the courage to stick with that decision and do what was right for him.

It is always interesting to explore the possibilities of “what if?”  What if LeBron had not entertained a move to another team?  Would he have the championship rings he’s earned through his hard-work, dedication and decision-making skills?  What if LeBron had stayed with the Cavaliers?  Would the team’s much improved stats be enough to satisfy LeBron’s appetite for victory?  If you never consider other opportunities, you could be passing up the chance to do something greater or the opportunity to have more success than your current team can offer you.

Throughout the basketball world, LeBron is known by a name that leaves no one doubting his basketball prowess: King James.  Certainly, his move to the Miami Heat has done wonders for his popularity and his career, but King James has also never been more successful.  Have you considered the possibilities that could lead you to live like a king?

copyright

Pixie Meredith

Joseph Grimes

June 10, 2014

Help Me to Help You

Voicemail

When you walk into your office and you see the red voice mail signal lit up, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Just another recruiter? That is probably an accurate assumption. Typically, if you are contacted by one recruiter, you will be contacted by many recruiters. But the question is: how do you sort out the headhunters from the legal placement specialists? The term “headhunter” is often thrown around as another name for a recruiter. However, the recruiters of the past earned that name because of their tendency to hound potential candidates because they were only out to fill open positions and not to look for the best fit. A legal placement specialist is truly invested in your success and wants to find you the best possible fit. If you listen to your voice mails, you can always tell when you have one from someone is who is truly interested in assisting you. It is the voice mail that sets itself apart from others and the one you don’t mind taking three minutes to listen to. You understand that the person who contacted you has something to offer and it’s something worth listening to, whether the opportunity is with a firm or in-house.

When you get the message that sets itself apart from others, it is provocative and it helps you to understand that the person who contacted you wants nothing but to set you up for success. Before you delete that message, you need to take three minutes and listen to what it has to say, because you never know which message might present you with the first contact of something refreshing, different, and what could potentially be a game changer in your practice.

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Once you listen to that refreshing message, remember that if you contact that recruiter back, even if the opportunity is not for you, at least you know that you didn’t pass on something that could have made all the difference in your career and, on top of it all, you now have a new and useful connection with someone who can help you down the road. If you find that the opportunity IS for you, then you have made a great investment out of those 3 minutes. If you have those 3 spare minutes, please help me to help you.

Forbes Reveals the Top 10 Tips for Dealing with An Overly Demanding Boss

All jobs are demanding at times, and it’s often the boss’s responsibility to get her staff to rise to the occasion–but some bosses go too far by putting excessive pressure on their employees.

Don’t take it personally. A demanding boss is focused on delivering results to his or her boss, not on the negative fallout you may feel that your work is never enough, Taylor says.
“Study how other team members react and you’ll likely see that your boss is consistently an over-achiever or expects others to be.”

Simic agrees. “Realize that an overly demanding boss may have their own overly demanding boss looming over them. Don’t take things personally.”

Help DeskConsider why your boss is being so demanding. Is it just a personality issue, or is there pressure from even higher up to meet certain objectives? “This can make a difference in how you approach the situation,” Friedman says.

Kahn concurs. He says it’s important to “read the room.” If your boss is also working to meet a goal or juggling multiple deadlines, make sure you’re being sensitive to that in your interactions. “Provide high-level updates on what they need to know and avoid chitchat unless they initiate.”

Don’t be a punching bag. “Don’t keep taking lumps with a smile on your face, be a martyr, or take responsibility for things that are out of your control,” Taylor says. “Your boss has invested time in you, so you have leverage in letting him know the ramifications of his work style. You have the needed skills set, are relied upon and know the company culture. If you’re performing well, it’s expensive and time-consuming to replace you. Keep that in mind when you are ready to approach your boss.”

Gently confront the boss. “Approach your boss with a calm, professional, rational style,” Taylor says. “Don’t get caught up in the hysteria and try to keep a sense of humor to simmer any existing tension.” A little levity can go a long way in disarming a tense, demanding boss. And a lot of your success also depends on the delivery and timing of your discussion.

Listen and repeat. Make sure you are always listening carefully, as ideas and directions may come quickly, Kahn suggests. “If you’re unsure about anything, ask clarifying questions. At the end of your meetings, repeat back the deliverables that you are responsible for to make sure you are on the same page.” And you never know: When the boss hears you rattle off your responsibilities, he might realize how unreasonable his expectations really are.

Set mutual expectations and priorities. “When your boss gives you an assignment, review where it sits on the priority list; give an estimate of how long it will take and what, if anything, you need to complete it,” Taylor says. Offer a reality check on how a new assignment affects your other ones and the potential for other missed deadlines. “Come to an agreement before you run off and find yourself in a hodgepodge of unreasonable tasks.”

Stay positive. Your sense of calm and commitment to delivering the Demanding-bossbest results will be appreciated, and help coach your boss in a better direction, Taylor says.

Be a problem-solver, not a problem-maker. If you’re going to miss deadlines, raise your hand early on. Come prepared to present your boss with potential solutions to show that you have the same sense of urgency as they do about projects, Kahn says. “If you encounter obstacles to completing a project, also bring these to your boss with potential solutions. They may not be the right solution, but this type of boss will appreciate your effort to help solve.”

Friedman says if there’s a corporate-level goal your boss is trying to attain, it may make more sense to try to figure out alternate ways of reaching that target. “She may even know that what the company is asking for is unreasonable, and may appreciate the extra help in brainstorming ways to boost productivity. If you have some ideas on ways to improve workflow or encourage the team to ramp up performance, approach your boss with sympathy, and offer your suggestions in a spirit of cooperation. The goal is probably less about getting credit for your ideas than getting a better working environment out of it.”

Use positive reinforcement. Praise your boss when you see the behavior you strive for, like planning ahead together, and ensuring that your goals and deadlines are reasonable and aligned, Taylor suggests. “Say something like, ‘I appreciated that you understood that we’d have to push back the XYZ project by a couple of days to tackle this new initiative.’”

Celebrate successes. Be sure to flag your successes for your boss, Kahn says. “Since they are so focused on reaching goals, they may inadvertently miss some of your achievements. They will appreciate you flagging these since, at the end of the day, your success is also their success.”

Taylor says you can do this by creating regular status reports. “Your manager will better understand your behind-the-scenes work if you detail it out in regular e-mails,” she says. “This will show your boss how productive you are and what it takes. Don’t overdue and risk looking like you’re in over your head. You don’t want your report to run for five pages every other day, or you’ll appear confrontational and passive aggressive. Be factual and concise so your boss can focus and prioritize.”

“Some bosses have been taught that being very demanding is the only way to get results, from prior jobs or the current one,” Taylor concludes. “It might be a management culture. That doesn’t mean you should mimic the style with your own team. Instead, role model the person you want your demanding manager to be by clearly describing workflow and priorities. You’ll do yourself, your boss, and others a big favor.”

Smith, Jacquelyn. “10 Tips For Dealing With An Overly Demanding Boss.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 10 July 2013. Web. 15 May 2014. To see more: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/07/10/10-tips-for-dealing-with-an-overly-demanding-boss/