Monthly Archives: June 2009

Using Simple Technology isn’t Easy

Last week, I was listening to several lawyers complain about how hard it was to convince new associates to learn the technology everyone else in the firm had been using for years. From embracing dictation to using books instead of online tools, newbies “just didn’t get it” according the the group of senior attorneys. 

As I tried to explain to them that the technology they utilized, though pretty basic, wasn’t easier to use for someone unfamiliar with it, I struggled to find a good example. Today, I finally found one in the unlikeliest of places: an article by a teenager who gave up his iPod for a week and replaced it with his father’s 25-year-old Sony Walkman.

The article is hilarious at times, but highlights just how older, “simpler” technology isn’t actually easier to use for people unaccustomed to it. Some of the best quotes:

My dad had told me it was the iPod of its day. He had told me it was big, but I hadn’t realised he meant THAT big. It was the size of a small book.

It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.

Personally, I’m relieved I live in the digital age, with bigger choice, more functions and smaller devices. I’m relieved that the majority of technological advancement happened before I was born, as I can’t imagine having to use such basic equipment every day.

Let Your Clients Pick Your Next Associates

Seth Godin shares how he narrowed down 27 finalists for his “Alternative MBA” program to just ten participants: he let the applicants decide. Here’s how he describes the process:

More than 48,000 people visited the page that described the program and 350 really cool, talented people applied. I picked 27 finalists and all of them flew out to New York to meet each other. This was the most fun I’ve ever had at a cocktail party (it helped that it was at eight o’clock in the morning).

The conversations that day were stunning. Motivated people, all with something to teach, something to learn and something to prove. I asked each person to interview as many other people as they could. After three hours, I asked everyone to privately rank their favorite choices… “who would you like to be in the program with you?”

After they left, I tallied up the results. It was just as you might predict: nine or ten people kept coming up over and over in the top picks. I had crowdsourced the selection, and the crowd agreed. (It turns out that the people they picked were also the people I would have picked).

On January 20th, the most selective (one in 40 got in) MBA program in the world got started. Since then, they’ve never failed to live up to my hopes.

What if your firm choose its associates this way, by letting the applicants choose the others they’d like to work with? Or be even bolder, and bring your applicants in to spend a day with a mixture of your best clients — and let the clients decide!

Twitter Presentation for LegalTech West Coast

I’m off tomorrow for Incisive Media’s LegalTech West Coast. I’m speaking about Twitter on a four-person panel, so my time will be limited. Here are the slides I’m going to use to support my presentation. I’d love your feedback.

What’s Your Type?

I ran across Matthew Butterick’s wonderful Typography for Lawyers site today and wanted to share it here. Matthew’s a typographer turned civil litigator who started the site to help lawyers write prettier — if not better.

Why does typography matter?

When you show up to make an oral argument, you make sure that you present yourself as professionally and persuasively as possible. Similarly, your written documents should reflect the same level of attention to typography.

I highly recommend you add this to your reading list. Now, if I could just stop hitting the space bar twice after each period.

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day, everyone.  Here’s a presentation full of “Lessons Learned” that uses pictures I’ve taken of my daughter, Gracie.  Enjoy!

Tired of Talking About the Weather?

Here’s a great collection of conversation starters from CanTeach.  Organized helpfully in categories of “What is…” “What if…” “What do you think…” etc., I’d take a quick look at these next time you’ve got a get together and want to come up with something for everyone to talk about besides the weather or their occupation.

Meet me in Los Angeles

Heading next week to Incisive Media’s upcoming LegalTech West Coast, which takes place June 24-25 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  I’m going to be reprising my role on the Twitter panel June 25th at 2:15 pm with Kevin O’Keefe.  Joining us will be Denise Howell and Nina Goldberg (links to their Twitter pages), and the moderator will be the incomparable Monica Bay.

I’m thinking about a Tweetup/PubCrawl along the lines of the one we did at Techshow for the evening of the 25th.  Anybody interested?

Ten Rules of the New Web

I just returned from the fantastic Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference, where I led a session (with Reid Trautz) unofficially titled the New Web for Lawyers.  We talked Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Blogs.  Here are some of “Rules” we discussed:

1.  “Social media” isn’t rocket science.  It’s just sharing who you are, what you do, and what you think with friends, colleagues and clients online.

2.  LinkedIn is: “Where are you working?” Facebook is: “What are you doing?” Twitter is: “What are you thinking?”

3.  Ever thought it would be cool to be invisible?  Ignore Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and to a vast number of your potential clients, you will be. 

4.  Want to understand the value of being active online?  Ask the guy standing in the corner by himself at your next networking event how many friends he’s made.

5.  First impressions are no longer made in person.  People want to get to know you before they meet you — and the place they go is the web.  Are you there, and what kind of first impression do you make?

6.  Just because you are “friends” with someone online doesn’t mean they’d recognize you in a crowd of three people.  Make your online connections the start of relationships, not the extent of them.

7.  Unless you measure the value of your real friendships by business you receive from them, it is unfair to hold your online friends to a higher standard.

8.  The only thing you’ll get from your online friends are their updates… unless you ask them for more.

9.   Before Facebook, what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas.  Now, what happens in Vegas can impact your business.  Be careful on Facebook, but ignore it at your peril.

10.  The most important social media tool is the telephone.  Reaching out to online friends can turn them into real ones.

If you’d like to see more Ten Rules posts, you can check them all out here.  If you’d like to read ideas like these as I develop them, follow me on Twitter.

Meet Me in Missouri

I’m headed down to Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks this week for the Missouri Solo and Small Firm Conference to speak about marketing, innovation, technology and the web.  There will be over 900 lawyers there this year — which makes it the largest solo and small firm conference in the country.

If you’ll be there, be certain to say hello.  If you can’t make it, I’ll be covering as much as I can on Twitter and will be using the hashtag #mossfc

Website overhaul preview.

Does it look like me?