Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices

Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices

Writing Tips from a Pro

Posted in Law Firm Communications, Law Firm Public Relations

Pinker2Whether asked to deliver a speech or write an article for a magazine whose audience is primarily non-lawyers, many lawyers find it a challenge to present their ideas in a clear, straightforward fashion without resorting to legalese.

In a recent blog post, Eric Barker offered some assistance to anyone who is stymied by the prospect of a blank page. The post, entitled “How to Be a Better Writer,” distils some of the key guidelines on effective writing that are offered in the best-selling book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by the noted cognitive scientist and linguist Steven Pinker.

Barker’s summary ranges from pointers that will have direct relevance to those with expertise in a particular field (like the law) – “Beware the curse of knowledge” – to ones that should help anyone faced with the task of putting words together clearly and concisely: “You don’t have to play by the rules (but try).”

Barker’s quotes from Pinker and summaries of his suggestions are likely to lead most people decide to read Pinker’s entire book, but in the meantime they serve as an interesting guide that can immediately be put to work.

I welcome your comments on this or any other matter, either below or directly via email.



How Much Do You Know about the Internet?

Posted in Law Firm Technology

GloverSam Glover, founder of The Lawyerist, believes that all lawyers must be familiar with the fundamental operating principles of the technology that we use every day. In his opinion, basic knowledge of the internet and how computers work is essential to the maintenance of legal competence as set out in the American Bar Association’s Rule 1.1. – specifically Comment 8, which talks about “the benefits and risks associated with current technology.”

Glover argues that without knowledge of how the internet came into being and how it works, we cannot competently assess the risks to clients and ourselves of various security threats, or even the use of computer functions that have become commonplace – such as working with a cloud.

For an introduction to basic knowledge about the internet – or simply to assess whether our current knowledge is accurate and adequate – Glover refers us to a primer published on the general-interest news site Vox: “Everything You Need to Know About the Internet” by Timothy B. Lee. The article includes 18 clearly written and easily comprehended points that range across such questions as “Where is the internet?” and “What is an IP address?”

Even if you feel that you are well informed about internet-related matters, the Vox article is an excellent refresher. Like Glover, I recommend that all lawyers check it out.

I welcome your comments on this or any other matter, either below or directly via email.


How Managing Partners Can Help Administrators Achieve Firm Objectives

Posted in Law Firm Human Resources, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Management

AACoverI was pleased to have been invited to contribute an article to the Jan/Feb 2015 edition of Administrator’s Advantage, the newsletter of the Greater Chicago Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators. In it, I outline some of the problems typically faced by managing partners in their work with firms’ administrative teams, and the challenges faced by the administrators themselves. The goal of the article was to set out ways in which these two sectors of the law firm can work together more successfully and openly to achieve objectives that are of benefit to the entire firm.

The article appears on page 12 of the pdf version of the publication. I welcome your thoughts regarding the suggestions for collaborative action I have set out, and any others that you have used effectively to achieve firm objectives. You are welcome to contribute your feedback in the comments section below, or to contact me regarding this or any other matter directly via email.


Fake Legal Websites using Profiles of Real Lawyers

Posted in Law Firm Security

Fake FirmsSeveral publications, including the BBC online, are warning the public to double-check the credentials of lawyers they find on the Internet before giving them any personal banking or credit-card information. There are growing numbers of reports of unscrupulous sites that have copied information about reputable lawyers from highly regarded firms onto their own sites, in order to scam prospective clients. In one case reported on the BBC and elsewhere, the scam involved  gaining access to the credit cards of unwary consumers by advertising lower costs on traffic fines. The American Bar Association has reported similar schemes in the U.S. and elsewhere.

News articles focus on steps that prospective clients should take, such as checking the credentials and law-firm locations of specific lawyers against law-society membership lists. Law firms and individual lawyers should also keep a heads up to ensure that their identities are not being stolen and their reputations placed at risk by imposters.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on this or any other matter. Contact me either in the comments section below or directly via email.


Client Relationships, Firm Strategy, and Lawyers and Retirement: New Issue of EIC

Posted in Knowledge Management, Law Firm Client Service, Law Firm Communications, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Management, Law Firm Strategy

April 15 EICThe April, 2015 issue of Edge International Communique is now available online.

Check out feature articles by three of my Edge International colleagues:

– David Cruickshank talks about improving client relationships

– Bithika Anand addresses the issue of when lawyers should retire

– Sean Larkan shares some tools for building (or rebuilding) an effective firm strategy

Click here to subscribe to EIC.

I welcome your feedback via the comments section below, or you can contact me directly via email.


Does EQ Trump IQ?

Posted in Law Firm Communications, Law Firm Human Resources, Law Firm Public Relations

EQIn my experience, a significant number of lawyers could benefit from “Emotional Intelligence” (EQ) training.

We have accessed online testing and EQ training courses for a few individuals in our client firms. The metrics for results are anecdotal but have proven to be enthusiastically positive.

In this context, I am intrigued by Fast Company‘s story, “Inside Google’s Insanely Popular Emotional Intelligence Course,” by Vivian Giang. I thought you might be as well.

Let me know what you think about the concept of emotional intelligence, and its importance in the workplace – or any other matter – either in the comments section below, or directly via email.


Brainwriting Clobbers Brainstorming

Posted in Knowledge Management, Law Firm Innovation, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Management, Law Firm Strategy, Law Firm Training

brainwritingIn most law firms, brainstorming processes are dominated by power partners or simply those with force of personality. When this happens, the scope of the process is narrowed and many participants may be disenfranchised. If the goal of a brainstorming session is to tap the brain trust of all participants, then “brainwriting” might be a brilliant solution.

In an article about brainwriting published in Fast Company, Rebecca Greenfield writes:

[In her book Creative Conspiracy], Thompson found that brainwriting groups generated 20% more ideas and 42% more original ideas as compared to traditional brainstorming groups. “I was shocked to find there’s not a single published study in which a face-to-face brainstorming group outperforms a brainwriting group,” she said.

Have a look at the article and the accompanying video (which is less than four minutes long). Let me know what you think about this approach, or any other matter, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.


Does your Firm Need a Chief Experience Officer (CXO)?

Posted in Law Firm Client Service, Law Firm Communications, Law Firm Design, Law Firm Innovation, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Management, Law Firm Marketing

200_suggestion_box_for_web.jpgAwareness among businesses of the importance of customer experience has never been greater. By considering how companies assess this experience and work to improve it –  such as the introduction of the chief experience officer (CXO) position to management teams – law firms can also improve their competitive advantage.

Businesses increasingly recognize that if they want to remain competitive, they must understand their consumers’ experiences with their products. In most law firms, too, there is a greater emphasis than ever before on looking at legal services from clients’ points of view. From attracting new clients through the improvement of existing relationships, many firms use a combination of metrics and intuition to guide and refine their efforts to provide greater client satisfaction.

However, in a new article on TNW, social media marketer Garrett Heath points out that perceptions of the nature and quality of customer/client experiences are often little more than guesswork on the part of existing managers. Enter the chief experience officer (CXO), a relatively new position in many companies that is intended to focus exclusively on the entire customer experience – from the identification of customer needs through the assessment of how well those needs are met, from a host of different perspectives.

While the concept of the CXO at this point seems to be restricted almost exclusively to the corporate world, I believe that creating a position with responsibilities similar to that of a corporate CXO would be of extraordinary benefit to almost every law firm.  (I recently had a chat with a seasoned cardiologist and mentioned that I was intending to do this post about CXO’s.  To my surprise, he said “oh yes, our hospital has one of those”.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts on this or any other matter in the comments below, or directly via email.


The Voice of Experience: Ten Tips for Managing Partners

Posted in Law Firm Client Service, Law Firm Communications, Law Firm Leadership, Law Firm Management

GARJan1415In 2013, Gregory Jordan left his position as managing partner at the international law firm Reed Smith to work as general counsel at PNC Financial. At a recent Law Firm Leaders Forum hosted by Thomson Reuters, he was invited to share his thoughts on effective law-firm management from his new perspective as general counsel to a major financial-services company.

In a November, 2014 article in Above the Law, David Lat outlined ten tips that Jordan offered to managing partners at the forum. Jordan called them “The top 10 things I wish I knew when I had your job….”

They included: keeping client communications to essentials; paying attention to corporate clients’ quarterly schedules; staying close to clients on an ongoing basis so that you will be on their radar when they need you; and several other useful points.

I found Jordan’s tips, and David Lat’s article, interesting and insightful, and I hope you will as well.

As always, I invite your feedback on this and any other subject – either through the Comments section below, or directly via email.