Oregon State Bar Bulletin — APRIL 2005

Briefs

ARE YOU THE NEXT JOHN GRISHAM?
The 4th annual National Legal Fiction Writing Competition for Lawyers is under way. The competition, designed to encourage lawyers to become more interested in and adept at writing legal fiction, is sponsored by Seak Inc., a professional training organization for professionals.

There is no fee to enter the contest. Either a short story or novel excerpt in the legal fiction genre should be submitted; it should not exceed 2,500 words. Deadline is Sept. 5.

Submit entries by regular mail to: Seak Inc.ó Legal Fiction Competition, Attn: Steven Babitsky, P.O. Box 729, Falmouth, MA 02541.

Additional information is found at www.seak.com.

DEFINING PROFIT CENTERS
Does your law firm use a "profit center" approach to measuring performance? If so, you are in the majority, according to a recent survey by Edge International, a legal consultancy firm.

Earlier this year, Edge asked 158 firms about the use of profit centering in determining the success of their practice areas and the methodology they use in creating the profit centers. The demographics of the responding firms are basically identical to the universe of large law firms by size and region. Some 56 percent of firms have formal or informal profit centering systems for measuring the performance of practice areas, the survey says.

Of those firms:
The most common means of calculating revenues for a practice area is by the primary practice area of the attorney performing the work (52 percent).

The basis for revenues in most firms is the value of time collected (77 percent).

The most common method of applying overhead is to prorate the expenses based on the number of attorneys assigned to a practice area (49 percent). Direct allocation of actual costs is also common (33 percent).

Most firms apply timekeeper compensation to a practice area according to the timekeeperís primary assignment (66 percent).

50 percent of firms apply partnersí full compensation to practice area costs. Twenty-seven percent do not include partner compensation in the cost calculation. The remaining firms use a variety of systems, many using some amount below the full compensation.

A detailed report is available at www.edge.ai/filemanager/fileview/358.

HOMEWORK FOR LAWYERS
Despite long hours at the office, many attorneys continue to burn the midnight oil once they leave, according to a new survey. Attorneys polled said they give themselves homework assignments nine days per month on average, or more than twice a week.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from 200 attorneys among the nationís 1,000 largest law firms and corporations in the U.S. and Canada.

"Attorneys may prefer to stay late at the office rather than bring work home with them because of the importance of face-time in the legal environment," said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal.

For complete survey results, visit www.roberthalflegal.com/PressRoom.


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MORE ON BLOGGING

Last month in this space, we told you about web logs, or "blogging," as a new legal tool. No sooner than the ink on the last issue was dry did we hear about another legal blog.

Charles Schrader, shareholder in the firm of Jordan Schrader P.C., recently launched his own blog site at www.constructionlaborlawblog.com, focusing on construction labor law issues.

"Construction labor law is a world unto itself," says Schrader. "It is not traditional labor law. We deal with special and unique rules regarding things like union organizing, multi-employer bargaining groups, hiring halls and prevailing wages."

A few of the topics currently discussed on Schraderís blog site include: collective bargaining, prevailing wage laws, strikes and picketing and jurisdictional disputes.

So, just what is a blog? The word "blog" is a short for "weblog." A blog is website that is updated on a regular basis, has a high concentration of repeat visitors, and via e-mail or subscribers to RSS (really simple syndication) allows for responses and discussion from site visitors. Blogs are most often developed for professionals who are a national or international authority on a niche area of their profession.

For the legal profession, blogs focus on a specialty area of law and provide the blogís readers with a constantly renewing source of news and insight into that area of law.

If you know of other Oregon-based law blogs, the Bulletin would like to hear from you. Send links to editor@osbar.org.