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.

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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.

Learn more about Executive Search

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4 Tips for Attracting & Retaining Legal Tech Millennials

how to attract and retain millennial legal IT pros

It’s traditionally acknowledged that the legal industry can be a bit conservative when it comes to technological adoption. A few other stereotypes might be that law firms aren’t much fun and aren’t great for work life balance. Of course, not all law firms are the same, but if any or all of these things ring true for your firm, it could be a huge problem for firms looking to hire the best legal technology talent, especially the youngest generation in the workforce. Luckily, there are a few simple modifications you can make (and one complicated one) that could significantly increase your ability to attract and retain millennials (or Gen Y) for your law firm’s IT department.

Tip #1: Adoption of Latest Technologies

One thing that truly sets this youngest generation of workforce professionals apart is their fluency in technology. The technological revolution and social media have had significant impacts on Gen Y and as a result their expectations are set high when it comes to technological adoption in the workplace.

This can cause a number of problems for law firms. First, all millennial employees have high technology expectations, from attorneys, to paralegals, to the technology professionals themselves. Legal technology departments need to be able to provide great technology solutions for their entire firm. Second, millennial technology professionals are always looking to work in the latest, most exciting technologies, from both a technical language and methodology perspective. To attract these millennial legal IT employees—and retain them—law firms should be looking for ways to start to adopt new technologies more quickly.

Admittedly, this is complicated, and for large law firms in particular, it could take quite a bit of time and effort to implement a large-scale change to agile methodology, or the latest coding language. However, if you’re able to make some changes and speed up your tech-adoption, it could go along way toward attracting, and even more importantly, keeping millennials on your IT team.

One great way to do this is to tap into the millennials you already have on your team. Ask them which tools and technologies they’d like to work with, and go ahead and make them a project leader when it comes time to research and implement. They’ll appreciate the trust you’ve put in them and the extra responsibility you’ve given them. Which leads us to Tip #2.

Tip #2: Mentorship and Advancement

One of the biggest drivers for Gen Y is the ability to contribute to an organization. They want to get better and have more and more impact as time goes along. Throughout their upbringing, millennials have been trained to expect personalized feedback about their work, and most of them truly want this feedback to improve, not just to get a pat on the back. That doesn’t mean they want to be micro-managed, but they do want to be mentored and coached. However, mentors and managers need to be aware that for them, that means talking about goals and objectives, rather than how something has been or should be done.

A large majority of millennials desire to be leaders, but according to a Deloitte Survey of 7,700 millennials, 64% feel these skills are not being developed and only 28% of millennials feel their skills are being fully utilized. These stats demonstrate the vast opportunity legal tech departments have to tap into the talent they already have and to build loyalty to the law firm. In addition, “they are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction where there is a creative, inclusive working culture (76%) rather than a more authoritarian, rules-based approach (49%).”

By providing your legal tech professionals with tangible feedback, training, appreciation, and career-advancement opportunities, you’ll give your law firm the best chance possible of retaining these up-and-coming technology professionals. To attract them in the first place, make sure to take them through the career path opportunities you have available at your law firm, and layout how people have been successful moving up in the past. You may also want to highlight your law firm’s management philosophy and review processes.

Tip #3: Work-life Balance & Flexibility

This generation grew up with (mostly) both parents working. While many millennials acknowledge the opportunities this provided them, it also created negative feelings about the lack of work-life balance their parents seemed to have. In other words, flexibility is very important to millennials. Whether that means spending more time with their families, or with friends, it’s a high priority for Gen Y to have work-life balance in their lives.

This doesn’t mean they don’t want to work hard, but they do want flexibility to work whenever and wherever is most convenient for them. According to the Deloitte Survey, 88% of millennials wish they could have more flexibility to start and finish their work days at times they choose. 77% wish to have greater mobile connectivity and 75% would like to be able to start working, or more frequently work, from home or other locations they feel more productive. This could in part be in response to recent backlash over open work spaces and the difficulties they cause for productivity, but it also likely has a lot to do with the work styles they become accustomed to during college working on their laptops anywhere they liked.

It isn’t too hard to put accountabilities in place so that you can provide them with the convenience of telecommuting and you might be surprised at the extra commitment to the firm that this flexibility generates. While law firms do have some extra information security concerns to be cognizant of when allowing for this flexibility, for your attorneys and legal tech pros alike, a little goes a long way when it comes to work-life balance.

Tip #4: Shared Values

For Gen Y, work is about much more than getting a paycheck. According to Deloitte, “Millennials want to contribute to the positive impact they believe businesses have on society, but in doing so, they wish to stay true to their personal values.” If you haven’t done so already, find out what your millennials value and if possible, incorporate them into your company culture. Then promote these values when you interview millennials and give them an opportunity to say, “I care about that too!”

Providing opportunities for tech pros to give back has proven a great selling point for many companies. This might take the form of “hackathons” or pro-bono work your tech team can be a part of. You could allow for a set number of volunteer hours a year your employees can partake in during work hours that don’t cost against their PTO, or arrange for all-company (or department) volunteer events. Knowing that a company gives back to their community and encourages their employees to do the same is very attractive to the millennial generation.

Meaningful work is also important to Gen Y, and while they understand the necessity of profit and a firm’s financial stability, they most often look for firms that put people, especially their employees, first. Legal tech pros want to work for law firms with a mission they can get behind, and it usually isn’t about sales. When millennial employees are aligned to your law firm’s values, they are much more likely to join and stay loyal to your firm.

Conclusion:

The latest college graduates will be filtering into the job market this summer, but Gen Y already make up over 60% of the workforce. While the 90s born and 80s born millennials have quite a few distinctions between them, very few millennials of either kind prefer to be labeled as such, mostly because of the prevailing attitudes from older generations that millennials are lazy, disloyal, and entitled. Those labels may fit for some millennials, but many studies suggest that it is no truer of this generation of 20 and 30-somethings, than it was of their predecessors. In other words, all young professionals have room to grow when it comes to entering the workforce, no matter what generation they are a part of.

As millennials have matured, and become parents and leaders within law firms, some of their values have changed. However, much of what they’ve become known for still rings true: they seek work/life balance, professional advancement, development, and recognition, and want to work for organizations that share their own personal values.

At your fingertips, most law firms have millennials who have grown up with technology impacting their day-to-day life. Now too, many law firms have millennials in leadership roles, and as their clients, which comes with expectations for more technology-assisted processes. If you’re still ignoring millennials or griping about how they are “lazy and entitled”, it’s time for a change. It’s time to discover how you can make the most of your Gen Y technology employees and find success for many years to come.

Are you looking to add more millennials to your tech team, or want more advice on how to make your firm more attractive to them?

Contact us to get started 

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

Don’t be fooled when your interviewer turns the tables, usually near the end of the interview, with an innocent “do you have any questions for me?” Your questions, or lack thereof, will be used to analyze at least three things: 1) Did you research the law firm? 2) Did you listen effectively in the interview? 3) Do you want this role?

Not only can this important opportunity to ask questions be used to assess your eligibility for the job, it’s also a great opportunity for you to determine if the role is right for you and if this law firm is where you want to work. In this market, legal technology professionals often have their pick of offers and deciding which one is best for you can be tricky. That’s why making the most of your interview is essential.

In addition, your questions are an opportunity for you make it clear why you are perfect for the role. According to John Kador, the author of 301 Best Questions to Ask on Your Interview, you want your questions to make a statement in the form of a question: “Highlight your qualifications. Demonstrate your confidence. Reinforce your commitment. Understand the employer’s challenges. Make yourself accountable. Advance your candidacy.”

As one of the best ways for you to learn about a law firm and a great opportunity for you to seal the deal, we’ve got three ways to make the most of interviewing your interviewer:

1. Show You’re A Culture Fit

Your website emphasized that ___________. What would you say is the most important aspect of your culture?

What are your law firm’s values and how do they play out in the workplace?

I’m really excited you emphasized how important a healthy culture is here. Can you tell me more about what you like about the culture, and how it impacts your day-to-day work?

While “company culture” can often be mistaken for the “perks” a company offers or the personalities and interests of members on the team, it is really about the values a law firm upholds. In asking one of these questions, you demonstrate not only a desire to align your values with that of the organization, you also show that this is a top priority for you to be at a law firm that has great values and has woven those into their culture.

Increasingly, employers are embracing the concept that having the correct people on their team, from a culture fit perspective especially, may be the most important thing for their success. The surest test for how committed a company is to upholding their values and building a strong culture, is how hiring managers and employees talk about it. Once you’ve heard what they share, be sure to relate to their response and express how you share those values as well.

2. Show You’re Ready to Make an Impact

What challenges is the law firm or department facing that someone in this new position could help overcome?

What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire? 

What personal characteristics do you think would be ideal for someone in this position?

Most law firms are looking for legal IT professionals who are ready to take on challenges and get results. By identifying the law firm’s challenges—and how you can help alleviate them—you show your potential employer that you don’t just want a job, you want to make an impact on the tech department and the company.

These questions also have the added benefit of giving you a clear window into where the team stands today, why they are hiring, and what they look for in their legal technology employees. Asking what qualities a candidate needs to do this job well demonstrates your desire to understand how you as an individual can uniquely contribute to the organization beyond the job description. In addition, your interviewer may realize that the person they just described sounds a lot like you.

3. Show You’re Results-Oriented

If I were to start tomorrow, what would be the top priorities on my to-do list?

What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 60 or 90 days?

What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?

One of the most essential things you can do in an interview is gain an understanding of what the job is actually like, day-to-day. At the same time, you want to show your interviewer that you understand that “a day in the life” is only a part of the equation. By asking about priorities, long-term accomplishments, and how performance is measured, you can get a real feel for the job, while also making it clear that you value planning, prioritization, and being measured on results. In addition, asking these kinds of questions will give you insight about your day-to-day tasks, while also making it clear that you understand not all tasks are created equal, which is key to success in any position.

 

Any Questions for Me?” is usually your last opportunity to impress the interviewer and what you ask matters. The questions should be mutually beneficial: they allow you to make a statement about yourself that helps the interviewer learn more about you and they give you the opportunity to assess if you’re a good fit for the law firm’s IT team.

Go prepared to your next interview with several questions in mind, as the worst thing you can tell an interviewer is that you don’t have any questions. If much of what’s been detailed here as been covered in the interview and you’re willing to be bold, ask: do you have any hesitations about my qualifications? Asking this question means you’re willing to talk about your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and receive coaching, which is highly valued by employers. It also gives you the opportunity to address concerns upfront. Instead of leaving your interviewer ruminating on those hesitations, they’ll be focused on all the reasons you’d be an asset for the law firm’s tech department.

If you’re looking for your next legal tech opportunity and want personalized interview advice:

Contact one of our IT recruiters today! 

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7 Tips To Make The Most of Your Skype Interview

Tips for Your Next Skype InterviewIn recent years, video interviewing has become a popular strategy for law firms and companies alike when it comes to their hiring process. They might use it to interview candidates that would work remotely or for candidates open to relocation. Or it might be used as a time saver for first round interviews. Whatever the reason, it appears to be here to stay. For legal technology professionals interviewing via Skype poses a few unique challenges and extra preparation.

Here are 7 easy tips to prepare you for your next Skype interview:

1. Check Your Technology
You want to make sure your computer is fully charged and plugged in and that all aspects of Skype are working, especially the audio and microphone functions. Make sure your wi-fi connection is strong, or if possible, use an Ethernet cable to ensure you’re connection doesn’t break during the interview.

2. Get Your Lighting Right
One of the more unique challenges of Skype interviews is your lighting. You want to be easy to see, not shadowed. Take advantage of natural light by setting yourself up near a window, ideally facing the window, or to the left or right of it. Use any lamps you have in the room to your benefit as well; use a softer light aimed toward your face, a backlight to add dimension to your space, and fill lights to balance the light on either side of your body. 

3. Clean Your Space
It’s also very important that your interview space is tidy and distraction-free. Look for clutter and any other potential distractions for your interviewer, including possibly offensive décor, and remove it. That way the interviewer will be focused on your answers rather than your space.

4. Eliminate Technology Distractions
You don’t want to overload your computer or get distracted by an email popping up. Close all programs on your computer except for Skype. Print a copy of your resume, as you would for an in-person interview. Turn off your other devices or put them in a different room, you shouldn’t need them during your interview, and a buzz could keep you from hearing a question or answering well.

5. Dress to Impress
As with any interview, dressing professionally is very important. But when it comes to video interviewing, you should also consider what looks best on screen: avoid patterns and wear neutral colors. Don’t only consider your torso-make sure all of you is dressed to impress so if you need to stand up for some reason, you’re not embarrassed by your sweat pants.

6. Chat Professionally
Your Skype user name also creates an impression so you may want to create a new one just for interviewing. Upgrade your Skype user name to something professional and make sure to use a professional looking picture as well.

7. Consider Your Nonverbals
Before you start your call, test your distance from the camera, making sure your head and shoulders are visible and that your occasional hand gestures could be seen. Imagine you’re sitting across from your interviewer and gauge the appropriate distance accordingly. You should also practice greeting your interviewer with a confident and friendly smile for a great start to your video interview.

Preparation is key to interview success, and it’s no different when it comes to Skype interviews. By making sure both your space and your own appearance are optimized for video interviewing, you increase your chances of getting an in-person interview and landing a great legal tech opportunity.

Our IT recruiters would love to be your career advisor. For personalized interviewing advice and resume recommendations:

Contact Us 

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

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The Costs of Hiring and Not Hiring Legal IT Pros

What it costs to hire IT for law firmsAs you’re well aware, the process of hiring a new legal tech employee can be strenuous. The hours and effort put into finding a replacement can wear you out. However, there is another burden that is quite literally more costly. It can essentially be broken down into two parts: the cost of being without an employee and the cost of hiring. Although some employee turnover can’t be helped, it is very expensive, so it is important that your action plan for bringing a new employee on board is as cost effective as possible.

It generally costs 2-3 times the average salary of the role you want to fill to hire someone new. With that much on the line, how do you make the most of your time and money while trying to make the right choice?

The Financial Impact of Being Without an Employee

More often than not, law firms are overly concerned with hiring the “perfect” employee. They are passing over the smart, capable legal tech candidates one after another, because they may initially be lacking a certain skill, that often, could be quickly learned. Meanwhile they are losing money the longer they go without someone in that critical role.

Costs to consider:

  • The cost of the person(s) who fills in while the position is vacant, or the employee that steps up to perform that vacant job and has to work overtime.
  • The cost of lost productivity. If that position is completely vacant that’s 100% productivity lost for as long as you’re without someone.

Keep in mind, that while most roles are critical to some degree, when you’re looking for a c-level hire like a CIO or CTO, the cost of being without that individual is even higher. This person sets the direction for your information technology department and must be aligned to your other departments as well. Getting the right person on board, is extra important, but being without for too long could do damage to your law firm.

Sometimes hiring someone with potential makes better sense than waiting for unattainable perfection.

The Cost of the Hiring Process

Law firms can’t afford hiring mistakes, and the time it takes to sort through resumes, set up interviews, conduct phone and in-person interviews, and wait for HR to approve the person can be just as costly. There have been several articles recently discussing the ‘good investment’ of hiring a staffing firm to help with your search. Not only can a recruitment firm do the legwork (so you can stay focused on your workload and priorities), they also may be better connected to the legal technology professionals you want to work with and they’ll go after passive candidates, something you’re unlikely to have the time to do on your own.

For a c-level or director-level opening, a retained search may be your best option. You can get dedicated efforts from seasoned executive recruiters, specialized in the legal technology niche. Your firm should do the searching, selection, and background checks for you, so you’re only meeting the best qualified candidates from both a culture fit and technical perspective.

While some aspects of the hiring process can’t be helped, you can control the amount of time you invest in the hiring process by making a good investment in a staffing firm and being willing to recognize good talent when they walk through the door.

Learn more about our:

Retained IT Executive Search Services

Legal Technology Staffing Services

Litigation Support Staffing Services

Attorney Staffing Services

 

Note: this article was originally published in 2013. It has been updated to reflect current market trends and practices. 

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ESP Legal Releases 2017 Salary Survey

ESP Legal Technology Salaries 2017

Our 2017 IT salary survey shares data gathered and analyzed from law firms ranging from small law firms with 20 – 30 attorneys and a single technology professional to large international firms with hundreds of technology staff. Our data includes salaries from ESP’s recent placements, as well as national and local research.

Demand For IT At Law Firms Grows

In 2016, we saw an increase in the demand for IT staff across the board in the legal marketplace. The demand seemed strongest for Web Developers, 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.

With the increased demand, we are seeing candidates get multiple offers and in order to recruit the best talent, law firms are finding the need to improve the turnaround time from interview to offer.  We are also finding that the top talent is in limited supply.

Work-Life Balance And Benefits Are More Important Than Ever

In 2016, overall salaries only rose by 3.5% in law firm technology positions. Security and Development roles lead the way with an increase in the 5% range. We think the smaller increase is due to a move towards higher interest in better work-life balance. With this in mind, to attract and retain top talent you may need to focus on highlighting or adding your offerings when it comes to telecommuting, clearly defined career paths, the ability to work on multiple projects, improved work-life balance, and a better commute. As we discuss candidate desires and objectives for their next career move, these things come up more and more.

 

With over twenty years of legal technology 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. Last year, we were excited to extend our services to include attorney staffing and have also created a salary survey for 3-8 year associates and Counsel salaries. You may access our 2017 Attorney Salary Survey on our website.

View our 2017 Legal Technology Salary Guide 

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