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If You Can Measure It, You Can Manage It

There’s an old and oft-cited saying in our business: “There are tests and there are opinions! I usually resort to the mindset – “If you can measure it, you can manage it.” Measurable results, it is widely accepted, enables clearer visibility of performance and provides valuable quantitative data to evaluate what is working and what is not. And as platforms, software and systems continue to evolve and improve, the availability and breadth of data and analytics have vastly expanded, empowering organizations to set, track and report more Objectives and Key Results than ever.

Objectives and Key Results “OKR’s” measure data metrics used to determine how effectively a business or business unit is achieving its most important objectives. Common marketing OKR’s include, sales/marketing qualified leads, site traffic, conversions, and cost per acquisition. Common Call Center Support OKRs include availability, call handle times, utilizations and client satisfaction. These and other responsible business units rely on OKRs to demonstrate their performance on a data metrics basis.

In-house legal departments, on the other hand, fail to measure their performance or at best have been late OKR adopters and many have generally avoided the same data measurement and reporting requirements of their sister departments. Organizations may not readily recognize the application of metrics and analytics to legal work and performance. But, as this article will describe, OKRs can generate illustrative and valuable data for legal departments to better measure the quantity and quality of the support function it provides to the business. Below are a few ideas for consideration.

Contract Quantity

Perhaps the simplest and most obvious commercial legal metric is the number of contracts a business closes in a fiscal quarter and/or fiscal year. Signed or executed contracts is indication of commercial legal work volume. Signed contracts can include product sale agreements, employment agreements, license agreements, revenue agreements, subscription agreements, services agreements, list management agreements, order documents, insertion orders, statements of work, nondisclosure agreements, and so forth—whatever contracts the legal department is called upon to develop, draft, review, redline and negotiate with customers, suppliers, subcontractors or partners. A signed contracts OKR demonstrates not just workload, but workload that is tied to revenue and business won. Admittedly, though, it’s an incomplete measurement of commercial legal work volume.

Not every contract undertaken and negotiated will close, and usually that result is by no means Legal’s fault even though it may sometimes feel presumed that it was Legal’s fault. And many contracts are of the nature of an expense to the Company for goods, services, resources or tools that will generate revenues e.g. employment agreements. A signed contracts metric necessarily ignores the time and efforts expended on deals that don’t close and those contracts that are not revenue generation. And while those efforts are worthy, they are really not worthy of reporting. However, reporting commercial activity that directly ties to signed transactions and revenue shows contributions to and alignment with desired business results.

Tracking this data quarter over quarter has another meaningful effect. It shows differences in commercial legal activity by quarter. Signed contracts also enables a manager to better oversee attorney workload and balance work among the team. In sum, a signed contracts OKR provides some cdata of workload and effort while simultaneously directly evidencing contributions to the Company and assisting the team members with the desired business outcomes and/or generating revenue.

Contract Quality

Another deeply illustrative commercial legal OKR is contract quality. It is a measurement of how standard or favorable to the business the resulting terms and conditions are of the signed contracts. Or, alternatively, it captures if nonstandard or risk-inducing terms were added. Contract quality can be measured by creating a list of the most key and important terms of a contract and creating a grading scale.

Terms such as limitation of liability, indemnification obligations, termination rights, payment terms, etc., are given a numerical value whereby standard or favorable terms would yield the best grade whereas nonstandard or unfavorable terms will drive a lower grade In the end, every contract can have a grade or numerical value that demonstrates the favorability or risk of the contract. And that, in turn, demonstrates the quality of work Legal is doing. If the aggregate grade of all contracts signed in a quarter is an “A” or “B”, it stands to reason Legal has done an admirable job negotiating with customers, maintaining contracting standards and mitigating risk.

If on the other hand, the aggregate grade for contracts is low, Legal may be permitting too much deviation from its contracting standards and is saddling the business with too much risk. Organizations can even choose to make a rule: All A or B contracts can stand, but all C, D or F contract require improvement. And contract grading not only has the effect of characterizing the favorability of signed contracts, it also inherently drives a culture of accountability among the commercial lawyers.

Knowing their work will be graded after the fact encourages the commercial lawyers to more carefully negotiate contracts in strict alignment with the business’ contracting standards. Similarly, the exercise can identify to a manager if an attorney may need additional training and guidance in navigating certain contract issues.

Client Satisfaction

At least one other OKRI for consideration is internal client satisfaction. Measuring internal client satisfaction is a powerful mechanism to gain valuable perspective on the perception of the legal department and its work. It generates important and actionable feedback. And, perhaps most important, it provides a clear and predictable forum and mechanism for internal clients to provide that feedback.

Contract volume and quality are important, but if the sales organization does not see value in Legal’s work, something is wrong. Client satisfaction surveys help bridge the gap between work output and the internal client’s impressions of that work. The right number of questions and ideal frequency of a client satisfaction survey program will vary based on business and organizational dynamics.

Altogether, the results and comments generate great data to share with both the business at large as well as with the Legal team itself, and compliments and contextualizes the contract volume and quality metrics. Internal clients appreciate a (right-sized) opportunity to share feedback, and the supporting attorneys appreciate hearing how well they’re doing from the client’s perspective. And the aggregate satisfaction rating becomes a standard by which Legal can strive to consistently meet with their dedicated hard work.

Conclusion

“If you can measure it, you can manage it.” Obviously every business wants to manage its legal function as well as possible, and measuring relevant quantitative data is an invaluable tool to do so. The best legal departments have data to prove they’re the best. The best legal departments measure and report metrics in a similar manner as other business units. But the exercise need not be elaborate or burdensome.

A few verifiable data sets that duly demonstrate Legal’s work and support of internal clients can generate meaningful visibility into performance and perception. In sum, every modern in-house legal department should be utilizing data and metrics for better visibility into its work output, client support and its achievement of objectives, and better management of the team itself.

Top 10 Reasons for Giving Back

Some people volunteer to make new friends. Others give back because it just feels good. There are many reasons people volunteer, beyond the simple goodness of their hearts (though that’s certainly an important one!). And oftentimes, it’s a combination of factors that motivates a person to begin—and continue—volunteering.

  1. Make an impact:Looking to make a real, lasting difference in this world? Unlike other aspects of life you may not be able to control, volunteering allows you to choose where and how to make a difference. It’s easy to get inspired with a cause you truly care about—and it’s rewarding to see your direct impact.
  2. Strengthen communities:Feeding the homeless, cleaning up a street to reading to kids at the local library, you can enhance your own life by improving the areas where you work, live and play. A strong community with a high quality of life means safer, healthier lives for you and those around you.
  3. Meet others:Looking to broaden your network or find others with similar interests? Volunteering is a great outlet for meeting others. A local club or organization can put you face-to-face with people right in your community—plus, it’s easy to bond over a shared passion. You can create lasting friendships with those you may not have otherwise met in your day-to-day grind.
  4. Improve your health:Yes! Volunteering is actually good for you. Studies have shown that volunteering makes people feel physically healthier, manage chronic health conditions and lower stress!
  5. Take the lead:Often what a great effort needs most is a great leader. If you see a cause that needs a push or a group that needs a head—take the lead! Many find leadership rewarding in itself because of the opportunity to share their passion, value and inspiration with others. When you take a leadership role, you also have the ability shape the world around you in the ways you choose.
  6. Share expertise:Everyone has a skill or experience from which someone else can benefit. If you aren’t putting your talents to their best use in your everyday life (or even if you are!), volunteering can be a prime way to share. Get out in your community and put your skills—from teaching to sewing—toward helping others. You may be surprised at how your own abilities sharpen when you share your knowledge.
  7. Improve skills—or learn new ones:Want to learn basic carpentry, improve your cooking or discover how something works? Classes and courses can come at a cost—but volunteering is free! Why not begin your learning at no charge with an organization or opportunity where you can learn by doing?
  8. Up your resume ante:Considering a career shift? Want to try out a new field before taking the leap? A volunteering gig can be a perfect way to fill a knowledge or employment gap. It can also be a valuable addition to a resume if you’re applying to a new job or graduate school program.
  9. Find new opportunities:Doors open when you volunteer. You can widen your social network, discover an organization in your community or finally talk to the person you always see on the bus! Who knows: You may even stumble across your dream job by meeting your future colleague or next job reference.
  10. Because it just feels good:I thought it was worth a mention!

Modern Use Of Data & The Law

Businesses are not the only entities establishing a presence online. Each individual user has a unique online impression made up of search history, sites visited and products viewed or purchased. This information is often combined with demographics and survey answers in order to build a graph of data. A graph like this allows advertisers to construct detailed customer profiles. In turn, these profiles help streamline marketing strategies and create a tailored experience for each user. When utilized responsibly, user data is not only the key to increasing profits, but also to strengthening customer satisfaction.

However, before it can be utilized effectively, it is important to understand exactly what user data is and where it comes from. Advertisers are able to view user data from third-party sources like Google, or directly from users who interact with their content. In addition to different sources, there are also different kinds of data. In order to create an effective customer profile, advertisers often examine a combination of data types, such as:

• Signal data: This data is made up of what online consumers search for and the context in which they initiate searches. Signal data helps outline information including how users arrive at a business’s website and what pages they view while there. In addition, it shows how users leave the website, like by closing the browser or heading to another page.

• Profile data: This is demographic information about consumers. These types of demographics include user hobbies, favored news sites and customer status, among other details. This is gathered based on the types of sites visited and the products viewed frequently.

• Explicit survey data: This type of information is provided directly by consumers who fill out a survey. Advertisers ask questions relevant to their business and receive results right from the user. This information is highly valuable as it does not require as much interpretation as other types of data.

With all of this data, businesses can begin to form an idea of whom their customers are, and what they want. From there, it is possible to initiate custom marketing plans that both enhance user experience and generate higher profits.

Information privacy law or data protection laws prohibit the disclosure or misuse of information about private individuals. Over 80 countries and independent territories, including nearly every country in Europe and many in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa, have now adopted comprehensive data protection laws.[1] The European Union has the General Data Protection Regulation[2], in force since May 25, 2018. The United States is notable for not having adopted a comprehensive information privacy law, but rather having adopted limited sectoral laws in some areas.

These laws are based on Fair Information Practice that was first developed in the United States in the 1970s by the Department for Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). The basic principles of data protection are:

• For all data collected there should be a stated purpose.

• Information collected by an individual cannot be disclosed to other organizations or individuals unless specifically authorized by law or by consent of the individual

• Records kept on an individual should be accurate and up to date

• There should be mechanisms for individuals to review data about them, to ensure accuracy. This may include periodic reporting

• Data should be deleted when it is no longer needed for the stated purpose

• Transmission of personal information to locations where “equivalent” personal data protection cannot be assured is prohibited

• Some data is too sensitive to be collected, unless there are extreme circumstances (e.g., sexual orientation, religion)

Helping Start Ups with a Simpler Tax Code

Entrepreneurs are constantly thinking about solutions to access capital and overhauling the tax code to make it simpler would help start-up companies attract capital and grow.

Lets face it young people are starting companies daily which revitalizes communities, creates new jobs, creates high paying jobs in their hometowns and they need support. They need a simplified tax code and access to capital.

Although I do not specifically endorse President Trump’s new tax overhaul plan unveiled last week, I clearly support the concept of making the code simpler. From my reading of President Trump’s plan is it would scrap scores of deductions as part of a plan to reduce overall income tax rates on corporations and individuals.

Entrepreneurs and business owners rarely think or plan around tax reform. But they do wake up in the morning and think about access to capital, and access to capital does have a lot to do with a simplified tax code.

These days obtaining capital and/or credit comes with many hurdles and the diligence is extremely difficult and time consuming so any news of a simpler way to handle taxes and reduce them comes as relief and will result in more growth and jobs.

How a Lawyer Can Help Your Tech Startup

The Tech Startup scene is all the rage in many cities in the United States and outside the United States. Due to the many transactional documents and legal issues, It is imperative that any entrepreneur engage counsel who can provide a range of legal services to the new technology-based companies.

Brent A. Levison P.A. stresses the importance and the need for attorneys to be able to provide counsel to entrepreneurs in order to navigate the myriad of legal issues and develop business strategy challenges that startups face. In addition, proper counsel should provide the entrepreneur with hands-on experience with intellectual property, corporate, contract, tax, and labor and employment issues.

Startups often have to make legal decisions early on that will shape their businesses for years to come. An early-stage company must, for example, set up an initial corporate structure, develop a strategy for protecting its intellectual property, and shape the contours of its relationship with its employees.

The real value added by lawyers at the pre-financing stage is in helping clients surface and deal with legal issues that will impact the shape of their businesses much later. Brent A. Levison recommends an attorney who will focus on understanding clients’ needs, identifying issues, and recommending courses of action.

Tech Community Disappointed with Supreme Court’s revival of Trump’s Travel Ban

The Supreme Court has just allowed the Trump travel ban to go into effect against citizens of six countries until the case is heard in October.

The consequences to the tech industry are massive and diminishes the ability to find future leaders of technology companies and hurts the creation of jobs.

Allowing parts of the ban to go into effect with respect to some immigrants and refugees is disappointing.” says Michal Rosenn, general counsel at Kickstarter, said in a statement provided to CNN Tech. “It will have a negative impact on America’s standing in the world, and on companies’ ability to recruit and retain the best talent.”

This announcement causes chaos and curtails hiring and gives pause to potential immigration and really is the first time in history where the ability to both welcome and attract talent has been rolled back.

Costa Rican Tech Company Celebrates Grand Opening of New Office

Belle Vista Media expands Costa Rican offices with hopes of attracting budding talent.

Alajuela, CR – Costa Rica’s newest tech hub, BV Media, is gearing up to celebrate the grand opening of their newly expanded office space in the city of Alajuela. The new location is expected to open on June 8, 2017 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by the city’s Mayor, Roberto Thompson.

Ownership group headed by Burton Katz invested over $100,000 dollars for expansion and renovations with hopes of expanding the 100-employee company. New job openings will include customer service agents, supervisors, graphic designers, software developers and writers to help monitor and strengthen a highly trafficked network of websites.

“We have offices in Costa Rica and Uruguay with over 100 employees who elevate our front- and back-end development, graphics design and call center support,” said Katz. “Investing in in-sourced talent helps me reduce our fixed costs while adding a layer of quality control to my offshore work.”

As part of the BV Media business model, employees receive constant training, feedback and the tools required to respond to the needs of an ever-changing technology/ecommerce market.

Costa Rica has become a major provider of a broad suite of corporate services for companies and corporations across the globe. A big reason for this in-source collaboration spike is due to the country’s close proximity to several foreign businesses, especially those headquartered in the U.S.

The Central American country has also introduced programs to guarantee widespread knowledge in computer sciences and English as a second language (ESL), which will keep the Costa Rican youth and workforce on par with international standards.

“Our office in Costa Rica has contributed to so much growth in its surrounding neighborhood that the mayor has encouraged us to scale our workforce to over 200 employees,” stated Brent Levison a partner and Operations Manager of BV Media. “That’s what we call a global win-win situation.”

The new BV Media office will include a new state-of-the-art technology, kitchen, a high-tech call center and brand new furniture situated all throughout the workspace.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will include catering provided by local company La Complacencia. The event will also feature music, gifts and special guest appearances by other dignitaries and officials in the industry.

About Belle Visat Media

BV Media is a content and applications studio composed by a burgeoning network of high-traffic Internet properties, focused on expanding and monetizing a highly trafficked network of websites. We provide a high-energy work atmosphere with exceptional teamwork, where innovation and ambition is encouraged, and success is recognized and rewarded.

Tech-Startup Attorney, Brent Levison To Speak At Upcoming Miami Marlins Game

Miami, FL — Miami attorney, Brent Levison has been asked to lead a roundtable at the upcoming Miami Marlins game against the Tampa Bay Rays, on May 1, 2017.

Joining Levison is Cardozo School of Law, Dean Melanie Leslie ’91 and Marlins President David Samson ’93.

Mr. Levison currently is the Attorney, and Director of E-commerce and Administration Officer for a Miami tech start-up. At the round table, he will be discussing Basic Consumer Protection Principles, TCPA Compliance & Developments.

Brent Levison graduated from Cardozo School of Law in 1997. A Ohio native, Levison has been a practicing attorney for 20 years.

Tickets to the game are very limited as it is one ticket per alumnus. These tickets are on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests are welcomed, but requests will only be fulfilled if there is availability.

About Brent Levison

Brent A. Levison is an owner, operator, investor and executive in the e-commerce, mobile, content media and direct marketing industries with over 20 years of legal experience. Brent has served as Equity One, Inc.’s deputy general counsel and Office Depot, Inc.’s assistant general counsel and corporate secretary. Previously Brent has also served as a Chief Counsel of American Eagle Outfitters.  Mr. Levison received a B.A. from Yeshiva University and a Juris Doctorate from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Levison  is admitted to practice law in the States of Florida, New York, New Jersey and Ohio.

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