Monthly Archives: September 2009

The New

After lots of work, I'm happy to unveil my new LexThink site.  I still have lots of work to do, including some minor tweaks and major content additions, but am happy enough to release it in "beta" for now.

On a technical side, it is built in WordPress, using the amazing Headway theme.  My friend M. Jason Robards did all the art work, but the design and content are all mine.

I’m in the Spotlight

Friend and colleague JoAnna Forshee interviewed me for InsideLegal‘s “Legal Innovators Spotlight” a few weeks ago.  The interview is up here, and is mostly about LexThink and the services I offer the legal industry.

However, there’s one question (along with my answer) that I wanted to share here:

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the legal industry now and in the upcoming year?

Most lawyers are focused on returning their practices to profitability — which is a near term problem for many of us.  However, I think a far greater challenge is looming in the distance, and that is irrelevance. 

For far too long, lawyers have taken their clients and customers for granted.  Quietly, real alternatives are emerging that are making lawyers less necessary to clients.  In just the last five years, we’ve seen more and more consumers turn first to the web as they draft their will, start their LLC, etc.  This is a trend that will only continue, and lawyers must begin thinking about a day when the least valuable thing they have to offer their clients is advice.

I’d love your feedback here.

Advertise What Matters (to Clients)

If you’re wondering what to put on your website (or in that next yellow pages ad), take a cue from the Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, Florida.  Instead of trumpeting just how great their doctors are, they’re using a nearby billboard to display a real-time statistic that lots of people care about: ER wait times.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

To find out how long the wait is in the emergency room at Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford, you can check its Web site, send a text, or, now, cruise past a billboard on Interstate 4.

The hospital this week started posting its ER wait times on the billboard, on the eastbound side near State Road 46. It’s part of a campaign to use technology to spread the word about decreasing the wait.

“Putting our wait times to see a physician in real time on a billboard is just one more step in educating the community about our service,” said Wendy Brandon, the hospital’s chief executive officer. The wait times to see a physician are updated every 30 minutes and reflect an average from the previous four hours.

What do your clients want to know about you?  Do they see the answer in your advertising?  They should.

LexThink Labs

Here’s another image from the new LexThink site (coming really soon).  It will be on the “LexThink Labs” page, which will include lots of fun, interesting and unique exercises, retreat ideas, and more.

Sell Me This Pencil

Here’s a list of 100 Great Interview Questions, that includes most of the obvious ones, such as “What are your weaknesses?” and “What’s your ideal company?” etc. 

However, there was one “question” that stood out to me above all others:

Sell me this pencil.

Think about that for a moment.  The question doesn’t require an answer, it requires a performance.  I wonder how it might impact hiring by law firms if their interviewers asked it just once in a while…

Prepare Better for High-Stakes Meetings

Here’s a checklist from The Eloquent Woman that she uses to prepare herself for every presentation she gives.  As I was reading it, I realized that her list isn’t just for presenters.  Instead, it is the perfect preparation for nearly every client meeting, negotiation and court appearance. 

My favorite section are the questions about intent:

  1. Do I know what the audience wants from me?

  2. Is that what I’m going to give them? Do my goals match theirs? If not, why am I speaking to them? How will I reach them?

  3. What do I want to get out of this speaking experience?

  4. What do I need to learn from the audience? How will I find out?

  5. Do I intend to engage the audience? Do I just want them to listen? Do I intend to get them to act on something?

Before your next high-stakes meeting, answer each question, first replacing “Audience” with Client, Judge or even Opposing Counsel.  I suspect you’ll gain answers that make asking the questions worthwhile. 

Test for Toxic Clients

Not sure whether to take that client?  Here’s a great test from Milton Glaser he uses to avoid toxic people:

[T]here is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.

Perhaps something to think about after every initial consultation?

(via Kareem Mayan’s Weblog)

Bonus Your Staff Before Your Attorneys

In this great TED talk by author Dan Pink, he argues that while incentives improve people’s performance on routine tasks, just the opposite is true when creativity or problem solving is involved.  Incentives not only fail to improve performance on creative tasks, they diminish it.  What’s more, the larger the reward, the worse the performance.  Might be something to think about when deciding just how to motivate lawyers. 

Watch the entire talk (it is roughly 18 minutes), it is worth your time.