LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
Attorney At Law
New Lawyer Division President
2013 is full of great promise at the San Diego County Bar Association's New Lawyer Division. As the SDCBA relocates to 401 West A Street, please mark your calendars for exclusive programming in following announcements.
Our New Lawyer Division Board is thrilled to make your coveted acquaintance at our Welcome Mixer, which will be held at our new venue on February 13, 2013. As we debut our highly advanced facilities from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., please join us for light refreshments and to learn how we can help improve your daily practice.
I truly look forward to serving as your President and wish each of you the very best to come.
Happy New Year,
Negeen Mirreghabie, Esq.
Attorney At Law
In this segment, practicing attorneys give professional advice to their peers on subjects such as depositions, client interviewing and civility.
HOW TO PLAN FOR GROWING AS A BUSINESS
By Eric Ganci
Galente Ganci, APC
The decision to grow. It's a huge turn for most of us out there doing the solo/small firm schtick. But those of us enjoying that road know how important it is to have help (either because you have it, or you've had to suffer without it). Here's an example: the printer breaks. Better check with your IT person...you. Or you need to serve a subpoena. Put in a call to your secretary...you again.
As the years grow on, perhaps you're ready to make the jump to hire help either for you, or besides you. It's great to expand, but there are loads to consider. Being true to my style, I'll just give you a stream of consciousness. Don't expect answers...ask me questions about DUI breathalyzers and blood gas chromatography, I can answer those...but I'm just a caveman on most of the business end, and learning the game just like all of you. Here are some thoughts to chew on:
Business and payment structure:
How do you have your firm formed? Sole proprietorship? Incorporated? Really, one main consideration (at least that we've seen), is how you pay yourself, and how you expect to pay someone else. Do you use payroll? If not, you may want to look into it, so taxes are withdrawn paycheck to paycheck.
Health coverage is ex-pen-sive. And that's one of the biggest benefits for working for someone else, assuming they are covering your health benefits for you. If you hire, should you offer health benefits? If so, how much? Do you want the employee to pay in part, or are you covering everything?
First, is this something you want to offer yourself? Second, is this something you want to offer your workers? If so, there are different ways to set up the 401k. How much do you want to match yourself, or the employee? When do you want the investment to vest? There are different tiers (e.g. 100% vesting right away; 20% after the first year, and tiered years after; 100% after 3 years). You may not want to vest someone right away if they bounce on you after a few months.
Sick days/Paid time off:
Do you want to set up time off as sick days v. vacation days, or just straight paid time off? You can have a payroll company track all this for you, but it depends how you want to allocate these days, and how many days you want to allow.
No surprise here, if you hire another associate, your insurance goes up because there are more lawyers to insure. Although some insurance companies will do back coverage for the year, instead of insuring the new associate through the year.
Wow, what a big question this is. How much do you pay someone in light of all these expenses? The salary is one expense, but all these benefits, parking, insurance add up quick.
Well, food for thought I guess. Or live and learn, whatever works. All this can easily file into the category of "you have to spend money to make money" whether it's so your support staff frees you up to focus on being a lawyer, or it's you hiring an associate to help spread your great work!
Latin for “Among Other Things,” this monthly section gives attorneys information or advice about life situations that are unique to our readership..
NEW SOCIAL MEDIA LAW TAKES EFFECT IN 2013
By Dovie Yoana King
Adjunct Professor, Legal Studies Program
San Diego Community College District
Many of us in the legal profession utilize social media as a valuable tool for conducting a job search, networking, communicating with clients, branding a new law practice, etc. However, can you imagine applying for a job and being asked to hand over your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn password? With password in hand, an employer could investigate many aspects of your private life—your friends, family members, romantic interests and personal photos. Perhaps more problematically, an employer could investigate any health issues you may have, religious views, racial identity, sexual orientation, political activities, union affiliation, and more.
Amid a public outcry about such questionable hiring practices, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that prohibits employers from demanding access to personal social media content. Specifically, employers cannot request or require that applicants or employees: (a) disclose social media log-in credentials; (b) access personal social media in the employer's presence, i.e., allow the employer to "shoulder surf;" or (c) "[d]ivulge any personal social media content." Under the law, "social media" includes videos, photos, blogs, podcasts, text messages, email, and website profiles and locations.
The new social media law, which took effect on January 1, 2013, indeed takes significant steps to protect an individual’s privacy in the employment context. It is important to note, however, that the law includes some exceptions, such as when an employee is being investigated for alleged misconduct. In that situation, employers would be permitted to ask an employee to divulge personal social media content that the employer "reasonably believe[s] to be relevant to an investigation of allegations of employee misconduct or employee violation of applicable laws and regulations." Still, the law makes clear that, even in the context of an investigation, the employer cannot request an employee’s password. Instead, employers can only ask for content relevant to the investigation.
Further, employers may not discharge, discipline, threaten to discharge or discipline, or otherwise retaliate against an employee or applicant for refusing to comply with an employer's request or demand for access to a personal social media account. It remains to be seen, however, what remedies an employee may be able to pursue to enforce this provision.
Although California’s new social media law is a positive step forward in terms of protecting an individual’s privacy in the workplace, it does not limit an employer from accessing otherwise publicly available information about prospective and current employees on social media sites- a practice that has, for better or worse, become commonplace. Therefore, individuals should consider the risks when utilizing social media sites to create a public profile.
SDCBA SECTIONS HIGHLIGHT
By Renee Galente
Galente Ganci, AP
It’s the end of the year and you know what that means...lots of legal bar association membership renewals or solicitations! Memberships definitely add up and it’s wise to be judicious about signing up for the ones that really matter to you.
The SDCBA, for instance, is a must in my opinion if you practice in San Diego. With membership ranging from FREE your first year to $150 through your sixth year of practice, the SDCBA keeps its annual membership cost effective compared to a lot of bar associations and you’ll definitely see bang for your buck if you participate in any of the programs. And you get membership in the New Lawyers Division (NLD) for free! SDCBA and NLD membership gives you access to SDCBA signature events like the upcoming annual Judicial Reception in March, CLEs, mixers, and even insurance and law practice management product discounts. So, signing up for membership with the SDCBA is a no-brainer!
But what a lot of people miss out on is taking advantage of the SDCBA Sections. Think about that as you log on to renew or join this year. There are 26 different sections to choose from:
- Alternative Dispute Resolution Section
- Animal Law Section
- Bankruptcy Law Section
- Business & Corporate Law Section
- Carmel Valley Section
- Civil Litigation Section
- Construction Law Section
- Elder Law Section
- Eminent Domain Law Section
- Entertainment & Sports Law Section
- Environmental Law/Land Use Law Section
- Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Law Section
- Family Law Section
- Financial Professional Liaison Section
- Immigration Law Section
- Insurance/Bad Faith Law Section
- Intellectual Property Law Section
- International Law Section
- Labor & Employment Law Section
- Law and Medicine Section
- Law Practice Management & Marketing Section
- Military Law Section
- Real Property Law Section
- Social Security Disability Section
- Taxation Law Section
- Workers' Compensation Law Section
And the great thing is, these sections need you, too. It’s up to us, as new attorneys, to get out there and be the next generation of leaders. And joining a Section is a great way to do that.
Happy Holidays and may next year be a lucrative one!
This feature emphasizes common student experiences or important developments at local universities.
RESOLUTIONS FOR A HAPPIER CAREER
By Beverly Bracker
Director of Career Services
Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Be it resolved that you will be happier and more satisfied on the job in 2013.
Maybe you are feeling a little bit bored in your current position. Perhaps you are starting to wonder if you are in the wrong practice area or even questioning whether you want to keep practicing law. The statistics about the high number of unhappy lawyers are disturbing, but you can take steps right now to avoid landing in that category.
Feeling stuck where you are is often the reason behind unhappiness and frustration. But as a highly-educated professional, you are never really stuck. You likely have a number of options and can start making changes right now.
Thinking about change is one of the scariest things for most of us. Inertia is much easier, but taking even one or two small steps to do things a little differently in your daily work life can leave you feeling much happier.
Try offering to help in a different department or to do something you have never done before, or seek a project from a partner you haven’t worked for yet. The challenges that come with an unfamiliar practice area, doing something for the first time, or changing who you work with are all good ways to get re-energized.
You might also want to seek out an important administrative task like assisting with client development, writing content for your firm’s website or blog, or serving on a committee. Participating in tasks related to the business of your firm can help you gain a fresh perspective.
Consider volunteering to help a colleague with a pro bono project or giving some time to assist a local nonprofit. Such work not only allows you to aid those in need, but may also enable you to develop new skills and learn about different practice areas.
View your mandatory CLE requirement as a great chance to learn about a topic or practice area that you have always be interested in or as a way to build a skill like appellate brief writing or cross-examination. Professional growth tends to leave you feeling more confident and excited about your career.
Having taken one or two of these small steps, you may find that you are simply happier and more satisfied for having done some new things, your eyes may be opened to a goal or career path that you hadn’t previously considered, or you may come to realize that you want to go in a completely different direction but you aren’t sure where to start.
Deciding to make a job or career change takes time and thought. Be honest with yourself about what you like doing, what you are good at, and what your priorities are. Be as open as you can to possible options and try not to make assumptions or discount something that you have not yet explored. Spend time researching alternative careers, revisiting your original reasons for going to law school, and considering what is missing for you and what may make you happier.
In my opinion the two best authorities on what else you can do with a law degree besides practicing law are Deborah Arron and Hindi Greenberg. In both of their many excellent books you will find a wealth of insights, options, self-assessment exercises and other resources. For those who feel you have gotten very far away from the dreams and aspirations you once had, I also highly recommend Barbara Sher’s bookWishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want.
In addition, virtually all law schools offer career counseling for their alumni and there are private career counselors and career coaches. Talking things through with an experienced professional can provide a much-needed objective perspective, and a good advisor can be a tremendous resource in evaluating your options, creating a game plan, and helping you set and achieve your goals.
You have the power to prevent yourself from becoming one of those unhappy lawyers we hear about. Let today be the day that you start taking steps to become happier and more satisfied with your work.
Have you been "Scene At" the latest events? Check out pics of recent NLD member attended happenings.