“Innovative Lawyer” shouldn’t be an oxymoron. Lawyers — who are constantly applying their creative, problem-solving skills to help clients — too often turn their innovation engines off as soon as their “billable” work ends.
If you’re a lawyer, and willing to set aside some time to innovate, I am happy to help you. Until then, I give you my Ten Rules of Legal Innovation. Enjoy!
1. The practice of law requires precedents. The business of law does not. Knowing that other firms aren’t doing what you are isn’t cause for concern, it’s cause for celebration.
2. There are (at least) ten things your clients wish you’d do differently, and I bet you don’t know what they are. Innovation begins with conversation. Engage your clients so they’ll keep engaging you.
3. If you’re the first lawyer to do something that other businesses have been doing for years, it isn’t innovative, it’s about time.
4. When you focus on being just like your competitors, the worst thing that can happen is you might succeed.
5. If you have to tell your clients you’re being innovative, you probably aren’t.
6. Innovation is just like exercise. It isn’t particularly hard to do, but you won’t see results if you don’t practice it regularly. Also, the more you do it, the better you’ll look (to clients).
7. The best ideas in your firm will come from your staff. While you’re paying attention to your clients, they’re paying attention to your business. Ignore them at your peril.
8. To be a more innovative lawyer, look inside the profession for motivation, but outside the profession for inspiration.
9. Your failure to capture your ideas is directly proportional to your failure to implement them.
10. Remember, though your clients may tolerate your failure to innovate, they’ll never forgive your failure to care.
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