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Tips to Make Your Law Firm Stand Out

Marvin Mitchelson, the famed Hollywood divorce lawyer, had an office that stood out.

From his office-length window across from the Los Angeles Country Club, he could see the hustle headed toward Rodeo Drive. He adorned his space with antique furniture and ornaments that rivaled Hearst Castle -- a reproduction of Botticelli's Venus hung over his desk.

But that's not really what we're talking about when it comes to having a law office that stands out. We're talking more about attracting new lawyers to join your firm.

There are at least a dozen ways to make your firm stand out to prospective associates: offer flexible work; have progressive leave policies; provide more benefits. But we're going to go with some less oblivious attractions:

Lawyers, take a moment to be proud of your profession. For the past several years, law firms have ranked highest on the Human Rights Campaign's "Corporate Equality Index."

This year's report shows that law firms are, again, ahead of the curve when it comes to providing transgender employees with equal rights. While the Human Rights Campaign's numbers show an increase in the number of law firms that have transgender friendly policies, the National Association for Law Placement's 2016 report found that the number of openly LGBT attorneys rose from 2.3 percent in 2015, to 2.5 percent in 2016. Large firms, with over 700 attorneys, reported the highest percentage of openly LGBT associate attorneys at 3.8 percent, as well as LGBT partners at 2.2 percent.

Below, you'll find three important policies your firm should implement to protect the rights of transgender employees in order to attract and retain top talent, and not just from the LGBT community.

The Rooney Rule: Are Law Firms Punting on Diversity?

You don't have to be a football fanatic to know what it means to punt.

If you know what the Rooney Rule is in football, however, you might know more about hiring in football than in the law. In a nutshell, the rule is the practice of considering minorities for coaching positions in the National Football League.

Now put that rule to work at BigLaw and you're in the game. That's the idea anyway at thirty law firms that say they will consider at least two women or attorneys of color when hiring or promoting.

Do Law Firms Need On-Site Therapists for Lawyers' Mental Health?

'When did you first start fantasizing about becoming a wealthy BigLaw partner?' the therapist asks.

Alright, it's a fantasy but is it a malady? According to reports, it is at least part of a serious problem at large law firms today.

Some of those law firms are offering on-site psychologists and training staff to deal with mental-health issues, the Wall Street Journal reported. The newspaper says it reflects a trend in the profession that it's OK to see a therapist.

Sleep-Deprived Lawyers Get Ready: Law Firm Adds Napping Pods

Lawyers, please don't confuse napping with nodding off.

Nodding off happens when you've been working long hours and you just can't keep your eyes open -- like weary associates grinding through discovery. Napping happens when you take a break to revive yourself in a napping pod -- like the progressive attorneys at White & Case.

They are not the first attorneys to take naps on the job, but they are leading the way in a profession that burned the midnight oil long before the light bulb came along. Now in the latest age of innovation, sleep-deprived lawyers are discovering that napping is way better than nodding off.

Should Your Firm Drop Performance Reviews?

One of the world's largest law firms has stopped performance reviews, at the same time leading the way against evaluations that have disfavored women in the past.

Allen & Overy, a London-based firm with more than 2,800 attorneys worldwide, piloted a program last October to dialogue with employees rather than formally appraise them. It started at offices in London, Singapore, and the Middle East, but the firm will expand the program to more offices this year.

"The feedback on this has been positive, particularly in engaging with female associates on their career development," said Elizabeth Mercer, the firm's public relations manager. "We didn't do it originally to retain female talent, but the positive feedback has been noticeable."

The law is one of the whitest professions around, but if you want to be 'friended' by Facebook (legally speaking), you may have to improve your diversity game.

The social media giant is only hiring outside law firms where women and ethnic minorities make up at least a third of the team. The move is just one way big corporate clients are trying to reshape the firms they work with, whether through demanding a less homogenous workforce or urging firms to adopt new technologies.

Making time for family, traveling the world on vacation, disconnecting from the office, and keeping up your health and exercise -- these are all things lawyers tend to struggle with. With the pressures of a legal career, many lawyers spend a lot more time grinding out billable hours than they spend on themselves.

Of course, we all wish we had a better work/life balance, right? Well, maybe not. When it comes to perks that could make lawyers' lives a bit more balanced, many of those perks are going unused.

Workplace Perks That Lawyers Actually Want

What do you really want?

It's a question that sometimes comes up in the crisis stage of a relationship. One partner feels inadequate or frustrated, and the other is stifled about communicating his feelings.

Maybe I'm getting too personal here, but the point is that sometimes lawyers don't seem to know what they want professionally either. Because the attorney-employer relationship shouldn't be a guessing game, here are some perks attorneys actually want:

The Challenge of Lawyers Seeking Accommodations for Disabilities

Working from a wheelchair, trial lawyer Carol Steinberg strained to hear the judge as she met in a sidebar with opposing counsel. She could not see the judge because of the elevated bench, and instead sat face-to-face with a wooden panel.

"As I stared at that wood in front of me, with the angry voice of my opponent and the obliging voice of the young judge above, I had one recurring thought: Maybe it's time to do something else," she recalled. "I felt I had no business trying a case in a wheelchair."

Steingberg recently chronicled her challenges as a disabled lawyer in an opinion piece for the New York Times. She has tried 50 cases, despite the obstacles from multiple sclerosis over the past 12 years. Like many disabled attorneys, it has been a battle of accommodation if not discrimination.