By com mmoore moores-law Michael Moore
, Moore’s Law, Milwaukee
July 7, 2010 – Each July 4 we celebrate our Declaration of Independence, one of the most important change events in American history. However, while the Declaration was a statement of principles, it did not contain any framework for creating an actual government. This was created first in the Articles of Confederation and refined later in the Constitution.
During the signing of that document, Benjamin Franklin referred to a painting hanging nearby and observed that it can be difficult to distinguish between a rising sun and a setting sun. “I have often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, not known whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.” By embracing the positive side of change, our Founding Fathers launched one of the world’s great nations.
Change is all around us and appears to be happening at an ever-faster pace. In their latest book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, Chip and Dan Heath examine why it can be so hard to make lasting changes in our organizations and in our lives. Their conclusion focuses on balancing the conflict between our rational mind and our emotional mind. The rational mind understands the positive need for change; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. While this conflict can stop any change effort, understanding and overcoming it can create positive results.
In 1996 Richard Susskind predicted in his book, The Future of Law, that the rapid expansion of technology would transform the practice of law. Lawyers and law firms who embraced these changes enjoyed far greater success than those who did not. His latest work, The End of Lawyers?, highlights further pending evolution in the nature and value of legal services. Clearly the pace of change is accelerating and lawyers will need to overcome their natural tendency for “analysis paralysis” to adopt positive changes for themselves and their firms.
The impact of Web 2.0
While many lawyers and law firms have established Web sites, their value in attracting and retaining clients remains in debate. The Web is always breaking new ground and introducing new ways of doing things. If your Web site doesn't evolve and keep pace, you may lose valuable opportunities to those that are. The recent rise of social media outlets, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, has brought additional complexities to this issue. While 59 percent of lawyers surveyed by Leader Networks in 2008 used social media, that number has expanded to 78 percent in 2009.
Facebook can bring you referrals and clients by helping you to reconnect with old classmates, colleagues, and friends. A Facebook Business Page for your law firm can be a great marketing tool. LinkedIn as a professional networking site focuses on getting things done. You can query your connections on LinkedIn and secure referrals to one or more contacts within your extended network. In addition to asking for assistance, lawyers can provide assistance to other users by responding to questions, thereby highlighting their expertise. Given these benefits, LinkedIn is becoming increasingly popular among lawyers.
The death of the billable hour?
Driven by client demands, everyone is talking about the decline of the billable hour. Many clients believe that billing legal services by the hour encourages inefficiency (the longer a task takes the more the client pays). They would prefer alternative billing models that encourage efficiency and cost effectiveness. Clients want to pay for results, not time. They want predictable costs, not surprises. In response to these demands, various options have emerged such as fixed fees, blended fees, capped fees, and discounts. Lawyers who market alternative billing options can create growth opportunities.
The déjà vu of mentoring
Mentoring has always played a prominent role in the legal profession. For lawyers, mentors do more than simply pass on vital knowledge and skills. They pass on the true art and science of the practice of law. Today the conflicting demands of work and external commitments mean there is less opportunity for lawyers to have a leisurely lunch, share a table at trial strictly for educational purposes, or spend time after work at the local bar talking shop. Today mentoring is much more about active and focused learning. The mentor has become more of a facilitator. The mentee is more proactive, helping direct the relationship and set its goals. Mentor and mentee need not even be geographically close. With improved methods of communicating, via the Web, e-mail, and other new technologies, long-distance mentoring is possible.
Persistence or insanity?
One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. A common variation on this theme is, if you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always gotten. While doing the same thing a second time when it hasn’t worked the first may be foolish, change just for change sake can also be reckless. Flexibility is a virtue, but it’s usually most valuable only after persistence is given a fair chance. One without the other really isn’t worth much. When we look at all the changes around us, the desire to keep up can be overwhelming, so we fall back on the comfort of existing routines. This is why sustainable change can be so difficult. It may be more beneficial to take a few minutes to examine one possible area of change.
Don’t alter your existence completely, but if things you are doing aren’t producing the results you desire, it may be time to change what you are doing.
Michael Moore, Lewis and Clark 1983, is a professional coach for lawyers and the founder of Moore’s Law, Milwaukee. He specializes in marketing, client development, and leadership coaching for attorneys at all levels of experience. Moore also advises law firms on strategic planning and resource optimization. He has more than 25 years’ experience in private practice, as a general counsel, in law firm management, and in legal recruiting. For more information, visit www.moores-law.com.
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