Monthly Archives: November 2008

Ten Rules of Legal Innovation

“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.

If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series:  Ten Rules of Legal Technology, Ten Rules of Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing

Also, if you’d like to get more ideas like these in real time, follow me on Twitter.

Get Started Today!

From Daring Fireball comes this nugget of advice that should serve as just enough of a push to get you to start that something you’ve been putting off:

Figure out the absolute least you need to do to implement the idea, do just that, and then polish the hell out of the experience.

So, what’s stopping you now?

Looking Back to the Future?

My friend Jordan Furlong writes a great post titled These are the Days of Miracle and Wonder about lessons we can learn from Obama’s win.  The great takeaway:

Twenty years ago, our parents would never have believed it. Twenty years from now, our children will take it for granted.

What amazing thing can you do TODAY in your practice that was unfathomable in 1988 but will be commonplace in 2028?  Get to it!

Ten Rules of Legal Technology

For your consideration:  Ten “Rules” of Legal Technology.  Not many are new, and very few apply only to lawyers, but these are a few more nuggets I’m pulling out of previous posts to fill out my portfolio of speeches I’ve got “in the can.”  Enjoy:

1. Since the first PC, legal tech companies have been promising to help lawyers capture more time.  Capturing time isn’t the problem, charging for it is.

2.  It is more important to get better at working with people than it is to get better working with technology.

3.  You should never have a bigger monitor or more comfortable chair than your secretaries do.

4.  Never brag about implementing technology in your firm that your clients have been using for a decade.

5.  The single piece of technology all lawyers should learn to use better is their keyboard. 

6.  Sophisticated clients don’t demand sophisticated technology, they demand sophisticated lawyers.  They assume the technology is part of the package.

7.  Social Media isn’t technology.  It’s your Rotary Meeting on steroids — though there are less lawyers in the room and the clients are better.

8.  Want to invest in an inexpensive communication technology guaranteed to improve your thinking skills and increase collaboration with clients? Buy a whiteboard for your office.

9.  Belt, meet suspenders: One backup solution is never enough.

10.  The only technology ROI that matters is your clients’ return on their investment in you.

Bonus Rule:  The one piece of technology your clients wish you’d get better at using is the telephone.  Call them back!

Also, check out Ten Rules About Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing.  If you’d like to hire me to speak, head over to LexThink.

Meet Your Future Clients

The other day, I suggested in my Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing that:

9.  Your future clients have been living their entire lives online and will expect the same from you.  If you’re invisible on the web, you won’t exist to them.

Now, I’ve stumbled across this article from Adweek titled Generation Watch Out that explains better than I ever could what I meant:

Today’s young talent represents not-able cultural shifts: They’re digital, message savvy, global and green. (Listen to the Flobots’ “Handlebars” and you’ll get the picture.) They mark fundamental changes from previous grads entering the industry. They’re more associative, culturally networked, nimble and intuitive. While they’re more cynical than cohorts past, they’re also more apt to call BS or volunteer for environmental or political causes. They are easy in their gay-or-straight, vegetarian-or-meat, tatted-or-not choices. F-bombs are tossed around like Frisbees. These kids run hard, adapt easily.

It’s the shortcut generation. That toolbar up top is for old-timers; these guys learned to Cmd-Option-Shift-A in middle school because it was cool, not necessary. Desktops are institutional holdovers. Everyone has a set of on-the-go tools: camera, laptop, videocam, hard drive, cool bag to tote it all. They’re experts early on, manhandling Final Cut or Flash with intuitive authority. They’re Idea 2.0, the mashup generation and one with confluence, that place beyond convergence where the old sloughs off and the new quickly gets morphed into the cultural DNA.

All this makes them, at their best, unbelievably creative and productive. On the other hand, they also think they have all the answers. Morley Safer wrote recently of this generation’s entitlement issues: They’ve grown up with everyone as winners, with inspired birthday parties and planned events, with middle-class privilege and opportunities at every camp, academy and take-your-kid-to-work experience. They expect careers, not jobs. And they expect to have their names—very soon—in an annual or this mag. Hell, they know their blog on a good day might get more eyeballs than the trades.

Get to know them. Understand them.  Because love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re not just your children, they’re your future clients, employees and partners.  Learn to serve them or they’ll serve themselves.