Riskin’s “Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices” Named a Top Blog to Follow

13 blogs legal marketers should followI was recently honoured to find Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices on a list of “13 blogs legal marketers should follow.” The list was compiled by Steven Gallo, content-marketing manager at Reputation Ink a content marketing and public relations agency for legal and B2B companies – and writer/editor at the InkSights blog.

Gallo argues that “if you want to be a better legal marketer and produce results that get noticed by your supervising attorneys, don’t stop learning. Stay current by following thought leaders and reading blogs that share what’s new and what’s next in legal marketing.”

Ours is one of the blogs he suggests you read, but it’s certainly not the only one. Check out the post and find out who else you should be following.

As always, I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts relating to the management of your law firm – or law firms in general – either in the comments section below, or directly via email.

 

The Value of Intellectual Humility

In his most recent Pinkcast, Daniel H. Pink says, “Intellectual humility is in short supply today. And that is a big big problem.” He defines intellectual humility as “the willingness to recognize that what you think, what you believe, might be wrong.”

In the video, Pink poses four questions from a book he admires by Warren Berger: The Book of Beautiful Questions: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead.

These are the questions:

  • “Do I think more like a soldier or a scout?
  • “Would I rather be right, or would I rather understand?”
  • “Do I solicit and seek out opposing views?”
  • “Do I enjoy the pleasant surprise of discovering I’m mistaken?”

I believe this very short video might contribute a lot to executive teams, management teams and to each of us individually. An executive committee might watch this together and then take five minutes to discuss the four questions Pinker poses.

As always, I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts on this or any other matter relating to the management of your law firm, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.

Employees Who Work Remotely Can Help the Bottom Line

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury, Barbara Z. Larson and Cirrus Foroughi share 2017 Gallup Poll and 2018 US Census data indicating that about 40 percent of U.S. employees work from home at least some of the time, and that about 5 percent work exclusively from home. The trend toward “work from home” (WFA) agreements between businesses and their employees is clearly on the rise.

The authors then go on to explore the implications of another increasingly popular option: “working from anywhere” (WFA). WFA employees, the article says, “live and work where they choose, typically within a specific country, but in some cases, anywhere in the world with a reliable internet connection.” Employees who want to move closer to aging parents or to a less expensive part of the country, or even closer to where they eventually hope to retire, are among those welcoming this approach. The article names Akamai and SAP as companies that have successfully incorporated WFA into their workplaces.

While employers often express concerns about potential declines in quality and productivity if employees are not on site, surveys of WFH and WFA both reviewed and undertaken by the authors contradicted these assumptions. In most cases, productivity actually went up. In addition, the introduction of remote-work options may lead to happier employees: in one survey cited in the article, workers said they would be willing to take a drop of up to 8% in income to have the opportunity to work from home.

Choudhury, Larson and Foroughi have not only included an array of interesting and useful statistics, they have also compiled an excellent list of guidelines for employers who are considering (or are already making use of) off-site work arrangements with employees. I recommend it highly.

In the meantime, I would be interested to know your thoughts and experiences with remote-work arrangements with your employees (or, of course, any other matter relating to the management of law firms), either in the comments section below or directly via email.

 

 

 

 

The Focus Challenge – Part I: Your Practice

Note: This article first appeared in the August, 2019 issue of Edge International Communiqué (EIC).*

1. Substantive Practice

Gone are the days when some level of specialization in an area could sustain a practice over a lawyer’s lifetime. Things are changing too fast and new competitors will emerge – some of them not even law firms.

In the meantime, what you can do is think about the future of both your practice area and the clients you serve.

We’ve been using the following life cycle S-curve for a long time. It was borrowed from industry and the legal profession has embraced it gradually over the last number of decades. The graph applies to both your substantive practice, and the client you serve within it.

The S-curve may be applied to your practice, your firm, your practice area, your client, an industry, or all of the above. Most work gravitates to the right side of the curve where rates are low and competition is high, as opposed to the left where exciting emerging areas afford major strategic opportunities with few competitors and low resistance to fees. Therefore, it is necessary to be forward-thinking.

2. The Business of Law in a Digital World

I am asked by people at international associations of law firms, and sometimes by those at individual firms, “How is the practice of law changing? What do I need to know, and how do I keep up?”

The oldest members of your firm might remember when firms began to use computers for data-processing. All lawyers will remember the accelerating change of technology — from how word-processing is done to how documents are generated.

Today, with machine learning and what is commonly referenced as “artificial intelligence,“ the quality of documentation is ever-enhanced, while the cost of generating it decreases.

Many firms seem unaware that they now exist in a digital environment that needs to be nurtured. Firms are now rated on-line whether they like it or not, and enlightened firms are fostering more positive reviews.

This is not the place for a deep dive on the subject, but it is a caution that firms that are not making a considerable effort to learn the changing technology around them – and to embrace it – will soon be left behind.

3. The Firm

Well-managed firms outcompete poorly managed firms. Firms with a business plan outcompete firms without a business plan. Why then, at conferences where managing partners gather, do we see by the use of anonymous voting machines that the vast majority of firms don’t have a business plan? (I’m referring to a sample across a wide spectrum of firm sizes. If you’re thinking that the top 25 firms in the world likely have a plan, you are correct.) Firms that do not see the benefit of managing the business of law are being left behind.

The better firms train their leaders on how to get improved performance from their people. The better firms train their individual lawyers on client-relations skills so they can give greater satisfaction to their clients and attract more desirable work, both in traditional ways (via personal relationships) and in digital ones (through an online presence).

_____

* In the next two parts of this series, I will challenge readers to focus on their clients (Part 2) and their families (Part 3). 

Each month, EIC publishes items of interest to lawyers around the world on various aspects of law-firm strategy, marketing, technology, management, economics, human relations and a host of other topics. In addition to the most recent edition, the EIC site includes a sign-up page for those who are interested in subscribing to EIC, as well as a list of archived articles.

I’d be happy to discuss any of the component pieces of this article in greater depth. I welcome your thoughts and feedback on both Edge International Communique and Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.

Essential Sales Skills (for Lawyers, Too?)

One of my tech clients has his sales team subscribe to sales educator and coach Andy Paul. Paul identifies the following attributes as essential human sales skills:

  • authenticity
  • connection
  • rapport
  • empathy
  • context
  • insights and
  • relationships

Substantive knowledge and skill are the conditions we normally think of as precedent for being allowed to serve clients. Do your firm’s communications with clients also exemplify essential human sales skills?

I believe that these skills lead to:

  • Client satisfaction
  • Client appreciation
  • Prompt payment
  • Repeat business
  • Recommendations, and
  • Referrals

When you prepare for (or draft) your next interaction with your valued clients or prospective clients, try asking yourself if you are exuding these essential skills.

As always, I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts on this or any other matter relating to the management of your law firm, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.

The Ascendency of the Law Librarian

In a keynote address delivered to the PPLIP (Private Law Librarian and Information Professional) Summit in Washington DC in July, legal analyst Jordan Furlong – a former colleague of ours at Edge International – predicted a promising future for law librarians.

Reporting on the speech in Above the Law, Robert Ambrogi said Furlong predicts that as much of the “commodity” legal work leaves law firms for cheaper delivery systems – including computer platforms and accounting firms – lawyers will need to focus on the more complex components of legal services.

“Law firms will still need great lawyers with leading-edge skills. But they’ll also need embedded knowledge beyond any one lawyer’s individual capacity,” he told the PPLIP.

That is where the law librarian comes in: complementing the work of lawyers by fulfilling their needs for “deep client intelligence,” “legal data and analytics,” and “embedded firm expertise.”

Ambrogi writes: “The need for this knowledge within firms will give rise to what Furlong described as the legal knowledge supply chain — the variety of personnel within a firm who help create that advisory knowledge. He divides these personnel into two functions:

  • Data miners, including IT, operations, finance, practice groups, and business development.
  • Data refiners, made up of law librarians and information professionals.”

I encourage you to check out Ambrogi’s article, and then to let me know if you are seeing an increasing role for law librarians in the work your firm is doing. If so, how are you addressing it?

I welcome your thoughts on this or any other matter relating to the management of your law firm, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.

Your Hologram Can Really Speak Their Language

A tip of the hat to Michael Anderson for drawing my attention to an article at futurism.com that explains how hologram doppelgangers of ourselves can make us sound a whole lot more linguistically agile than we actually are. Equally mind-boggling: the technology is available today.

At a recent Microsoft Inspire partner conference, company executive Julie White gave a demonstration of how it’s possible “to not only create an incredibly life-like hologram of a person, but to then make the hologram speak another language in the person’s own voice.” Microsoft has combined virtual technology with text-to-speech techology to create holograms of individuals that can speak in local languages almost anywhere in the world.

Here is a segment of White’s presentation:

This technology would have saved me about 8 million miles in the last 25 years. When it comes to rolling it out in practice, clearly the devil will be in the detail – but there is no doubt that at some point in the not-too-distant future, global meetings are going to look and sound 今日とは全く違う *

I welcome your thoughts on the potential of holograms to deliver talks at meetings and conferences, or on any matter relating to the management of law firms. Please contact me either in the comments section below, or directly via email.

–––––

* totally different from today

 

 

 

 

Only a Tiny Proportion of CEOs Are Women, but Women Score Higher than Men in Most Leadership Skills

In a June 2019 article in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman remind readers that the persistently low rate of representation by women in senior corporate positions makes no sense when it comes to actual leadership abilities and perceived competency. In fact, research conducted by Zenger and Folkman indicates that women consistently score higher than men on most measures of leadership competency and effectiveness.

Zenger and Folkman have twice analyzed databases of 360-degree reviews of leadership effectiveness, the first time in 2012 and then again recently. In both cases they found that, while the differences between men and women were “not huge,” to a statistically significant degree women were “perceived just as — if not more — competent as their male counterparts.” And yet, the authors point out, only 4.9% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 2% of S&P 500 CEOs are women.

As the authors also note, it is likely that women continue to occupy a very small portion of the most senior levels of corporate leadership due to historical biases (both conscious and unconscious), and inaccurate theories regarding whether women actually want to reach the top. Zenger and Folkman conclude – based on their research and other data – that the reason women are not advancing to top corporate positions has more to do with lack of opportunity than lack of competence or ambition.

Among the leadership skills on which women scored higher than men were “taking initiative, acting with resilience, practicing self-development, driving for results, and displaying high integrity and honesty.” In fact, the authors write, “they were thought to be more effective in 84% of the competencies that we most frequently measure.” The surveys showed that men were rated as being better in two areas: “develops strategic perspective” and “technical or professional expertise.”

I encourage you to read the HBR article, as the intricacies of the research Zenger and Folkman include are both fascinating and illuminating. Clearly, outdated stereotypes and unfounded biases are counterproductive in today’s highly competitive marketplace. All of us should consider whether we are part of the problem or the solution when it comes to creating opportunities for the advancement of women with leadership capacity.

As always, I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts on this or any other matter relating to the management of your law firm, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.

 

Opportunities for Legal-Tech Education on the Rise

The Artificial Lawyer reports that a significant number of institutes of higher learning around the world have responded to a demand for opportunities to study legal technology by creating relevant undergraduate and graduate-level programs. Among the colleges and universities that are now offering such courses are The University of Law and BPP University Law School in the U.K., Suffolk University and Vanderbilt Law School in the U.S., several universities in Europe and one (so far) in Australia.

These programs include courses in legal innovation, legal technology, project management, design technology, blockchain, artificial intelligence, marketing, and several other areas of relevance to law firms. There are now so many courses on offer that the Artificial Lawyer has compiled a Legal Tech Education Guide, which it intends to update on a continuing basis. As the article points out, such courses can be undertaken by current employees of law firms as well as those contemplating careers in the field, including prospective lawyers, which means that growth in this area of education could soon begin to have an impact on legal practice in several countries.

Are you or your employees considering – or already taking – courses in legal technology? I would be interested to know your thoughts and experiences relating to this – or any other – matter related to the management of your law firm, either in the comments below or directly via email.

Steven Rogelberg on How to Make your Meetings Less Awful

Watch this episode of Daniel Pink’s Pinkcast, featuring Steven G. Rogelberg, winner of the 2017 Humboldt Research Award and author of The Surprising Science of Meetings: How to Take Your Team to Peak Performance.

The video will take less than three minutes of your life, and can improve endless numbers of minutes and even hours in the lives of you and your colleagues.

As always, I invite you to contact me with your thoughts on this or any other matter relating to the management of your law firm, either in the comments section below, or directly via email.

LexBlog