Thursday, July 29, 2010

Legal Outsourcing Series

Anyone interested in either hiring a freelance attorney or becoming a freelance attorney should read the Outsourcing Series on Lawyerist.com by Kendra Brodin. The 3-part series will cover 1) what outsourcing can do for you, 2) what tasks are suitable for outsourcing, and 3) how to find contract legal help.

Part 1: When Does Outsourcing Make Sense” explains why outsourcing has become a good option for many attorneys, and explains the following six benefits for firms:

1) Better service to clients

2) More money in your pocket

3) Less stress

4) More flexibility in your schedule

5) Reduced risk of a malpractice claim

6) Career satisfaction

In the comments section of the post, Kendra reached out to MLG's co-owner/founder, Laurie Rowen, for her comments regarding special contracts required for freelance work.  Kendra quoted Laurie as follows:
One of the biggest mistakes attorneys make in outsourcing is not having a signed contract prior to the start of the first project. Both the hiring firm and the freelance attorney should demand a contract to protect their interests, and should make sure to include clauses concerning the protection of confidential data, whether the freelance attorney is covered by malpractice insurance, a confirmation that the freelance attorney is an independent contractor not an employee, ethical issues like conflicts of interest, and issues concerning rates and payment. For example, will the firm only pay the freelance attorney after the ultimate client pays (which could take many months), or will the firm pay the freelance attorney on a monthly basis, even if the ultimate client never pays their bills? All of this should be discussed and memorialized prior to the start of the relationship. Using freelance attorneys is an excellent way to keep costs down and reduce stress, but good communication and a good contract is essential.
"Outsourcing Series, Part 2: What Tasks You Can Outsource" states that the following are the most common tasks to outsource:

• Legal research - the most common

• Write motions or briefs

• Other litigation documents (like a complaint, answer, interrogatories, jury instructions, etc.)

• Attend and defend depositions

• Organize your files for trial, interview witnesses, or give advice in a complex matter.

• Writing an article or book or even preparing CLE materials

• Billing, accounting, and payroll (usually to a non-attorney)

• Public relations


The Outsourcing Series, Part 3: How to Find and Hire a Contract Attorney states that one of the best ways to find a contract attorney is to ask for referrals. Other options include going on-line to look for websites of contract attorneys and advertising through your local bar association's website or newsletter.  (Of course, we believe the best way to find a contract attorney is to contact Montage Legal Group!)  Part 3 of this series also listed five tips to keep the relationship smooth:

1) Be clear and precise about your work.

2) Be clear on the payment.

3) Be clear on the deadline.

4) Be clear about your budget.

5) Be clear about when you will pay (..."Don't make her payment contingent on your being paid by your client. No one wants to work for free.")

Thanks for the great series, Kendra.

Kendra Brodin is the Founder and CEO of Kendra Brodin Companies, LLC and WomenLawyersOnline.com, a national resource for women attorneys launching September 8, 2010. Kendra is also a law firm consultant and CLE faculty focused on the hiring, retention, and advancement of women attorneys for law firms across the country.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Montage Attorney and Author Maureen Aplin Joins the Kindle Revolution

The market for e-readers and e-books has been red hot over the last year, with Amazon leading the way. Amazon recently reported that the Kindle e-books even outpaced the sales of paper books. Good news for authors like Maureen Meehan Aplin, who recently released two new novels to her Mary MacIntosh murder mystery series, POISONED BY PROXY, and THE FIVE, via Kindle Books through Amazon.com. And now Maureen has something in common with Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling – a series of thriller novels and the big screen. Her novel, THE FIVE, was optioned by Blue Rocket Films and is set for production in 2011.

A sneak peak:
The sixth book in the author's Mary MacIntosh murder mystery series centers around a serial killer (Chandler Craig) who commenced his murderous rampage before the ripe of age 12, but due to a loophole in the law, is released from juvenile detention at age 21. "Mac" hosts a reunion for her four college roommates at her family cabin in the Colorado Rockies. Within months of his release from jail, Chandler shows up at the cabin and captures each of the five with means of force, violence and torture, telling them that “one of their husbands hired him to kill one of them, and it was up to each to convince him that she was not it.” Each friend struggles with the notion that her husband wants her dead, soul searching the past, present and future of the bonds of marriage and friendship. Chandler’s mayhem and means of torture stem from his abusive and tumultuous childhood and with each act of violence committed against THE FIVE, he reveals the depths of his hatred and sorrow. Mac's search for the truth behind Chandler’s motive to kill is entangled with the revelation of infidelity, betrayal, and conspiracy stemming from Chandler’s true birth father and a husband’s fall from professional sports grace – into a league of crime involving performance enhancement drugs that, if discovered, will certainly derail dozens of high-profile athlete’s careers.
Congratulations Maureen!
http://www.maureenaplin.com/

Friday, July 9, 2010

Women still reluctant to help each other?

Recent MSN article, Women Still Reluctant to Help Each Other by Eve Tahmincioglu, states just that - that as a general rule, women are reluctant to help each other because of jealosy, self-preservation, and self-promotion. Tahmincioglu uses The Real Housewives of New York, and politicians entrenched in their campaigns as example of this seemingly unique female behavior. Oh really?

Let's talk about women helping women, but let's be real. In other words, let's not use "The Real Housewives" of Anywhere as our example, because there's nothing "real" about that show or the people on it. The point of reality TV, like most TV, is to entertain. A producer has no choice but to find the most outrageous, entertaining women possible to cast such a show. What other choice do they have? A bunch of scrapbooking soccer moms baking cookies is B-O-R-I-N-G TV. The same is true for many of the professional women who the media considers newsworthy - they're entertaining, perhaps with caustic wit.

The reality is, most successful women have attitude, strength, confidence, and a voice because those are the qualities that led to their success. But most don't use it to oppress other women. There are thousands of professional womens' organizations dedicated to womens' career advancement and empowerment - and they work. The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), is a prime example. While it is true that successful women have little time to devote to a traditional mentor/mentee relationship, most have and will make at least some effort to help the women around them. It also may be true that there are toxic female relationships within companies, but we maintain that, in our experience, they are probably not as common as we're led to believe in the media. At least we hope not.

Montage Legal Group supports women at all stages of their career paths. We encourage each attorney to find the right balance between career and life that works for them, and we're here to do whatever we can to help!

"There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." - Madeleine Albright

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lawyer or Mom: Choose only one? Montage says "No."

Lawyer or Mom: Choose only one?, written by Amy Impellizzeri of The Glass Hammer, addresses the ongoing debate of whether women can be both successful mothers and successful lawyers. It states that female Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and nominee Elena Kagan are unmarried and childless, which has many commentators speculating about the choices women today must make in order to achieve heights in their chosen careers, particularly in the legal field.

Perhaps a better question is, "Law Firm Partner or Mom?".  An attorney does not have to practice in a large firm to be successful, whether male or female.  There are many attorneys who, for example, sit on boards of directors, judicial offices, or are executives, politicians, writers, etc.  Female attorneys are, and have likely always been, a remarkably resourceful group.  This is especially true of female attorneys in top law firms, since top firms take only top students from top schools.  Because female attorneys in top firms are intelligent, resourceful, and successful professionally and academically, these women will look critically at their career and family options.  These are the women who, by nature of their hard work and sacrifices just to land in top law firms, have the skills to determine whether they want to fit motherhood into their career, or vice versa.  These women know what their options are, and that those options differ for everyone depending on employer flexibility and outside support systems.  These women will hopefully define their successes not only by the title they can achieve within an established framework, but will actually create their own framework and redefine their success as a career path that allows them to skillfully practice law and fulfill their personal, social, and family needs. 

The article also highlights Carol Fishman Cohen who is well-known for helping women relaunch their careers after breaks to raise children:
Consider also the lawyer moms who continue to take hiatuses from huge billables and grueling work schedules to raise their young children before returning with vigor to rewarding and successful careers. Carol Fishman Cohen, co-author of Back on the Career Track: A Guide for Stay-at-Home Moms Who Want to Return to Work, has made it a personal mission to bring recognition to success stories of women in all fields, including the legal field, who relaunch their careers after multi-year breaks…Of course, it would be helpful to give those hiatuses the same publicity we give the choices made by successful women like Kagan and Sotomayor.

Montage Legal Group shares Carol Fishman Cohen's vision, and strives to assist female attorneys in continuing their legal practice while they care for young children, as well as to support those relaunching their careers.  Cohen recently profiled Montage Legal Group’s Kandy Williams as a “success story” on her website. Kandy left Brobeck Phleger & Harrison to raise her children. She relaunched her legal practice after 7 years out of the work-force, and joined Montage Legal Group's network of freelance attorneys.

This debate certainly will not end anytime soon.  Female attorneys at top firms have certainly made many personal sacrifices to achieve their success, which has many benefits to all female attorneys.  But success at a law firm, with or without children, is not the only option.  Creative, intelligent, and skilled female attorneys have alternatives to making the choice between career and law, and Montage Legal Group is honored to be a part of it.