A blog about making your business leaner, faster and smarter

Are Employee Engagement Surveys All That They’re Cracked Up to Be?

In the world’s top economies – all 12 of them – over half of the companies with at least 100 workers are surveying the heck out of them. Entire companies have been born simply to survey employees. In particular, these survey companies want to understand employee engagement. Their mission is to ‘make employees happier’ and they share the results of those surveys to management as evidence of where their company can improve and how they can create the perfect workplace and be rewarded with super levels of productivity. According to many business writers, leaders are supposed to pay loads of attention to their employees’ circumstances, create a stress-free environment where happy workers produce amazing results, and then the company’s stock price goes through the roof. According to TINYPulse.com, who surveys over 300 companies around the world every week and analyzes over 40,000 anonymous responses, there are some important trends for …

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4 Things You Need to Know About Employee Surveys

For all executives and managers, including general counsel, knowing what is really going on with employees is essential for being able to effectively manage and grow a business. Festering dissatisfaction and other issues can lead to instability, high turnover, and high costs for the company that both direct and indirect. Further, perceived employee issues that go unaddressed can lead to legal issues down the road. These are just some of the reasons that employee surveys that aim to uncover issues within the organization should be conducted regularly. Unfortunately, it is not quite as simple as just asking an employee how they are. These five tips should help general counsel and other executives determine the best reasons – and the best ways – to conduct an effective employee survey. Measuring Engagement Alongside Excellence is More Effective Oftentimes, human resources or other managers will focus employee surveys on the key metric of …

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Selling your Business – the Legal Roadmap

You may have thought about selling your business right from the start but even if it never occurred to you until lately, you’re going to need a good legal roadmap to go by if you’re going to have a successful outcome. Selling a business is both an art and a science. We’ve written out a legal roadmap for small, closely held startups, but many of these principles apply to larger transactions too. What Makes a Business Attractive to Buyers Many elements of a business make it attractive to potential buyers, including: A solid history of profitability A large and loyal customer base A well-defined competitive advantage Clear opportunity for growth A desirable location A skilled workforce All of these elements also factor into the valuation, which we’ll go into later. Are YOU Ready to Sell? Of course, it’s important to be both financially and emotionally ready to sell. Business owners …

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UpCounsel Launches Outside General Counsel Program

We at UpCounsel are excited to publicly announce our Outside General Counsel program. For months, our customers were ecstatic about our remarkable ad hoc legal services. But time and time again, they kept asking for our lawyers to be long-term team members for their companies – to know their companies and be true legal advisors. Since our mission is to create a remarkable legal experience, enter the Outside General Counsel program. How We Made It Happen First, we had to find the right lawyers. Since UpCounsel only takes the best lawyers, this wasn’t hard. But from our communities in San Francisco and New York City, we selected attorneys who had a minimum of 13 years of experience, who came from top law firms and companies, and who had experience serving as outside general counsel to small and large companies. Second, we had to make sure that our Outside General Counsel …

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Responsive Law on Fee Sharing, Innovation, and the Consumer Interest

  It’s an exciting time for the legal services industry. Companies like UpCounsel, LegalZoom, and the UK’s Co-operative Legal Services are proving that there are viable alternatives to the traditional (and expensive) attorney-client model. In this transitioning landscape, Responsive Law serves as the voice of the everyday consumer. Responsive Law is a national non-profit organization whose mission is to increase access, affordability, and accountability in the legal system. Protecting consumer interests is one of our core objectives, one which is often best accomplished by advocating for right-sizing regulation of the legal services industry. Regulation is a double edged sword. This set of rules and laws varies from field to field, and in many cases they help protect customers and ensure fair business practice. For example, pharmaceutical companies must submit new drugs to the FDA for approval, which helps protect consumers from worthless “snake oil” products. In the legal world, laws …

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5 Ways General Counsel Can Be Prepared for Scrutiny from Government Regulators

Working as in-house counsel can be challenge enough, but when you are in an industry that requires heavy government regulation, things can get even more tangled. We only need to take one look at the case brought against GlaxoSmithKline vice president and in-house counsel Lauren Stevens in 2010 to see some of the potential land mines in a highly regulated industry like pharmaceuticals. Ms. Stevens was indicted on charges that she knowingly kept relevant information from government regulators, which was akin to lying to government officials. While the GSK case was dismissed, lead prosecutor Sara Bloom has been adamant that she feels the Department of Justice was right to issue the indictment and that she would do so again. This knowledge undoubtedly raises some fear in the hearts of in-house counsel who previously felt safe, nestled behind their own cries of privilege. If you are working or plan to work in …

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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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