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12/29/06

Michael Best & Friedrich entrusts networking responsibility to AT&T

Leading Midwest Law Firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP signed a one-year networking contract with AT&T, leading worldwide providers of IP-based communications services. Though the full terms of the contract were not immediately revealed, it has been revealed that AT&T will integrate six Michael Best & Friedrich locations in Milwaukee, Madison, Waukesha, and Manitowoc, WI; Chicago, IL; and Lehigh Valley, PA through AT&T Business Network (ABN). ABN is an integrated offer that unifies multiple communications needs into a single contract with a single bill at a discounted rate.

Founded in 1848, Milwaukee-based Michael Best & Friedrich, one of the Midwest's oldest and largest full-service law firms, has had a long-standing relationship with AT&T. The firm’s more than 250 attorneys handle business and legal matters for a broad array of diverse clients. The firm's main areas of practice are intellectual property and intellectual property litigation; corporate, healthcare, labor and employment, land and resources (environmental and real estate), litigation, tax, and wealth planning.

The firm, which handles sensitive data for thousands of clients all around world, will take advantage of the ABN facilities through its eServicing capabilities to provide better service. With the help of the AT&T BusinessDirect(R) customer portal, the firm’s attorneys can increase its internal business efficiencies by using the secure online portal to manage and monitor its network, create and track trouble tickets, manage account structures, pay their bills, and implement network service orders.

Law firms begin to appreciate the HR guys
Most law firms in the U.S. have recently started paying more attention to the human resources section within the firm. Today HR managers can hope to share space at the management table with others and also actually hope to be heard. The phenomenon is new, though is fast catching up. Their importance now spans to management tables, than lurking in administrative corridors.

With the aim to fortify the firm’s human resources, law firms have also started hiring people of eminence and experience from other sectors than the legal arena to build up their own otherwise commonplace back office team. The move emerges from the firms increasing in size, both geographically as well as in practice areas. To keep parity with increased demands of the profession, as well as lawyers’ individualized needs while soliciting business, the firms are increasingly relying on the HR personnel’s expertise. The numbers in the HR team are also increasing.

The law firms’ story is often the same everywhere. Complaining new recruits, inconsiderate partners, and long working hours add up to become a formidable challenge to the HR personnel. Their challenge includes recruitment to retention, in a stage when disgruntlement leads to rapid attrition. Even partners today are no longer steadfast in their commitments towards the firm.

With the increased pace of mergers and big businesses taking place, HR people find their hands full with work that is diverse in nature and ranges from billing systems to practices and individual needs. Retention and diversity issues also prove to be major hindrances. However, people like Gary Beu, Kirkland & Ellis’ HR head, and former global managing partner of Andersen accounting firm for employee matters, make their jobs easy. They allow the firm’s lawyers to devote time to their profession, while they shoulder responsibility of these issues.
 
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP

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