A blog about making your business leaner, faster and smarter

Hiring Temporary Workers? 4 Tips to Keep Things Legal

Many business owners need to hire temporary workers for all sorts of short-term projects, and these days there are more qualified workers available than ever. Some are retired, others prefer to be self-employed, still others come to you by way of temporary agencies – all of them have significant skills that can be used to complete a project, solve a problem with highly specialized skills, or fill gaps in your San Mateo business’ workforce The hourly or daily rate depends on their skills and whether they come by way of agency or not. Typically their rates are a little higher in comparison to what a salaried worker earns in the same position, but this is to compensate for the lack of security and benefits. If the worker comes to you through an agency, you’ll pay a margin on top of what the worker earns as the overhead cost to the …

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How Open Office Designs Went Too Far and Killed Business Productivity

Not so long ago, office managers decided that their closed door policies and restrictive cubicle arrangements were killing teamwork, but then they took it too far. Modern management literature is littered with praise for the open floor plans that are said to emphasize corporate transparency and stimulate collaboration – and those features seem to be working. After all, financial and leadership transparency is believed to help get employees engaged and on the same page with the company’s vision, but when the office designs veered away from the office/cubicle arrangement that instituted a status hierarchy and went with open floor plans, it killed employee productivity. Turns out, while employees need creative spaces in which to brainstorm and cook ideas, and those situations work to foster teamwork, the open floor plan places too much pressure when it’s time to get down to the actual work of getting the job done. The implementation …

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How to Start Your Own Law Firm

There are many reasons why an attorney may choose to make the leap and start a solo practice. Whether the pressures of a job at a big law firm have gotten too much, a new family demands more time, or even you have simply been unable to find employment at a firm in an economy that still has its struggles: small law firms are all the rage. In 2010, 5.7% of all recent law school graduates went into solo practice, which was the highest percentage since 1997. Additionally, nearly half of all private attorneys in the U.S. are solo practitioners. But before you decide to start your own law firm and figure things out along the way, take a moment to absorb some tips from lawyers who have been there and see if you can’t avoid some of the mistakes that they made. When to Start Your Own Practice The …

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How General Counsel Oversight Can Help to Avoid a “Justine Sacco Moment”

With the proliferation of social media, it is becoming all but impossible to go through a workweek without hearing about one blunder or another. These social media gaffes may dip in and out of public consciousness quickly, but they have real lasting effects on the companies and individuals involved. One such event occurred in December and involved online media company InterActive Corp (IAC) – owner of such well-known brands as ask.com and match.com. On December 20th, IAC’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications Justine Sacco, who was boarding a place to South Africa, tweeted: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Despite her relatively small reach (less than 500 followers) the offensive tweet went viral and quickly lead to her dismissal. Despite the swift response, the reputation of both IAC and Sacco were damaged nearly instantaneously. It is almost unbelievable that someone tasked with communications for …

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5 Tips to Save Thousands on Office Space – for Startups and Growing Businesses

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen startups with loads of venture capital to spend (and often more money than common sense). These days it takes piles of ingenuity, dogged determination, and a serious commitment to survive if not to thrive as a business owner. Due to the high risk of emerging ventures, among other current issues, venture capitalists have become increasingly picky.  In 2012, only three percent of VC funding when to startups. In 2013, only one or two ventures out of a hundred will see any influx of cash – venture capital firms reject 98-99% of the business plans they see. The probability of a new business getting VC funding is about 0.0005 (300/600,000). Experts agree that your odds are not much better with an existing company after their potential has been proven and the risk reduced. If you’re trying to get a company started or grow …

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3 Tips to Negotiate Legal Bills to Avoid Fee Disputes

Questioning an attorney’s bill is not all that uncommon. State and local bar associations consistently report that fee disputes are among the most common complaints they receive against lawyers. Some states have even established attorney-client fee dispute resolution programs. One well publicized lawsuit between law firm, DLA Piper, and Mr. Adam Victor, chief executive of TransGas Development Systems in Syracuse exposed internal correspondence of the law firm. After DLA Piper sued Mr. Victor for $675,000 in unpaid legal bills, Mr. Victor filed a counterclaim accusing the law firm of engaging in overbilling. William Ross, a law professor at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law specializes in billing ethics and ran a survey in 2007 interviewing 250 lawyers. The results of the survey indicated that over half of the lawyers surveyed acknowledged that billing extra time doing excessive legal research or extraneous document review was common. There are, of course, some …

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6 Things Solo Practitioners Should Know About Legal Malpractice Insurance

For any attorney starting a solo practice – or indeed any individual setting out to start a business – there can be a steep learning curve. Every a highly trained and experienced attorney may not have the knowledge or resources to immediately start running a business, which can including many different moving parts. One piece of the solo practice puzzle that is often overlooked is malpractice insurance. In fact, many solo practices operate without any malpractice insurance at all. Considering the fact that five to six percent of all attorneys will face a malpractice claim this year, the cost of which usually outweighs the cost of insurance, this may not be the best choice for a solo practitioner. If you are considering striking out on your own, or if you have been too intimidated by the malpractice insurance marketplace, there is no reason to put this decision off any longer. …

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UpCounsel in Business Insider – “This [Legal] Startup Thinks It Can Help Save The Legal Profession”

  Kyle Russell, in a recent article in Business Insider, profiles UpCounsel and described how the legal startup is on a mission to help a flailing legal industry. Read the full article here.

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The Must Know Arbitration and Class Action Breakdown Of 2014 For General Counsel

The New Year is off to a quick start, but it is not too late to consider the lessons we can learn from the legal proceedings of 2013. Staying apprised in the court decisions that will shape the legal landscape going forward is the job of any good attorney. Those that work as general counsel would do well to keep up on employment law in particular. Some of the biggest employment law decisions in the past year came in regards to the class action waivers that have been increasingly “built in” to employee arbitration clauses. Says Peter Zinober, co-chair of the global labor and employment and global human capital solutions practices at Greenberg Traurig, “What a number of employers have done over the last 20 years is that they have included mandatory arbitration language either in employee handbooks, sometimes in employee applications, sometimes in employment contracts, and the language includes …

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The CxO Guide to Tracking Down Legal Billing Mistakes

As corporate belt-tightening continues across the nation, legal billing has finally come under the microscope for greater scrutiny. The emphasis on controlling fees and iterative costs has created an entire industry of audit firms designed to analyze legal billing to find discrepancies and root out unethical billing practices and mistakes while pointing to potential cost savings. CxOs that do not engage an independent legal billing audit review service provider usually have some level of in-house quality control to routinely examine legal invoices and flag items for review. To help those legal bill reviewers and business owners, we put together the following list of the top legal billing mistakes to help. This list accounts for approximately 90% of all complaints by clients of legal firms and their legal billing audit teams. 1. Padded Time Company executive officers have long been suspicious of general counsel – both in-house and outsourced – padding …

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