Leadership Exchange - December 2012/January 2013 - (Page 34)

COACH’S CORNER Ed Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC EdPoll@lawbiz.com 800-837-5880 ADMINISTRATORS SHOULD KNOW THE COST OF TELECOMMUTING law firm cost reduction. As generally defined, lawyer telecommuting involves minimal expenditures on physical office space; contact with clients or professional colleagues largely by email, extranet or definition of telecommuting works, it works only as a joint effort. As ante for lawyer availability and staff support. law firm administrators are well aware, successful lawyers wherever of availability at lower cost. Regardless of a law firm’s size, office space is inevitably a large and complex expenditure – typically in the own. Here are three important considerations. ing should reduce that cost. Yet there are other considerations that show telecommuting has direct and potential cost negatives of its Certainly, telecommuting does have the apparent major virtue Telecommuting from home offices is a highly touted strategy for telephone; and use of assistants at the firm’s main office. When this they are located require support of a team that can interact with the client if the lawyer is not available. Telecommuting greatly ups the top three expense categories for any firm. In theory, telecommutoption for some lawyers would provide a competitive advantage 1) Office Costs. If the firm believes that the telecommuting who may answer client inquiries, send documents or undertake othlawyer supervision. There is a danger here, too. Client reactions and client service always are primary concerns, as they should be. If an visit, no amount of help from a paralegal may outweigh the lawyer’s absence. and smartphones have become a given for many lawyers and should important client expects the personal touch in an unexpected office er tasks involving direct costs for work time and indirect costs for ogy cost directly from the telecommuting lawyer. Wireless laptops be a prerequisite for telecommuting. There are also many other technical and practice details that can fall into the administrator’s ABA House of Delegates strengthened Model Rule 1.6, Confidentialinadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, trators will need to direct IT personnel in assessing and spending to meet the technical, legal and network security issues for encryption and transmission of client information. information relating to the representation of a client.” If not clear beactivities over wireless laptop or smartphone connection, adminiscommuting. They do emphasize that the bottom line for such an arthe answer if it makes life more difficult for the client or the provision of legal services more difficult and costly for the firm. About the Author: Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC, is currently on a naThe issues raised here should not disparage the viability of telebailiwick. Data security is just one example. This past summer the ity, to require that a lawyer “make reasonable efforts to prevent the 3) Security Costs. The firm could well incur additional technol- by lowering space rental costs, realize that this makes a statement about firm operations. The direct message to clients is that a firm that clients may expect lower overhead for office space to translate into a lower fee structure. Make sure, moreover, that there is in fact a cost advantage from encouraging telecommuting. Keep in mind with telecommuting lawyers is sensitive to its cost structure. Beware Lawyers should not be entitled to work from home when physical office space is available. If office space for a given lawyer is no longer used for at least 20% of the time, someone else must use the space while the telecommuting lawyer is absent, otherwise the firm will eat the expense and thus incur a greater cost for off-site operations. it uses should be similarly reduced to achieve cost savings. If your ney needs to be present, efficiency will be lost. lease will not accommodate such a reduction, the cost savings may that telecommuting must be viewed in tandem with space expenses. fore, it certainly is now. If the telecommuting lawyer conducts online If a firm turns to telecommuting to reduce overhead, the office space not be attainable and if office space is not available when the attorcalls the office only to find the telecommuting lawyer unavailable. This can put a bigger burden on administrative staff and paralegals 2) Support Costs. The telecommuting lawyer needs staff sup- rangement must make sense in terms of client service and financial cost to the firm. No matter what technology makes possible, it is not port back at the office – not only administrative staff backing, but help with the more important issue of responding to a client who tional tour to speak to bar associations and law schools, sponsored by Fujitsu ScanSnap and Lexis Hub. Ed’s extensive background in business and law have made him one of the nation’s most sought-after experts in law practice management. Check out Ed’s progress at www.lawbiz.com and contact Ed if you want him to speak to your group. Greater Los Angeles Leadership Exchange 34 RENROC S’HCAOC http://www.lawbiz.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Leadership Exchange - December 2012/January 2013

Leadership Exchange - December 2012/January 2013
President’s Message
VOTY Nominations
Editor’s Message
Monthly Calendars
2012/2013 Event Calendar
ALA Webinars
Community Connection Program
Chapter Meeting
New Members & Member Updates
Member Spotlight
Thoughts on Sustainable Investing and Socially Responsible Investing
ALA Management Encyclopedia
ALA VIP Event Recap
People Are Watching: How Your Personal Brand Can Affect Your Success
Legal Market Place
CLM Corner
Chapter Meeting Recap
Cloud Series Part 2: The Pros and Cons of Moving to the Cloud
Region 5 & 6 Conference
GLA ALA and the OC ALA Chapters Mickey Mouse Around After Conference
Members in Transition
October Seminar Recap
Coach’s Corner
CLM Crossword Puzzle Answers
Diversity Upfront
Chapter Meeting
Board of Directors
GLA ALA Board Update
Region 6 Officers
Holiday Luncheon Recap
Business Partner Spotlight
Membership Connection Campaign
Section Reports
Annual Employment Law Forum
Business Partner Spotlight

Leadership Exchange - December 2012/January 2013