Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Our Blog Has Moved!

We have made some changes and we need your support! We converted our website and blog to Wordpress, and changed our blog title to “From BigLaw to Freelance Law.”  We hope to provide you with an even better blog…...with more content, legal articles, and fun stories about the interesting and sometimes crazy lives of our Montage freelance attorneys as they strive to "do it all."  Unfortunately, when we converted to Wordpress, we lost all of our blog subscribers.  We want you back! Please help us out and subscribe to our new blog on Wordpress.  Click on our blog link here – From BigLaw to Freelance Law - and type in your e-mail address in the box on the left-hand sidebar to subscribe to our new blog.  We are still working out the kinks in our new blog and website, so thanks for hanging in there with us!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Are You Coming to the Mommy Esquire Kick-Off Event?

The Orange County Bar Associations’ new Committee, Mommy Esquire, is having its kick-off event on Saturday, March 24th from 9:30 to 11:30 at San Marino Park in Irvine.  Mommy Esquire is a newly-launched Committee that promotes fellowship, education, and networking for lawyers with young children.   Their kick-off event is a networking play-date designed to make it easier for lawyer parents to network with other Orange County lawyers without having to leave their children at home.   All lawyers – not just those with children – are invited to join the Mommy Esquire group for a fun day filled with refreshments, a raffle, and networking.   Your kids will be entertained with a park and activities, freeing you up to meet other moms and dads in the Orange County bar.   See the Mommy Esquire Play-date Flyer to register for the event.   Special thanks to Kerri Strunk of Nelson Hittelman, LLP for sponsoring the refreshments for the event.

The Mommy Esquire Committee is chaired by Darlynn Morgan of Morgan Law Group.  Ashleigh Aitken of Aitken Aitken & Cohn is the vice-chair and  Erin Giglia of Montage Legal Group is the Secretary of the group.  For more information about Mommy Esquire or the play-date, contact Erin Giglia at Erin@montagelegal.com.    Don’t forget to “Like” the Mommy Esquire Facebook Page!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Growing Your Business...The Right Way

As the economy slowly improves, many companies are becoming more profitable and thinking about expanding. What do you need to know to grow your company?

Join us tonight for the presentation Growing Your Business…The Right Way put on by the National Association of Women Business Owner (NAWBO).   Erin Giglia of Montage Legal Group will join panelist Kathy Dawson, owner of Dawson and Dawson, Inc. Staffing and Search, and Rochelle Burgess, organizational development and HR specialist and owner of Innovative Group, and will speak about the following:

·         Achieving Peak Performance as a Solopreneuer

·         Developing Successful Partnerships

·         Effectively Marketing Your Company

The event is tonight (Tuesday, March 6, 2012) at 5:30pm at the Hilton Irvine, located at 18800 MacArthur Blvd., Irvine, CA 92612. 

It’s not too late to sign up! See NAWBO’s page for more information and to sign up.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dimetria Jackson Named One of OC METRO’s 20 Women To Watch!

Congratulations to Montage Legal Group’s Dimetria Jackson on being named as one of OC Metro’s 2012 20 Women To Watch. OC Metro’s popular feature highlights women in Orange County who are making waves in business and in the community.  Dimetria does both. In addition to handling freelance corporate legal projects through Montage Legal Group, Dimetria is CEO of redBAMBINA.com, an online retail boutique for pregnant and nursing mothers and young children. Dimetria is also the 2012 Orange County Bar Association President. As President, Dimetria is emphasizing technology for lawyers, strategic planning, and the issues facing attorney parents, forming the new OCBA Committee, Mommy Esquire.

Please see OC Metro’s March 2012 Edition for the full story.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Montage Nominated for OCBJ's 2012 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards

We are pleased to announce that Montage Legal Group has been nominated for Orange County Business Journal’s 2012 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards.   Montage Legal Group is honored to be part of such an excellent group of entrepreneurs.  Winners will be announced at the Awards Program on Wednesday, March 21, 2012, which will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine.  Click here for the full list of nominees or click on the magazine cover below to see the OCBJ Excellence in Entrepreneurship Awards Supplement

To see photos from the event, please click here:  OCBJ Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award Photos

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why My Fifth Grader is Smart Enough to Work at Google (and Why Lawyers Should Think "Outside the Blender" and Not Just "Outside the Box")

By Kandy Williams

As I was sitting in the airport waiting to catch a flight, I saw an article in the Wall Street Journal that caught my attention.  The article was titled “How to Ace a Google Interview.”  The article, based on the book titled “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?” written by William Poundstone, described the latest craze in tricky interview questions posed by Google and other cutting edge companies.  These questions went way beyond the predictable interview questions such “Where do you see yourself in five years?” or “What are best and worst traits?”  According to the article, one of the questions purportedly posed by Google went as follows:

You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?

After running through a few implausible scenarios in my head, I decided I was stumped.  For fun, I posed the interview question to my fifth grader who was sitting next to me.  Barely skipping a beat, he responded, “Jump out.”  I turned back to the article and read that my son’s answer was the deemed the best answer by Google interviewers.  I had been outsmarted by a fifth grader. 

At first, I wondered if Ashton Kutcher and Jeff Foxworthy had teamed together for a new show called “Punk’d by a Fifth Grader” and made me their first victim.  Dismissing that notion, I turned back to the article.  The gist of the article was that companies today are not looking for the smartest candidates but rather are looking to hire creative thinkers who will be the best fit.  The key to the blender hypo was density, a mathematical concept I had not thought about since . . . well, probably fifth grade.  I thought about kids today and wondered if they just think more creatively than kids of previous decades.  Or is it possible that all kids have creativity in them but that some of it gets lost along the path to adulthood or in my case the path to a J.D.  I decided the answer was “yes” to both.

Law school teaches attorneys to think in linear fashion, yet today’s world is not so linear.  The fifth graders in my son’s class are savvy enough to use an iPhone and create a PowerPoint presentation.  If today’s fifth graders can think outside the box, then shouldn’t we?  After all, the business of being a lawyer has changed dramatically in the last twenty years.  Today’s lawyers are no longer locked away in law libraries reading dusty tomes and taking copious, handwritten notes. Nor are lawyers today dictating letters or briefs into some anachronistic dictation machine.  Thanks to dictation apps like Dragon Dictation, you can now dictate on your smart phone or iPad and even email the contents.  Lawyers today have keyboard skills (whether via desktop, laptop, Blackberry, or iPhone) that rival any legal secretary from the 1950s, along with the ability to “print to pdf” with ease.  I have seen many lawyers carry iPads to court with them in the event they need to research a case during a hearing or trial.  In case you were wondering, yes, there is an even an app for that.  In fact, thanks to the likes of WestlawNext, Lexis Advance, FastCase, and others, there are actually several. 

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the American Bar Association’s Legal Technology Resource Center, eighty-eight percent of the attorneys surveyed use a smartphone, with forty-six percent of those using a Blackberry, thirty-five percent using an iPhone, and seventeen percent using an Android.  Fifteen percent of attorneys surveyed used a tablet such as an iPad.   Apparently, the leap from legal pad to iPad is not so great a jump after all. 

Despite all these advances made by the legal world, why is it often the case law firms are still behind the curve when it comes to cutting edge technology?  As one partner from a big firm with whom I worked on a recent matter acknowledged, “It is always embarrassing when a client has greater technology than we do.”  Now that is an understatement.  And yet, like the frog sitting complacently in a pot of water as the temperature is turned up gradually to boiling, we cling to outdated concepts while the rest of the world changes around us.  Rather than being proactive, lawyers and law firms continue to be reactive. They are always playing catch up to the latest greatest craze.  If any of the businesses with whom I work had that kind of reactive mindset, they would not be in business for long. 

Lawyers offer up several explanations as to why they cannot upgrade their technology, such as cost, security . . . the list is endless.  The reality is that sometimes as lawyers we get so bogged down in juggling the practice of law with the day-to-day demands of life that we do not see the forest for the trees.  We think we do not have the time to build a better mousetrap so instead we are content to simply reinvent the wheel.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson so aptly stated, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”  When the book “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss drew a cult following in the business world a few years ago, I recall some attorneys I know saying they would settle for a forty-hour work week.   

Rather than embracing technology with ease, some lawyers I know have to be taken down kicking and screaming.  For example, most lawyers are linked up to LinkedIn but not many have ventured further down the cyber highway to Facebook or Twitter.  And some law firms are paperless, while other law firms are like dinosaurs killing the rainforest one printed merger agreement at a time.  There are even large law firms that have used the same billing software for almost a decade or that have attorneys email time entries to their secretary to enter into the system.  And while there are time entry apps to allow for billing from your smart phone outside the office, very few firms I know use them.  As attorneys, we need to be leading the charge on using technology to our advantage.  Instead of a “Call to Arms,” consider this a “Call to Apps.”  With that being said, there is a fine line as to how closely professionals should embrace technology.  I know attorneys who text their clients or, worse, send firm-wide emails with text-like abbreviations.  A professional texting clients does not seem, well, professional . . . especially when you consider the client is paying hundreds of dollars an hour.  FWIW, unless a client is your BFF, I would pass on the texting.  LOL.   

As evidence of how important technology has become to the practice of law, the newly inducted President of the Orange County Bar, Dimetria Jackson, has made technology and social networking for lawyers part of her mission.  The OCBA is exploring creating an OCBA app and has launched a President’s page on Facebook.  (See Interview with Dimetria Jackson).  We should all applaud these efforts to bring attorneys to the forefront of advances in technology.  In fact, attorneys today should strive to think not just outside the box, but outside the blender.  Or else we are doomed to be outsmarted by fifth graders.  No one wants that.

Kandy Williams is affiliated with Montage Legal Group and is the owner of Williams Law Firm.  Kandy can be reached at Kandy@montagelegal.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Freelancers: The Wave of the Future?

Are we moving toward an economy where employers hire freelancers rather than full-time employees?

Yes.  According to a recent study by MBO Partners, a company that connects independent workers with employers, our economy will support more freelancers than full-time employees by 2020.  And, contrary to popular belief, the slow economy is not the driving force behind this.  The study indicates that most freelancers choose to go independent, and the overwhelming majority of them have no plans to return to full-time employment.

The workplace is changing, and this is good news for employers and workers alike.  Employers save money by using freelancers because they don’t have to pay for health care benefits, unemployment insurance, or payroll taxes.  With more and more professionals opting to go independent, employers can contract with highly experienced workers who are specialists in their fields.  Of course, freelancers cannot take the place of full-time employees, who often are vital to the seamless operation of businesses.  But, with the rise of experienced freelancers, employers now have greater flexibility in deciding how to structure their workforces.

Freelancing benefits workers, too.  Success no longer equates to rising up the ranks of a particular employer.  Now, more than ever, individuals seek flexibility in their work and control over the way they do it.  While leaving behind a steady paycheck is no easy feat, freelancers can choose to take on as much work as they want and, if successful, earn a good living.

Take Montage Legal Group, for example.  Montage attorneys went to prestigious schools, worked for excellent full-service law firms, and possess high levels of expertise in their areas of practice.  They chose to leave full-time employment in favor of flexibility, and are now available to firms on a contract basis.  Clients who hire Montage attorneys can rest assured that they are getting high value at reasonable rates, and Montage attorneys enjoy the ability to work on high-level projects while pursuing interests and obligations outside of work.  When done right, it’s a win/win situation.

Check out the links below to review the study and an article providing more information regarding the benefits of using freelancers and some helpful tips on making your venture into freelancing successful.



Amy Hirsh Holtzman is Montage Legal Group's Lead San Francisco attorney. Amy graduated from UCLA School of Law in 2006, and formerly practiced employment law at Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, LLP.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How Freelance Lawyers Can Reduce Their Taxable Income with a SEP IRA

By Kate King
Saving for retirement should be on the top of your list of priorities right now.  As a freelance lawyer and a self-employed individual, you have a wonderful opportunity to divert a sizeable amount of your income into a retirement vehicle and reduce your taxable income each year by opening a SEP IRA.  This retirement account is very appealing due to the ease of set-up, the flexibility with regards to contribution amounts and the minimal administration costs.  Contributions to a SEP IRA are 100% tax-deductible, and the investment earnings, dividends and income grow tax-deferred.  The exact amount allowed for each year depends upon whether you are 1099’d or W2’d, but either way you are allowed to contribute at least 20% of your gross adjusted income for each year up to a $49,000 annual maximum.  Unlike traditional IRAs, the total family income is irrelevant to whether an individual qualifies for a SEP IRA.  A Financial Planner can quickly and easily determine the exact amount you are eligible to contribute.  In general, the SEP IRA must be set up and funded by your tax filing deadline.  There is no minimum amount to set up a SEP IRA.  (This may differ amongst Financial Planners.) 
It is simple to set up a SEP IRA, and it is extremely important.  The SEP IRA is a wonderful opportunity associated with being self-employed.  There is no other retirement account which allows you to set aside such a large sum of money and deduct it from your taxable income.  Retirement is going to be very expensive, and you will be thankful later in life if you start to save and invest as early as possible.  Each additional year that you contribute to your retirement account gives you one additional year to watch that contribution grow tax-deferred.  You can always get a loan for your childrens’ college educations, but you cannot get a loan for retirement! 

The SEP IRA is such an easy thing to set up.  Please feel free to call me with questions you may have.  I am a mother of a 5 year old son and a 2 year old daughter, and a great supporter of freelance lawyers like those in Montage Legal Group who have chosen to take control of their personal lives and careers.  I am more than happy to help freelance lawyers retire in-style!

Kate King


The KFK Group
4000 Barranca Parkway, Suite 250
Irvine, CA 92604
Phone: (949) 262-3213
Fax: (949) 271-5090



Friday, January 20, 2012

Daily Journal Features Dimetria Jackson, 2012 OCBA President and Montage Legal Group Freelance Lawyer

Montage Legal Group's Dimetria Jackson was installed as the first female African American President of the Orange County Bar Association at last night Judges' Night and Annual Meeting. The event was inspirational, and was attended by attorneys and judges from all over southern California, including many past OCBA presidents.

Don DeBenedictis of the Daily Journal reported on Dimetria's 2012 agenda, which includes strategic planning, boosting the OCBA's presence on social media and a mobile phone app, supporting greater funding for the courts, launching networking events that bring lawyers and business people together, and to bringing greater balance between career and family to lawyer parents.  See Bar President Hopes to Increase Opportunities for Lawyer Parents, Daily Journal, 1/19/2012.  The Daily Pilot also featured Dimetria Jackson in an article on 1/21/2012.  See O.C. Bar Assn. Names First Female Black President

Mommy Esquire, a new OCBA committee, is already underway. Mommy Esquire's newly formed Board includes Darlynn Morgan of Morgan Law Group as Chair, 2012 OCBA Secretary Ashleigh Aitken of Aitken Aitken Cohn as Vice Chair, and Erin Giglia of Montage Legal Group as Secretary. 

In addition to her new leadership position with the OCBA, Dimetria is also CEO of redBAMBINA.com, an online retail children's boutique, and handles transactional legal projects for law firms through Montage Legal Group. 

Montage Legal Group is honored to have Dimetria as a member of its network.  For more information about Dimetria Jackson, see Dimetria's Bio or a recent interview with Dimetria, and "like" her official OCBA Facebook page: Orange County Bar Association's President's Page.

Dimetria Jackson and The Honorable Carol D. Codrington

Montage Legal Group Freelance Attorneys at Judges' Night and OCBA Annual Meeting (from left to right: Kristin Martin, Maureen Aplin, Kandy Williams, Carolyn McKitterick, Amy Guldner, Dimetria Jackson, Erin Giglia, Laurie Rowen, Marisa Ippolito, and Leena Bhakta)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Interview with OCBA President and New Montage Attorney, Dimetria Jackson

Montage Legal Group’s newest freelance attorney, Dimetria A. Jackson, will become the Orange County Bar Association’s first African American female president on January 19, 2012. But serving the community is certainly not a first for Dimetria – she has been doing just that, continuously and consistently, since childhood. With more academic, professional, and community accolades than most could possibly imagine, Dimetria is poised and ready to serve in her important new role for the OCBA. 

We sat down with Dimetria to ask about her vision for the OCBA in 2012 and beyond.

Erin Giglia: You are one of the busiest people we know on a normal day, and this month is especially busy as you ramp up to take the reigns as the OCBA’s new President, so thank you so much for finding a few minutes for this interview. For those of our readers who have not met you yet, can you provide us with a brief summary of your background?

Dimetria Jackson:  Growing up in Cambria Heights, New York, I was very active in my community. I raised money for charities, donated clothing and toys, campaigned for local politicians and participated in marches, with my family, to protest civil and racial injustices, in New York. I was inspired by my parents, to make a difference in my community, and by the Honorable Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice and lead attorney in Brown vs. Board of Education, to attend law school.   I attended Dartmouth College, where I majored in Government and Sociology, and the University of Virginia School of Law.  

While in law school, I was selected as an Echoing Green Foundation Fellow.  I relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a fellowship with the National Health Law Program, a national public interest law firm, where I founded the Women & HIV Policy Development Project to provide legal advice, trainings and advocacy on access to health care for low-income HIV positive women and those at risk.  I advocated on behalf of the women locally and on Capitol Hill. Upon completion of my fellowship, I joined the Los Angeles County Counsel’s Juvenile Dependency Division, where I represented the Department of Children and Family Services. I then transitioned to an in-house counsel position at First American Title Insurance Company.  In 2000, I began working at First American Trust, FSB, where I served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary. My duties included managing the legal and compliance departments, drafting and negotiating agreements, managing litigation, and handling all legal matters including, investment management, regulatory compliance, banking, litigation, and corporate governance.

My husband, Ernest Priestly, and I have been married for over 7 years.  We are the proud parents of a very smart, energetic and handsome 3 year old little boy, named Jackson.  We are also parenting an adorable and curious 15 month old boy through foster care, that we would love to adopt.

Currently, I am CEO of redBAMBINA.com, an online retail boutique that caters to nursing and expectant women, infants and children.  My responsibilities include management and operation of the business. Last year, I also decided to join Montage Legal Group to utilize my legal skills, on a contract basis. I have several years of extensive legal training that may benefit law firms and corporate legal departments seeking additional legal support.

Throughout my legal career, I’ve been involved in the community. I’ve chaired the OCBA’s Diversity and Equal Justice Committee, presented Elimination of Bias MCLE seminars, served on the OCBA’s Leadership Task Force, and was appointed to the California State Bar’s Ethnic and Minority Relations Committee. I’ve mentored several law students and participated in Chapman Law School’s Mentor Program.  I am currently on the Board of the Directors of the Orange County Bar Association (OCBA), the OCBA’s Charitable Fund, the Orange County Bar Foundation, and InTouch Credit Union. I have previously served on the Boards of the Public Law Center, the California Minority Counsel Program, and Pink Ladder.  I’m honored and looking forward to having a positive impact on the OCBA as its 2012 President.

Erin Giglia: What do you hope to accomplish in 2012 as President of the Orange County Bar Association?

Dimetria Jackson:  As President of the OCBA, I plan to implement a few initiatives in 2012. First, to create and implement a strategic plan to identify the OCBA’s long term goals.  It has been 14 years since the last strategic plan was drafted. The practice of law and practice management has changed tremendously over the past 14 years and as stewards of the OCBA it is time to set new priorities and goals for the future of the OCBA. Hopefully, the OCBA’s strategic plan will be reviewed annually to ensure unity, direction, and focus of the association.

Similarly, I plan to emphasize technology and social networking for lawyers. Because technology has dramatically altered the way lawyers are selected and hired, it is crucial that the OCBA assist its members to understand the benefits and pitfalls of technology in their practices and to understand how to implement technology.  The OCBA currently has a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  To ensure that the OCBA remains in the forefront of technology, we are exploring the launch of an OCBA app and creating an OCBA President’s Page on Facebook.  The OCBA will also host seminars to educate members on technology and social media, email, and blogs, to promote their firms and to provide engaging content.

Another goal is to create networking opportunities between lawyers and the business community through hosting events with local chambers of commerce and other professional organizations.  These relationships will foster potential business opportunities and enhance the representation of lawyers in the community.

Additionally, we plan to create a new OCBA committee pertaining to the issues, challenges, and joys of parenthood while practicing law. As much as I love being a lawyer, since my son was born, I realize that I am very passionate about motherhood.  I am hopeful that a new committee will provide an excellent opportunity for networking among similarly situated attorneys, foster mentoring relationships and social activities geared toward families.  Working with the OCBA’s Education Committee, I would also like to plan MCLE panels focusing on issues relating to women in the law.

Erin Giglia: What made you decide to become a freelance lawyer with Montage Legal Group?

Dimetria Jackson:  As a parent of a 3-year-old little boy and a toddler foster son, who we hope to adopt, life is joyously hectic. Family, community involvement, mentoring, and being a excellent lawyer are all huge priorities for me, priorities that do not always lend themselves to harmonious mingling. Practicing law, as a mother of young children, presents very unique challenges. On one hand, I have significant and valuable training, skills, and legal experience that are an asset to employers. On the other hand, I know that being a full-time attorney is rarely limited to 40 – 50 hours per week (or even 70 for that matter). Montage Legal Group provides the opportunity to do high level substantive legal work for law firms and corporations, nationwide, but virtually, according to my schedule, and with the support of likeminded women. There are so many extremely talented women with young children, who desire to use the legal skills that they worked tirelessly to achieve. Montage has figured out a way to make the practice of law beneficial to mommy lawyers, law firms and their clients.

Erin Giglia: With your freelance legal work, OCBA position,redBAMBINA.com, and two toddlers, you are going to be very busy in 2012! Do you have any advice for other parent lawyers who are trying to find balance?

Dimetria JacksonWork life balance is something that I consistently try to achieve.  One recommendation is to schedule time on your calendar (with reminders, if necessary) for you, your family and whatever else is important to you.  Our calendars are filled with so many meetings and appointments, but in order to ensure that you make time for yourself, include date nights with your spouse, gym appointments, lunch with friends or family, hobbies and whatever you enjoy, as well as play dates and family outings. It will give you something fun to look forward to. If you enjoy going to the gym, calendar workouts for a time before the family awakes, once the children are asleep or during your day.  If you need to take the children with you, many gyms offer day care for your little ones, for a small fee, while you reap the benefits of a great workout.  Another recommendation is to seek assistance, by asking for help when needed.  Too often, we try to do everything ourselves, but it will ultimately save time and money, if we retain or utilize the services of a sitter, housekeeper or shop online. Fortunately, I have a wonderful supportive husband who has agreed to rearrange his schedule and priorities this year so that I may balance work, my OCBA commitments, community involvement, family and my life.