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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn October 15, 2012In: Alternative Work Schedules, Flextime, Internet Resources, Resources, Women, Wellness, & Work-Life Balance

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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."

FLSA Compliance: There's an app for that

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn May 10, 2011In: Internet Resources, Wages and Benefits

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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).

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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

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn April 14, 2010In: Internet Resources

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**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)

Continue reading "75 Internet Resources for Better Writing" »

U.S. DOL Job Tools Voting Ends Tomorrow

Posted by Teresa A. CheekOn January 14, 2010In: Internet Resources

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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

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn October 12, 2009In: Internet Resources, Resources, Seminars, Past

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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

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn October 7, 2009In: Internet Resources, Resources, Tech Tips, U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

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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

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn July 2, 2009In: Employee Engagement, Internet Resources

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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.

Top 20 Employee Benefits Blogs

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn February 11, 2009In: Internet Resources, Resources

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Employee-benefits attorneys and non-attorney benefits professionals must be masters of ERISA and the income tax code--two areas of the law that I  know enough to know that I do not know enough.  When I get a question about 401(k) administration or group health-insurance plans, I promptly turn them over to one of the attorneys in our Tax and Benefits Group.  rss feed icon and computer mouse

At the same time, I still have to be able to field some of the basic questions and, at the very least, spot a benefits issue when there is one.  To keep up to speed in the area of Employee Benefits, I turn to these 20 blogs.  If you know of others, please feel free to leave a comment with the blog name and address.  But, for my purposes, these are the Top 20 Benefits Blogs around:

  1. Benefits Biz Blog
  2. Benefits Blog
  3. Benefits Link Buzz
  4. Boston ERISA & Insurance Litigation Blog
  5. Employee Benefits Blog
  6. Employee Benefits Legal Blog
  7. ERISA Blog
  8. ERISA On the Web
  9. ESOP Law Blog
  10. Florida ERISA Blog
  11. Health Plan Law
  12. Managed Care Matters
  13. Northeast Employee Benefits
  14. Pension Protection Act Blog
  15. Pensions & Benefits Weblog
  16. Piper Report
  17. PLANSPONSOR Perspectives
  18. The Retirement Plan Blog
  19. Weiss Berzowski Brady LLP
  20. Workplace Prof Blog

How to Participate in Today's National Day of Service

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 19, 2009In: Internet Resources, Locally Speaking

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Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  It is also the national day of service and the first day of President-elect Obama’s initiative to Renew America Together.  In communities around the First State, as well as in neighborhoods around the country, Americans are volunteering to help others.  If you would like to join in this growing initiative but don't know of any particular activities in your local area, check out USAService.org.   Here, you can search by zip code or by state and find a list of events being held today that would benefit from any time you can contribute.  And the website isn't just a great resource today.  Its comprehensive database of volunteer and charitable events lists the many opportunities that happen throughout the year.

Wellness Resolution: The Quest for the Perfect Ergonomic Office Chair

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 12, 2009In: Internet Resources, Wellness, Health, and Safety

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Walking while you work was the topic of an earlier post. This post stays within the same theme--how to be healthy at work--but with a different perspective--mine.  I have some thoughts of my own on this topic. 

For one, I would cherish the opportunity to move more through the day without sacrificing working time.  It's not the walking part, really, as much as it's the idea of not sitting that I find attractive.  Basically, anything that involves me not sitting would be of value.  Alternatively, sitting comfortably and without permanently wrecking my posture would be a heck of an idea.

Somehow, I've never gotten around to buying one and my back really pays the price for my indecisiveness.  What's stopping me?  There's just too many from which I could choose!  But that's not to say that I haven't given it a lot of thought.  Here's the rundown on my years of searching. image

There's the classic Herman Miller Aeron chair.  Everyone knows that the Aeron is pretty hard to beat when it comes to function and design.  Being a lover of modern furniture, I can admire the Aeron even for the story of its creation--and if you haven't yet read the story, it's a great story of perseverance and dedication, of leadership and teamwork.  Good stuff.  The Executive Aeron can be purchased for approximately $1,300. 

 

Herman Miller also offers the Mirra ($829) and Celle ($629) chairs as less pricey Aeron alternatives. Both chairs come in a variety of colors, which is an advantage over the Aeron.  Color is important. 

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I have to pass on the Aeron because, honestly, it's just not "pretty" enough for me.  Yes, mock me if you will, but at least I'm honest.  I appreciate the aesthetic but I need more glamour than the black mesh has to offer. 

The Freedom chair by Humanscale is next in the rotation.  The Freedom chair (with headrest, ofimage course), also has plenty of design awards on its resume and is known as one of the best in the ergonomic category.  But, to its credit, it comes in a variety of colors and textures, including leather, which happens to be my preference.  At around $1,000, the chair is priced competitively.  The Liberty chair, priced for under $800, is Humanscale's task chair alternative. 

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Next up is Steelcase--the maker of the Walkstation treadmill-desk combo that prompted this post.  Steelcase has plenty to offer in the way of ergonomic seating, the two most popular choices being the Leap and Think chairs.   Both are offered in various colors and both have a contemporary look, with the Think chair's sleek, linear design being my preference between the two. image
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I've been known to be open to new things so it's not surprising that I've given a lot of thought to the out-of-the-ordinary seating options.  For instance, the HAG Capisco saddle chair (in red, below, $690 - $1,200) dares to be different.  Even assuming that it's as comfortable as could be and the look was where I wanted to go, the whole "saddle" concept just doesn't work for me.  The idea is that you can sit in the chair backwards (why, I haven't the foggiest).  Sorry, I wear too many skirts to make this a realistic possibility.  I'll pass, although I do love the height-adjustable feature. In my ideal office, I would have a height-adjustable desk, making this feature quite important.  

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The same principles go for the "stool" option but, in the interest of fairness, I'll list them anyway.   The Swopper Stool by Via (left, $600) is designed to force its user to keep their balance by engaging their abdomen muscles instead of letting us lazy office workers slump over in our traditionally terrible posture.   The HAG Balans Kneeling Chair (right) is even less likely to ever see the four walls of my office.  I've witnessed these in use and, unless you work at a health club or in another industry where you are expected to wear clothes designed for comfort, this option is just impractical.  My devotion to improved posture is not this strong.   

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Now let's get to the serious contenders.  If and when I get around to breaking open the office-chair-piggy-bank, there are just two that make me stand up and cheer. 

First is the Steelcase Leap Worklounge Chair in Leather ($2,700-$3,400 depending on options). steelcase work lounger in leather

It's beautiful.  And that's exactly why I like it.  It comes in white leather, which is my favorite upholstery option (practicality be damned).  There is also an optional ottoman but who has time to put their feet up?  We're working too hard to afford the chair!

 

 

And then there's the ultimate in luxury office seating, the Silver chair by Interstuhl.  Interstuhl is a German company and brings German precision to its line of couture office furniture.  I could say more but the pictures speak for themselves. 

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Beauty is not cheap.  The base model in black will cost you around $4,500.  But why stop there?  If you're going to do luxurious, go all the way.  And Interstuhl has just the chair for satisfying the maximum luxury quotient.  

For a mere $65,500, you can be one of the lucky owners of the world's most expensive office chair.   You'll get not just the chair but the matching ottoman, as well, both of which are plated in 24-karat gold.

 

The chair has even had a few roles on the silver screen.  It was used as Al Pacino's chair in the movie Ocean's 13.  And, more recently, made a cameo in the latest Bond film, Quantum of Solace.

 

The Top 30 Blogs on Writing

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 11, 2009In: Internet Resources, Resources

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Better writing is a worthy goal for anyone.  And certainly for lawyers, who make a living by being persuasive.  I work on my writing skills year round but, for the purposes of this series of posts, I'm calling this goal a resolution.  In the spirit of resolutions, I posted on 10 of the Funniest Writing Blogs.  (If you missed that post, go check it out--you're guaranteed a laugh from the very particular bloggers who feel so passionately about things like the overuse of quotation marks.)

In the second post in the series, I offered readers a list of 20 Online Dictionaries, which included everything from the Dictionary of Philly Slang (our native language), to the RhymeZone, to the Dictionary of Sushi.  You can never have too many reference sources, right?

Today, in the third post in the series, I'm being a bit more serious and scholarly.  Below are 30 of the Best Writing Blogs.  Some of the blogs focus on legal writing, some are strictly business (writing, that is), and some are whatever they want to be on any given day.  Here's to better writing everywhere!

Adams Drafting, by Ken Adams, concentrates exclusively on contract drafting and writing issues facing transactional lawyers.
Bad Language is a U.K. blog by Matthew Stibbe.  The blog is dedicated to business marketing, which Stibbe (rightly) believes is linked to effective writing.
Building Rapport, The Plain Language Blog, is written by Canadian Cheryl Stephens. The blog's mantra sums up Stephens' philosophy quite well.  The purpose of the blog is to "advocat[e] plain language, clear design, sensitivity to audience concerns, and civility."
Business Writing, by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston, offers helpful and gracious instruction on writing in the business world.  Lynne's posts often derive from questions she's received in one of her writing seminars, which ensures the timeliness of the topic.
Confident Writing, by writing coach Joanna Young, offers words of encouragement, as well as words of instruction, to a broad audience, including writers and writing hopefuls.
Copyblogger by Brian Clark is targeted towards those who want to improve their online presence through effective blogging.
Daily Writing Tips is maintained by five talented professional writers and offers just what it promises--daily tips on how to improve your writing. If you're feeling confident, take one of the several "tests" offered at the site to measure your vocabulary, grammar, and spelling skills. 
Disputed Issues, by Stephen R. Diamond, J.D., Ph.D., tackles common missteps in legal writing, as well as the reasons why lawyers write so badly.
Fairyland Castle is a new blog written by recent law-school graduate, Martin Magnusson, who provides commentary--not instruction--on legal writing.
Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty offers short, friendly tips to improve your writing. Covering the grammar rules and word choice guidelines, Grammar Girl makes complex grammar questions simple with memory tricks to help you recall and apply those troublesome grammar rules. Grammar Girl is also available via podcast, if you want to make that morning commute count for something.
Grammarphobia Blog is the love-child of Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman, who met as editors at the New York Times. They offer practical advice for handling every type of grammar problem.
Legal Writing Prof Blog offers resources and news updates by legal-writing academics. 
Legalwriting.net, by Wayne Scheiss, who also maintains an excellent website.
Manage Your Writing, by Dr. Ken Davis, former chair of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  This site offers readers short, to-the-point posts on discrete ways to "manage" your writing.  It also offers a great list of writing resources.
Men with Pens is a Canadian blog by three, you guessed it, men with pens, who post regularly on ways to improve your writing, blogging, web design, and business generally, in an edgy and irreverent way that's proven very popular with readers. [Update Jan. 16, 2010: According to Mister Thorne, this blog is not written by three men with pens but by one woman. How delightful!]
Mr. Rewrite is a sassy blog that looks at "spelling, grammar, and usage with a dash of humor."
Party of the First Part, by Adam Freedman, is devoted to eradicating the world of the pompous and verbose writing style commonly referred to as "Legalese." At the website of the same name, you can get your kicks by laughing at people who write worse than you at the Legalese Hall of Shame, where "POFP points the Fickle Finger of Fate at some real-life gobbledygook — from insurance contracts, jury instructions, and other literary gems (with translations)."
Robust Writing, by freelance writer Jesse Hines, encourages readers to use writing as a persuasive tool for success in business, marketing, and life in general.
Set In Style, by Mister Thorne, the "Legal Wordsmith."** One of my favorite writing blogs, this site is directed to the legal profession but is beneficial for anyone whose writing is intended to serve as marketing material.
Style & Substance is one of the many great blogs of the Wall Street Journal. Maintained by Paul R. Martin, editor of the WSJ's stylebook, the blog is host to monthly bulletins about style (and the lack thereof) in contemporary language.
The (New) Legal Writer, by Ray Ward, an appellate lawyer practicing in Louisiana, is very popular with those in the know around the blogosphere. 
The Slot is written by Bill Walsh, author of Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style. Walsh also maintains the website, The Slot, which provides regular commentary targeted to copy editors and interesting enough for anyone with a passion for writing.
The Vocabula Review "battles nonstandard, careless English and embraces clear, expressive English." In short, this blog is dense with solid content that offers valuable instruction to writers at every skill level.
The Word Blog, by Boston Globe columnist Jan Freeman, is a blog about "the rules and realities of the English language."  
Triangle Grammar Guide is a blog hosted by North Carolina's News & Observer journalist, Pam Nelson. The posts are short and witty and propose to be your "online grammar class."
Word Wise is written by Dan Santow, VP at Edelman, which, according to Dan, is the world's largest privately held PR firm. Satow's posts are inspired by everyday observations of language done well and not so well.
Write to Done is authored by blogger extraordinaire, Leo Babauta. His twice-weekly posts cover "the art and craft of writing." If Leo Babauta blogs it, you can bet it's worth reading it.
Writing, Clear and Simple, by Roy Jacobsen, offers writing tips to legal and non-legal writing alike.
Writing Tools by Poynter Online is the online home of The Poynter Institute, a school for "journalists, future journalists, and teachers of journalists" located in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Poynter maintains one of the very best online resources for everything related to writing.
You Don't Say: Language & Usage is a Baltimore Sun blog, written by John McIntyre. McIntyre's bio, as stated on the blog, says it far better than I possibly could: "John McIntyre, a mild-mannered copy editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work at The Baltimore Sun since 1986."

 

The other posts in this series on Writing:

Writing References #2: 20 Online Dictionaries

Writing Reference #1: 10 Humorous Writing Blogs

My Finely Tailored New Year's Resolution: Pens & Pinstripes

New Resources on the ADAAA

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 6, 2009In: Disabilities (ADA), Internet Resources

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The Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act ("ADAAA"), is giving employers another reason to pay close attention to what's happening on the Hill.  The ADA Amendments Act became effective last week with the start of the new year. The EEOC has not completed its final regulations for the new law but that doesn't mean employers aren't still obligated to comply.  ADA 

To help employers manage this new law, the Job Accommodation Network ("JAN"), has released a new publication and a resource page.  All wise employers know about the power of JAN.  JAN is a treasure trove of accommodation-related information.  If you have questions about what options there are for accommodating just about any disability, JAN is the place to look.  And JAN provides not only the answer but actually gives you direct resources for purchasing the necessary goods and services. 

The new publication is JAN's Accommodation and Compliance Series: The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and will be periodically updated as additional information is made public.  Complementary resources on the ADAAAA is also available.  

Writing References #2: 20 Online Dictionaries

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn January 6, 2009In: Internet Resources

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When I posted my estimates for the Top 5 Workplace Resolutions for the New Year, I failed to mention my year-round resolution to work to improve my writing.  It's a skill everyone needs and, as we become more dependent on e-mail, Twitter, and text messages, it's a skill that's easy to forget about.  So, to make sure I don't forget to work on my writing, I turn to a bunch of resources for help.  And, because I'm a big fan of sharing, I'm sharing those resources with our readers.  In the first of three posts in this series, I wrote about my 10 favorite writing blogs that take a funny perspective on proper language skills.  pencils

In this second post in the series, I share 20 Online Dictionaries that you may find useful sometime.  You never know when you'll need to look up a phrase spoken to you in Philly slang.  In the third post in the series, I'll get back to the serious stuff with 30 of the best blogs about writing.  Until then, enjoy!

  1. A Glossary of Rhetorical Terms
  2. American Heritage Dictionary
  3. American Sign Language Dictionary
  4. Astronomy and Space Dictionary
  5. Building and General Construction Technology Dictionary
  6. Cut-the-Knot Glossary of Mathematical Terms
  7. Dictionary of American Regional English
  8. Dictionary of Sanskrit Terms
  9. Encyclopedia of Law and Economics
  10. FOLDOC  Computing Dictionary
  11. Glossary of Applied Linguistics
  12. Glossary of Managed Care Terms
  13. Lectric Law Library's Legal Dictionary
  14. Mobspeak Glossary
  15. NetLingo The Internet Dictionary
  16. One Look - includes reverse lookup
  17. Online Etymology Dictionary
  18. Oxford English Dictionary News
  19. Philly Tawk
  20. RhymeZone
  21. Street Drug Slang Dictionary
  22. Sushi Glossary
  23. The Phrontistery, Online Dictionary of Uncommon and Unusual Words
  24. Yiddish dictionary
  25. Your Dictionary

Writing Reference #1: 10 Humorous Writing Blogs

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn December 31, 2008In: Internet Resources

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New Years' resolutions aren't my thing. If they were, I'd resolve to continue to develop my writing skills.   But, since it's not quite January 1, I'll go with something a little more light hearted first.  Here are 10 of my favorite blogs on which I hope my writing is never featured.   Happy New Year!pens

  1. Apostrophe Abuse
  2. Banterist: Grammar Cop
  3. Grammar Blog: I Get Gerund
  4. Literally, a Web Log
  5. Mr. Rewrite
  6. SPOGG
  7. The Blog of Unnecessary Quotation Marks
  8. The Grammar Vandal
  9. The Perplexicon
  10. Language Log

My Finely Tailored New Year's Resolution: Pens & Pinstripes

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn December 31, 2008In: Internet Resources

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Writing and legal writing in particular are the actual topics of this post.  As mentioned in an earlier post, I don't actually make any resolutions for the new year.  But I'm a sucker for a catchy title, so I'm going to say this series is about New Year's resolutions anyway.  One of my year-round goals ( i.e., my resolutions),  is to improve my writing skills.  Today there is no more powerful tool than the written word.  The written and spoken word is today's pinstripe suit.  

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Most of my court appearances today are made via a teleconference with the judge and opposing counsel also on the phone.  It is not uncommon for me to meet a client in person for the first time after having counseled them for more than a year.  With the phone and e-mail, face-to-face encounters have become less and less common. 

As a result, the image of the lawyer in the perfectly presentable pinstripe suit carries far less significance.  If you never see the lawyer, what he or she is wearing becomes close to irrelevant.  What you do "see" is your lawyer's words.  Which is why it is important to me to maintain a proper "word wardrobe," if you will.

I won't deny that I still love a well-made suit, pinstripe or not, and I won't pretend that I have the slightest intention of abandoning my devotion to fashion.  But I recognize that it will suit me best to invest in today's most important accessories--my writing and language skills. 

In this multi-part series, I'll talk about various ways to improve this valuable accessory and the resources that can help.  For today, here are the ways I work on my writing annually, quarterly, and daily. 

Annually  

I attend one writing seminar a year.  The best I've ever attended, without a doubt, was one by Bryan A. Garner.  If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of his Legal Writing seminars, you should drop whatever you are doing and sign up.  It can revolutionize your writing.  Especially if you've read his books, his seminars are great for putting that theory into practice.

Quarterly 

Then, a few times a year, I ask other writers to read and comment on my work.  Our writing-guru-in-residence, John Paschetto, in particular, is an amazing resource.  I can say, without hesitation, that John is the most skilled writer I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  In addition to being a partner in our firm's Business Planning Section, and a remarkably skilled editor, he also has a way of commenting on the written word in such a way that makes the recipient want to get better. 

Daily

And, on a daily basis, I turn to the internet, where writing resources are diverse and plentiful.  Of course, I utilize the current and timely content available in the blogosphere.  I also employ a variety of content-rich websites that cover every topic imaginable and serve as inspiration and motivation when writing becomes more of a chore than a pleasure.   

In subsequent posts in this series, I'll divulge my list of the best resources the web has to offer those who want to improve their writing.  The posts will include:

  1. 10 of the Funniest Blogs About Bad Writing;
  2. 20 Online Dictionaries;
  3. 30 of the Best Blogs About Writing;
  4. 40 of the Best Books About Writing; and
  5. 50 of the Best Writing References Online.