Welcome to 2019! Let me start by saying that the last few months have been very productive for our Chapter. Our education lineup for 2019 is now posted on our website, and I’m thrilled with the variety of speakers we have in store. Our Education Specialty Series Lunches will continue to be held on the third Thursday of most months. You will notice that this year, the Education Specialty Series Lunch locations will vary between downtown Phoenix and Tempe.
Our Chapter will continue to hold our Chapter Education Lunches on the fourth Tuesday of most months at the University Club. Also, through March, our Board meetings will continue to be held following our Chapter Education Lunches. Members are always welcome to stay and attend our Board Meetings. Note that once a new Board is elected for the next term starting April 1, board meeting times and locations will be added to the calendar once the new Board determines the best day/time for meetings.
Please know that it is through the support of our Business Partners that our Chapter is able to operate. Sales for our 2019 Business Partner Program have been moving along nicely. There are still a few more spots open, so if you know of a business partner who may be interested in partnering with our Chapter, please feel free to share our Business Partner Program Link.
Members and Business Partners, please make sure to check out our Chapter Website. All events for 2019 are listed. Please make sure to save the date for our education and social events throughout the year.
It is hard to believe that I am in the final months of my presidential term. At the January Chapter Education Lunch (University Club), we will announce the proposed slate for the next term, with plans to finalize voting and hold the election at our February Chapter Education Lunch. The Chapter’s next Board of Directors will begin their term starting April 1, 2019.
Members, please reach out to me or another Board Member if you are interested in volunteering in any capacity, large or small. All help is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your continued support of our Chapter. I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming Chapter event!
Sonji Le Blanc, DLA Piper
President, ALA Arizona Chapter
The other morning while getting ready for the day, I was listening to a talk radio which was discussing what trait do you admire most in someone else. As I listened to people call in one by one, I heard mostly what I expected to hear…. honesty, integrity, kindness, courage, authentic, etc. - all great answers!! But then someone called in with an unexpected answer that really hit a nerve with me…confidence. I started thinking about the various people throughout my life that I admire, and I can say without a doubt, they all were confident people. They knew what they were good at, the value they provided, and acted in a way that conveyed that to others. As leaders of our organizations, it is important we all have and display healthy confidence. By this I mean a level of confidence that helps (rather than harms) you. To achieve this level of healthy confidence here are some best practices you can start doing immediately to improve your confidence:
- Work out: When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that make you feel pretty good. When you’re done, you have proof that you’ve done something constructive and beneficial. If you keep at it long-term, the results of a healthier body become more and more visible.
- Dress: If you’ve never taken steps to improve your wardrobe, you likely do not realize the dramatic effect it can have on your confidence level. When how you appear is in sync with how you want people to view you, confidence can easily follow.
- Body language: Practice more confident body language daily. Appear confident by maintaining eye contact in social interactions. Good eye contact shows others that you are interested and comfortable. Lean forward when you are in a conversation. It indicates interest and attention. Too much distance conveys the message that you are disinterested or aloof. Stand straight, straighten your back, pull your shoulders away from your ears and uncross your arms and legs (my personal downfall!!) Walk with your head up and your eyes looking forward. Do not look at the ground when you are walking. Don’t fidget and avoid your pockets, both are an obvious sign of anxiety and nervousness. Slow down everything from hand gestures to your walking stride and notice how you feel more confident. Finally, offer a firm handshake when meeting others. A weak or limp handshake is an obvious sign of a lack of confidence.
- Explain something you understand well: Everyone has something they understand on an above average level. Giving someone a primer on a topic that you’re knowledgeable about is a quick way to get the confidence juices flowing.
- Fix things you don’t like about yourself: Sometimes the problem isn’t your attitude or your emotions but rather you need to change some things. This doesn’t mean you are a bad person or not good at things, but it does mean if you want to be more confident in an area, the best way to do so is to work at it to get better. For example, do conversations about the economy make you feel unintelligent? Read up about it or even ask for help. There is nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know something, but pretending you do when you don’t won’t help your confidence.
Everything in life is a journey. By achieving a healthy level of confidence, we can put ourselves in an advantageous position whether it be at work or our everyday lives. I hope this list of best practices is helpful in your own personal journey.
By: Katie Bryant, CLM
Thanks a million to the Arizona Chapter and Total Networks who made my scholarship possible! The sessions I attended were insightful, informative and extremely beneficial to me in my role as Controller. As our firm navigates change and I seek ways to be more effective in my position, the conference provided a wealth of knowledge. Session topics including tax law changes, compensation models, innovation, and blockchain kept me engaged, challenged, and planning for the future. I returned from Austin better equipped to make a significant contribution to the firm’s success.
I believe the single most valuable thing I gained from the conference is relationships. Everybody I met was friendly, helpful, and willing to share information. I’m not sure who I learned more from, conference participants or presenters. It was absolutely refreshing and I’m grateful to the Arizona Chapter leadership and business partners for the opportunity and to other ALA members for the experience!
By: Tina Vanderpool, Gammage & Burnham
Special Note: The Chapter will be awarding two scholarships to the 2019 ALA Annual Conference & Expo to be held in Grapevine, Texas April 14-17, 2019. The DEADLINE TO ENTER is Friday, February 15, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. The drawing will be held at the February 26th Chapter Education Lunch. CLICK HERE to learn more and to enter to win.
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Why should you blog?
You might want to consider blogging because it can make you a better thinker. The process of writing can cause you to think far more deeply about important things. It can help force you to think through the implicatios of current events, changes in the law, or something else that you’ve noticed. Thinking these things through to the point at which you write a good article can solidify and improve your knowledge and understanding.
If your blog offers valuable advice. That’s a wonderful thing for the world and can be good for your business. People are searching for answers. You almost certainly have something “uniquely you” that may connect with someone. Write about something that you have figured out or are actively working to figure out.
I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like recently because I started out writing an article that kept on growing and has turned into a full-length book. The book should be published by the time that this article goes to print. Creating an entire book was unexpected, but it speaks to the process. In this case, the book is about Blockchain. I started out with a fairly limited understanding of the subject, which required me to do substantial further research to be able to produce my article. Writing is one of the best ways there is to improve your knowledge.
For most people, the most difficult part about blogging is getting started, but this doesn’t have to be hard. Pick a topic that you think is important. Ideally, this is something that you believe people need to know and might be searching for. Then write from your experience and write from your heart. You just might find the words pouring out of you. Sometimes my articles take a while to write. I wrote this article in well under an hour.
Your blog doesn’t need to be perfect. Focus on getting your thoughts written down, then share with some friends to review. You can get valuable feedback that will improve your article and can improve the knowledge and understanding of you and your reviewers. I commend you to write and see what it will do for you and your business. As I write this article for my blog and for a magazine article, I hope that my words of encouragement connect with you and inspire you to blog today.
Now that I’ve completed my first book, I find myself asking if you should write a book. If you have something to say that needs an entire book to say it, go for it, but realize that it may be harder to finish than you expected. Finishing this book was far more difficult than I expected. Though, in my case, I picked a doozy of a topic for my first book and had to perform considerable research. It was also incredibly difficult to explain a complicated subject in a way that hopefully anybody could understand it. It was a ton of work, though I am very happy with the result.
If you think you might ever write a book, absolutely blog first. Writing shorter blog articles for many years has really helped me become a far better writer. It helped me find my voice and improve my writing skills. I am sure that it will do the same for you. I look forward to reading your blogs soon! If you have any feedback or questions for me about blogging, IT, or something entirely different, you can reach me at [email protected].
Lastly, my blog article that grew into a book is called The Blockchain Code and is available on Amazon. For more information, see blockchaincodeBOOK.com.
Dave is the co-owner and President of Total Networks. The Total Networks team provides outsourced IT and strategic technology consulting to professional businesses. Their team is the first and only Arizona IT company to earn the CompTIA Security Trustmark, certifying that Total Networks meets or exceeds security best practices. For more information, email Dave at [email protected].
Developing an IT Roadmap with an Effective Budget Strategy
Many firms find the budget planning process incredibly daunting when it comes to IT specifically given all the moving parts, including: software and hardware upgrades and support renewals, ongoing IT security protections, and Microsoft Windows and Office migrations (just to name a few!). This apprehension can lead to second-guessing about how much to budget, where to allocate the dollars within the budget, and if your firm is in line with or falling behind the competition.
SETTING THE BUDGET
The first step in preparing your firm’s budget is to determine if you are investing in the correct areas of IT. It is critical to understand if you are budgeting for the proper amount. Fortunately, the Legal IT industry is proudly unique in that information sharing across firms is unprecedented, allowing for a closer look into the budget and spending trends across firms.
Per the 2016 ILTA/Inside Legal Technology Purchasing Survey (“tech survey”), an annual survey administered among ILTA member law firms, 44% of small-sized firms (1-49 attorneys) and 39% of medium firms (50-199 attorneys) reported spending within 1-3.99% of firm revenue on technology, excluding IT staff salaries, benefits and training. Medium-sized firms specifically are highly concentrated in the middle of this range, with 56% of firms spending 2-2.99% of firm revenue. Another metric worth calling attention to is the IT spend per attorney as reported in the tech survey. Almost three quarters (70%) of small firms spend up to $8,000 per attorney, while over half (60%) of medium firms spend $11,001-$17,000 per attorney.
What does this mean for you? As a point of reference, if you are with a firm that has 30 attorneys and an annual revenue of $6M, almost half of your peers are spending between $60,000-$240,000 on technology per year. For a firm with 100 attorneys and $20M in annual revenue, most of your peers are spending between $400,000-$600,000 (based on total revenue metric) or $1.1M-$1.7M (based on attorney count metric) on technology per year.
To keep up with the cadence of constant change impacting legal technology, law firms are also recognizing that IT spend cannot be limited to a single year investment. Technology investment is the foundation of a firm's livelihood. The tech survey reported that more than half (53%) of the firms increased their IT budget year-over-year - a 12% growth rate from the previous year's survey. With this in mind, it is not surprising that firms are relying on their trusted IT vendors more so now than ever to help them develop an IT roadmap that fits the budget set by the firm.
WHERE TO SPEND THE IT BUDGET STRATEGICALLY
The very best businesses are built on a solid foundation. This should be no different for IT. A primary area of focus for a firm should be to ensure that all the firm’s production hardware and software are covered under vendor support contracts. This means having an accurate inventory system to be able to track warranty expirations and version information. It also involves being aware of when hardware/software is approaching end-of-life, which can lend a hand in your budget forecasting and planning for upgrades. As Microsoft ended support of its Server 2003 in July 2015, and is currently slated to end support of its Server 2008 in January 2020, it is imperative to begin the planning and execution of upgrading these platforms as soon as possible.
The rapid pace of technology has a habit of throwing the old models out the window in favor of the new sexy technologies. Think about how data center technologies have evolved from systems that were once tiered into a converged model (combining the two tiers into one), and then hyper-converged arrived combining three tiers into one package. Software is making leaps even faster, with the introduction of the cloud's rapid workload adoption and the diminished need to host certain infrastructure on-premise. These developments in technology allow you to realize efficiencies (from licensing and hardware cost reduction and technology consolidation, to ease of business continuity) that were previously out of reach for a majority of small and mid-sized businesses.
Once your technology foundation is solid, the next area to focus on is business continuity and disaster recovery. While IT disaster recovery (DR) is a subset of an overall business continuity (BC) plan, it is also important to position the production workload in a capable location with sufficient capacity, power and cooling. Many firms realized the benefits of having a strong DR/BC plan in place because of the destructive 2017 hurricane season where many firms who were not utilizing a colocation facility experienced full outages for days to several weeks, or are still working to recover. These outages could have been avoided by using colocation facilities which are backed up with multiple connectivity and power sources with fully redundant generators, and generally staffed with IT experts 24x7.
If you are currently utilizing a colocation facility, the next evolution is to layer on backup and replication in accordance with your firm’s recovery point and recovery time objectives. A new trend in this space is leveraging Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) through a public cloud, such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS, which makes a lot of sense for some firms to investigate further. The platform allows you to convert CapEx to OpEx while still retaining the same (or greater) level of system protections.
As additional budget dollars allow, a renewed focus on IT security should become a priority. While there are dozens of security products and suites, several fundamental security practices should be implemented, including: endpoint security, mobile device management, two-factor authentication, and a routine (quarterly or yearly) penetration test performed by an independent third party. The legal industry is becoming a hot target for malicious attackers who are looking to gain access to the highly privileged information that is stored within a firm’s network. The good news is, new preventative tactics and techniques are coming to market and gaining traction, such as DMS threat analytics, log aggregation and correlation, and Managed Security Services Providers.
Education and training should be a staple line item in the annual IT budget. Allocation of funds not only to raise employee awareness of security threats such as phishing attacks, and software training, but also to offset expenses for IT staff to attend industry conferences/seminars where they will be educated on the latest and greatest legal technologies. These events can pay for themselves if your legal technology professionals takeaway valuable lessons learned from their peers or develop relationships with vendors that are able to accelerate the firm's growth or reduce its expenses.
Legal applications are the elephant in the room, and an area where your firm can easily allocate a large portion of your annual budget. There is no shortage of reasons to focus on this area; from the upcoming end-of-life of Thomson Reuters Elite’s Enterprise platform, to the allure of artificial intelligence. It is important to stay grounded and to develop a long-term vision as to how an application set will mature at a firm. Some core business applications such as accounting suites are sunsetting, while others are new spinoffs that may be worthy of consideration. Are you contemplating a desktop operating system refresh into Microsoft Windows 10 with Office 2016? This timeframe is likely the best window of opportunity for you to consider changing core legal applications that plug in to the Office suite, including templating and numbering. As Document Management System (DMS) platforms become more millennial friendly, they are beginning to include features for expanded mobility along with integrated security and analytical features which could warrant an upgrade at your firm. Does your firm use a practice management application, where it may make sense to break apart and instead use focused applications that are best-of-breed due to the firm's growth or renewed focus on technology?
There is no blanket "yes" or "no" answer for these questions, as every firm is unique in both culture and technology requirements. For firms in the small to mid-sized space, it often makes sense to partner with and involve proven third-party vendors to do the heavy lifting and provide guidance for the many paths of success that a firm can follow with its IT budget.
In closing, the fast pace in which the technology landscape is changing is forcing firms into having more fluid IT budgets. It is critical to know how to define your budget and drive your IT roadmap with that budget. If you have reliable IT vendor relationships, lean on those partners to help you define your IT roadmap and to develop a three-year plan that addresses: the health of your foundation; the core side of your network; a disaster recovery and business continuance model; must-have IT security solutions; ongoing education; and, legal applications (Microsoft Office, DMS, practice management, docketing, templating and numbering). Your firm can not afford to fall behind, now is the time to take control of the process.
For more information, please contact:
Director, Legal Services
mindSHIFT, a Ricoh Company
RICOH USA, INC
Office: (267) 852-3274
How to Build Your IG Program for the Future
Information governance (IG) is a discipline that is constantly evolving. From increasing regulations to the rapid output of information, businesses are creating more content while trying to comply with stricter rules surrounding data and privacy. As sanctions against those who fail to take proper precautions become more severe, it is imperative that businesses understand the important role that IG plays in relation to long-term growth and success. An organization that fails to comply with regulations can face hefty fines, litigation and may significantly increase the risk of a data breach.
Business leaders need to understand what an ideal IG program entails, why it is important and how to build your organization’s IG program for the future. Here are some things to keep in mind.
What is IG?
Information Governance Initiative defines information governance as “the activities and technologies that organizations employ to maximize the value of their information while minimizing associated risks and costs.” Simply put, it is the management of an organization’s information.
This includes all physical and electronic data such as employee files, accounts payable records, websites, client data, emails, social media posts and more. IG covers the various policies, procedures, structures and processes that organizations must comply with when creating, managing and sharing information.
Why is IG important?
With 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each day and 90% of the world’s information created in the last two years, regularly monitoring and evaluating your organization’s data is essential. Addressing all types of information created by the company will not only protect it from being breached, but will also improve efficiency and productivity.
As regulations in data privacy continually change for IG and eDiscovery, the struggle to stay compliant grows larger. A holistic IG program will help your organization manage massive content growth over multiple repositories, while also complying with increased enforcement of laws and regulations. Waiting for an audit or data breach to occur before taking action can be costly in terms of time, money and information. Focusing on current efforts to build a trust-worthy IG framework will protect your organization from internal or external security risks.
How to Build a Future-Proof IG Program
The future of technology is all about accountability and preparing your company for potential security risks, such as natural disasters, loss of data in a merger or acquisition, audits and other litigation. Though many organizations believe adapting to change as it comes is enough, this is not the case with IG.
Follow these steps to future-proof your own IG program.
Conduct a records management audit. As technology continues to evolve at an exponential rate and the creation of data follows suit, planning ahead with the right strategy is key. But developing the right strategy for the future often requires taking a hard look at current processes. A records management audit will help your company identify the types of information handled and the appropriate policies and retention schedules needed to protect your business.
Convert paper files into digital format. As we move toward a paperless world, the need for a safe and compliant document management is a must. Converting your paper files into digital formats can help you keep track of and find information more efficiently. Digital documents are also important backups in the event of accidents or natural disasters such as fires or floods.
Centralize your document management processes. As changes and regulations continue to shape the future of IG, having a safe and secure document management system is more important than ever. Investing in document management software and systems will create efficiencies, save you time, and keep you compliant with the changing times.
If your organization needs help taking the first step in building a successful IG program for the future, Access can assist with our cloud-based employee document management system, CartaHR.
Regional Account Manager
Access Information Protected
Do you need some help on your presentation skills? Here are 101 Presentation Tips to make your next presentation a success!