4 Conflict Resolution Strategies for Your Firm

4 Conflict Resolution Strategies for Your Firm

4 Conflict Resolution Strategies for Your Firm

When it comes right down to it, the practice of law has conflict built right into it. It’s an adversarial system by design, one side pitted against the other in a battle that relies on a successful argument.

But making a persuasive legal argument in court and getting into an argument with a colleague are two very different things. Conflict within a law firm can jeopardize clients and careers, so it’s important to adopt ways to resolve these issues successfully. Here are 4 of the best conflict resolution strategies for your firm.

1 – Don’t Beat Around the Bush

Most people are hard-wired to avoid direct conflict. This means employing strategies like avoidance, triangulation (talking to a 3rd party about a conflict), and other mitigation strategies. This doesn’t do anything but prolong the issue. If you don’t take active steps to confront the issue head-on, this will lead to whatever conflict caused the issue in the first place to potentially worsen. Remember that confrontation is the only method for moving past a conflict successfully, and while this can be painful, it’s a necessary component of interpersonal growth.

2 – Keep Things Professional

Whether it’s a procedural, ideological, or an interpersonal difference, whatever might have caused the conflict is likely due to emotions spiraling out of control. When you do have a confrontation, whether it’s with a client or a colleague, approach the issue from a professional perspective and don’t let emotions run high. Doing so will only make it more difficult to reach a successful resolution. This is obviously more easily said than done, but if you want to be considered a professional, you’re going to have to demonstrate the ability to act in a manner befitting your position.

3 – At the Same Time, Acknowledge the Emotional Component

However, you can’t discount the emotional component of a conflict completely. It’s important to acknowledge and validate the emotions of those in conflict. Using empathy to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and then telling them “I can see how this would be upsetting and you have every right to feel the way you do” goes a long way in resolving conflicts. People want to feel that they have been heard and understood. While this isn’t universal, in many cases it’s this understanding that is enough to resolve a conflict altogether. If not, it’s an excellent first step in demonstrating your willingness to discuss and resolve an issue.

4 – When All Else Fails, Apologize

Admitting you’re wrong can be difficult, especially if you feel the other person is the one who’s at fault. At the same time, there are bigger things at stake than your personal sense of justice. If a simple, sincere apology will mollify an upset client or ensure that a conflict between a fellow legal professional will be resolved, consider doing so. Additionally, a simple statement that you’re sorry the other person became angry or upset because of something you did means you can express regret for the outcome without compromising your original stance.

How Technology has Changed the Practice of Law

How Technology has Changed the Practice of Law

How Technology has Changed the Practice of Law

The practice of law has been around for a very long time. As civilization evolves, so does our approach to practicing law. Nowhere is this more obvious than how technological developments, even just over the past few years, have changed how legal professionals approach their job. Here’s a few examples.

Electronic Document Filing Makes Life Easier for Lawyers

No one in the legal profession likes dealing with preparing and filing court documents. It’s a tedious, expensive process, made even worse by how absolutely crucial it is — even the slightest mistake can lead to the courts rejecting your documents. In some cases, the delays caused by having to re-file could cost you cases and clients, simply because someone put the wrong case number on a document.

Not so when jurisdictions accept documents that can be prepared and sent electronically. Instead of having to hand-deliver a stack of paper documents by way of a courier, law firms can upload PDF versions of these same documents. The time and money saved in doing so provide ample opportunities to ensure each document is thoroughly vetted before upload, thus reducing errors overall by a sizable margin.

Heightened Connectivity Democratizes Individual Access to Legal Professionals

Access to the internet is increasingly common as time and technology march on. Whether it’s a netbook, a mobile device like a smartphone or a tablet, or even just access to a friend with these items, individuals have the option to use the internet when it comes to pursuing a need for an attorney.  As a result, the ability to find and speak with a legal professional is much easier today than in years past.

People can use a search engine to find the address and phone number of a nearby law firm, read any pertinent online reviews, and then reach out to speak to a lawyer directly. In some instances, there’s no need to even leave the comfort of their own home. For instance, video conferencing technologies like Skype make it easy for those with mobility issues to still seek, and get, the legal aid they need.

Cloud Computing Makes it Easier to Work from Anywhere, with Anyone, at Any Time

Many legal professionals spend just as much time out in the field as they do in the office. Whether it’s meeting with clients, attending depositions, representing clients in court, or simply traveling from one location to the next, there’s a lot of legwork involved in practicing law. This meant that a lot of catch-up work needed to be done once you got back to the office.

Today, however, this simply isn’t the case. Being able to stay connected with your law firm remotely through cloud-based technologies means you don’t have to sync work done in the field once you get back to your desk. Uploading documents on the fly to a cloud-based server provides you have the access needed to work efficiently and productively and makes it easier than ever to collaborate with colleagues in real-time wherever they are.

There’s Even More Innovation on the Horizon

These examples aren’t the limit of how technology has changed how we practice law. New innovations on the horizon are sure to be even more revolutionary in ways that we might not even be able to predict. It might be uncertain as to what the future holds, but there’s one thing you can bet on: it’s going to change things even more.

5 Productivity Tools Your Law Firm Should Be Using

5 Productivity Tools Your Law Firm Should Be Using

5 Productivity Tools Your Law Firm Should Be Using

Managing a law firm effectively requires high levels of organizational dedication and oversight. That being said, ensuring your firm remains productive isn’t something that you can accomplish without the right tools at your disposal. Here are five of the best productivity tools your firm should be using if you want to build a professional reputation.


Note-taking app Evernote is an incredibly versatile tool that should be in every legal professional’s playbook. Featuring the ability to capture notes on the fly, organize them, and then share them quickly and easily. From scanning business cards with your phone camera to importing content from whole websites, Evernote is a flexible tool for information gathering, especially while you’re out of the office and don’t have the luxury of writing emails or drafting memos on a laptop or desktop.


Evernote might be great while you’re on the go, but you also need a robust data storage and sharing solution for interoffice communication, too. Dropbox is an excellent solution for law office productivity, as the cloud-based document management tool can act as a digital server for an entire law firm. Allowing users to maintain a local folder that then gets synced to the cloud, Dropbox offers seamless integration to office staff, ensuring you don’t get bogged down in needlessly copying files to specific locations – just drag and drop and you’re done. Available as a mobile app as well, Dropbox works to keep you connected to the office, providing you with crucial documents even when you’re in the field.

Rocket Matter

Project management software specifically created to support legal practices, Rocket Matter is a full-figured platform that offers a number of benefits. Providing billing optimization, casework management, scheduling tools, secure collaboration, and full integration with Office 365 on PC, Mac, and mobile, Rocket Matter is a popular choice for law firms both big and small that need some extra organizational framework. Rocket Matter also integrates with Dropbox and Evernote, offering high levels of synergy to legal professionals already using these tools.


If you’ve ever cursed your inability to enter text quickly and accurately on your smartphone, you wouldn’t be the first. Up until now, alternatives have been voice-to-text apps, which can be dodgy at best, or using a larger, more cumbersome device like a laptop or tablet. TextBlade changes all that – its innovative, miniature Bluetooth multitouch keyboard offers uncramped typing, but folds together into a little rectangle 1/3 the size of an iPhone after use. Magnetic self-assembly and packing means never having to fiddle with it, either.

Process Street

Simple and free-to-use, checklist software Process Street is a powerful tool for managing workflows for any size team of legal professionals. Featuring easy to create process templates, the ability to use that template as a checklist across multiple instances, and offering progress tracking and collaboration capabilities across your team, Process Street is lightweight and versatile, making it ideal for not just individual and project management in a legal setting but in any professional setting.

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Why Easy is Good

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Why Easy is Good

Work Smarter, Not Harder: Why Easy is Good

People say you need to work hard to get ahead in life, but things change. When new tech approaches make it easier to accomplish tasks without working hard, suddenly “easy” becomes the new “good”.

You Don’t Have to Choose Between Easy and Good Anymore

There’s an old adage: you can either do things the easy way, or do them the right way. The saying implies that if you want to get something done right, you need to take your time, even if it’s hard; there are no shortcuts to success, and trying to cut corners is only going to come back to haunt you.

While the sentiment is certainly admirable, this ultra-orthodox, traditional approach to success where hard work is good and taking the easy route is a lazy path that’s doomed to fail is simply no longer accurate today. The advent of modern technologies means that today, the old, hard way of doing something isn’t necessarily the best way to accomplish that task.

Life is for the Living

There’s nothing wrong with making life easier. Your pen-pal halfway across the globe is minutes away instead of weeks or months, thanks to airmail giving way to e-mail. You can use 3D printing to create a replacement part from scratch in hours instead of taking days or weeks to track one down and have it shipped to you. Mobile and online banking allow you to deposit money into your account and pay your bills electronically instead of having to head down to your local bank branch.

In such instances – and countless others – the technology that makes our lives easier makes them better. This is true in our professional lives, as well – fax machines, copiers, scanners, and electronic document delivery have revolutionized every facet of professional office work. When it comes to the legal profession – one that revolves around massive amounts of crucial paperwork – the “easy” way is most certainly the best way, as long as it’s not just quick but also reliable and trustworthy.

Rapid Legal’s Answer to How Easy is Good

Have you ever had one of those days? You’re running around at breakneck speed from dawn to dusk, ensuring that the right documents are prepared and filed properly. This requires an intense attention to detail. Mistakes with legal documents can lead to a case being lost or even dismissed outright, and it’s both costly and time-consuming to ensure these documents are as flawless as possible before they’re delivered to the courts on time.

Meanwhile, all these legal documents that need to be filed and served aren’t the only important things you need to do on any given day. The more time you spend on handling legal documents, the less time you’ll have for managing the rest of your duties. You need a quick solution to get this facet of your job done quickly so you can move on – a system that harnesses modern connectivity, allowing you to upload your files from your computer and have them delivered electronically. Being able to quickly place orders in this manner is expected in this day and age, but you need to make sure the service provider and system you use has been designed from the ground up to not just be fast and easy to use, but to be accurate as well.

That’s where Rapid Legal comes in. We included legal professionals in the design process of building our easy-to-use system. The end result? Our electronic file & serve system enables both attorneys and legal support staff alike to quickly place orders for eFiling and eService, easily manage cases and corresponding documents and retrieve Conformed Copies and Proofs of Service anytime. You can rest assured that our systems are here to make your life better by making things easier – and that easy is indeed good.

How Service of Process Works

How Service of Process Works

How Service of Process Works

Service of process is a linchpin of the entire US judicial system. As such, it’s important to understand how it works and what to expect. Here’s what you need to know about how service of process works.

What Triggers Process Service?

Service of process comes into play under specific circumstances. Usually, this means that someone has filed a formal complaint against someone else, claiming a physical or financial injury, or violating a specific law or laws. Once this complaint gets filed with the courts, it’s time to move on to the next step – notifying the defendant of the complaint lodged against them.

You’ve Been Served

Because our legal system strives to be fair and just, informing a defendant that a complaint has been filed against them is a crucial step. This is, of course, the part of the process that people are most familiar with. Documents detailing that complaint need to be delivered to the defendant in a way that is verifiable; this is where process servers are hired to physically serve these documents to the defendant before the case against them can proceed.

Service of process is usually depicted on television or movies in a questionable manner; a shady defendant goes to great lengths to avoid being served by a process server who relies on subterfuge to do their job, for instance. This is, of course, wildly exaggerated; process servers are highly professional and have an exhaustive, almost encyclopedic knowledge as to what’s permitted and what’s not when it comes to serving a defendant papers.

Not Just for Defendants

Service of process isn’t exclusively used to alert defendants that there is a complaint lodged against them. In many instances, you may be served papers to request your appearance or response at a court proceeding. Most commonly this will be to have a deposition taken, pursuant to a subpoena, to produce certain documents related to a court case, or even to testify in open court.

Order in the Court

Service of process is serious business. Hiring a process server is an integral step in pursuing a case. Meanwhile, not responding to service of process is a bad idea, as this can lead to you losing your case, contempt-of-court, hefty fines, or even jail time.

Whichever way you look at it, process service is an integral part of any legal action, whether in state or federal court.

Favorite Legal Research Tips and/or Tools

Favorite Legal Research Tips and/or Tools

Favorite Legal Research Tips and/or Tools

Pulling your hair out in your own practice? Don’t know where to start or which direction to turn? Here’s a collection of Rapid Legal’s favorite legal research tips and tools to make your life easier.

Understand the Issue

Before you begin, you have to take steps to ensure that you have as full an understanding of the issue as possible. This might seem like 1L stuff but the truth is that you need this foundational information to work a case effectively – not taking this first step seriously could jeopardize your ability to do so in the future.

Understand the Controlling Statute

Before you start drafting and filing paperwork on a case, you also need to ensure that the statute or case precedent you’re relying upon is still good law. This means identifying the scope of the controlling statute and analyzing whether your current issue falls within that scope. It also means checking that subsequent case law hasn’t altered the law’s reading in a way that might reflect negatively on your own case.

Create Your Own Specified Resource List

Plenty of law firms have a list of easily-accessible resources for attorneys and legal professionals to peruse while building a case for a client. Wile these lists are obviously designed to make it less strenuous to conduct research, oftentimes you’re going to need a specific resource that exists off-list.

To save time and energy in the future, either for yourself or for colleagues, create and maintain your own specified resource lists. These can be as simple as a set of bookmarks in your web browser or as complex as a cross-referenced Excel spreadsheet; the level of detail is up to you.

Step Back and Evaluate Your Progress

It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’ve got thirteen different books on case law open on your desk and twice as many windows open on your desktop. If it feels like you’re drowning in information but still not finding the knowledge you seek, step back and gain some perspective.

A highly-defined focus is good for single issues, but has the side-effect of making it easier to miss the bigger picture. Stepping back and examining your progress so far can aid in pinpointing logical fallacies or weaknesses in your argument, errors in attribution, or any number of other issues that could result in a negative outcome.

When All Else Fails, Turn to Your Colleagues

There’s a reason it’s called the “practice” of law – you need to literally practice for years before learning all there is to learn, and with the legal landscape changing all the time thanks to the malleable nature of case precedent, an effective legal professional has to demonstrate high levels of mental agility that need to be learned over time.

No one woke up the morning after passing the bar with an invitation to sit on the US Supreme Court. It’s only through years of practice and study – and enlisting the help of colleagues – that you’ll put your best foot forward. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to solicit opinions and advice from paralegals, associates, partners, law librarians; access to the knowledge your colleagues possess will always be the best tool at your disposal.

The 5 Best Legal Apps that Every Lawyer Needs

The 5 Best Legal Apps that Every Lawyer Needs

The 5 Best Legal Apps that Every Lawyer Needs

Thanks to the rise of mobile apps, we’re all increasingly connected in the 21st century. That goes for attorneys and legal professionals, too – the online marketplace is jammed with legal apps made to make your job easier. While there is no one “perfect” app for every legal professional out there, there are some that come pretty darn close – here are five of the very best law apps available now that will help you practice law in the new millennium.

1. Fastcaseg

Out in the field and need a read on some case law in a hurry? Fastcase has you covered. Available for iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone, Fastcase can provide you with the on-the-go research you need. If it was good enough to win the New Product Award from the American Association of Law Libraries, it’s good enough for your practice.

2. Depose

Are you constantly taking depositions? Toss out that dog-eared legal pad and upgrade to Depose. Designed to keep track of the question-and-answer format that depositions fall into, it’s easy to input questions, keep track of answers, and then export them once you’re done. Right now, Depose is only available for Android, but it’s only a matter of time before the developers add iOS support as well.

3. CamScanner

Document management can be a real chore when you’re in the field. That’s where CamScanner comes in. Available for both iOS and Android, this legal app harnesses the power of your mobile device’s camera to generate PDF documents that you can then annotate, share, and upload on the fly. Password protection provides high levels of security for sensitive documents, while built-in optical character recognition can even pick out text from images and import it into a PDF that can then be edited.

4. Black’s Law Dictionary (9th Edition)

Thought you had seen the last of this big behemoth after law school? You should have known better. There’s no hauling that brick of a law dictionary around with you, but you can still access 45,000 terms at the swipe of a screen. An added bonus is the app’s WestLaw login integration. The only downside is the app is an iOS exclusive, but there’s an Android version in the works.

5. NotaryCam

While it’s different than the rest of the legal apps on this list, NotaryCam is perfect for those attorneys and other legal professionals that are always in need of something notarized. Now you don’t have to hunt down the closest notary public – just upload your documents to NotaryCam and a notary will electronically notarize anything you want. NotaryCam is only available on iOS devices at the moment but that’s likely to change.

Legal Apps for the New Millennium and Beyond

The 5 legal apps above aren’t the only ones out there – that much is obvious. And it’s important to note that as an attorney, paralegal, or another legal professional, your mileage may vary. That being said, the digital landscape is constantly evolving – not so different than the legal one – so keep your eyes peeled for new and exciting legal apps coming up on the horizon!

Mediation Brief

The Mediation Brief: What to Leave In and What to Leave Out

Mediation Brief

By JAN FRANKEL SCHAU // Panel Neutral with ADR Services
Many attorneys are reticent about filing a mediation brief for fear that confidential communications meant only for the mediator will be accidentally disclosed to the opposing party.  Fear not!  Rapid legal can make sure that your brief is delivered into the hands of the trusted mediator herself within her stated filing schedule and you can simply bring a different version for the opposing party on the day of the mediation.

The mediator will want a basic synopsis of the facts, the key legal issues still in dispute and a brief history of settlement negotiations up until that date.  Most mediators don’t object to your brief being sent via email, but generally when you want the mediator to have the advantage of reviewing the exhibits and critical evidence which will make or break your case, you need a delivery service who you can trust to get it there.  And you want to make sure that the weight of the evidence is in the mediator’s hands at least 1 week before, because busy mediators won’t have time to review your documents unless they can take them home over a weekend.  This means keeping the information and writing crisp and direct, and highlighting the key evidence and documents wherever possible.  Don’t simply send them whole deposition transcripts without directing them to the crucial testimony within.

The brief you prepare for opposing counsel can be more of a legal argument as to why your claims or defenses are likely to influence how the case can ultimately be resolved.  In that one, you can (and should) always close with a line about “looking forward to resolving the matter” at the mediation—no matter how strident your arguments are before then.  Opening the door to negotiation before the mediation begins is the best way to let air in so that you are most likely positioned to avail yourself and your client of this golden window of opportunity!

For more insight into what the contents of the brief should be in a particular scenario, contact your mediator or our guest blogger, Jan Frankel Schau, at JFSchau@adrservices.org. You can also follow Jan Schau’s blog at:  www.schaumediation.com/blog.