National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Earlier this month, the President proclaimed October 2012 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The observance is intended to raise awareness about disability employment issues and to celebrate the contributions of our country’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”

In conjunction with NDEAM, he U.S. Department of Labor has launched an online Workplace Flexibility Toolkit to “provide employees, job seekers, employers, policymakers and researchers with information, resources and a unique approach to workplace flexibility.”

According to the U.S. DOL, the toolkit “points visitors to case studies, fact and tip sheets, issue briefs, reports, articles, websites with additional information, other related toolkits and a list of frequently asked questions. It is searchable by type of resource, target audience and types of workplace flexibility, including place, time and task.”

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FLSA Compliance: There’s an app for that

The Wage-and-Hour Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) has released an app called “DOL-Timesheet.”  The app works on the iPad and iPhone but may later be released for Android and Blackberry. As described by the DOL:DOL Timesheet app

This is a timesheet to record the hours that you work and calculate the amount you may be owed by your employer.  It also includes overtime pay calculations at a rate of one and one-half times (1.5) the regular rate of pay for all hours you work over 40 in a workweek.

The app does not handle tips, commissions, bonuses, deduction, holiday pay, shift differentials or other non-standard methods of pay.

One notable feature of the app is the ability to send a copy of the report via email.  This may be of particular use to employees who work “on the road” or even from home, especially if their time entries are sporadic.  For example, if an employee sends a series of emails from his iPhone at home, after the end of the normal business day, this may be a helpful way for him to record that time worked and communicate it to his employer.

To set up the app, the user is asked to enter the Employer name, the hourly rate of pay, and the start of the workweek.  (Picture at left).  A nifty little feature occurred when I entered $6.00 as the hourly rate.  A warning popped up, alerting me that I’d entered an amount less than the federal minimum wage.  (Picture at right).

DOL Timesheet appPicture3

The three screens below show how users can create a new timesheet; create a new time entry using either the timer or manually; and send the report via email.

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There is also a glossary of wage-and-hour terms and, conveniently, contact information for the DOL’s WHD.

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Ah, technology.  Whatever will they think of next?

75 Internet Resources for Better Writing

**This is a cross-post with my second blog, Going Paperless, which is directed largely towards legal professionals.  It was worthy of posting here, as well, so that’s exactly what I’m doing.

 

It’s nearly time for the newest crop of summer associates (or, to the non-legal world, “interns”), to flood law firms across the country.  “Summers,” as they’re called, need a lot of care if lawyers expect them to bloom into the highly sought-after combination of brilliant legal mind and burning desire to work around the clock.

Young Conaway makes a very organized effort to help the summer class acquire as much substantive knowledge as possible by assigning work from actual (as opposed to academic) cases, while still placing “getting-to-know-you” time at a premium.  I’m a graduate of our summer-associate program and take a great deal of pride in both the program and the great lawyers that it helps to produce.

In my opinion, the best thing about our summer program is the writing component, led by John Paschetto.  Lucky participants have their work reviewed by the world’s kindest editor and, by the end of the summer, are writing at a level far beyond where they started a few months earlier.

John mentioned that he was compiling a list of helpful websites and online resources for use in his writing program this summer.  Being the compulsive list maker that I am, I couldn’t help but lend a hand.  I’ve compiled a list of 50 of the best legal-writing resources on the web, plus 25 “just-for-fun” blogs about the horrors of spelling, grammar, and style gone wrong.  (Remember the “fun” component, after all.)

I’m glad to share the list with our readers, regardless of how long it’s been since you were a summer associate.   The entire list is reprinted below but, if you’re in a rush, here’s a copy in PDF for your research file.  Don’t forget to share it with your favorite summer associate!

75 Online Legal-Writing Resources (pdf)

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U.S. DOL Job Tools Voting Ends Tomorrow

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), has been conducting an interesting online initiative designed to identify the best online job search and career advancement tools. They currently have 610 tools (!) posted on their site and are seeking input from people who have used the tools.

The tools fall into categories such as general job boards, niche job boards, career tools, career exploration guides, and web 2.0 / social-media sites that specialize in job searches or postings. Visitors to the site are encouraged to try the tools, comment on them, and recommend the ones they like. In a YouTube video on the website, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis explains the initiative. The DOL promises to publish the tools that rank the highest on its website and also to encourage the creation of a nationwide network of “One-Stop Career Centers.” Voting ends on January 15.

Anything that the DOL can do to help job seekers is a good thing.

Powerful Presentations: Links to Free Graphics

I give a lot of presentations. And I take them seriously. Which may explain why my slides often get noticed as being “different” than many of the other presentations my clients see. I subscribe to the style of presenting advocated by Cliff Atkinson, known as Beyond Bullet PointsNancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds are two other visionaries in the field of visual communication who lead by example. In short, the principle theory behind my slide design is to present only one idea per slide and to present it with images instead of words.

And, while I could go on for many posts about the topic of effective presenting skills but I’ll save that for another day.  Instead, I’ll refrain from the evangelical sermon and, instead, offer a tiny bit of practical help.

One of the bigger stumbling blocks involved in this type of presenting is where to get the graphics you’ll use instead of words on your slides.  There really are an unlimited number of ways to create images for this purpose. 

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Of course, you can simply purchase them from stock photo sites.  I use Shutterstock to buy images and buy a one-month subscription to save on the cost. 

You also can surf the web to find images.  Google Images works great for this and so does Bing’s image search. But beware of “borrowing” images–just because they’re available online does not mean that they’re publicly available.  You must determine if you’re lawfully able to use the pictures that you find. Dave Paradi recently listed 10 excellent government sites that offer bunches of beautiful photographs for free!

One seriously underestimated tool is PowerPoint.  I use it constantly to create my own images–everything from simple stick-figure drawings to more substantial 3d graphics.  If you don’t believe that this is possible for mere mortals (i.e., non-designers), just have a look at the wonderfully instructive blog, Slides that Stick for some excellent tutorials.  You may be amazed!

One of the greatest resources, though, is right at your fingertips–or, even better, they are your fingertips!  Pick up a pen and start drawing. Don’t be “fancy”–really, it’s best if you just avoid even attempting anything that will look even close to “artistic.”  Just stick with the basics.  You’d be surprised at how well you can communicate using those same skills that you picked up as a toddler.  Need inspiration? Check out Dan Roam, who just won the World’s Best Presentation Contest at Slideshare.net–using, you guessed it, simple marker drawings! 

U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Go Digital

The U.S. Supreme Court has taken another step towards “digital enlightenment.” The Court’s website now includes links to pdf files containing the United States Reports, volumes 502 and later.  The U.S. Reports contain the final and official version of the Court’s decisions, typically three to five volumes per Term. Each volume is between 800 and 1,200 pages long, making each pdf file very large.  Large, but packed with valuable information, including, according the Court’s site:

In addition to all of the opinions issued during a particular period, a volume may contain a roster of Justices and Court officers during that period; an allotment of Justices by Federal Circuit; announcements of Justices’ investitures and retirements; memorial proceedings for deceased Justices; a cumulative table of cases reported; orders in cases decided in summary fashion; reprints of amendments to the Supreme Court’s Rules and the various sets of Federal Rules of Procedure; a topical index; and a statistical table summarizing case activity for the past three Court Terms.

For those who are familiar with Adobe’s Acrobat can create a tremendous resource for themselves by saving these files locally and creating an electronic index for super-quick searches later.  This appears to be yet another mile marker in the road to more easily accessible legal references.

Vote for Your Favorite Leadership Blog

What is the best leadership blog? The Remarkable Leadership Blog is set to answer that question.  It’s narrowed it down to 10 of the “World’s Best Leadership Blogs.”  All 10 blogs are listed below but you’ll want to go to the original list to cast your vote (and register to win some great prizes, too).

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Leading Blog by Michael McKinney

Great Leadership by Dan McCarthy

Seth Godin’s Blog by Seth Godin

Jon Gordon’s Blog by Jon Gordon

Leadership is a Verb by John Bishop

All Things Workplace by Steve Roesler

Work Matters by Bob Sutton

Leader Talk by Mountain State University

Next Level Blog by Scott Eblin

Leadership At Work by John Baldoni

 

And if 10 isn’t enough to satisfy your need to read about leadership, you might want to check out our list of 100 of the Leading Blogs on Leadership.