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    Archive for November, 2008
    Be Passonate!
    Thursday, November 27th, 2008

      If you got talent baby let it shine
    Give it to the world
    And let them see what’s inside
    You’re like a treasure and you have the key
    Every minute of the day is what it takes to be
    The best of the best
    So give it all you got

    It’s the passion inside
    And your dreams come alive…♫

    Words, music and recorded by: MC Magic (Marco Cardenas)

    My friend and colleague Steve Matthews just blogged about Jeff Richardson – The iPhone lawyer and turned it into a wonderful marketing blog post. His post resonated – deeply – with me (*thanks Steve!*).

    I have met with hundreds of lawyers who wanted to leave their present firm and go out on their own and who have come to me for advice on setting up their new office. Inevitably I sit them down and one of the first questions I ask them is: “What are you passionate about?”  They usually give me a strange look – they were expecting advice on technology and business systems (which I do get to!) but first I want to get them taking about what really drives them on the inside.

    Following the sage advice of the late Dr. Hans Selye, a notable Hungarian-Canadian researcher on stress, I try to encourage them to build a law practice around what they have a passion for  in their lives.  I have met and known lawyers who were passionate about horses (they launched a law practice with a focus on the needs of horse breeders and trainers), about the arts (they launched into entertainment law and the governance of non-profit arts organizations) and sports (they launched a practice on the needs of operators of ski hills, wilderness high-adventure sports and the like). Now they just didn’t have an instant practice in these areas..but they had a goal and a vision and they did what they had to do – every day – to take themselves closer to their goal.

    Dr. Selye’s advice was simple:  Make your avocation your vocation.  If you do what you love, then you will love what you do. Work will not be a chore or a rut (and how many lawyers are caught doing what they do only for the money and can’t seem to find a way out…).

    Steve said it best when talking about Jeff Richardson and his iPhone blog:

     ”Think about that for a minute. His firm which has 10 offices and looks to have hundreds of lawyers, will be surpassed by the indirect efforts of just one single lawyer. All because Jeff took the time to blog about a topic he’s passionate about.

    A hobby? Sure. But his clients and potential clients also get to see his personality, his level-headed nature, and a love for the topic. That kind of insight does come into play when hiring a lawyer, and yes, personality counts.”

    It’s the passion inside that is coming forth – and Jeff is seeing his dreams come alive…

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Trends | Permalink | 4 Comments »
    The Disappearance of the Non-Equity Partner..
    Monday, November 24th, 2008

    ♬ But its gonna take money
    A whole lotta spending money
    Its gonna take plenty of money
    To do it right…♬

    Words and Music by Rudy Clark, recorded by George Harrison.

    The FP Legal Post on Nov.21, 2008 in an article by Julius Melnitzer entitled: “DLA Piper seeks millions in capital from partners” reported that the largest law firm in the USA has asked 275 income partners to contribute up to $150,000 US each (which could top out at $41, 250,000) to bolster the firm’s finances.

    The ABA Journal in a similar article on Nov. 19, 2008 by Martha Neil entitled: “DLA Piper asks 275 Non-Equity Partner to Ante Up, Goes to 1-Tier Structure” quoted Crain’s Chicago Business in stating:

    “By raising funds from a new crop of equity partners and compensating them with a share of the profits, DLA would eliminate income partner salaries and trim payroll costs and borrowing needs,” the business publication explains. It would also likely put more pressure on the new equity partners to bring in business, and put associates into an “up or out” model that requires them to generate clients or find another job as they become seasoned attorneys, legal recruiters say.”

    It seems that by eliminating non-equity partners, the firm ensures that all partners ‘have some skin in the game’.  Furthermore, it ensures that the firm does not have to go to banks looking for debt to finance their business.  Such a move also ensures that all partners become strongly focused on client and business development.

    I rather suspect that this will not be an isolated incident as firms seek to reduce their debt/equity ratio.  So long as this infusion of capital is subsequently used to finance operating activities that lead to greater income generation, the entire firm should be better off.  However, as we all know, its gonna take a whole lotta spending money to do it right…

    Posted in Budgeting, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    When The Leader Speaks…
    Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

    ♬ Lead me, guide me along the way
    For if you lead me I cannot stray
    Or just open my eyes that I may see..♬

    Words and Music by Doris Akers (Psalm 31:3), recorded by Elvis Presley.

    Gregg Thompson wrote a great little article on the online edition of Bluepoint Leadership’s “The Point” entitled: “When the Leader Speaks“. The article is focused on the importance of a leader to engage in communication – more importantly, to engage in effective communication. Gregg states:

    “[E]ach of us can significantly increase our communication effectiveness by adopting the three universal practices that have been employed by great leaders in organizations of all kinds. These men and women construct an enticing image of the Future, they connect with their constituents on a Personal level, and they create a compelling Story in which everyone has a starring role. “

    What do effective leaders say?  In Gregg’s opinion:

    1.     These leaders convince us that tomorrow can be better than today.

    2.     These leaders communicate to us, personally.

    3.     These leaders craft a big story for the organization.

    Now convincing people that tomorrow can be better than today may be a pretty uphill road these days.  Perhaps the time scale needs to be adjusted somewhat by saying that “perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but by keeping on the right path and remaining optimistic, we can eventually have a tomorrow that is better than today.”

    How many “leaders” that we know hide behind closed doors and don’t engage in these three simple principles? The power of communicating – of speaking to people on an individual level, opening a person’s eyes so that they can see the big picture and their place within it – will always be the true hallmark of a great leader.

    Posted in Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    I’m a Mac – Day 44
    Friday, November 21st, 2008

    ♬  Now that ain’t workin… that’s the way you do it… ♬

    Words and Music by: Mark Knopfler and Sting (Thomas Sumner), recorded by Dire Straits.

    Those of you who have been reading my chronicles of my movement over to the “white side” (as I am referring to my adoption of my white MacBook) know that I have been struggling with porting over PowerPoints that were developed on the PC onto the Mac.  In some cases, the PowerPoint would open in PowerPoint for the Mac, but some (or all) of the graphics in the PowerPoint slides would be simply *gone*.

    Now I knew that what I was doing was not working – but for the life of me, I could not figure out what I was doing wrong.  I finally went searching out on the web and found a blog entry that stated that if the graphics had been simply “cut and pasted” into the PowerPoint, that these graphics could not be ported over when the PowerPoint was opened on the Mac.

    So I went back to the PC – opened one of the offending PowerPoints…copied each graphic inside the PowerPoint and saved it as a JPG file. Then I deleted it from the PowerPoint and used “insert” and “picture” and selected the JPG version of that same graphic to drop it back into the PowerPoint. I did this for every graphic (it actually doesn’t take all that long, since you already have the graphics that you want) and finally saved the PowerPoint. Then I opened it on the Mac.  Voila!  All the graphics were there in glorious colour.

    So for anyone else who is facing this problem – that’s the way you do it!

    Posted in Change Management, humour, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Show me the Love…
    Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

    ♫ Heartbreaks and promises, I’ve had more than my share
    I’m tired of giving my love and getting nowhere, nowhere
    What I really need is somebody who will always be there
    This time around for me baby, actions speak louder than words..

    Words, music and recorded by: Robin S.

    Today (Nov. 19, 2008) on IT World is an article: “Eight ways to show employees the love when you can’t show them the money” by Ed Hess and Charles Goetz. It is a nice overview of ways to make staff feel appreciated without spending a great deal of money. While it was written from an IT staff perspective, the tips in the article would apply to most, if not all, businesses. All of the tips rang true for me, with the exception of giving an award or a ribbon for a staff member to hang in their office – to me this was a bit like an elementary teacher giving out gold stars. But hey, the world is filled with people of all types, and this tip may resonate well with others. I think a handwritten note given discretely to such a staff member is a warmer and more discrete and genuine expression of thanks.

    In balance this is a great little article on how to show your employees that your actions speak louder then words…

    Posted in Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Leadership and Trust…
    Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

     Lack of trust, all alone
    Lookin’ down at the bottom of a hole
    I’ve no trust, bare my soul
    Are we alone or do we have friends
    Or are we just searchin’ for a means to an end..♫

    Words, music and recorded by Biohazard.

    I have been a big fan of Beth Flynn’s “Leadership” email tips for some time.  Below is the one that I received today. Subscription information is at the end of her email.  Enjoy!

    “You Can’t Take Trust for Granted

    From:  Kouzes, J.M., & Posner, B.Z., (2006).  A leader’s legacy.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass.

    What does trust look like?  Trust is openness.  Trust is valuing other people such that you respect their opinions and perspectives.  You listen to them.  Trust means moving outside your comfort zone and letting go of always having it your way or the way it has ‘always been done before.’  Trust requires honesty with oneself as well as with others.  Trust means not making commitments you can’t keep; it requires not overpromising no matter how much you wish you could do something.  Trust requires a willingness to let other take charge, and to let others, at times, make mistakes in doing things they have never done before.

    For leaders, trust is the willingness to be vulnerable and open to others even when doing so may risk real harm (Like people falling on top of you!)  Trust is relying on others, having confidence in others, and this can be difficult for the best of us, but especially for leaders. (Kouzes & Posner, 2006, p. 74-75)

    A Leader’s Legacy is available on loan from the Ohio State University Leadership Center.  To borrow this resource or any other resource, please go to the resource search page http://164.107.48.88/winnebago/index.asp?lib=???

    Learn how the Ohio State University Leadership Center is strengthening tomorrow’s leaders today at http://leadershipcenter.osu.edu

    To subscribe or unsubscribe from the Leadership Moments list – please send an e-mail to Beth Flynn flynn.61@osu.edu”

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    I’m a BlackBerry Storm vs I’m an iPhone
    Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

    ♬ Apple fall out of the tree and hit the ground

    Ohhhhhhhh watch out for that gravity storm
    It don’t give no warning signs
    Ohhhhhhhh watch out for that gravity storm…♬

    Words and Music by: Jimmy Buffett, Jay Oliver, recorded by Jimmy Buffett.

    My old cell phone is dying and as such, this started me thinking about a replacement. “Why just get another cell phone?” was the question that I asked.  Being laptop-centric, I have not had the same ‘pull’ towards a BlackBerry that others have felt, but still the appeal is there…

    So in thinking about the BlackBerry, I decided to think a bit wider (and with my recent Mac-focus), I was interested in comparing the new BlackBerry Storm (on www.Telus.com) with the iPhone (on www.Rogers.com).  While the web pages seemingly make it difficult at times to compare different products between different vendors (see a bit later in this post for more on this topic), this is what I came up with in terms of a comparison (any inaccuracies are my fault):

    iPhone v BlackBerry Storm jpg

    Now onto my experiences in trying to find out this information!

    Telus makes it practically impossible to find out any meaningful information on the BlackBerry Storm – the ‘Specs’ page is skeletal at best.  I found I needed to go to: http://www.blackberry.com/blackberrystorm/specifications.shtml to get any kind of meaningful info up on the Storm. Worse yet, the Telus web site is circular…you start clicking on links to try to delve deeper, only to end up back where you started after wandering a crooked path…

    Apple Inc. isn’t much better.  If you try to find out the applications that have been developed for the iPhone, the website says that you have to browse the App Store using iTunes.  Now – consider this – you are in an office environment where the IT department has locked down your desktop.  iTunes is *not* going to be an application that most businesses will support on the desktop.  So – what do you do?  Call them (1-800-MY-APPLE).  Well…the fellow who answers says:  “Just install iTunes”.  I counter with:  “I can’t – the desktop on my computer is locked down”. His answer: “Well, find a computer that has iTunes”.  I say: “This isn’t helping me. If you are serious about bringing in business users, why don’t you just list the applications that are available in a web page?”

    This exchange only highlighted to me that the Mac fellow in the “I’m a Mac – I’m a PC” ads needs to listen to his PC counterpart, at least in terms of meeting the needs of business users a bit more.  Unfortunately, it only reinforces the image that the Mac-world is still too consumer-centric for serious business users.  As a result, I think Apple had better watch out for the BlackBerry Storm…

    (Thanks to Steve Matthews for helping me sort out how to paste in the comparison table to the blog post!)

    Posted in Change Management, humour, I'm a Mac, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 3 Comments »
    Web 2.0′s Effects…
    Friday, November 7th, 2008

    ♬ And all the things that break you,
    Are all the things that make you strong,
    You can’t change the past,
    Cause it’s gone,
    And you just gotta move on,
    Because it’s all,
    Lessons learned..♬

    Words and music by: Warren, recorded by Carrie Underwood.

    eWeek’s Channel Insider blog posted an interesting article on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2009: “Can Solution Providers Leverage Web 2.0 as Obama Did?

    They stated: “Whoever you supported in the recent presidential election, one lesson everyone can learn from the whole thing is that technology is changing the way organizations interact with their customers.”

    In particular, substitute “law firms” for “organizations” and one can realize that there are many lessons for lawyers to learn about how their clients (particularly younger ones) are communicating.  Twitter, FaceBook, blogs – all these and more are the communication methods being used today.  Ask yourself: “Where are my clients spending their time?  Am I listening to them?”  Obama (and his advisors) realized the power of today’s communication technologies and made the most of them.  The question that can be asked:  Am I listening to these lessons and am I ready to move on?  Have I thought about and more importantly, developed a plan to move forward using web 2.0 technologies to reach out to new markets and clients?

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »