A blog about making your business leaner, faster and smarter

New ICANN Rules Could Open You Up to Cybersquatting

Whether you work as general counsel for a major corporation or a smaller start up, it is more than likely that you have a presence online. For companies and attorneys alike, maintaining a web presence is a crucial element in developing and maintaining a brand that clients can trust. But new developments in the infrastructure of the internet are now poised to throw a wrench into the web strategies of even the biggest brands. What are gTLDs? The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was first incorporated in 1998. At that time, there were fewer than 4 million pages on the internet. Today, there are more than a hundred times that. ICANN was created to track and organize the specifics of webpages, such as generic top level domains (gTLDs). These include the suffixes of urls, like .com, .net, and .biz. At the inception of the internet, there were …

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Essential Tips to Get (and Stay!) Organized as a Small Business Owner

Can you believe it’s already February? Where did the January go? Many business owners begin with a very clear purpose and a strong set of core values, but they quickly get distracted by all the tasks that need to be completed every day. It’s easy to do because the list always looks overwhelming and everyone needs your time, so you end up chasing your tail. Small business owners and entrepreneurs always need to be ready and alert to that next opportunity, but getting organized can be hard when there are so many things going on. Staying organized? It’s even harder. The average executive in America wastes 6 weeks (weeks!) every year searching for missing information. This translates into 1 hour lost every day. (Source: Wall Street Journal) About 25% of workers save things in piles instead of in files. (Source: Taylor Nelson Sofres Intersearch) White collar workers waste an average …

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5 Tips for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs to Negotiate Legal Bills

Lawyers and their fees have never been popular. At the time, their value has always been suspect. Even the non-adversarial tasks of transactional work or uncontested matters – like drafting legal documents – have the potential to acquire unexpected complications when must be dealt with, and the legal bill subsequently grows.  There are practical, realistic ways for small business owners and entrepreneurs – indeed anyone who is hiring a lawyer for any reason at all – to manage their legal fees. Business people are fairly savvy when it comes to negotiating the prices for materials, rent, supplies, and other products they need for their business, but when it comes to hiring professional services like those of attorneys and accountants, they may not know how to get things done. According to a survey done in 2012 by LexisNexis Law Firm Billable Hours Survey Report, key findings included: 39% of time worked …

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What the Future Holds for General Counsel

Any lawyer knows that one of the keys to a successful career is preparation. Litigators, contract attorneys, and associates fresh from law school all know that you have to be properly prepared for every task if you want it to go smoothly. But not every attorney takes this truism in the context of broader career goals. The fact is that, just as the law is in constant flux with fresh legislation and new rulings every day, the role of the attorney is more malleable that you might think. This is particularly true for those lawyers who work as general counsel. To address this evolving role, the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) put together a survey of general counsel as well as company directors to find out where the winds of change are heading. The result is an interesting testament to the elastic nature of practicing law. The ACC study, entitled …

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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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