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Getting Rid of Those Pesky Replies!

With a new website comes learning.  With learning comes wisdom.  With wisdom comes.... user preferences.

Many of you may feel overwhelmed by the volume of email you are receiving from the community forum, and you may prefer not to see all of the replies that come in to a particular topic.  Well, there is an answer!  See below:

First:  Log in to the website

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The State of Cybersecurity

By Douglas Concepcion

Based on the historical trend established over the last few years, it is expected that the number and sophistication of cyber-attacks will continue to increase.  54% of the professionals in the cybersecurity space anticipate a successful attack against their organization within the next twelve months.  Even though security budgets have been increasing over the last several years, the return on the investment has been decreasing, i.e., what is known as the trickledown effect.  This means that nation states and sophisticated actors (all black hat hackers) have been developing very powerful tools over the past (approximately) ten years, and as with all technical development, the tools eventually make their way into the public space.  In these cases, very innovative malware is now being used by criminal actors to circumvent the cybersecurity (hardware and software) of organizations.  Due to this level of concern, most organizations, on average, are increasing their security budget by 21% in the coming year, with a focus on securing planned or existing cloud infrastructures, applications, training and education of staff and mobile devices. 

The biggest hurdles experienced by organizations is lack of knowledgeable or skilled employees in cybersecurity; with an overall shortage worldwide of about 800,000 at the present time, that number is expected to increase to 1.7 million unfilled cybersecurity positions globally by 2020.  This shortage is causing organizations to increase training of existing staff in cybersecurity, and to contract with companies that offer Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) and Managed Service Provider (MSP) services.  A primary reason for the outsourcing to one of these organizations is that these service providers already have a dedicated staff in place 24/7, with the required skill sets for managing cybersecurity.  This removes a large portion of the security personnel burden from the organization, while also sharing the responsibility of security operations.

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The Power of Color—An In-Depth Look at the Perception of Law’s Top 3 Choices

By Jim Weber

Color.  It can make you feel.  Make you pay attention.  Make you remember.

While the topic of color theory, color psychology and the effects of color in advertising is broad, we will focus on the top three colors used in large law firm branding, and how those colors can influence a potential client's impression.

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The Future

By Elyssa A. Goldstein, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP 

Any moron can answer a telephone.  This was my exact sentiment when I began my first day of work as a receptionist in a law firm on Monday, August 24, 2009.  A negative, short-sighted and just plain untrue sentiment, to say the least.  Having studied music in college, I did not imagine that I would wind up working in a law firm two years after graduation.  In fact, as my mother worked in a law firm, and I wanted to “be my own person”, I tried to avoid following in her (career) footsteps at all costs.

Now, nine years later, I am primarily responsible for running all administrative aspects of a law firm, including hiring, firing and managing staff, some of whom no doubt never imagined that they would be working in a law firm after college or high school. 

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Wellness Tips: Flu Shots

By Michelle Cohen

The beginning of flu season is HERE.  These words strike fear in the hearts of many law firm administrators.  Does the paralegal sniffling by the water cooler look a bit pale and unwell?  Is he sweating?  Did the receptionist touch that door handle after a surreptitious nose wipe?  Did half the staff call out sick this morning?  Why does this happen every year?  Don’t we always think to ourselves, Should I encourage everyone in the office to get a flu shot?  The answer is a resounding YES!  What follows is a synopsis of flu shot information adapted/shared from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.  It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits and missed work due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.  Over 80,000 people died last year of the flu or complications from the flu, making last year the deadliest flu season in four decades.  There were also a record breaking 900,000 flu-related hospitalizations last year.

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NJSBA President John Keefe Presents at Business Partner Expo

On September 25, 2018, the NJALA hosted its 25th Annual Business Partner Expo at Mayfair Farms in West Orange.  Prior to the Expo, a large group of NJALA members and guests attended an important and timely educational workshop on the topic of “The Opioid Crisis.”  John E. Keefe, Jr., Esq., President of the New Jersey State Bar Association, and Elaine Durkas, Director of Human Resources at Fusion Employer Services LLC, presented a session on the history and current climate of opioid abuse and addiction, as well as guidance for employers on how to appropriately and legally address drug abuse in the office. 

 

 

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What Would You Do?

By Colleen Conway 

For this feature, the Jer-Z-Journal will pose a scenario that could occur in a law firm. Members were surveyed and asked how they might respond if faced with the particular situation. All responses, whether serious, sarcastic or humorous, were encouraged. All responses are confidential, and some may have been edited. 

SCENARIO: A secretary is having difficulty keeping up with the new technology in the office, which is causing her to have a longer turnaround time. Her assigned attorneys have started giving some of their work out to other secretaries because “it is a rush” and they want it done quickly. This is causing animosity amongst the staff. Although you have explained to the attorneys that they need to give their secretary a chance, so that she can practice and improve, they continue to give work to others, as they don’t want to wait or may not be able to wait due to deadlines. WHAT WOULD YOU DO? 

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Effective April 1, 2018, your NJALA dues are rising to $900.00 per year

Did I get your attention? This is not an April Fools’ joke. $900.00 is the annual dues amount everyone would have to pay if we did not have the support of our business partners (BPs). How did I determine this amount? Well, let’s break down some numbers. 

We meet ten times per year—six times at the Highlawn Pavilion, two socials at various country clubs, our annual Business Partner Exposition at Mayfair Farms and once at The Manor for Managing Partners’ Night (where we invite a multitude of guests at the association’s expense). The cost to cover cocktails and dinner averages out to around $65.00 per person. If a member attends all ten events throughout the year, the cost to NJALA is $650.00 for that member. Not bad for $250.00 membership dues (or $200.00 for additional members of the same firm)! 

Cocktails and dinner are just one aspect of what it costs to run this organization. At seven of our monthly meetings (eight, if you include our Business Partner Exposition), we provide an educational session. Often, these educational sessions include a nationally-known speaker. Each speaker charges an engagement fee, and we are also responsible for covering travel expenses. The cost associated with each speaker varies widely depending upon how recognizable the speaker is and from where he/she is traveling. 

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How Law Firms Should Measure Profitability

By Rippe & Kingston

Using key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your law firm can help identify what is working well, and help guide strategic decisions for the future.  However, a shocking number of law firms don’t use any performance metrics beyond measuring and tracking the hours billed at the attorney and firm levels.

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What CAN You Do? NJALA Opportunities Available to All Members

By Elli Albert

For the past couple of years, some of you may have read my column, “What Would You Do?” in the Jer-Z-Journal.  I would now like to suggest a twist and ask NJALA members, “What CAN You Do?”

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The Temperature Wars

By Michelle Cohen

If you are a fan of the HBO series, Game of Thrones, you are likely all too familiar with the tagline, “winter is coming”.  Honestly, every Sunday when I watch the show and hear that line, a small part of me thinks about the fact that winter has been alive and well in my office all summer long.  My desk sits directly below an air vent, and the cold air blows in my direction all day long.  As my space heater tries to counter-balance the Nordic blasts, my fingers often turn various shades of blue and purple, and I drink so much hot tea that I run to the restroom a little too often.

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Accrual Accounting for Professional Services Firms—Playing Heads Up Ball

By Kenneth E. Winslow, CPA, PSA

Abstract: This article covers an overview of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) appeal to Congress arguing against the implementation of an accrual accounting tax mandate for professional service businesses. It provides a brief primer on cash vs. accrual accounting, and offers a discussion of how changing to an accrual-based system will affect accounting for law firms, as well as what you can do to maximize your firm’s bottom line. 

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My First Trip to the Chapter Leadership Institute

By Michelle Cohen

The Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) held its annual Chapter Leadership Institute (CLI) in Minneapolis, Minnesota from July 20, 2017 through July 22, 2017.

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Gratitude

By Elyssa A. Goldstein, CLM

As the saying goes, “timing is everything”.  On the evening of Monday, November 20, 2017, I found out that I had passed the Association of Legal Administrators’ Certified Legal Manager exam.  To say I was elated would be an understatement.  I was on the proverbial top of the world, and couldn’t imagine anything disrupting my happiness.

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The Ins and Outs of IOLTA

By Kristyn Connors

As a law firm administrator, the beginning of each calendar year brings as many opportunities as it does responsibilities.  January turns over a new leaf in more ways than one, and if your firm is anything like mine, we can never be too sure what that leaf might uncover.  What you can be positive of, however, is that you will need to complete plenty of annual tasks that, albeit mundane, are vital to the continued success and legal compliance of your law firm.  One of these tasks is registering your firm’s attorneys and trust accounts with IOLTA, or Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts.

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President's Message

By Mary Beth Donoghue

An NJALA member recently asked me how long I have been a member of the NJALA, and if I found the organization to be beneficial to my career.  The answers to these questions were simple.  

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Fairy Tale in Colorado

By Greg Deatz

Most of you know the story of Cinderella: Once upon a time, we hear, there is this frazzled serving girl who has no hope for improving her lot in life.  One day, the local prince announces a grand ball.  “I wish”, she says to herself, “that I could go.  Maybe, just maybe, if I could go, my life could change.  I might meet my Prince Charming, and get out of this mess.”  Magically, her fairy godmother appears, and, well…you know the rest: Her life turns around, and she lives happily ever after.

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Food and the Workplace—is this an HR issue?

By Michelle Cohen

I cannot imagine a more “weighty” issue than writing about food in the workplace.  People have very strong feelings about food on many levels—way beyond the areas of just nutrition and health.  We, as law firm administrators, wear many different hats, but the one department into which we seem to consistently fall is that we are in many ways the “glue” that keeps everything together and running smoothly at our respective firms.  We seemingly hear every complaint, concern and stressor relevant to our personnel.  When it comes to food, however, complaints, concerns and stressors may be much more difficult to handle. 

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Understanding Millennials

By Kristyn Connors

If you had asked me 24 hours before starting my first job in HR what a law firm administrator did for a living, I would have had no idea. I would probably still have had no idea had you asked me after my first week, but, shh, please don’t tell the firm administrator that I worked under at the time. Upon starting my job as an HR assistant, I was lucky enough to work directly under an incredible firm administrator and I quickly began to realize that it took a very driven, patient and no-BS type of person (read: superhero) to succeed in this type of position, while also succeeding in keeping their sanity. I also quickly began to realize that if I was one day going to have this job, I’d better start taking notes.

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Motivation

By Elyssa A. Goldstein, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP

Admittedly, I’m not in the mood to write an Editor’s Message.  Summer is here, which means my focus has shifted to the numerous outings and vacations I have planned.  “The weekend” never seems long enough, and, at times, it feels like the gap between weekends somehow widens beyond five workdays. 

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