Wednesday July 17, 2024

Define the Speed of Light, Please

There are few things in life that are more frustrating or nerve wracking than being asked a question in a job interview that you have absolutely no answer for.  While there’s a chance you may never run into a human resources manager who will put you on the spot, there’s also a good chance you will.  A. Harrison Barnes, founder and president, says it’s not the end of the world and that it’s important to keep in mind the interviewer is asking these questions not so much for the answer (although that’s always a bonus if you do know how to define the speed of light), but rather, your reaction to a seemingly impossible question.

These questions are designed to put you to the test in terms of how well you do in even the most unlikely situations; whether you handle it with grace or whether or not you crumble under the pressure, says Barnes.  So how do you handle it?  The founder and career coach says preparing for it is half the battle.

“Don’t allow these questions to knock you off your center.  Instead, offer something like, ‘I almost prepared for that exact question and now I wish I had’.  That’s going to tell the interviewer a few things.  First, it lets her know that you will honestly own up to not having the right answer instead of fidgeting and fishing for the wrong answer.  It also shows a sense of humor and an ability to “think on your feet”, so to speak.  Gauging the rapport you’ve likely already established with the interviewer (odds are, that’s not going to be the first question you’re asked), you should be able to avoid that clumsy silence and quickly recover without appearing aggravated that an impossible question was even asked.

But what if the question is a legitimate one?  What if she asks, “Based on your background and experience, how will you pull our sales team out of its current slump”?  There’s a good chance you’re not even aware that the sales department is in a slump.  Pull from your past experience, says A. Harrison Barnes:

“I know how well customer incentives work and I know that they can be powerful tools for the sales force to use in their presentations.  There is a way to work those incentives in without annihilating the bottom line.  That would be my first recommendation for implementing new ideas”.

It’s short, it’s precise and it’s going to knock the ball out of the park.  Keep in mind, too, that even if they have used incentives in the past, your interviewer knows that you may not be aware of that and beside, it could be that fresh approach that will make a new incentive work better than those in the past.

So while you may not know how fast turtles travel, you can still ace your interview and those tough questions.  Confidence, acknowledging that you’re human and an open mind will come together to serve your purposes nicely.

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A New Job Description – in an Unlikely Sort of Way

Even in a paperless world, those in the legal profession still must maintain their clients’ confidentiality. That means paperwork must be maintained, even when there’s no room for it on the law firm’s premises. While ideally there is less paper being stored with each passing year, it’s important to remember those files from two, three or five years ago that do pose a security problem. Many law firms have routinely chosen storage facilities that provided the safeguards to keep private information..well, private. But then again, what about those firms that, for many reasons, require an on-site employee to ensure the confidentiality? Compliance laws vary from one sector to another and from one state to another. A. Harrison Barnes says many firms across the country take no chances – either in their choice of facilities or those they hire to protect their clientele. He offers this advice for those who are now considering hiring a full time, onsite employee to oversee those documents.

“First things first; it’s important to choose an appropriate storage facility”, says Barnes. You want to be sure it’s close enough to access on a daily basis if needed. The security of area is crucial. Does it offer cameras? What about the locks? You also want to choose a warehouse that allows room to grow, since you’ll certainly be adding to it over time. You’ll be purging, of course, but the last thing you want to do is revisit this five years from now only to realize you’ve outgrown the facility and a new expense has presented itself. If you’re storing paper, books, electronics or other temperature sensitive items, consider a climate controlled space. This protects you, your clients and your investment.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when looking for the right personnel to keep things clean, organized and safe in your off-site storage facility.

• Naturally, a background check is your first order of business. Anyone with a questionable past is quickly eliminated. Many law firms also conduct credit checks, too, says the founder.

• Ideally, you’ll find someone who’s worked with sensitive information in the past and is aware of the technicalities and nuances involved with keeping documents secure. Many retired police officers will often look for positions such as these. Barnes reminds law firms to consider the employees who are a part of the team – it’s more than just lawyers and paralegals looking for new career opportunities .

• Don’t forget the confidentiality agreements, says A. Harrison Barnes.

• You’ll also need to decide if you want around the clock security or just day security. This will depend on a number of factors, including the security precautions, such as cameras and fences, you employ.

• Define these employees duties clearly. Will they be responsible for instituting a filing system? Who else has access to the warehouse and what will they be expected to prove to your security team?

The fact is, you likely will never encounter a stranger who approaches your storage facility with the goal of stealing divorce proceedings or adoption cases you’ve handled in the past, but there is always the risk of fire and flood and even vandals. Covering your bases now is the best way to keep any kind of damages from ensuing. Eventually, as you purge those paper files from years past, your need for storage will decrease as well since we’re becoming more dependent on back up tapes and other electronic devices to store important legal information.

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Who Says the Law Hasn’t Evolved?

Would you put an attorney on retainer if you learned he didn’t have a law degree? Some of the most famous and well respected attorneys throughout American history never stepped foot inside a law school. A. Harrison Barnes, a lawyer (who did attend law school, by the way) and founder of says you might be surprised to learn who went the entirety of their adult lives practicing law without the nicely framed degree resting on an office wall that memorialized time spent in legal classrooms. Take a look:

  • Abraham Lincoln, who was an American president, was also a lawyer.  He never went to law school; of course, this was the 1800s.
  • Robert Storey, who served as the president of the American Bar Association between 1952 and 1953 is also a name we equate to brilliant legal strategists – but he never attended law school either.
  • The founder also tells us that once-senator and always controversial J. Strom Thurmond practiced as an attorney at one time, but did so minus the law degree.
  • A Mississippi senator for years, James O. Eastland also earned his living for awhile in the role of a lawyer without the benefit of a degree.
  • Brace yourself for this one – former senator and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Salmon P. Chase never attended law school!  Who knew?!
  • Another Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and secretary of the U.S. Treasury, Roger B. Taney, is one more legal mind one who never obtained a law degree.

There are more, of course, but this list highlights some of a few of the American lawyers who made their marks without their degrees; unfortunately, that’s not an option for those considering law school today.  And too, many of these made those marks in the 1800s, but it’s always interesting to learn about these fearless leaders who made such an indelible mark on American history, says A. Harrison Barnes.  It just goes to show how determination is often what makes all the difference.

Of course, no list such as this is complete without a mention of famous folks who have made their mark in other career choices, even as they did so with their hard earned law degree in tow:

  • Mississippi lawyer John Grisham is perhaps best known for his legal thrillers, including The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill, but first earned his living in Jackson, MS as an attorney.
  • Gandhi, one of the most well known and respected spiritual leaders in Indian, was also a lawyer who fought for civil rights for all.
  • Former President Bill Clinton is an attorney, as well (and you thought he just sweet talked the ladies!).
  • Television news host and journalist Geraldo Rivera (born as Gerald Michael Rivera) is also an attorney.
  • Frank Kafka, best known for his fictional works, including “The Metamorphosis”, “The Castle” and “The Trial” was a lawyer in Prague, says the founder.

And there you have it – those you thought you knew well (or at least their educational backgrounds).

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Is Making Partner on Your Career Path?

Most lawyers graduate law school with visions of making partner at a dream law firm. Ideally, they can make this happen in record time; realistically, it might be quite some time – and with a few hard knocks – before it actually comes to fruition. A. Harrison Barnes, who is a lawyer and also the founder, has a few tips for those who have their sights set on a partnership.

  • While you believe you have the formula for a twenty-four month plan that will get your name in big letters on the building, you must prepare yourself for the fact that most partnerships are forged after several years – and sometimes even a decade – with a firm. “It’s a slow dance, and like it or not, you’re not going to be the one leading that dance”, says the founder.
  • Also, since you’ve removed the rose colored glasses, this is also a good time to point out that only 30% of attorneys ever see this dream realized. That’s not to say it’s not going to happen, but you have to keep a healthy degree of reality attached to your dream.
  • You must also be able to bill hours – a lot of hours – but they must be legitimate. This means not only are you going to represent clients who walk away with the experience that you are the cure-all for the legal profession, but you’re going to have know those cases inside and out. You’ll be “on” even in your sleep and you’re prepared to answer any questions the partners have at any moment regarding your cases. It’s just part of the game, says A. Harrison Barnes.
  • Another important “must have” is a winning personality. You have to juggle office personnel, entitled clients who believe the world is theirs, partners who see 2,000 hours billed and want 2,500 and of course, your personal life. And you have to do it with a smile and confidence.
  • Acknowledge when you’re beating a dead horse. “There are those times when you realize the firm you’re with is just not going to be able to provide the opportunities you’re looking for”. Part of being a good lawyer is acknowledging those realizations and then making the tough decision to move on, says Barnes.
  • Finally, Barnes recommends keeping your options open and your membership dues paid. You never know when a networking session at the country club will lead to a new opportunity. Keep those bases covered and you’ll always be prepared.

You chose law as your career for more than just the potential of making partnership one day; you chose it because it is a true passion and a field where you know you can make a difference, no matter your chosen specialty. As you chase your dreams, don’t forget the other reasons that put you on that path.

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AS400 & Sales Applications Engineer

ShortTask is an online Global organization, designed to connect professional job Seekers with work Providers. The services of numerous skilled and professional people are required the world over and are considered as “”Solvers”". Likewise, there are many businesses, large and small, which are searching for personnel, who meet their particular requirements; they are the “”Seekers.”"

If you have experience in the field of Systems Application Engineering and the concept of working independently appeals to you, then your services could already be needed by any one, of many international businesses.  This is the type and quality of position that is being promoted by ShortTask on a daily basis. You are able to choose where you would like to work, with whom and guaranteed payment in American Dollars! There are skilled and professional workers like systems application engineering professionals, who are continually in demand and are therefore able to negotiate well paid packages. These could give you personal and job satisfaction, as an independent operator.

ShortTask, is a highly reputable and recognized organization that supports job seekers and employers. There are workers from all fields and categories on their database, who work from home on their own terms and in their own time. Likewise, on their database, are a volume of different types of businesses, all assigning work on a regular basis.

As in the case of Systems Application Engineering; there are a variety of specialized occupations that are promoted. Assistance is always available from ShortTask, for both “”Seeker”" and “”Solvers”" and this is supported by the fact, that they are recognized for their excellent customer service.

There are many reasons for trying this new and exciting online concept with ShortTask. For the employers or “”Seekers,”" it is cost effective, with further incentive being that there are no advertising costs and a huge amount of skilled workers available to them. In addition, there can be large savings and benefits, in not having to take employees on a permanent basis! For the “”Solvers”" they retain their independence to make a choice of work from a large selection and have the benefit of working from home.

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Not so Fast – The New Trends in Temporary Work

As soon as the pink slips began making the rounds and shortly after the recession came with many uncertainties, many job seekers discovered the benefits of a temp job. For a lot of people, these were their first experiences with those positions that had predefined time parameters.  In many ways, it felt like a double edged sword. It was income with a catch. But are there more benefits to a temp job than it simply serving as a bridge between more permanent positions? A. Harrison Barnes says a lot has changed in the traditional temp position and those changes mean an attractive pull for those looking for something new and different.

Barnes, who is a career coach and founder of, says the stereotype of temp jobs being synonymous with clerical positions could mean some are missing opportunities they don’t even know are available.  “Many employers are taking their time with transitioning back to their business as usual hiring mentality; as a result, there are a lot of jobs in nearly ever profession that are being sold to candidates as a temporary position.” But that’s not all. “Often, employers commit to hiring a candidate as a temporary employee not because the job itself is short term, but because it allows an easy – and legal – out in case their candidate isn’t a good fit”, says Barnes. “Once the right candidate is found, it’s easy to offer a permanent position to him and bring the candidate on board, complete with company benefits that part time and temp employees aren’t eligible for.”

Another reason job seekers don’t attempt to pursue temporary positions is because they believe the pay won’t be worth the effort. That, says A. Harrison Barnes, is another misconception. It’s more often one discovers an impressive salary than he is disappointed with a low figure. Some professionals are concerned about filling a temp position and providing permanent money-saving solutions to a company that will be in place long after his services are no longer needed. It’s all about perspective, though. After all, how permanent are any of our jobs? The recession, says the founder, taught all of us that nothing is as secure as we think it is – even our career choices. Think of it this way: giving any position our best effort is good career karma. You never know when that one idea is going to be what propels you forward. Even if you’re not offered a full time position, you have an excellent reference and an additional accomplishment to add to your resume.

We don’t always get the opportunity to step into our dream position and then shape it as we go; sometimes the biggest rewards are in those roles that we believe are the most unbending only to discover the experience and learning curve shapes us. Before you automatically dismiss those job openings that are listed as temporary, at least give it a fair shake and apply. It could become the perfect position that you spend the rest of your working years in.

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Going for the Promotion When You Don’t Meet the Qualifications

How many times have we seen a job advertised in the company newsletter and wished to ourselves, “If only I had the right training”? Most of us can relate to that. And most of us can also relate to letting the opportunity pass us by without even really considering it, much less go after it. But is it possible to get a promotion when you’re not qualified? Maybe, says A. Harrison Barnes, a renowned career coach. It’s going to take a bit of a sacrifice, though. In the long run, and regardless of whether you’re offered the position, anything you do can only help you in the grand scheme of things. Making up your mind to do it is only the beginning.

First things first – if you see yourself growing by leaps and bounds in another department, consider applying for a lateral move. You have to start some place, says Barnes, who is also the founder of Consider it your first sacrifice. By positioning yourself in the right department, you’re likely to learn more about the department as a whole. If you’re in personnel now, you can be sure accounting is going to operate on a different foundation and different guidelines. Applying for a management job in a department you know nothing about is not going to serve your purpose nor land you the job.

This is the time to expand your educational horizons, too. No time to attend classes at the junior college? Consider online or distance learning courses. These are affordable, easy to keep up with and allow you to pace yourself. Sacrifice a lunch hour or two during the week, a Saturday night and maybe one or two evenings during the week after the kids have gone to bed, and before long, you’ll have the educational bases covered.

Another great recommendation A. Harrison Barnes makes is to volunteer to help plan the next event that will allow you to really get involved in the area you’re interested in pursuing. You’ll get to know the people in the department and this allows you to also gain recognition by other managers who might influence which candidate is chosen for the job opening. While you may miss out on the job posting right now, there are always opportunities, especially for promoting within the company.

Finally, be sure to let the right people know that your goal is to aim higher and that you’re taking steps to make it happen. Often, employees who have already proven themselves will be able to bypass some of the more restrictive job requirements that a new candidate would have to meet. It’s about meeting the initiative, showing dedication and determination and then taking the plunge that could start you out on an entirely new and rewarding career. As with all things, though, no one can do it for us – it’s our responsibility to chase those dreams and make them happen.

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When it’s Not What You Thought it Would Be

Most of us can relate to accepting a job position, certain that it’s where we’ll end up retiring “one of these days”.  Usually, when the job isn’t what we thought it would be, we can easily begin the process over.  We can keep our resumes current, our eye peeled to the site and hope for the best.  But what happens when you realize you sacrificed a good chunk of your twenties in law school, only to realize you’d rather be used as a guinea pig for the Hurricane Hunters to drop you into the eye of a hurricane in an effort to collect data?  We asked A. Harrison Barnes what happens when clients come to him in his role as a career coach and who have this problem.  What does he counsel them to do?

“It’s not uncommon, not only for lawyers, but doctors, journalists, engineers and others as well, to realize they chose the wrong profession.  They find themselves completely dissatisfied and begin to resent having to show up each day”, says Barnes.  The first thing that everyone must keep in mind is that the way you feel today, this week or even this month, might not be indicative of how you’re going to feel in three months.  If, however, you’re sure a career as an attorney is not what you want,  the founder might suggest remaining in the legal field, but instead of filling the role as a lawyer, maybe going into the legal consulting aspect will serve you well.  This keeps you in the field and gives you a head start – you already know the law and you can easily slide right into the role of one who incorporates strategic management tactics, marketing efforts and other consultation efforts.

Barnes also encourages his clients to consider teaching.  You already know the law, it’s not a big leap to jump into the educational arena.  You’ll need to have certain qualifications to teach, but they vary.  This allows you to make the most of your education, while also allowing others the benefit of it, as well.  In fact, since it wasn’t what you thought it would be, you come to law students with a unique perspective.  Still, says the founder, you don’t want to allow your disillusions to take over, though.

It may be, too, that you’re in the wrong specialty.  Family law is tough and takes a lot out of the attorneys who enter this particular sector.  Some lawyers simply change specialties and realize the passion was there along, it was only a matter of tapping into it.

Whatever you ultimately decide to do, it’s important to live your life doing those things that make you happy and leave you feeling fulfilled.  Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of resentment and broken dreams.  Few of us, regardless of which career paths we take, have to hone in on which area of our career brings us the most satisfaction and the same holds true for attorneys, as well.

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The Creepy Boss

We’ve all sat around on a Friday evening, over drinks with our friends and played the, “My boss is so creepy he…” game.  While it’s usually all in fun and games, not to mention a great way to unwind after an excruciating week, what happens when the fun and games reveals unethical or even illegal behaviors on the part of your boss?

One law student tells the story of how an overbearing office manager would organize his desk when he wasn’t there.  Since he was a law student, he only worked part time for a large legal firm.  The woman then deleted all of his law school applications that he kept stored on his computer at work since his boss also attended the same law school and had kindly volunteered his assistance.  The student hesitated going to the partners because he says he couldn’t prove it, even though everyone in the office knew this woman was capable of such mean behaviors.  A. Harrison Barnes, an attorney and founder of, says the student did the right thing, even though it was a frustrating series of weeks for him.  “This was handled best by the student because the partners in the firm were already aware of the woman’s actions and even though they didn’t share that bit of information, the student kept on doing his job with the belief the woman would eventually get caught.”  She did get caught when she was seen hiding files for a multi-million dollar lawsuit the law firm was defending. Her goal was to accuse the law student of losing the files and hoped to get him fired.  Instead, she was the one who was promptly fired and the law student is now a partner in the firm, some ten years later.  Still, he remembers the woman as the “creepy middle aged woman who would tiptoe through the office in an attempt to catch any of her co-workers doing anything from stretching their lunch breaks to spending too much time in the bathroom”.

The founder says there are times, however, when a supervisor’s actions do require a meeting with the head honcho.  If a boss is making suggestive comments, is discriminating against any of his employees or is refusing to hire any particular race or sex, these actions are absolutely illegal and require immediate action.  Even if you’re concerned about coming across as the office tattletale or concerned you’ll sound petty, consider this: the next victim might be quick to file a costly lawsuit and if you’re asked to testify and tell the court you knew of these actions, it could become a big nightmare for the company and potentially even jeopardize your own position.  “Your best bet”, says A. Harrison Barnes, “is to not keep this kind of information to yourself.  You have a responsibility to yourself, your co-workers and even your employer to speak up”.  If your employer chooses to ignore it, then you’ve at least covered your bases and if the behavior continues, you have your own case should you decide to pursue it.

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When the Nursing Field Meets the Legal Field

Forensic nursing is still a relatively new career choice, but it’s also a fast growing sector that combines the best of the medical field and the legal field.  Forensic nursing involves some investigatory skills and even pulls from goals not unlike a medical examiner.  The goal is to determine the truth behind suspicious deaths, abuse and other medical mysteries.  It’s not uncommon for forensic nurses to work alongside attorneys, law enforcement and physicians as an investigation progresses.

In the mid-1980s, the University of Texas introduced the first master’s program for forensic nursing.  Since then, there have been many new programs made available across the country, says A. Harrison Barnes, attorney and founder of  One reason that this field is draws so many is because the responsibilities might shift from one case to the next.  For instance, a forensic nursing career might have you at a crime scene one day and in court testifying to the mental capacity of a patient accused of committing a crime the next day.  A. Harrison Barnes says it requires a very focused and specific skill set and those who choose this as a career will need to have an in-depth knowledge of the medical and legal fields.  The rewards, says the founder, are many  and the work satisfying.

Other duties a forensic nurse might find himself involved in include:

  • Assessing the psychological nuances of victims and the accused
  • Testifying in the role of an expert witness in court
  • Working with domestic abuse victims
  • Interpreting traumatic injuries
  • Working with those who have substance abuse issues
  • Working with suicidal patients
  • Interpreting various lab results, wounds and even corpses for physicians and/or law enforcement
  • Working with the insurance sector, though not as intricately as other fields

As mentioned, these careers require an advanced education; usually a master’s degree.  The field itself continues to grow and according to available statistics, has grown steadily since the early 1990s.

The salaries are impressive, as well.  Interestingly, depending on where you live has a lot to do with how quickly you can climb the proverbial ladder and the salaries adapt accordingly.  Those positions in the southeast likely won’t pay as well as those in say, New York or other major cities along the east and west coasts.

Few careers allow one to combine fields to the degree forensic nursing does.  For those who are looking for a challenge and aren’t sure if they’re going to find it in the medical or legal fields, this is an excellent choice that eliminates the need for making that choice.  If this seems like a career for you, check with your state’s licensing department for information on which colleges offer it.  Apply for student loans, check into available scholarships, take a second job if you need to.  Bottom line,  each day that passes is another day spent wondering what should have been.

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