5 Strategies for Creating a Superior Technical Resume

5 Strategies for your legal tech resume

You’ve got six seconds to make an impression with your resume.  How can you possibly show how great you are in so little time?  Good question. The trick to impressing a hiring manager or recruiter in just a few seconds is making your resume as skimmable as possible, and we’ve got some advice to help you do just that:

1. Clarity is King. 

Are you applying for a Senior Systems Engineer position?  Are you currently a Senior Systems Engineer (or have the same responsibilities but a different title)? Put “Senior Systems Engineer” right under your name and contact information. That way, as soon as a reviewer sees your resume they know they’re looking at the right kind of person for the role.

2. Make a Statement.

There’s been a lot of debate on the best way to start your resume. Some will argue for a summary of your career, others will say an objective statement, and still others will say to leave it off altogether. We’re proponents of an expertise or executive summary. The executive summary is best used for higher level manager openings and the expertise summary for technology level openings. This summary makes it quickly evident to those reviewing your resume where your experience lies. Be specific. While these can be very difficult to write, a compelling expertise or executive summary objective, tailored for each job application, will help you stand out, making it well worth the effort.

3. Call Out Your Accomplishments.

One of the biggest mistakes candidates make on their resume is simply listing their responsibilities at previous or current employers. For higher-level openings, hiring managers are really looking for how you did your job, not what you did. Even more so, they want to know how your work and skills tangibly will benefit them as your employer by seeing how you contributed to your past employers. Did you save the company money? Were you more efficient and productive than your peers? While focusing on accomplishments rather than duties is key throughout your resume, calling attention to 3-5 accomplishments in the top third of your resume can really give you an edge over your competition by stealing the hiring manager’s attention right away.

4. Highlight Your Skills.

It’s easy to present your skills in a clean, eye-grabbing way, but many people don’t think to do it. While it’s more common among technology job seekers who often divide their skills into languages, programs, and methods, it is just as valuable for professionals looking for less technical roles. Use this top third of your resume to highlight your skills with a bulleted list or  vertical slashes or dots to separate items listed horizontally. Pro tip: List only the skills that you have mastered, not everything that you have ever done. No one person is an expert in 7 different coding languages or all project management styles, so let your real expertise shine in your skills summary.

5. Keep it Clean.

We’re not talking about your language – though actually, yes, keep that clean too!—we’re warning you against over-populating the top of your resume with unneeded information, confusing formatting, or other clutter. Be concise and direct to help the reader focus on the really important details you are showcasing. Ensure your formatting, punctuation, and spelling are consistent and accurate so as not to give any reason for a reviewer to reject your resume. We also recommend that you leave color off your resume (though some subtle shading can be helpful for organization) and use a basic, professional font.

 

Make the best impression by strategically using the top third of your resume.  Good organization and relevant information will help your recruiter or hiring manager know what you are able to do for them and how you can be a great fit for their law firm. Catch their eye right away and they’ll want to keep reading the rest of your resume.

View sample resumes and download our template

or

Get in touch with one of our recruiters for free resume advice today!

 

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ESP Legal Releases 2018 Salary Guide

Our 2018 salary guides present data gathered and analyzed from law firms ranging from small law firms with 20 – 30 attorneys to large international firms. Our data includes salaries from ESP’s recent placements, as well as national and local research.

Demand for Tech Staff at Law Firms Grows

In 2017, we saw an increase in the demand for technology staff in the legal marketplace, continuing the upward trend in IT recruitment and hiring. This trend is likely to continue, with 70% of CIOs planning to increase their technology workforce in 2018 according to the Society for Information Management’s 2017 study. Among our clients, the demand seemed strongest for System and Network Engineers, Trainers, Applications Software Analysts and Desktop Engineering roles. Also noteworthy was the need for Help Desk Support and Security Engineers with security concerns continuing to grow for law firms.

A Tight Market for Attorneys

For attorney hiring, the candidate market is the tightest it’s been since 2006. Some reports show an unemployment rate for educated legal professionals (at all levels) under one percent. Our clients have been reaching out to us more quickly when a need arises and have been working hard to streamline their hiring process and provide timely feedback to secure the best candidates.

Work-Life Balance and Benefits Are More Important Than Ever

Candidates continue to express higher interest in better work-life balance, including having the option to work remotely at least part time. Additionally, affordable medical benefits are often a strong factor for candidates when choosing between offers and clearly defined career paths remain important. To attract and retain top talent you may need to focus on adding to your offerings or highlighting those you have in the recruitment and interview process.

With over twenty-two years of legal staffing expertise, ESP Legal continues to monitor and analyze hiring trends, including compensation and benefits in this rapidly changing economy in order to best serve you.

View Legal Technology Salary Guide 

View Attorney Salary Guide

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Our Top 7 Recommendations To Help You Hire And Retain Legal Professionals

Tips for hiring and retaining legal pros in 2018As you plan for the year ahead you might be aiming to make your hiring process more efficient, hoping to implement new employee retention initiatives, or analyzing your upcoming projects to identify your hiring needs. Whatever particular challenges you might be facing, 2018 is brimming with opportunities, and our team of experts at ESP Legal has put together these recommendations so you’ll be primed to take advantage of them.

Our Best Advice for Law Firm Hiring Managers in 2018:

1. Make or Promote A Remote Work Policy:

To recruit and maintain the best possible legal talent, make 2018 the year you evaluate your remote work policies. One of the major factors considered by candidates looking to make a career change is their ability to do their work remotely, either regularly or occasionally. If you already have a flexible policy, promote it with prospective hires. If you don’t, consider offering it as a perk to your new hires after they’ve proven themselves and as a reward to employees you are looking to retain. While not all positions allow for frequent remote work, with a structure in place to measure performance, many roles can be successfully executed through telecommuting.

2. Know the Legal Hiring Market:

It’s tight. Unemployment for educated legal professionals and technologists with legal experience is exceptionally low. If you’re looking to hire in the new year, it’s essential that you make yourself aware of what’s realistic to expect from both a skill set and compensation standpoint and draw up your job requirements accordingly.

3. Give Feedback:

If you’re working with a staffing firm, providing feedback in a timely manner is essential. It will help you get the best fit possible by helping your recruiter address concerns, adjust search efforts, and keep your favorite candidate warm while you work through your process. If you’re not working with a firm, feedback is just as important. Acknowledging a thank you note or informing a candidate of your next steps can keep them from losing interest or developing negative feelings about you or your firm.

4. Research Compensation:

The Association of Legal Administrators and the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) are great resources for detailed compensation guidelines, and ESP Legal also publishes a free annual salary guide for technology, litigation support, and attorney compensation trends. If you are not able to offer a competitive salary as compared to your peers, think strategically about how you can offset this with better benefits, opportunity to grow and learn, and some flexibility in work schedule, and be prepared to sell these advantages to prospective hires.

5. Share Medical Benefits During the Process:

The cost of medical coverage can vary drastically from one firm to the next and can be a big factor for job seekers. If you’re working with a recruitment firm, share medical cost information with your recruiters. We have seen far too many candidates turn down an offer at the last minute because they’ve realized their out of pocket medical expense combined with the salary offered resulted in a decrease in their total compensation. By providing these medical costs in advance, or at least during negotiations, you’ll save yourself time and get the candidate you want.

6. Outsource your Hiring:

We know this may sound self-serving, but many of our clients historically hadn’t used recruiters before 2017 or tried to fill a position without help before sending it to us first, and after working with us have shared their regrets over the time they wasted. By engaging a trusted recruitment firm immediately when a need arises, you’ll get a great candidate on board fast, and minimize effort on your part.

7. Interview Efficiently:

In every area of legal hiring, candidates are in high demand and usually have several irons in the fire. When there are delays in the process, your internal hiring team can become forgetful or distracted and worse, your top candidate may lose interest in you or accept another opportunity before you’ve even prepared to make an offer. Line up all your qualified candidates and interview them in blocks of time over a few days or a week vs. one by one over several weeks. Then schedule internal debriefs with your team so you can compare candidates and make an offer to your top choice as soon as possible. Streamlining and expediting your interview process in these ways can help you make the best hire.

If you’re a hiring manager or department head at a law firm, we hope these recommendations have given you some good ideas and will help make 2018 your most successful year yet. If you’re looking for more personalized advice, our account managers would be thrilled to discuss your unique challenges and help you find the best solutions.

Get in touch

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Our Best Advice to Help You Achieve Your Legal Career Dreams

Career advice for legal professionalsWith a new year comes new opportunity. If you’re a legal technologist, litigation support professional, or attorney looking to advance your career in 2018, our team of experts at ESP Legal has advice for you to make your next year a success.

Our Best Advice for Job Seekers in 2018:

1. Think Beyond Salary: 

If you’re considering making a career move, think about all the factors that would improve your work life, including potential training, skills growth, benefits, commute, and employer flexibility. While salary is obviously a top consideration for you as you seek a new role, these other factors can have just as much of an impact on your happiness.

2. Freshen Your LinkedIn Image:

They might already have your resume in hand, but most managers will still look at your LinkedIn profile to get insight into your background and interests. Take some time to ensure your LinkedIn profile is not only current but also highlights your skills and industry knowledge. Like or share thought leadership articles to add depth to your profile and help you stand out.

3. Be Authentic and Honest:

Whether you’re networking, representing yourself on paper, or sharing about your background with a recruiter or in an interview, honesty is really the best policy. Often we think we have to sell ourselves as this know-it-all to get a job, but you might find the best way to build relationships and be successful is by being yourself.

4. Ask for More:

Don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibility, variety, mentoring and money. Your current employer will respect you for it and be excited to have someone on their team who is seeking professional growth within the law firm. As a bonus, you’ll be improving your career now and building your resume for the future.

5. Avoid Generic Phrases and Clichéd Statements:

Have you ever been guilty of telling a job interviewer that your biggest weakness is that you work too much or that you’d always dreamed of working at their law firm (even though you hadn’t heard about it until the week before)? You may think those answers paint you as the perfect candidate, but your interviewer has heard that all before and those statements are unlikely to help your chances of landing the job. Instead of relying on the banal, try personalizing each answer with key points from both your experience and personality.

6. Think Creatively about Medical Coverage:

With rising costs, medical coverage has been a top consideration for many of our candidates. These benefits can vary significantly from firm to firm and there are also independent coverage plans that could better cover the needs of your family at a lower cost than your new employer’s plan. Be flexible and consider all your options before accepting or turning down an offer. With this creative approach, you may be able to save some money and still get that perfect job for your career.

7. Request Flexibility:

Many job seekers rank remote work and a flexible schedule as top priorities for their next job. While telecommuting is a huge benefit in today’s world it shouldn’t be a deal breaker when making a career choice. Many law firms that do not have a formal remote work policy tend to show flexibility for employees who have proven themselves. Before you decide to leave a great job in order to work from home, ask your employer if they can accommodate your desire to work remote one or two days a week. Be proactive by providing them with a means to measure your productivity from home.

8. Prepare for Interviews:

We know this seems basic, but preparation really is the key to success. Fortunately for candidates, hiring managers often ask the same questions. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years? Why should we hire you? Take the opportunity to prepare some excellent responses, using specifics to provide the kind of information your interviewers are really looking for, and practice keeping your interview responses short and to the point.

9. Don’t Worry about Golden Handcuffs:

We see a lot of job seekers pass on great opportunities because they’re waiting to receive their year-end bonus in mid-Spring of the new year. While for some this might be worth it, if you’re ready to move on from your current role, we encourage you to hear about opportunities and consider making that move before your bonus comes through. It’s a candidate driven market and there are vast opportunities out there that could not only lead to a significant increase in your compensation, but also greater job satisfaction.

2018 might be your year to get a promotion, make a career change, or join a different law firm, and if so, we hope this advice will serve you well. We truly believe every individual’s needs and career search are unique which is why our recruiters would love to offer you more personalized advice.

Get in touch

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Happy Thanksgiving from ESP Legal

Happy Thanksgiving from ESP Legal

This artwork was done by RAD Camper, April. RAD Camp is helping children and adults in Southern California Rise Above Disabilities! Learn more at www.radcamp.org

This Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a moment to say thank you to our law firms, legal professionals, and other partners who worked with us this year.

ESP continued to experience exciting growth in 2017. Our legal technology staffing group is thriving, and we’ve been pleased to expand both our technology executive search practice and our attorney staffing division. We thank you for the opportunity to serve you and look forward to continuing our partnership with you in 2018.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at ESP Legal!

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Law Firms & Cyber Security: 11 Tasks for Prevention & Response

Cyber Security Tasks for your CSOIs worrying about a security breach keeping you up at night? What will your clients think if it happens? Will you lose business? Are you prepared to stop the breach quickly? Can you afford to invest in information security? Can you afford not to?

Since 2011, 80 percent of the largest 100 law firms (by revenue) have been victims of cybercrime, according to an ABA report. The same survey revealed that 26% of law firms with 500 or more attorneys experienced a security breach in 2016. If this issue wasn’t keeping you up at night already, those statistics seem to be cause for some tossing and turning.

While in the past the legal industry had a reputation for being slow to adopt, a recent study found that on all security ratings measured, legal was the second highest performing. This is great news. Security initiatives are starting to come to fruition. But, many executives at law firms are now accepting that it is less about if a breach will happen, and more about what they are going to do when it happens.

While putting prevention measures in place is still essential, creating a breach response plan is of equal importance. In both cases, having a trusted Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) or Chief Security Officer (CSO) on board who can work well with your executive team is essential for big law firms. If you don’t have a CISO or CSO on your team, we suggest you consider adding one. While outsourced solutions can be sufficient for preventative measures, an internal leader of information security will be much more effective at putting a response plan in place.

Here are 11 tasks to give your leader of information security:

1. Set Up Perimeter Defenses

Most law firms know that setting up perimeter defenses is an essential first step for preventing cyber attacks. Firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), application proxies, and virtual private network (VPN) servers are all important implementations for protecting your data from outside attacks.

2. Take Specific Access Security Measures

One of the next steps is to ensure that security measures are taken to only grant access to files and programs on an “as needed” basis. The fewer end users with access to confidential information the lower risk of that data being breached.

3. Create Clear & Concise Security Policies

A security policy should be written and distributed law firm wide. The key here is to make sure it’s usable – you want your attorneys and administrative professionals to actually read it and be able to easily understand and retain the information in it.

4. Invest in Rapid Detection of Breaches

The faster you can identify a breach and kick hackers out of the system the better. Investing in technology to rapidly detect a breach, be it in the form of in-house security engineers under the supervision of a CISO or an outsourced solution, is well worthwhile.

5. Keep Your Data Off Your Premises

Cloud storage companies are highly effective in keeping your data secure. It’s their job. So if you haven’t already moved your data offsite, it might be worth considering in 2018.

6. Use a Layered Defense System

You want your security engineers to make it as difficult as possible for a hacker to break in to your data, which makes a multi-level defense highly valuable. Some of the ways you can layer your defense system are: two-step encryption, consistent web and network monitoring, implementing a data-loss prevention system, and installing anti-virus and spam filtering software.

7. Educate Your IT Team

Whenever possible, your IT team should be building security measures into your applications and software systems. Have your CISO train your developers to do this and keep your IT team up to date on your various cyber security implementations and changes, so they can train others effectively, and stay on top of the latest cyber risks.

8. Check Your 3rd Parties

One of the more common areas of security breach is actually through one of your third party connections. As more clients are coming to law firms with security requirements, it’s essential that law firms do the same with their own 3rd party resources. You should have a well-documented policy for internal use that you can ask your 3rd parties to adhere to as well. Or request to see their security policies to ensure your data is protected from breaches.

9. Make a Response Plan

Having a system in place to detect and respond to breaches quickly is of equal importance to having effective preventive measures. Cyber threats don’t belong only in IT’s domain. If a breach happens, it will impact everyone in your firm, including your clients. As such, your entire executive team must be aware of cyber risks, prevention and response plans, and ideally be involved in their development in collaboration with your CISO or CSO.

10. Practice That Response Plan

Once you’ve created a response plan, practice it. Yes, we know that isn’t billable time, but when a breach happens, you’ll be thankful it is not the first time you’re figuring out who is responsible for what and seeing if your plan actually works.

11. Train Your Attorneys & Administrators

Phishing attacks are highly effective for breaching your law firm’s security. That’s why training your employees is so important for preventing attacks. While classes can be helpful as an overview, technology simulations that give them practice recognizing and reporting phishing emails are even more effective for employee’s retention of their training. It’s also essential that you get your employees to agree to encrypt emails and files and understand why it’s important. Give frequent reminders emphasizing the value and necessity of your securities policies to help prevent attorneys and administrators from falling back into old habits.

 

Equally critical to having your leader of security take these tasks in hand is making sure that you are always testing and staying up to date on the latest security practices. Just like you’d hold a fire drill to practice getting your employees safely out of the building, testing your systems to make sure they are secure will ensure you’re ready to handle a breach when it occurs. To ensure the safety of your data and your client’s data, use “white hat” hackers and penetration testing systems on a regular basis (perhaps quarterly) to test your security system and find areas of vulnerability. In addition, from the top down, build a culture at your law firm where everyone takes responsibility for preventing breaches and responding to them if they occur.

The above list may seem like a lot to take on, but breach prevention and response is now a critical priority for all law firms. Implement some or all of the above suggestions, and you’ll start sleeping more soundly knowing that your law firm and your clients’ data are secure.

Start Your Executive searchA strong CISO, CSO, or CIO can be invaluable for your cyber security risk and response measures. If you’re currently without this essential role on your team, we’re here to help.

Request Executive Search

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Nonverbal Techniques to Impress Your Interviewer in 8 Easy Steps

Nonverbal Interview TipsDid you know some interviewers say that within the first 30-90 seconds of meeting a candidate, they already know whether or not they’ll hire them? How can this be possible? Nonverbal communication has a huge impact on the impression you make on your interviewer. Before you even begin to talk about your skills, your interviewer is watching your behavior, and deciding whether or not to write you off.

Unfortunately, more often than not, law firms are looking to screen out potential candidates, which may mean that great candidates could get passed over because of something small. The good news is that nonverbal communication is easy to practice – and we’ve got some tips for how to make a great first impression:

1. Smile!

It may seem obvious, but smiling at the start of your interview (and even before when you’re waiting in the lobby) will not only have an effect on your interviewer’s first impression of you, it will actually impact how well you do in the interview. Research has shown that smiling can decrease stress, lower your blood pressure, and make you feel more relaxed and happy. What a great help at the start of an interview! 38% of surveyed bosses said that not smiling is a common interview mistake. It might convey nervousness or even make you seem unfriendly. In fact, people see smiling people as more intelligent, sincere, and reliable than people who don’t smile. Try to think positive, friendly thoughts so that your smile comes naturally as you’re greeting your interviewer, and try to maintain a positive expression on your face throughout the interview—without letting your smile become fake.

2. Make Eye Contact

Another commonly reported interview mistake is the candidate’s failure to make eye contact with their interviewer. In the first 15-30 seconds of your interview, eye contact is your first opportunity to make a connection with your interviewer. Often when candidates are nervous, they have a tendency to avoid eye contact, or, of equal concern, stare intensely without blinking at their interviewer. Throughout the interviewer, work to make natural eye contact like you would if you were having a conversation with a friend.

3. Give a Confident Handshake

We’re sure you’ve heard before that a weak handshake is an interview ‘No.’ As with the two tips prior, moderation here is key: you neither want to present a limp grip, nor one that is too strong. A good handshake demonstrates your confidence, assurance, and personability. Your handshake will go hand-in-hand (apologies for the pun) with your smile and eye contact to make that first 30 second impression that could make or break your interview. Practice these three tips in tandem with your family, friends, and at networking meetings to make a perfect nonverbal impression at your next interview.

4. Strike the Right Posture

Once you’ve nailed your greeting, you’ll usually be invited to sit, and your posture is important. Slouching actually makes you smaller and gives you the appearance of lacking confidence. If you lean back too much in your chair, you might come across as disinterested or overly confident, but if you sit too straight, you might appear nervous. This might seem like a lot to remember, but if you aim for straight but not stiff, natural but engaged, you’re likely to hit the right tone with your interviewer.

5. Don’t Cross Your Arms

Crossing your arms over your chest can feel like a natural, comfortable way to sit, but non-verbally you’re giving off the message that you’re closed-off or ready to go on the defensive. Keeping your arms and hands relaxed in your lap or rested on the table, will prevent you from making this unwelcome impression (and can actually help you perform better in your interview).

6. Minimize Hand Gestures and Fidgeting

Using your hands too much in an interview can be distracting for your interviewer. You want them focused on your skills and stories, not the way your hands are moving in front of you. Similarly, fidgeting in your seat, readjusting your position too many times, touching your face, or playing with your hair, can make you appear distracted, disinterested, or nervous. To prevent yourself from these behaviors, clasp your hands in your lap. You can use them from time to time, but starting from this position – and returning to it after you’ve made your point –will keep you just conscious enough of your use of them, without distracting you from answering well.

7. Wear the Right Attire

Of course one of the first things that will create an impression is what you’re wearing. Do as much research as possible before the interview to find out what the dress code is at the law firm and try to dress in line, or one “step-up”. Most managers prefer candidates to avoid bright colors or wild patterns, but the most important thing is that you look polished—no matter what level of dress code is appropriate. Avoid wrinkles, flashy jewelry, chipped fingernails, ill-fitting clothes, etc.

8. Watch Your Tone

Your tone of voice can also have more impact than you know. Try to make yourself sound cheerful, friendly, and confident. Avoid “up-talking” at the end of your sentences, as that will make you seem uncertain or young. Vary your tone to keep your interviewers engaged.

If you haven’t interviewed in awhile, or aren’t finding success when you interview, your nonverbal communication could be the key to getting your interviewer to lean in with interest. Make a great first impression by dressing the part, being friendly with your facial expressions and body posture, and minimizing distractions in the interview. Practicing with a friend, family member, or recruiter will give you the confidence you need to nail these nonverbal techniques in your next interview and have the law firm offering you your dream job.

Contact an ESP Legal Recruiter for Personalized Interview Advice!

For more job seeking tips, check out these articles:

·      Are Counteroffers Really a Bad Idea?

·      3 Ways For Legal Tech Pros to Succeed at Interviewing Your Interviewer

·      7 Tips To Make The Most of Your Skype Interview

 

This blog was originally published in 2014 and has been updated to reflect current trends. 

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7 Questions to Ask Your CIO To Ensure Technology ROI

Return on Investment for Legal TechnologyIn the current buyer’s market, it’s more essential than ever that law firms differentiate when it comes to client service. One of the key ways this can be done is through the implementation of technologies that monitor progress and budgets, improve your knowledge management system, use predictive coding to review documents, help you better manage projects or provide e-learning, and/or allow clients to “self-help” on tasks traditionally executed by their lawyers. Of course, all these investments come with a cost, and as the executive leader in your firm it’s up to you and your technology leader to determine if the return on investment is worth it.

In a September 2015 Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor survey, data was collected on specific operational changes that law firms had made in response to client demands for efficiency, predictability, and cost effectiveness. That data was then measured against the overall financial performance of the firm. According to the 2016 Report on the State of the Legal Market, “The analysis showed that, while lower-tier firms had not implemented any changes with significantly more frequency than the upper-tier firms, the firms with better overall financial performance had outpaced the lower-tier firms in several important categories, including [technology.]” The study suggests that investing in technology and other operational changes in order to meet client demands resulted in better financial performance for the law firms that made those changes.

The ability to make a strong business case for legal technology investments is a key skill for technology leaders. But that’s only half the equation—as the executive leader, you also need to know what questions to ask in order to get at the less tangible aspects of ROI. Here are a few questions to get you started:

1. What can we use to measure quantitative ROI?
The nature of quantitative ROI is that it is fairly straightforward to measure, as long as you know the formula. In asking this question, you’re essentially assessing whether or not your CIO is taking ROI seriously. If they can tell you they’ll be measuring it based on the cost of the investment over the monetary value of the benefits during the number of years they believe the technology will be effective, taking into consideration the probability of success, then you’re probably being pitched an investment with good quantitative ROI. If they can “show their work” quantitatively, you can be assured that you have a technology leader who has the best interests of the law firm in mind and has thoughtfully considered the return on investment before coming to you with the request.

2. How will we measure qualitative ROI?
Qualitative or soft ROI are the benefits of technology that can be more challenging to quantify but have high impact on your law firm. They can include:

  • Improving operations
  • Boosting employee morale
  • Enhancing employee retention
  • Serving as a recruiting tool
  • Making your attorneys or IT team more effective
  • Enhancing your customer or client experience
  • Making you more competitive in the marketplace

The more boxes you check when running through the list, the better ROI you’re likely to get from the technology investment. However, if your CIO is claiming the technology will benefit one or more of these areas, it’s a good idea to ask them how they plan on measuring that benefit. How will effectiveness be measured? How will the client experience be improved, and is there a way to prove it via surveys or other methods? What is the data or evidence your CIO is using to assert that these qualitative measurements of ROI will likely be achieved through this technology investment?

3. How much time will it save us?
As the executive leader of a law firm, we know you’ll never underestimate the value of time. A technology might be able to make your files more accessible or increase download speeds from the cloud. It could protect you from server downtime or help your litigation support team search files faster. Whatever the technology implementation may be, asking your technology leader how much time it will save your lawyers or other team members is a great way to identify ROI upfront. For best practice, actually measure the time savings of the technology investment. That way, if a partner or member from the executive committee questions the value of that technology, you and your technology leader have data to back you up.

4. How much money will it save us?
Of equal importance is whether or not it will save your law firm money, and if so, when. Technology always costs money, especially if you are doing a firm-wide implementation. You’ll want to know the cost versus benefit upfront, but you’re also asking your technology leader if it will save the firm money in the long term, and if so, how much money over how long of a term. With efficiency at top value at law firms, time is money for your lawyers, so be sure to include any time they save in your cost analysis.

5. When would you anticipate seeing ROI? or How long can I expect it to be before we see ROI on this technology?
Some ROI might be evident immediately, but most often it will take some time before the effects of the technology implementation are realized. Asking this question simply gets you and your technology leader on the same page and may give you an outline of the project timeline as well. By gaining at least a vague picture of the kind of ROI your technology leader expects, you are able to make a more informed decision. Agreeing on a timeline for results has the added of benefit of being able to set expectations for the whole executive committee, and if necessary, gives you a message to communicate to lawyers who might complain that it seems like a waste of money.

6. What’s the risk associated with this technology implementation?
Any new technology comes with some amount of risk associated with it, but planning well can significantly help mitigate the risk. If you’re hit with a crisis unexpectedly, you’ll lose dollars and time trying to fix it. Asking this question helps you be aware of the risks up front and plan for ways to avoid them. It also provides you with an appropriate counterbalance to the benefits of the suggested technology investment, which you can calculate into your ROI analysis.

7. Are there other technology investments that are a higher priority?
While this question doesn’t have direct bearing on ROI, technology moves at such a fast pace that it’s important to evaluate which technologies need to be implemented when. Most likely your technology leader has a whole string of technologies they want to implement, with strong cases for the benefits of each for the law firm. A good technology leader will be able to prioritize effectively to make the most of your resources. Hearing about the other technologies on the docket also helps you speak to the priorities of the law firm, if your technology leader has not already been a part of those discussions.

 

Whether your technology leader is pitching an investment in AI, security, or knowledge management, their ability to explain the value of the proposed technology is essential. Asking these tangible questions about the return on investment is your first step toward your decision on implementing a new technology for your firm. With these 7 questions in mind, you’re bound to make the right choice, and because you’re meeting client demand, you’ll benefit from the efficiency, cost savings, and soft ROI that legal technology can bring to your law firm.

If you’d like more advice on analyzing the ROI of technology or are looking for a new CIO, CKO, or IT Director to join your team, contact us today.

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You may also enjoy:
How to Align Your Technology Department to Your Law Firm’s Strategic Plan

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Are Counteroffers Really a Bad Idea?

Is Taking a Counteroffer a Bad Idea?Have you ever Googled the question, “should I take a counteroffer?” 
If you have, you’ve seen article after article from recruitment or staffing firms claiming that 80% of people who take a counteroffer are no longer with their company after 6 months and that it’s the worst idea ever. We’re not going to use that stat. However, we do know from experience that taking a counteroffer isn’t a great decision and neither is offering one. It mainly has to do with what resigning and then taking a counteroffer does to the relationship between employee and employer: trust erodes, and things usually never feel the same.

Think of your best breakup. Maybe you mutually decided to part ways and you remained friends. But what if your ex asked you to stay with them and promised to change – he’ll take you out to eat more, she’ll give you more space; you’ll each make compromises? You might give it a go, but if you do, would you really be happy, or would the things that bothered you before creep back in and make you leave in a few months?

This is the general claim of the “never take a counteroffer” argument. And while it may seem unscientific, unproven, or silly, in most cases this tainted relationship is the reality that makes taking a counteroffer a bad idea. So rather than giving your employer the chance to hire your replacement on their timing, take a moment to evaluate a few things:

1. Why do you want to leave your current role?
Before you even accept an offer and hand in your resignation, think about your reasons for leaving. Did you apply for a job on whim, or were you truly dissatisfied with other aspects of your current role? Did you not like your responsibilities or the company culture? Was it just about your pay, or were you feeling under appreciated in other ways? Sorting through these questions will help guide your decision when it comes to taking a different job.

We recommend you work through this process before you reach a counteroffer stage. After thinking through your reasons for leaving and deciding to move on, politely resign. Don’t talk about money or factors that your current employer could—in theory—change. Instead, share that you’ve accepted an offer for a position that’s aligned with your career goals, or is best for your future. If your time of reflection leads you to decide that you don’t really have good reasons to leave, decline the opportunity you’ve been pursuing, and talk with your supervisor about the things you’d like to change. In either case, by avoiding the counteroffer situation to begin with, you’re not burning bridges with either your current or potential employer.

2. What’s your relationship with your manager like today?
If the relationship with your current manager is part of the reason you’re looking to leave, chances are they won’t be happy to be put in a situation where they need to “bribe” you to stay. This type of manager will usually offer you more money or changes in your position to get you to stay not because they can’t live without you, but because they need to buy some time to find your replacement. If you already have issues with your current manager, staying because of a counteroffer isn’t likely to improve it.

If you are one of those lucky individuals with a great relationship with your current manager, they may want to keep you on board and could be more lenient about receiving your resignation. But from our experience, it’s much more likely that this type of manager won’t make a counteroffer at all, and instead will be supportive and encouraging of you making a career-move that will benefit you long-term.

3. What happens if you stay?
We’ve already discussed the change to your relationship with your supervisor, but this isn’t the only relationship at risk when you choose to stay. You’re considered a fidelity risk by your boss and viewed as disloyal by your peers. In addition, your coworkers may harbor resentment against both you and your manager, causing significant tension in the workplace. You’re also potentially damaging your relationship, and any possible future, with the firm where you accepted, and then rescinded your acceptance of their offer.

Staying for higher pay? It probably won’t last long. We’ve heard time and time again of employees staying for an increase in pay, and then receiving a smaller raise – or no raise at all – when that time comes around. The company needs to recoup the extra cost they incurred to keep you and will justify their actions by reasoning that they met your desire for higher pay just a few months prior.

So, I’m a Legal Tech Pro, Should I Take a Counteroffer?
From our years of helping technology professionals gain new opportunities at top law firms and advising them toward career success, we’d suggest it’s never a good idea to take a counteroffer. Remember: your firm made you a counteroffer because they don’t want to lose you now—but what really makes you more valuable today than you were yesterday?

It’s a competitive market for hiring technology professionals right now, so law firms are particularly eager to hang on to the individuals they already have on board. If you’ve decided to move on to greener pastures, but in your resignation left room for your manager to think you’d be open to a counteroffer, you’re likely to get one. When you’ve reached this point you’re already in a lose/lose situation for law firm and employee. Instead of leaving that door open, make it clear to your current employer that you’re thankful for the time you spent at their firm but that this career change is something you can’t pass up. As a legal technology professional that has worked hard to obtain a new role, stick to your decision and you’ll be happier in the long run.

If you’re thinking of making a career change, our recruiters are here to help.
Contact Us Today For Free Career Advice

 

This blog was originally published in 2011 and has been updated to reflect current trends. 

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How to Align Your Technology Department to Your Law Firm’s Strategic Plan

Aligning Technology to Your Strategic PlanIn a survey of mostly AM LAW ranked firms, 97% of law firms claim to have a written strategic plan, and 70.4% of firms invest at least 3 months in creating that plan. However, only 3.2% reported achieving almost all of their strategic objectives. The reporters of the survey estimate that larger law firms invest approximately a quarter of a million dollars’ worth of partner time when creating strategic plans, yet so few of these plans actually get implemented fully. So how can you be one of the 3% achieving their strategic goals? One part of the equation is ensuring your technology efforts are aligned to your strategic plan.

As technology has become integral to every area of a law firm’s function, the responsibilities of a CIO have evolved. Gone are the days when CIOs were responsible solely for managing their law firms’ technology teams and implementing and upgrading technologies. CIOs are now additionally responsible for focusing on helping firms deliver strategic value and competitive advantage through technology. It was always important for a law firm’s technology plans to be aligned to business objectives, but it has never been more essential to a law firm’s success than it is today.

How do you align your technology function to your partners’ strategic plan and avoid the pitfalls of misalignment? It is simpler than you might think:

Do You Have The Right Technology Leader?

Puts the Firm’s Needs First

Whether your firm has a CIO, a Director of IT, or a CKO leading your technology efforts, you want leaders who make technology decisions based on what’s best for the firm. Your leader of technology should have a proven track record of learning a firm’s strategy and helping the firm achieve their objectives through technology. You’re looking for a leader who, when talking about their accomplishments, demonstrates the ways in which their work helped the firm meet their goals, increased revenue, improved the client experience, or improved efficiency for lawyers. If they’re only talking about how great their technology implementations were, they might be more interested in their own career trajectory than in meeting the needs of the firm.

Strategically Selects Trends

Your CIO should be aware of trends in technology and strategically think about how these trends might apply to your law firm to help attorneys grow their revenue and win cases. This means that they evaluate upgrades and technological advancements in the context of what it will bring to the partnership. For example, will it save attorneys time and effort so they can focus on more important aspects of the case? Will it mitigate risk for file security or help you deliver information to your clients in the way they want? They should be proactive in their recommendations and clearly demonstrate the value tech changes would bring to the partnership.

Communicates Clearly and Effectively

It’s also essential that you have a strong communicator in your technology leadership role who can clearly explain the strategy and objectives of the firm to their technology team. A skilled CIO is capable of explaining the various needs of the attorneys to their technology team and in addition, can clearly communicate any strategic goals associated with an implementation of new technology, as well as the specific value of the work they are doing. Conversely, your technology leader’s communication skills should include the ability to demonstrate to the executive committee how the work that the technology department is doing contributes to the success of the firm and aligns with the law firm’s goals.

Do They Get A Seat At the Table?

Understands the Strategy

Partners can ensure their technology leadership is aligned to the firm’s strategic plan by inviting them to participate in executive committee meetings. This doesn’t mean the individual necessarily gets a vote, but involving them in conversations around the law firm’s strategic plan and the needs of the practice is a great way for firms to improve the alignment of technology with the firm’s objectives. When they hear about your goals firsthand, they are more likely to buy-in to those goals and fully understand what your firm is trying to achieve. CIOs who truly comprehend the needs of the partners will be motivated to examine their technology options more carefully and only implement what will truly benefit the law firm.

Impacts the Strategy

When you invite them into conversations about the law firm’s strategy and business objectives, you also give them the opportunity to make recommendations based on the needs of the firm. Perhaps one of your objectives for the year is to improve efficiency. Your CIO might suggest a new AI solution that could cut document retrieval time in half, or an upgrade to your email server and storage system that would minimize downtime and increase download speed. If your CIO isn’t in the room, it’s less likely that your technology team will be able to help you achieve your objectives, and more likely that they’ll take on technology advancement projects simply for technology’s sake. In addition, technology now impacts every area of your practice, from client interactions to how discovery is handled. With the right CIO in the room when you’re discussing strategy or issues to overcome, you’re likely to find better solutions based on their knowledge of current and upcoming technologies.

Executes the Strategy

Finally, giving your CIO, Director of IT, or CKO a seat at the table helps demonstrate to your firm the importance of technology to the practice’s success, which will allow them to better execute the technology requirements connected with your law firm’s strategic plan. Many law firms fail to make it clear that leadership and attorneys recognize that the work the technology department is doing is important and valuable. This can leave a technology team feeling unappreciated, which can lead to retention problems. When given a seat at the table, your technology leader has the opportunity to help that value be understood. Even more importantly, the leader can share with the technology team stories of their efforts being commended by the executive committee. In addition, because they’ve had a voice in the law firm’s strategic planning, your CIO will be invested in that strategy and eager to get buy-in from their managers and individual contributors. With everyone working towards the same goal and understanding the meaning of their work for the firm (which is highly important to millennials), your chances of strategy success soar.

The Right Technology Leader in the Right Seat (At the Table)

A lot can go wrong if your technology plans are misaligned with your law firm’s strategy. For example, you might incur unnecessary expense with an upgrade that doesn’t add value to your attorneys. Or your technology department might spend time and resources on projects that do not do anything to help you meet your strategic goals.

It may sound simple, but the best things you can do to align your technology department with your law firm’s strategic plan is to have good technology leadership involved in the strategy conversations. In fact, you’ll get much more than alignment: your business strategy will benefit from having the right technology leader, who thinks strategically, puts the law firm’s needs first, and communicates clearly with the CEO, COO, other department leaders, and their team.

The right CIO on your team can help you implement your strategic plan. Don’t wait to find the right technology leader for your firm.

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