Training Staff in Small Bites

Getting someone’s attention is tough. Keeping it is even tougher. So why not adapt?

When setting up a training program for staff, offer content that is easily digestible:

  • Choose a theme
  • Set a training period
  • Collect content
  • Divide the content into segments
  • Keep each segment short and limited to one topic

For example, you could designate July as “security” month and distribute brief training segments every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Choosing a strong password, avoiding phishing scams, and working remotely could be your first three topics.

Why This Approach?

I’ve been training lawyers and staff for decades. We belong to a profession that values continuing education, but we’re also busy and under pressure. When you distill information it is easier to absorb. Keeping it short means the listener or reader can get what they need and move on with their day.

Where Can I Find Content?

Look to your favorite law blogs. Besides yours truly, Attorney at Work, Lawyerist, and others listed by the ABA Journal are a good start.

Law Practice Today is another great resource. They do themed issues, which makes finding relevant content easier. Access the archives here.

Also see Law Technology Today. Specifically their videos and “quick tips.”

Depending on the topics you wish to address, bar and other professional publications can be helpful too.

Get Staff Involved

While you undoubtedly have some topics in mind, be sure to illicit ideas from staff. What would they like to see covered? Know more about? Ask for their tips or delegate content research to spread the load. Training doesn’t have to be a one-person act.

All rights reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis.

Apps to Help Law Firms Reopen

In our discussion about COVID-19, we’ve reviewed phase one guidelines and specific steps to take in reopening your firm. One of these is whether to screen employees before returning to work. Sounds reasonable, but how exactly should you go about it? Today we take a look.

Thermal Imaging Cameras, Digital Thermometers, and Self Evaluations

Feever

Feever is an artificial intelligence (AI) based, non-contact thermal imaging technology that detects individuals in a crowd with an elevated temperature. Utilizing a thermal imaging camera and the AI based mobile app, Feevr automatically alerts users when a scanned person’s temperature exceeds a predetermined threshold, allowing for immediate intervention. At a price point of $3250 it isn’t cheap and probably better suited to venues that need to easily screen large groups of patrons. Nevertheless, if this solution sounds appealing, do your research. At least one group has severely criticized Feev’rs accuracy.

Feevr PreCheck

Feevr PreCheck is a more economical “sister” product of Feevr, priced at $299.99. The app lets employees take a temperature reading at home – a far more appealing approach for everyone.

With PreCheck employers would give each worker a digital thermometer connected to a smartphone. Readings would be relayed automatically to the firm through the app. Anyone with an elevated temperature would be instructed to stay home.

Everbridge

Everbridge uses a different approach, based in crisis management communication. Their app allows employers to blast messages out to all employees, one of which includes a COVID-19 self-evaluation. Workers are asked if they have symptoms or if they’ve already had the disease and recovered. They can tap the answers into a smartphone, and the employer can use the results to decide who comes into work and who stays at home. Everbridge calls this “IT alerting,” with licenses costing between $32 and $50 per month.

ProtectWell

ProtectWell is a free app developed by Microsoft and UnitedHealth. Like Everbridge, it uses a COVID-19 self evaluation. Here’s how it works:

Employees are invited to download the ProtectWell app.

Before starting work, employees use the symptom screener to answer a few quick questions.

Employees are instantly notified if they are ready to work, need to stay home and manage symptoms or get tested (where available).

To learn more, consider watching the ProtectWell demo (two minutes you won’t regret). Have questions? ProtectWell promises a next business day turnaround on their contact submission page. They also offer free return to work guidelines that are worth checking out. On the contact page, under “How can we help?” select “I would like a free copy of Return to Work Guidelines.”

Six More Apps to Screen Employee Health

Visit the Human Resource Director blog to read about six more apps to screen employee health.

Legalities

You’re the lawyers. If you’re not sure what you can or cannot do, get advice. Oregon’s employment law bloggers have been busy, as a Google search reveals. You can also chat directly with a colleague. (Ask friends for referrals if you don’t already know someone with the right expertise.)  Government websites are also your friend:

What Should I Do Next?

Using a symptom-checker or self evaluation app is a no-brainer. I can’t imagine why firms wouldn’t use ProtectWell at a minimum. Asking employees to self evaluate for a series of symptoms is more accurate than relying exclusively on the presence of fever.

Whatever you do, stay safe.

All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2020

 

Phase One Guidelines for Reopening Your Law Firm

Last week we talked about considerations for reopening your law firm.

While some of Oregon’s most populous counties remain closed, most were cleared for a phase one reopening three days ago. As a result, we now have new resources for all businesses, including your firm.

The guidelines come from state and county health departments and include 15 documents you should download, read, physically post, and deploy in your office:

Your firm should develop written protocols regarding:

  • Recommendations or requirements for face masks for employees and clients/consumers 
  • Conducting daily health assessments for employees (self-evaluation) to determine if “fit for duty”
  • Maintaining good hygiene at all times, hand washing and physical distancing
  • Cleaning and sanitizing workplaces throughout the workday and at the close of business or between shifts
  • Limiting maximum capacity to meet physical distancing guidelines.

Client businesses can check for sector-specific guidance on the state webpage here.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Deschutes County for publishing this helpful information.

Questions? Call your county health department.

For those of you continuing to work from home, watch for a post about tech and security next week.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

Court Operations Update

Trials and hearings likely to be postponed at least through April

Message from Chief Justice Walters, March 24, 2020

Advice for Oregon Lawyers Amid COVID19 Closures and Postponements

With COVID19 news changing daily here are some suggested guidelines for keeping clients informed. This list first appeared on March 17. Modify as needed to comply with Governor Brown’s anticipated Executive Order of March 23 and Chief Justice Walters’s coming update to CJO 20-006.

Keeping Clients Informed Amid COVID19

  • Post notices on your website.
  • Keep your outgoing voicemail message up-to-date.
  • Send an “all client” status email.
  • Post reduced hours or closures at your office.
  • Limit or suspend in-person client visits.
  • Conduct appointments by phone or video conference.
  • Work at home if you can. If you can’t, follow CDC recommended health practices like washing hands frequently and sanitizing surfaces.
  • Prioritize client files. Follow-up with clients whose matters are now postponed or those with upcoming court dates.
  • For specific client outreach, use your phone, not email. Why? Clients will have lots of questions. If you persist with email the likelihood is you’ll be bouncing back and forth for some time addressing all their concerns. You will save time by calling and clients will be reassured when they hear your voice. If calls are running long politely explain you have other clients anxious to hear from you.
  • Use staff to spread the load. They can be a huge help reaching out to and responding to clients.
  • Get virtual help if you need it. To avoid being overwhelmed by calls, consider services like Ruby Receptionist who can help you remotely.
  • If you feel overwhelmed, call the confidential Oregon Attorney Assistance Program. They are available to take your calls and emails.
  • If you are worried about potential legal malpractice claims, reach out to the PLF by email.
  • For ethics questions, see this FAQ. Bar counsel’s office is available by phone or email or you can reach out to private ethics counsel. Keep in mind this is a living document which bar counsel continues to update.
  • Practice patience and kindness – especially toward yourself

Staying On Top of the Latest News

Visit the Oregon State Bar home page frequently for what applies “today.” Current restrictions, closures, and postponements may change.

All rights reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis