Accurate Court Reporting Aids Legal Officials in Their Case Reviews

In the movies and popular television dramas, the courtroom exchanges that transpire between attorneys and witnesses and defendants would produce court transcripts that read like a spellbinding crime novel, which is precisely the point. But in real courtroom situations, hours and even days can go by before testimony and cross-examination yield facts and perspectives that are crucial to the outcome of a case. Far from acting as master elicitors of defendant slipups and the revelation of hidden facts from witnesses, attorneys often serve as probing inquisitors who gradually build a case of verbal evidence over the course of long-term court cases.

As a result, the court transcripts that record this evidence can run for hundreds or even thousands of pages, making them unwieldy and difficult to review. However, with computer databases becoming increasingly popular for the storage of archival material, legal officials can now access voluminous court transcripts over the Internet by joining a legal support website that assigns them a password I.D.

In many cases, legal support websites that offer retrieval of court transcripts services also manage the court reporters that produced the transcripts in order to ensure the transcripts’ accuracy. In addition to being able to access the transcripts over the Internet, clients of legal support websites can also request transcripts in hard copy, and can request them on an instant or expedited basis.

Before the transcripts are delivered over the Internet or in hardy copy, they are quality checked using a battery of tests to insure that they meet clients’ specific requests. As an added quality measure, a statewide quality manager that specializes in ensuring the quality and accuracy of court transcripts continually randomly checks the transcripts. Due to the quality assurance measures and adaptation to clients’ requests that they undergo, transcripts received through reputable legal support websites are almost always more accurate and client friendly than transcripts received through traditional means.

To ensure the quality of its court reporters, a reputable legal support website requires that reports present impeccable credential before being considered for a position. In addition to displaying a mastery of every aspect of the court reporting process, applicants must also display a high standard of performance, ethics and professionalism. Because the quality of court transcripts is inseparable from the quality of the court reporters that produce them, the paramount concern of legal services websites that provide accurate court reporting services and transcripts is to hire a team of reporters that will produce accurate reporting results without fail.

Because the job of legal officials is to shape or determine the outcome of a court case based on the evidence provided therein and not to ensure the quality of the resources that chronicle that evidence, providers of accurate court reporting play an essential role in helping legal officials arrive at the correct perspectives and judgments in a timely fashion. Although a court case may require extensive litigation, a legal services website is there to ensure that the litigation is presented with accuracy and clarity.

Addressing A Prospective Employer’s Request for Job Candidate’s Facebook Log-In Info?

A recent syndicated article has been circulating, which addresses the practice of employers requesting prospective hires provide their Facebook user name and password, during the initial interview process. The article is captioned “Can Employers Legally Ask You for Your Facebook Password When You Apply for a Job?” Why Congress and the States Should Prohibit This Practice.” As the title indicates, this article concerns what legal steps are being taken and can be taken to address this questionable employment hiring practice. However, missing from that article is the more practical and exigent side of the problem, which is the quandary facing the job seeker, when asked for this private information.

From the standpoint of both an employer and an employment law attorney, I will attempt to briefly tackle this question. The question is – until there are actual laws put in place to prevent the practice of an employer requesting an interviewee’s Facebook log-in information, what can you do to protect the privacy of your Facebook during your hunt for a new job?

Is My Facebook Information Private?

Yes and No. Let me explain….

Privacy Settings

First, keep it clean! Always be mindful that Facebook is constantly (it seems) changing its interface and privacy settings – keep on top of these changes and select your own personal security and privacy settings wisely. Only put things out there in the public, which you wish for the public to see. Notwithstanding the ability to select privacy settings, you should assume that some alterations to these settings or breaches in security down the road could cause your “privately” posted information to go public. Moreover, anything you post is really not truly private anyway, which is really the reason we “post” on Facebook in the first place – as it is shared amongst your Facebook “friends.” Be aware that those friends’ accounts could be shared or accessible by their spouses, family members, friends, and thus the information that you make visible to them could be shared with others – accidentally or deliberately.
Expectation of Privacy

Next, notwithstanding the above, I still believe that there is an “expectation of privacy” to many aspects of our Facebook accounts. We expect that the privacy settings will work as intended and our comments, posts, etc. will not be shared with the public at large, even if we have contemplated the possibility that friends or family members of friends might see our posts, comments and page(s). However, clearly we have an expectation that the settings themselves that we choose, our passwords, our private emails to friends through the Facebook email interface will remain private. When a prospective employer requests your username and password, they are requesting private and sensitive information – your password, which may be linked to other accounts or have some other personal significance that we do not wish to share. In addition, they are requesting access to all of your activity on Facebook – every post, every game, every comment, every email. Many of these things in and of themselves are reasonably expected by you to remain private. Further, the cumulation of this data, is reasonably expected to only be seen by you. Would any prospective employer request access to your private email account, the hard-drive from your computer, the entire meta-data & internet browser history from all of the sites you have ever visited on your computer. Of course they would not – but logging into your Facebook account grants this same type of information – access to any personal emails you have sent through the Facebook email interface, a complete view of any and all posts and comments you have ever made, a quick view of ALL of your Facebook activity, spanning the entire time that you have had your Facebook account, and access to your security settings, friends lists, blocked friends, etc. This is an invasion of your reasonable expectation of privacy.

How do I respond to a request by a prospective employer for My Facebook log-in information?

If you have read the above paragraph, I think a very pragmatic approach to addressing such a request would be to explain in response to such an inquiry, outlining the concerns detailed above. Couple those privacy concerns with an offer of a less intrusive method for the prospective employer to obtain what information they seek. What is it that the employer is seeking? In part, it might simply be to gauge how you respond to such a request. Thus, prepare to respond confidently, addressing your privacy concerns and offering a different approach, and turning the question back to the employer. Ask the interviewer or prospective employer what it is that they are looking for and if reasonable, in your mind’s eye, offer to “friend” them to give them a glimpse of the information that is available. Alternatively, you could offer to simply answer their questions about any given topic – thus putting the onus back on them to explain what precise information they are seeking. These approaches show a problem solving ability and critical thinking on your part, which are likely good qualities for any job you are seeking. They show that you are cooperative and constructively work to resolve potential conflicts, while standing up for your beliefs.

Should I Create A Second Facebook Profile?

Creating a second, “clean” or dummy Facebook profile is one possible approach to the situation, as well as a way to “friend” your mother or other family members, while protecting the privacy of your less discrete or more salacious or frivolous postings and activities between you and your more intimate “friends.” However, keep in mind that by doing this, the friends, family members, or prospective employers with whom you share the information on the dummy account, may discover or know of the existence of your other account(s) and may react unpleasantly to the deceit of being directed or relegated to a second, dummy account.

Can I Use my Work Computer or Cell Phone for Personal, Social Media, Email, Facebook?

The simple answer to this question is NO! I get asked this question a lot, and the basic answer is that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in any information transmitted or entered digitally into/through a work computer, cell phone, or other device. The device belongs to your employer, and thus the employer has a right to seize or view the device itself at any time, and regardless of your deleting the ESI (electronically stored information), as most people understand in this digital age, deleting ESI rarely ever actually completely deletes and destroys that information. Without getting into the technical details of it (which I am not qualified to fully expound upon anyway), when you delete electronically stored information, you are merely deleting the ROM’s access to and indexing to that information – the actual information itself remains on the drive, although partitioned away somewhere and un-indexed. It may over time become partially or entirely overwritten, but that may not happen for a considerable length of time, if ever. Further, by transmitting information through your corporate device, that information will likely pass through and be processed by your company’s server, leaving traces of and the actual underlying information there for your employer to see. Also, automatically stored passwords and such, if enabled, may provide your employer easy access to ALL of your account information. This topic deserves much more, but that is not the purpose of this article.

In conclusion, this is a very interesting topic, from both a legislative and an employment standpoint, and I am eager to read any relevant comments, anecdotes and ultimately to see how this landscape evolves over time.

5 Reasons You Can Be An Attorney Rainmaker: “Born” Salesmen Don’t Have A Monopoly In The Legal Field

When a lawyer becomes a successful rainmaker for his law firm, you often hear that he’s a “born salesman.” When it comes to writing a persuasive proposal – a rarity in the legal field – the term is a “born writer.”

In many ways, this explanation seems to relieve everyone of a good deal of responsibility. It conveys the idea that he doesn’t need to exert himself in order to make a sale. It suggests that he need only to appear before a client and go through the formality of discussing his practice – and some divine force will cause the actual rain.

But Here’s the Truth About Successful Selling for Lawyers

The sooner this myth is drowned in a lake and forgotten, the better. It belongs with the orcs and goblins of a fantasy world – because it has no place in this one. It certainly has no relation to achieving success.

I want to strongly encourage you to believe in yourself and your current and future selling abilities. Don’t give up.

Yes, it’s obvious that some attorneys have greater native capability for selling or proposal writing than others. But native capability is not all that a lawyer needs to sell his firm. Whether in a proposal in response to a Request For Proposal or in the “beauty contest” sales presentation, a lawyer needs more than in-born selling skills just as much as an in-born ear for music doesn’t make you Mozart.

Study and painstaking practice are more essential in developing good selling ability than natural aptitude. No attorney – no matter how much selling knack he has been gifted with – can succeed on the strength of knack alone. It may suffice to keep him or her bringing in a few enviable clients from time to time – but it only advances him to the front ranks because so few lawyers make any effort to learn any sales skills at all. To truly make it rain for yourself and the loved ones and staff who depend on you, you must constantly strive to improve your methods. You need to benefit from others’ experience. You have to add acquired knowledge of sales and proposal writing to whatever natural gifts you have.

You Have To Learn It To Earn It

Nobody ever sprang full-fledged into writing persuasive proposals or dazzling at beauty contests. It takes training to obtain possession of the powers that a lawyer must use if she desires to rise above the ranks of the mere plodders.

The best examples of success in legal salesmanship are no less “made” salespeople than “born” salesmen. Indeed, many of the most proficient attorneys have attained proficiency through sheer determined application in mastering the principles in selling. Despite the fact that they have had no “leaning” in the direction of sales, and no particular fitness at the start, they absorbed the essential strategies and techniques of selling for the legal profession.

As for responding to Requests For Proposals, no attorney has ever been born who wrote an effective one the first time around. And yet many law firms continue to cut and paste from previous proposals that date back to the very first one.

Don’t Be Discouraged By Ignorant Lawyers

Many senior partners and compensation committee members commit an injustice in carelessly classifying all good rainmakers as “born” salesmen. They imply by this that those who have not been born to this kind of work, who do not evince a special capacity for it at the beginning of their careers, are hopeless cases.

But any lawyer can learn to sell their services and their firm. Any attorney can learn to write a persuasive proposal to a client. Any law firm can put together a winning sales presentation for the beauty contest.

There is nothing about selling to make it incomprehensible to an attorney who wants to master it. Salesmanship is not like being an NBA center, where the job opening starts and ends with seven footers. Given brains and a determined spirit and a capacity for application, any attorney can achieve success in selling, even if she has grown up with no particular understanding of sales systems and the steps for effective selling or the proper structure for persuasive proposals for law firms. You can’t expect to study your way to being seven feet tall, but you can absolutely study your way to being a rainmaker.

There is an incredible need in the legal field for a greater number of lawyers who are thorough and competent salespeople. For this reason alone it’s terrible to discourage associates and partners who have the making of a good salespeople who are able to sell their firm and services by telling them that, if they are not “born” salesmen, they can never make a real success.

And As For Those “Born” Rainmakers

Oftentimes the success and ability of “born” rainmakers is seriously impaired by too much self-assurance. They get the idea that some sort of a lucky charm makes their efforts inevitably succeed. Some never even do their best work because – compared to other lawyers who don’t make any efforts to learn to sell – they feel that their poorest work is good enough. They’re content to set the pace and play some golf. It seems frankly unimportant whether they keep it up. Consequently, though they may still keep their knack of selling or presenting, they make very little improvement as the years go on. And they never improve at proposal writing.

It seems to them that their smooth talking is all that there is to salesmanship. Since they already possess it, there’s no point in them seeking self-improvement. And there’s no opportunity for them to improve themselves. This is a shockingly bad mistake.

If a law firm has what is known as a “born” salesman, it has a right to consider itself fortunate. But the rainmaker himself should be careful that he doesn’t forfeit his incentive to do better and to grow just because he feels he’s already reached a satisfactory height.

What you need to make your selling and proposal writing skills strong and competent is less being peculiarly endowed with the knack of selling as that you be animated with a belief in the possibilities of your own development. You need to believe that, if you learn to sell better, you will be rewarded for your efforts.

It’s hard to look around and feel that’s true sometimes, but it is.

It’s hard to feel that you have the time to learn selling or proposal writing, but you do.

It’s hard to imagine a better investment in your future than selling more of your services and selling it at a higher price.

How to Keep It Up

Keep hold of your ambition to achieve the greatest measure of development possible. The rawest and most ill-assorted law firm selling force – if each of your members is dominated by the belief that he can learn to sell your services and by the determination to do so – will earn more for a firm in the long run than the law firm made up of “born” rainmakers who are all so satisfied and content with present conditions that they don’t try to improve.

So summon all the energy of your mind and body. Never entertain a thought of failure. Make difficulties stepping stones to greater heights of achievement. No doubt you will meet severe opposition. There are people who will say, you’re too small, too big, too young, too old, too inexperienced, too expensive, and just about a million other things. Stick with your conviction and courage in the face of such remarks. Study the methods and techniques to counter these objections. Learn how to present the value behind your services. Quantify the benefits your firm provides that others don’t. Understand why you’re the right choice for your clients. Most importantly, differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Remember that many lawyers are making big successes despite these same objections. You too can do it. Develop your talent, sure, but especially grow your courage and define your purpose. It’s not just the power to achieve, but the will to do, that will make your legal practice a success.

Never before have lawyers had such opportunities to make money as now. It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s still true. The country is more prosperous than any time in history. Regardless of in-born talent, nobody who has character has any business being poorer than he wants to be. By successfully selling your legal services, you can ensure that you become prosperous too.

Leasing an Apartment – What You Should Know About Maintenance Requests

Maintenance of your apartment is something of a two-way street. As a tenant, you have certain responsibilities for maintaining your apartment. The Landlord also has certain maintenance responsibilities. You are, in a business sense, partners in the well-being of your apartment. So, let’s explore the responsibilities in your maintenance partnership.

You, the Tenant

Before you sign your lease, ask the landlord or his/her acting agent how to report a maintenance request or safety issue. There may be a specific form, an emergency contact phone number, or an online system for reporting your concern – or any combination of the three.

As long as you reside in your apartment, you will have some ongoing housekeeping responsibilities, including:

• Properly disposing of garbage, rubbish, and waste.
• Keeping plumbing fixtures as clean as possible.
• Using all electrical, heating, ventilating, A/C, sanitary, and plumbing systems appropriately.
• Using all common area facilities like elevators, stairways, laundry rooms, etc., appropriately.
• Repairing or replacing what you break or damage.

There are two remaining responsibilities of particular importance:

• You are expected to keep your apartment in as clean and safe a condition as possible.
• You must promptly notify the landlord of damage, defective, or dangerous conditions in either your apartment or in the common areas.

Consider the benefits of being a considerate and proactive tenant:

• You may be building a good-will relationship with the landlord, acting agent, or both. That person may be more inclined to granting an occasional favor like granting an additional parking space on a temporary basis, or other consideration.

• You may be more likely to receive a positive reference when you move on to your next apartment.

The Landlord/Acting Agent

The landlord (or the landlord’s designated acting agent), is responsible “for keeping your rental unit in a livable condition.” This is a significant responsibility beyond a legal obligation to you.

A leaking faucet, frayed wiring, or unreliable hot and cold water supplies aren’t just annoying (and potentially hazardous) issues to you; they may also adversely affect the structure of the building. This increases the landlord’s responsibility to you, the other tenants, visitors, and owner(s) of the rest of the building. Your landlord is responsible for:

• Ensuring that the property is in habitable condition when you move in.
• Ensuring that necessary repairs and maintenance are completed in a timely way to keep the property in safe and habitable condition.
• Ensuring that the unit is outfitted with the proper safety equipment and functions (latches, deadbolt, smoke detectors, etc.) as required by city and/or state regulations.

Requesting Maintenance

In most non-emergency circumstances, your maintenance request should be made in writing. A casual “by the way… ” mention may be sufficient but can just as easily be forgotten. A written request documents the problem and your request for resolution.

In polite language, clearly and simply state the request. Consider including these “themes” in your letter:

• A simple but complete description of the problem.
• An explanation of how the situation is becoming/will become worse and more costly to repair if not quickly addressed.
• Point out any safety or security risks that your problem may be creating, especially if the problem affects other tenants’ safety.

You do have some legal recourse if your maintenance requests are ignored, particularly if they affect your safety or health (or others’ health and safety). But before you threaten or take extreme action, try the step-by-step approach with courtesy and an in the spirit of partnership. After all, you are also looking after the well-being of the landlord’s property.

That approach may be all it takes to form a long-lasting positive landlord/tenant relationship and a happy residence for years to come.