Quick, in the last decade, what has been the most significant positive change in the way lawyers do business? How about over the last twenty years?
Seriously, apart from technology making us available 24-7, I can’t think of one way the legal business model has changed in a positive way for lawyers, their staff, or clients. Do lawyers work fewer hours? Are working conditions better now than in 1995? Or 1985? Is the average second year law firm associate encouraging everyone they know to become a lawyer? How about the clients? Are they happier with their attorney now than fifteen years ago? Have legal services become cheaper? More widely available? As a profession, are lawyers more respected now than a dedade ago?
How can an industry populated with as many intelligent and clever people not implement positive change? Profitability has risen, but is that a positive change when so many lawyers hate what they do and how long they have to spend doing it?
Lawyers can innovate. Look at how amazingly brilliant and imaginative lawyers who do estate planning, M&A work, intellectual property, and criminal defense can be on a daily basis. Why don’t those same lawyers apply their vast talents and creativity towards changing the fundamental way we lawyers practice? Is it because time spent on the practice — as opposed to time spent on clients — does not have an immediate, tangible financial return?
Since I’ve started my new firm, I’ve fallen victim to the same pressures that keeps all of us from innovating. I’ve been so overwhelmed by the time I need to serve my clients and get my new firm off the ground that I’ve failed to move forward on the innovation front. I know I need to get back on track and thinking about my firm’s future, so here is my weekend agenda for renewing my creativity and recommitting myself to making my practice better:
Buy a magazine I’ve never read before (courtesy of Eric Heels).
Use the Sentence Completion exercise from The Nub to answer the following questions:
If I were a client I’d want my lawyer to…
My business would be more fun if only I could …
My office would run more smoothly if we …
Cook something for dinner I’ve never made before.
Write down twenty five ideas.
Get up early, and spend the first hour brainstorming with my KnowBrainer cards.
Take a walk with my daughter.
Go pick strawberies.
Write down my ideal scenes.
Take a nap.
Finish The Seven Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler
Help my dad barbeque. My father has a commercial smoker and he bbq’s for the entire neighborhood at least twice a year. We’ll be smoking ribs, chickens, and hams for nearly 30 people. We’ll start around 5:00 a.m., because the hams take nearly 11 hours to cook. Mmmm good. As far as I’m concerned, you can’t innovate on an empty stomach.
Install MindJet’s MindManager on my Tablet PC and learn how to use it.
Write down twenty-five more ideas.
Complete my firm’s guarantee and give it to my seven year old neighbor to see if he understands it.
Relax, have fun, and get psyched for Tuesday morning.
If you have ways you innovate, let me know and I’ll post some more ideas on Tuesday.