Do You Dream of Becoming In-house Counsel?

I wish I had a dollar for every attorney who has asked me over the years how to go about getting their dream in-house counsel position.  Most attorneys imagine that in-house counsel work nine to five, have exorbitant salaries, great retirement plans, stock options, and tons of administrative support.  When I talk to in-house counsel, I get an entirely different perspective.

As the saying goes, there are three sides to every story.  A recently published post entitled Law Firm to In-house: Things to Consider Before Climbing Mountains, by David Maurer, a member of the well-known lawyer recruiting & placement firm of Major, Lindsey & Africa, gives a solid glimpse at the third side of the story.

If you’re one of the dreamers, read it for a dose of reality.

Ebola Guidance

It seems that everyone is in an Ebola panic.  We’re all secretly worried a pandemic will mark the beginning of the end of life as we know it.  Personally, I think that most of us has just viewed one too many movies or TV shows about post-epidemic walking dead and other such horrors.  But I don’t mean to diminish the worries which keep many people up at night.

With one travel-related case of Ebola in the U.S., and two resulting confirmed transmissions, the reality of how small our world is — and how vulnerable we are within it — is striking fear in the most stalwart of managers.  Is there something you should be doing for your own safety?  Is there something which you are obligated to do at the office?

Duane Morris has issued  an Alert on the topic entitled “Guidance for Employers Regarding Ebola.” It provides one of the first analyses of possible risks and responsibilities for employers.  Their guidance examines risks and responsibilities under ADA, OSHA, NLRA, FMLA, and Title VII.

Remember, according to the CDC,  the Ebola virus can be spread in several ways to others. Specifically, Ebola is spread through direct contact with blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola, objects that have been contaminated with the virus and infected animals. The CDC states that Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or, in general, by food.  So let’s not panic.  Being well informed, and prepared, is always the best option.

Why Family-Owned Businesses Fail

Business litigation attorney Edward T. Kang — Managing Member of  Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt LLC in Philadelphia — recently appeared as a guest columnist in the September 2014 monthly edition of Philadelphia Business Journal.  His article, “The three big reasons family businesses fail . . . and how to avoid them” is right on target.

Four of my uncles worked in my grandfather’s healthy business, which he built from scratch.  My grandfather had a fur cleaning, alteration and storage business, and also created custom fur coats.  He raised a family of seven through the depression with that business, and managed to save for retirement as well.  Although the Philadelphia neighborhood which housed his 7-story refrigerated warehouse changed for the worse over the years, the building was unique and maintained a healthy market value to the end.

When my grandfather retired and left the business to the next generation, his lack of planning and know-how caused him to make all of the mistakes Kang writes about in his article. Departure of two unhappy sons over a relatively short number of years left the remaining two in an uneasy arrangement. Ultimately, those errors were magnified when the following generation took the reins, and sadly, the business closed.  Lots of hard feelings all around.

Kang points out that a family-owned business failure is inevitable because

  1.  Family feuds are inevitable when owners have equal status
  2. Emotions get out of control. When the owners are family, there is no “just business,” it’s always personal.
  3. Owners are ill-equipped to deal with complex business issues.

True, true and true.  Kang offers three simple steps to take to avoid these issues.  I won’t spoil the ending for you.  His writing is too enjoyable for me to deprive you of an opportunity to read it on your own.

Does this have anything to do with law firms — aside from the care and feeding of its business clients?  You betcha!  A lot of the small firms I work with are family-owned.  They struggle with the same issues.  These issues become more pronounced when the next generation wants to have their “turn” at running the firm.  Transition isn’t always peaceful or well executed.  Many times the younger generation leaves, with bad feelings all around.  If there are multiple family members running the firm, especially if of (fairly) equal status, there will frequently be impediments to growth and change, strong disagreements, and damaged relationships. And the issues become even more complex when a non-family member is added to the mix.

My take-away, based on personal observation, and many years of hands-on work with firms, is that a family-owned firm must take extra steps to avoid the landmines inherent in the working environment.

 

H H Gregg Needs to Learn About Customer Service

I purchased a Danby Wine Cooler from the H H Gregg Montgomeryville, PA store in late 2011.  I did my research at the big box stores, and even visited a few.  They had the right model at the right price. I also bought the extended warranty. Normally I don’t, because they’re not a great deal.  In this case, it was priced right, too.  The salesman was fast and courteous, and self-installation went smoothly.

My cooler recently stopped working.  I visited the store personally to find out what I should do under the extended warranty.  I was a little worried that they’d tell me to bring it into the store.  Instead,  I was quickly and efficiently given an #800 to contact headquarters for warranty repair.  So far, so good.

On September 3, 2014, I placed my service call.  As soon as an automated attendant answered, I knew I was not going to get through the experience quickly.  I had to go through the menu prompts three full times, because “Silicon Sally” would not “recognize” my menu choice.  Finally, on the third attempt it did, and transferred me to . . . who knows.

Then I waited a very long time on hold.  And waited.  And waited.  With frequent and annoying reminders from Silicon Sally that the phone queue was unusually backed up.  Really?  I never would have figured that out.  Or was the annoying playback supposed to make me believe this was atypical?  Uh, not convinced, Sally.  Try some other rube who hasn’t been to the rodeo before.

After a very long time on hold, someone finally came on the line.  He quickly verified my purchase, verified my extended warranty coverage, and then told me I had to call their third-party warranty company, (Warrantech).  I immediately made that call, wondering why I had to have made the first call at all.

After virtually the same experience trying to get through the menu, and then waiting over 45 minutes, (this time I actually timed it), I was connected to someone who would best be described as “snotty.”  I expected that the warranty administrator would resolve the problem.  Nope.  She told me that they had to contact Gregg headquarters first, to find out whether they wanted to repair or replace the item. Excuse me, didn’t I just get off the phone with headquarters, who passed me to you?

I asked if there was any way to expedite the process.  I explained that I have a huge party coming up, and needed the cooler in working order.  No, I was told, there is no way to expedite this process.  It will take 2 – 3 days just for Warrentech to hear back from Gregg headquarters.  I was told that they would call me as soon as they heard back, and instructed to wait for that call.

Thirteen days passed.  During that time I heard nothing further about the repair.  So I called back today, 9/16/14.  And let me be clear, I was not a happy camper when placing the call.  I have a ton of work  on my desk, but instead I have to set it aside to make a call I know will be neither brief nor, I suspect, satisfying.

It came as no surprise that I experienced the same problems with menuing system, and a long wait once I finally got into the queue.  In fact, the wait was more than 25 minutes.  Finally, someone named Will from Warrantech got on the line. Yes, they had the “answer” from Gregg headquarters.  After verifying everything in the computer about me and my purchase — which I tried to respond to patiently and politely — Will informed me that as far as Warrentech is concerned, their file is closed, and the warranty has been satisfied.  Huh?  What’s the resolution?

Unbelievably, Will stated that he could not tell me what the actual resolution was.  He told me I had to write down a repair order number, and call Gregg headquarters once again.  Only Gregg could tell me what the repair order meant in terms of resolution.

At that point, I admit I lost it a little. Where was the apology for the delay, and for failing to call me back?  Why was I being sent in circles? His response was in no way apologetic.  In fact, he responded like he was speaking to someone mentally unbalanced. “Did I want the repair order or not?” was the most I was going to get from him, and I could tell he was about to disconnect if I didn’t write it down.  I did.

With repair order number in hand, and smoke coming out of my ears, I again dialed Gregg headquarters.  Again, there was a problem with menuing system.  Finally I got into the “unusually long delay” queue, and the recording says there’s a back-up of “at least” 10 minutes.

When the hold time hit the 30 minute mark, I sensed I was about to burst into flames from anger.  Seeking any possible release, I called the actual Montgomeryville store on my cell phone, with my other phone still in the hold queue with headquarters.

Guess what?  Everyone at the store is apparently busy, because I was placed in a hold queue at the actual store, too.  No way to speak to someone like customer service or, God forbid, a store manager.  I had already been in the store queue 15 minutes when headquarters finally connected me with a live person.  At that point I hung up on the store.  What if I had been calling to make a purchase?  Apparently they don’t care.

OK so what does my repair order number mean?  Rose at Gregg headquarters explains that I will get an in-store credit for the entire amount of my purchase, so I can buy a replacement.  No refund.  No chance to go elsewhere.  If they now only have something very expensive as an option, I can’t go elsewhere, I have to pay the difference.  If by some miracle what I find as a suitable replacement costs less, I will have the unused money remain as a store credit.  (Since I don’t intend on buying anything there ever again, that means it will be forfeit.)

Also, Rose has no clue why Will from Warrentech did not tell me what the repair order resolution was.  She says it was in front of him on the screen.  There’s no way for me to know, but I agree that it sounds like it should have been.  Wait, it gets better!  Rose says I have to write down a number to give to the store in order to get my in-store credit.  Ok, I ask, what’s the number called?  All I wanted was a label, so I could speak intelligently at the store.  Rose said there was no name for the number she was giving me, and I could call it anything I wanted.  I swear, this is true!!!  I know it sounds like I must be making it up, that’s how ridiculous it is.  “It isn’t called a credit number, but you can call it that if it makes you more comfortable”, Rose explained.

Is there anyone on the face of the planet that believes this is acceptable customer service?  Hey, all of you company executives out there, would you be happy to be associated with a company which treats its customers this way?   Rose suggested I write a letter to headquarters.  That was in response to my question as to whether I could find a place on their web site to post a review.  Thanks, Rose, but I had a more public review in mind.

Sadly, this experience is too common with “big box” stores.  We want their cheap prices, me included, but miss the service of the local business.  Unfortunately, most local businesses have been wiped out by the giant competitors.  Do we have to accept this as the new normal?  NO.  Reference this post on your social media accounts.  Give it a LIKE, ReTweet it, comment on it. Share your own experience with today’s customer service. Open the window and shout “I’m not going to take this anymore!”  Eventually, someone will hear.

In What World is a Trip to the ER Romantic?

More of my readers know me through printed word, rather than in person.  So I can understand how you might be puzzled by the title.  As Desi would say, “Lucy, you’ve got a lot of ‘splaining to do!”  This is certainly a departure from my usual postings, but has to be written.

My fifth wedding anniversary was September 12th.  On the previous day, my husband took me to the ER.  One of many such trips in our relatively short relationship.  As we were led into room #10, I realized that it was the same room where we had the misfortune to conclude our second date.  Trying to make lemonade, as I am prone to do, I said, “look honey, it’s ‘our room’!”

Yes, some couples have a song, a resort, a restaurant, or something which commemorates their special dates or moments.  We will always have the ER.

Hey, it’s not like he didn’t get proper warning long before the proposal.  That second date was just an opening round of many visits to the hospital over the years.  The only difference being that our second date, and the most recent visit, are the only trips to the ER not made in a snowstorm.

Here’s what I’ve found out over the years.  Hubby has a terrible aversion to hospitals, and especially blood and gore.  But he chokes back his fears when the need arises.  I remember watching him look at everything in Room #10 except the surgeon stitching up my hand.  He never let go of my other hand, though.  Even when he thought he might slump over or become ill.  Gotta give him credit.

He has always been attentive, concerned, and done everything within his power to assist me when I have been unable to care for myself.  More frequently, I have stubbornly been incapable of ignoring work obligations when I could not fulfill them on my own.  He’s rescheduled his patients many times in order to drive me to presentations throughout PA on the many occasions when I have reinjured an eye and been unable to drive.

From what I see in most relationships, I know a hubby like this is not the norm.  Thank you, hubby, for taking such good care of me. Repeatedly.  Because in my accident-prone life, a trip to the ER is another romantic memory.  Help me thank him by adding a like or comment to this post.

Attorney Seeking Job Opportunity

An accomplished attorney with substantial experience working in the public sector.  Has significant litigation experience, particularly in the areas of child advocacy, child day care licensing and mental health.  A former judicial law clerk for the Honorable James R. Cavanaugh of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.  Previously worked as legislative counsel for Senator Shirley M. Kitchen in the Senate of Pennsylvania.  Licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania.

Relevant Skills: Legal Research, Litigation, Legislative Research, Appellate Practice, Legal Writing of Pleadings, Motions and Post-Hearing Briefs, Administrative Hearing Appearances, Civil Commitment Hearing Appearances, Witness Preparation.  Interested law firms should contact the candidate directly.

Job Opening – Senior Associate in Estate Admin & Probate

Job opportunity! Wolf, Baldwin, a busy, 8 attorney law firm in Pottstown, Montgomery County (additional offices in Reading and West Chester) seeks a senior associate with significant experience in estate administration and probate to manage their well-established estate planning and probate practice. This is a great opportunity for a solo attorney tired of management headaches, or an attorney in a larger firm who wants to work in a more close-knit environment. Strong computer skills a must. The ideal candidate would also have experience in estate planning, and possibly an LLM as well. This is a long-term career prospect. Salary commensurate with experience, health insurance and 401(k) included. E-mail resume and cover letter to Levi Wolf.

Job opening – Executive Director

The Lycoming Law Association has a job opening.  They are looking for a part-time Executive Director to provide professional management for this organization and its 200 plus members. As such, familiarity with lawyers and law offices, together with take-charge ability and management skills are a must. The position will be part-time 25 to 30 hours per week, with salary commensurate with experience. For full details of the position, necessary qualifications, and the application process, please go to the LLA website at www.lycolaw.org.

The Latest Fraudulent Bank Check Scam

You are probably wondering why the scam artists keep coming up with new ways to try to rip you off.  It’s because they are well paid to do it by uninformed people who take their bait, including attorneys throughout the U.S.  Here’s the latest:

Sir/Ma

We are a Chinese Company based in the Hong Kong involved in the production and exportation of semi Finished steel products such as, Low alloy vessels, Carbon plates, Ship Building plates and Plates for boiler/Vessel to Canada and USA.

We are looking to expand our business network in these countries but presently we are having problems receiving payment for already supplied goods because most payment comes in our Customer’s local Canadian Cheques/Drafts. And it takes too long to clear the payments in the Hong Kong.

We are looking to hire the services of any individual/ legal Company that resides in the Country  as a payment receiving agent for our customers .

You will be required to receive the payments from our customers in your Country in the form of Cashers Checks , bank draft  and cash delivery , you will in turn send the payment to us. You are entitled to 15% Commission of every payment you receive.

You will be receiving at least 4-5 payments monthly. If you are interested in being our Payment receiving agent, please get back to us
with the following information.

Full Names:
Full Contact Address:
Age: (25yrs and Above)
Tel #:
Fax #:
Occupation:

Apply immediately to the Human Resource manager via email:

Sharon Kadiri
Owen Machinery., LTD.,

6/F,Trade Service Center  ,388 Kwun Road

Kowloon, Hong Kong

These scam artists are so good, they create web sites for their phony companies, and may even have a “live” telephone which is answered by a no-gooder.  Beware anything that asks you to accept certified cashier’s checks, and then wire money out of the country.  Your “cut” is usually too good to be true, because it isn’t true at all!

Records Management for Personal Stuff

Another great post by Patti Spencer, Esquire details which personal records you should keep permanently.  If you tend to hoard more than you should, maybe this will enable you to throw some things away without worry.  Read “What To Keep and What to Throw Away (Part Two of Two)”.

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