Monday December 4, 2023

Finding the Right Legal Secretary

One of the most difficult aspects for managers is finding a secretary capable of doing the job, especially when there are so many who are clearly qualified. Often, and especially in a law firm, it can come down to how well the personalities mesh, says A. Harrison Barnes, attorney and founder of “Good legal secretaries come with a wide array of skills, some traditional and some not so traditional”, says Barnes.

For instance, those traditional skills include, of course, the ability to type legal documents fast and with no errors. That’s always the first thing employers look for, whether they’re in the legal field or not. Their organizational skills must also be flawless, too. Especially if the attorney she’s reporting doesn’t count organization as her strong point, she’s going to be looking for an assistant who has it down to a science. Phone etiquette is important and a friendly disposition that falls between too “sugary sweet” and too standoffish. These are all no-brainers for lawyers as they’re going through the many interviews they’ve likely conducted. But there are other considerations, too, says Barnes. These are the ones that aren’t as traditional as others.

The founder says social networking is the big “must have” these days. Law firms want to know their assistants can manage the company’s blog, Twitter accounts and even Facebook presences. The really good ones know how to change printer cartridges and can easily juggle two waiting clients when their boss is being held over in court. “It truly is a combination of many skills that must come together to define the right legal secretary”, says A. Harrison Barnes.

So what happens when you have several candidates, all of whom are perfectly suitable and are coming in really close as you go through the list? These are the times when it can come down to how well the interview went. Did Candidate A smile and was he sincere? Was Candidate B uncomfortable with that awkward moment of silence or did she gracefully slide into how many words per minute she types? Questions like these are ones you’ll likely find yourself considering. Sometimes, it’s a matter of selecting the candidate that just seemed to fit right in. And, too, says Barnes, sometimes the one who almost ran into your associate when you were escorting her down the hall to your office, yet managed to gracefully regain her composure could the one.

The education, experience and know how are all important, but when there are those several candidates you’re facing, go with the one who felt most at ease and who you believe could meet the demands of a fast moving law firm such as yours. Worse case scenario? Even if it’s not a good fit for either one of you and she opts to move alone, you still know where at least a few good candidates can be located – provided, of course, they’re still available.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Holding Out for a Better Offer

Regardless of your chosen career, odds are, you’ve had to face the dilemma of accepting an offer or gambling on a better offer that may or may not come.  This is especially true in the legal field.  Young attorneys find themselves in these positions often.  Newly graduated and a license to practice opens up a lot of doors, and at times, it can become overwhelming, according to lawyer and founder of founder A. Harrison Barnes.  It’s not uncommon for lawyers to submit their resumes to law firms that greatly differ in sizes and areas of practice.  While you may want to work for a larger firm that provides exposure in several different areas, it might be that a smaller firm that has a more concentrated focus on a particular specialty is the first one to contact you.  Now what?  There is an argument to be made for both waiting and accepting one of those first offers.  There are also a lot of considerations that are important, too.

The founder says it’s important to listen to what your own instincts are telling you.  You may have family members and friends encouraging you to accept the less than perfect position; their intentions are good, but you have to remember you’re the one who has to live with the decision.  Ultimately, it rests on what you believe is best for you and your career.  Of course, there are likely financial considerations, too.  Unless you’re independently wealthy, odds are, the bank account will be a strong factor.  Don’t let that become your primary consideration, warns Barnes.  “If you’re a good lawyer, the money will come”, he says.

It might be that you can gain a lot from the firm that’s not your first choice.  For instance, in a smaller practice, you might be able to get closer to the goings-on, which will be good for gaining important experience.  “Smaller law firms can sometimes equate to more personal working relationships”, says A. Harrison Barnes.  And that personal touch will serve you well throughout your career.  You’ll likely be afforded a slower pace and even if you know it’s not going to keep you satisfied in the long run, it’s also a great way to get your legal career kicked off.

Bottom line, before making the decision, you owe it to yourself to consider all of the factors and not focus on just one or two.  The money’s important, but it’s not your only consideration, especially if you’re a recent grad and looking for experience.

Regardless of what you decide, don’t forget the thousands of career opportunities from law firms of all sizes and specialties and located throughout the country that are available right now on  Pick up some career advice, browse the available positions and even get help with your resume.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act or “HIRE”

In its latest effort to stimulate the economy and encourage employment, Congress passed the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (“HIRE” ), which President Obama signed into law on March 18, 2010. This new law provides a limited payroll tax “holiday” for employers bringing new employees on board, along with providing tax credits for those who retain workers.  There are other provisions that are designed to further stimulate the still-recovering economy.  We asked attorney A. Harrison Barnes, founder of to break it down for us in terms of what this new law means. Here’s what he had to say.

In short, the “holiday” provision allows some employers to take a “holiday’ from their obligation to match the Social Security portion of FICA tax for some workers who were hired after February 3, 2010, but before January 1, 2011.  This is applicable on wages paid between March 19 and December 31, 2010. Normally, both employer and employee pay 6.2% on the first $106,800 of wages earned in any calendar year.  There is no holiday from the second component of FICA tax covering the Medicare Hospital Insurance contribution, which equates to 1.45% of wages and is also matched by the employer. Because the tax holiday is limited to OASDI taxes, other state and federal employer obligations, such as federal unemployment taxes or state unemployment taxes are not affected and will still need to be paid.

This law also provides a business credit based on the retention of employees hired under HIRE and retained for at least one full year, says the founder.  The incentives of HIRE are designed to encourage employment by giving employers a break on part of its FICA taxes plus the potential for another business credit for retaining each of these employees for at least one year.

There are ways, however, if an employer wishes to opt out, says A. Harrison Barnes.  These businesses will need to contact the IRS for information on this procedure.  And too, the IRS has already made clarifications on this law and Barnes encourages employers to visit the site for more detailed information on this new law, including a wider scope and further guidance on what constitutes a “qualified employee”.

Finally, Barnes says that although the law was passed on March 18, 2010, it is retroactive for all new employees hired since February 3, 2010.  Another interesting feature of this law is that is applicable for new businesses hiring a complete workforce, too.  And, too, if you had to lay off any of your employees sixty days ago (or longer), you can now bring them back on board and still take advantage of the tax holiday.  They must be full time employees, says Barnes.

If you’ve been readying your business to make its big comeback after the recession, now seems to be a great time to do so.  And if you’re looking for new employees, visit and its sister site,  You’ll find the quality employees you need to help your business succeed.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Hanging Your Shingle

Many attorneys leave law school with big dreams of opening their own law firms. They have visions of making real changes in their communities and they want to practice law their way while selecting only those cases they are most passionate about. That”s all fine and good, says founder A. Harrison Barnes, but a healthy dose of reality is crucial, too. There many considerations that go into making that leap from graduating law school to becoming your own boss, and most importantly, says Barnes, is a solid game plan that includes a presentation for funding. Regardless of whether you”re approaching your local banker or are attempting to secure a small business loan, there are certain requirements that might fall outside the education you gained in law school.

Once you”ve secured the financing, another vital recommendation A. Harrison Barnes offers is to have at least twelve months of operating expenses banked. In fact, he says it”s almost a must and to not be prepared is dangerous, at best. Starting a new legal firm is challenging, but to start it without enough capital is almost certainly destined for failure. Recognizing the harshness of the words, he reiterates its importance and says a lack of operating expenses is the number one reason small law firms fail within the first thirty six months. Again, your business plan is invaluable as you are seeking your start up funds. Until you”ve built your legal practice with paying clients, you’ll need to be able to fall back on your start up funds for those early months.
Secretaries and paralegals are usually hired from the beginning. This is where can help. Because we have access to thousands of jobs across the country, we also offer the most qualified candidates to fill these roles. Teaming with ensures you have the most experienced pool of personnel found anywhere.
Building your positive cash flow throws an entirely new set of dynamics into the mix. How many new clients you gain in the first year, your billing rates, how much of those billable hours you’re able to collect, overhead and reinvestment monies are all part of those dynamics and play a significant role in determining your failure or success. Not aggressive or patient enough to handle the collections aspect? Consider using to find the right personnel who can gracefully collect those fees without alienating the client. If balancing your own checkbook is a tremendous chore that you dread every month, then a bookkeeper who is both ethical and accurate is exactly what your new law firm needs. has the right personnel for a well rounded office staff that can work with you as you work to ensure your new firm soars.

While beginning a new law practice is challenging, seeing the fruits of your hard work come full circle is one of the most satisfying experiences you’ll have in your life. A solid business plan, a compatible and hard working staff and your vision and education can all come together to ensure its many years of success. stands ready to play its role as well.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Conference Features Attorney General and top Government Officials

In early May, the Anti-Defamation League will be hosting a conference in Washington, D.C. The issues, says A. Harrison Barnes, founder, will focus on restoring civility to the American Public discourse, immigration, the Mideast policy, “cyber hate”, anti-Semitism and Iran. Lawyers from across the country are expected to attend. On Monday, May 03, 2010, Iran announced that any accucsations of its creating nuclear weapons are without a “single creditable proof”. This certainly highlights the importance of the conference.

The founder says this conference is an important annual event that allows the media, as well as policy makers, to come together with the unified purpose of directing attention to these important legal matters. It’s these broad attendees and subjects that allow real change in policy to occur. So just who are some these speakers expected to attend? Take a look:

Ambassador Edward S. Walker Jr., former Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs will speak on the U.S. Mideast Policy – what’s working and what’s not working

Daniel B. Shapiro, Senior Director for near East Africa and the National Security Council will also be speaking on the Mideast policy.

From the U.S. Department of Justice, Robert Moossy, Acting Chief for the Criminal Section Division will speak on those matters relating to Iran and its nuclear Armament.

Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary with the U.S. Department of Education will speak on the different programs for drug free schools.

Mara Liasson, National Political Correspondent for NPR will be speaking on “Tea Parties and America’s Changing Political Landscape” along with Gerald Seib, Washington Bureau Chief for the Wall Street Journal.

Attorney General Eric Holder will deliver a keynote address.

These are just a few of many speakers who will be in attendance, says the founder. It’s a great opportunity for law students, those lawyers who are looking for a way to make a difference and even those attorneys who have long since established themselves in the legal field. With such a broad coverage, including many legal minds and law enforcement officials who will come together in search of solutions for dealing with hate crimes, it’s clear this annual conference is a significant event and one worth attending.

Another reason this conference is so important is that it allows new law school grads the opportunity to see for themselves the many specialties that they can make a difference in. Conferences such as these have inspired many to change their minds about which area of law they thought they wanted to practice. So what does A. Harrison Barnes recommend? “Attend the conference, see which topics inspire you and then head over to and see which opportunities will allow you to run with your inspiration for real change.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Importance of Communication Skills in Sales

Are you someone who wants to make a splash in sales careers? Do you like the idea of moving forward and making sure that you can have the pick of the sales jobs that you are out there? The problem is that so many of the people who are looking to get Sales Careers today simply do not have the skills to do it. However, the important thing to remember is that skills can be learned and the more time that you spend looking into the entire situation, you will find that communication skills are among the most important that you have to learn. Take some time and make sure that you consider what your needs are and how you can learn the communication that you need.

First think about the fact that Communication Skills are essential when you are looking at sales. Essentially, you are looking to make sure that the people around you understand that the product or service that you are supporting and promoting is a good thing. They need to know all the advantages that it has and all the good that it can bring them. Moreover, you will find that when you are looking to sell people something, they need to look into how they are going to be using it. This is something that any good salesperson can do they take any sale, no matter what they are selling and make it personal.

Remember that the old line about a product that is so good that it can sell itself is actually a myth. There are many people out there who think that they would be great salespeople if only they could get the right product, but the truth of the matter is that they need to look a little closer to home. If you want to be a great salesperson, you will find that you need to start with yourself. What are the benefits that you bring to the table and what can you do to make sure that you are going to be able to move forward and to get the right kind of impact that you need? There are far too many people out there who think that they can enter the field without thinking about it and be just fine.

When you are interested in working on your communication skills, you will find that you need to actually use them. Get out there and talk to people and make sure that you read books on the subject as well. People have known for ages that communication skills are extremely important and the more time that you spend looking into them, the better off you are going to be. Take some time and think about where you fall short. Are you someone who can’t keep a conversation going? Can you not keep a conversation moving forward? At the end of the day, you will discover that you are looking at something that is essential to your career, so don’t miss out.

Take a chance and make sure that you reach out and communicate with the people around you. Communication is part of the job if you are looking into sales, and the more time that you spend sharpening your skills, the better off you will be!

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Things to Keep in Mind before Purchasing a Gift for Your Boss

Of course we all strive to make a good impression with our boss or our superiors in the workplace. Many times this is not an easy task to accomplish. In certain situations, a nice gesture may be to present your boss with a gift. Whether it be for a holiday, birthday or other special occasion, do not undertake this task haphazardly. There are many things to keep in mind when choosing the appropriate gift for your boss.

You must first and foremost analyze the relationship that you have with him or her. Be honest with yourself. Is it basically a superior and employee relationship or are you sometimes included in their personal business and events? Once you have answered that question honestly and candidly, it will be easier to move to the next step in your gift giving pursuit.

It may be a good idea to now focus on the occasion for the gift giving. Is it a holiday, employment advancement, birthday or maybe just a “you’re a great boss” gift? If you are possibly considering cash as a gift, it is usually considered extremely impersonal and shows lack of thought. This more than likely is not the way you would like to be perceived by your boss. If you are ultimately perceived as thoughtless when you are trying to attempt what you believe is a nice gesture, your employment could be effected in the long run.

This is why the thought put into the gift should heavily outweigh the value of the gift in most instances. You should not expect to achieve a job promotion just due to the fact that you wrapped up your bosses favorite donuts for his birthday. It does show some thought, but it may be a little frugal to truly make a sincere impact. A tried and true gift will always be a sincere card and some flowers. Another idea may be to focus on a particular hobby that your boss may enjoy. If you have worked at your career for any length of time you usually know if a boss or a co-worker has a favorite hobby or not. If you are not sure you may want to ask someone at your job that you are close to. Whether it be golf or knitting or maybe something in between; you are bound to find a sincere, thoughtful gift that your boss will enjoy.

Here are a few pointers after you have purchased your gift. Though it may seem trivial, always remember to remove the price tag off the item. Nothing is more embarrassing to have the receiver of the gift hold the gift with the price tag still dangling from it. Also, try to give your gift in private. If you attempt to give the gift in front of a room full of co-workers it may be perceived as if you are looking for nothing but “brownie points” from your boss.

Though not the easiest task to accomplish, purchasing a gift for your boss can be done successfully. Just think it through, shop wisely and put your boss’ interest before your own and you’ll do just fine.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Use Office Etiquette

Make sure that you use proper office etiquette at work. Often times we don’t think about our etiquette at work, but any career counselor will tell you that proper office etiquette is crucial to making a good impression at work. Sometimes when we make a big career change it can be difficult to pick up on the proper etiquette of our new work place. Just use your best judgment. Make sure that you are polite to your co-workers.

If you borrow something from someone, don’t forget to return it. You need to use proper etiquette in the lunch room as well. Cover your food when it is in the microwave and if you make a mess, make sure you clean it up! All of these things will make your boss and your co-workers value your courtesy and respect.

Accept Your Mistakes

It is important that you own up to your mistakes. Remember no one is perfect, when you make a mistake you should acknowledge it right away and do what you can to correct it. It is much easier to gain the respect of your peers and your co-workers if you are willing to admit when you are wrong.

Dress Appropriately

Whether you are a teacher or a mechanic it is important that you dress appropriately. If you are a women, than you should avoid clothes that are too reveling. It is important that you stay away from miniskirts and shirts with plunging necklines. If you have to wear a uniform to work then you should make sure that it is clean and pressed every day. Always keep in mind that you should dress for the job that you want, not the job that you have!

Avoid Calling in Sick

If you have ever spoken with a career counselor then you know that calling off sick can be detrimental to your career. Of course there are times when you really are too sick to work, but if you call off sick excessively then you may be looking at a career change sooner than you expected! Only call in sick when you are extremely ill. If you just have a little cough or a headache, then you should take some medicine and head into work. Your boss as well as your co-workers will appreciate your dedication.

Topics to Avoid Discussing

Whether you have made a recent career change or your have been working in your office for a number of years, there are some topics that should be avoided in the work place. These include things like sex drugs and politics. There is a time and a place for everything and work is definitely not the place to discuss these topics. You would also be wise to avoid talking about anything that would make your company look bad. Don’t gossip about your boss or your co-workers.

Manage Your Time Effectively

This is some of the best career advice out there. Companies love employees who are good at time management. Don’t spend too much time on a small project. You should also avoid making personal phone calls and checking personal e-mail on company time. Not only will these things make you look bad to your boss and your co-workers, but they can also get you fired!

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Failure of Employee Empowerment Programs

Employee empowerment sounds like a great concept when you first think about it. Of course, it’s good to give employees the ability to control their own work from day to day. Managers will have an easier time, and employees will be a lot happier. That’s why it’s such a surprise to many people when employee empowerment programs fail. In fact, they can actually make the situation worse!

This is all because of the way they’re handled. You see, in many cases, the managers don’t really understand what employee empowerment means. They don’t really want to give the employees the power to take care of their own work. Whether it’s because the manager doesn’t trust the employee to be truly empowered, or doesn’t know how to manage except for very closely, this kind of behavior is incredibly destructive. It leaves employees feeling as though they’ve been tricked, and they’re a lot more likely to head to the career counselor for some career advice, or start looking for a career change.

Managers who pay lip service to the effectiveness of their employees, but don’t believe in really letting go of the reins, are sabotaging their own efforts. You see, managers define the decision making authority of the staff, and they set the boundaries. There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as they stick to those boundaries. But when a staff member is told they have total control over the project (for good or for bad) they’re likely to feel resentful and undermined when their manager comes by and tries to micromanage.

Employees in empowered situations have the ability and responsibility to make their own decision. If the manager is going to truly allow the employee to be empowered, he or she has to let go of the accountability and responsibility for that decision. Looking over an employee’s shoulder is the most effective way to encourage them to make a career chance. If you don’t want to be sending your employees out for career advice, you need to avoid getting in their way.

Empowered employees can be a huge benefit to an organization. They have the authority and the ability to make their own decisions, and they usually do it right. This allows the company to avoid spending time and effort watching employee actions, and use that energy to improve operations. However, when managers aren’t willing to trust those employees with their power, empowerment programs are sure to fail. Don’t fall into the micromanaging trap. Let your employees have the authority to make their own decisions.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Etiquette Mistakes at the Company Holiday Party

Everything can be going great at work. You’re doing well at your job. You are well liked by your peers and are being considered by your superiors for additional opportunities. Perhaps a career change or promotion is just around the corner. Then you get the invitation to the company holiday party, and it hits you: There’s a lot on the line right now and you don’t want to mess it up, but you’ve never actually socialized with these people before. What is the appropriate way to act, and how can you keep from making any major faux pas that will stop your career advancement in its tracks?

Career counselors suggest the best approach is one of moderation-in all things. For starters, their biggest career advice would probably have to center around a common social lubricant and potential problem at almost all holiday parties-alcohol. While it may be advisable to have a small-and weak-drink or two at the party to be sociable, excessive drinking is an absolute no-no. And in fact, overindulgence in alcohol-i.e., getting drunk and stupid-is the number one reason for almost all major etiquette mistakes at company parties.

When you drink too much, common sense and tact seem to go right out of the window. Before you know it, you are acting like a fool, talking too much, and embarrassing yourself and your date and probably your colleagues, as well. Staying sober is the key to controlling your tongue and all of your actions-and to remembering what happened the next day. Regardless of whether your boss or one of your colleagues gets totally toasted or not, you should definitely not.

Having said that, moderation at the company holiday party is important in more than just alcohol consumption. Eating should also be done in moderation. You don’t want to be remembered as the person who ate all the shrimp at the party or the one who overindulged in anything-whether food or spirits.

What you wear should also take a moderate approach. When you decide what to wear, go with something appropriate for socializing with business colleagues, something somewhat conservative, and attrite that is in keeping with your career aspirations. If the party is casual, go casual, and if it’s fancy, go fancy, but don’t wear something too flashy or too revealing, for example.

It’s also important to limit how much you talk so that you do not dominate the conversation and to monitor your volume and tone of voice. You don’t want to stand out in the crowd or be marked as the obnoxious one of the bunch. And you definitely don’t want to garner any negative attention.

In order to avoid negative attention, you should also avoid negativity at the party entirely. That means don’t spend time complaining about work, your coworkers, the economy, or really anything. If the people you are socializing with are focusing on these kinds of negative things, gently steer the conversation toward more positive topics. If you can’t do that successfully, limit your time with them and move on to other groups that are talking about something else.

Career Counselors Advise that you should mingle at the company holiday party. Your goal is not to dominate a particular person or conversation or to appear standoffish to other employees and their guests. You should try to make small talk and be pleasant with everyone and move about in a natural, social manner. Spend an adequate amount of time with the various people you speak with and give them your undivided attention when you are with them. Then make a point of moving throughout the room to talk with others, as well. You want to stay on pleasant, good terms with everyone in the organization, if possible. You never know when a shift in company dynamics or corporate structure could spell an internal career change, and you don’t want to burn any bridges.

Remember, this may be a company holiday party, but career counselors suggest you remember that “party” is not the predominant word here. So don’t take the word too literally. Keep your career options open by remembering that this is still a business function.

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post