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    Archive for April, 2014
    A New Blog on Lawyer Leadership
    Monday, April 28th, 2014

    ♫ Check the state of the world we live in
    Can’t you see it’s a cryin’ shame?
    (Forgive them)
    Leadership fails before it begins
    Motivated by personal gains
    (Forgive them)…

    Lyrics and music by: Orville Burrell, Ricardo Ducent, Shaun Pizzonia, Maurice Gregory and Anthony Kelly, recorded by Shaggy (Orville Burrell).

    tom grella

    My long-standing good friend, fellow lawyer, runner and enduring leader in the American Bar Association has (finally!) launched his blog Strategic Legal Leadership. Tom’s mission in life for as long as I have known him has been in enhancing leadership among lawyers.  He has written extensively on the subject (see for example his two books “Lessons in Leadership” and “The Lawyer’s Guide to Strategic Planning” both published by the ABA) and has led by example (see his extensive leadership roles here).

    Tom has read virtually everything written on leadership (his book Lessons in Leadership is a must-read, if for no other reason than to come up to speed on the highlights of the most important books on leadership which are not only summarized in his book but placed in a legal context).  He has provided some of the most educated and thoughtful presentations on not only why leadership is so vitally important at this pivotal time in the legal profession (some of which I have been most fortunate to have been present to hear) but why lawyers in any size firm need leadership skills to bring their firms, their partners, their associates and staff into the new reality of practising law.

    I am truly fortunate as I have had the opportunity of working with Tom for 20 years, extensively running with him (while discussing leadership and other practice management topics) and watching his and my daughter grow up together.  I believe that if mentoring is one sign of leadership, then Tom has excelled in raising his daughter to be an example of someone who is now leading her life trying to bring about social change and improving conditions for those whom society has left less-fortunate than most.

    Tom truly believes in servant leadership.  Traditionally, leadership was viewed as the accumulation and exercise of power by someone ‘at the top of the pyramid’ (as per Wikipedia).  In contrast, servant leadership puts the needs of others first and views success as helping others develop and perform as highly as possible.

    Tom has stated this about his blog:

    Strategic Legal Leadership helps lawyers lead. Providing thoughtful guidance and practical advice will result in effective leadership, efficient management, and ultimately an exemplary client experience. Author Tom Grella offers timely advice based on his extensive experience and study.

    I am adding Tom’s blog to my ‘must read’ list.  Tom is a bright light, showing the true path to servant leadership, as he recognizes that leadership fails where it is motivated by personal gain.  A true leader such as Tom put the interests of those that he seeks to lead first and foremost.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Lawyer gets 10 Years for Over Billing…
    Friday, April 25th, 2014

    ♫ Twisting and turning
    Your face to the wall
    Your future was soaring
    The landing was hard..♫

    Lyrics and Music by Tom Mallicoat, recorded by Lethal.

    Police Officer Carrying Nightstick

    The American Bar Association Journal reported today:

    A Texas lawyer accused of double-billing Bexar County for indigent defense work and forging judges’ signatures on payment vouchers has been sentenced to 10 years after pleading guilty in March to forgery and securing execution of a document by deception.

    This lawyer was once the most prolific  indigent  defence attorney in the county.  According to My SAHilda Valadez was originally indicted:

    ..[O]n 46 felony counts related to allegations she forged judges’ signatures and double-billed the county for her services.

    My SA further reported that the deception charge Hilda plead guilty to is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  She may be able to apply for probation.

    A hard landing indeed.  One can only speculate on what led this lawyer to such behaviour.

    Posted in Firm Governance, Fraud and theft, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »
    Learning to Lead from Your Inner Executive
    Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

    ♫ Ah, there’s an elephant standing in the room
    Ah, though we’re all alone
    It’s not just me and you…♫

    Lyrics and music by E.A. Morillo, H. Romero, J. Nunez, J. Wilkinson, B.M. Burton, recorded by Alexandra Burke.



    This is another guest post from Beth Flynn at the Ohio State University Leadership Center.

    All of us have these two parts within – the wise and intentional inner executive and the unconscious inner elephant, which does a good job for us most of the time. The friction between inner executive and inner elephant occurs when they have different ideas about desired behavior. The inner elephant is concerned about its own needs and comforts, and is often stronger than the inner executive. The inner executive can see the bigger picture even if it has not learned how to guide and control the elephant.

    For a leader, the ideal situation is for the inner elephant to work as the servant, the inner executive to work as master. Of course everyone faces situations where the inner elephant’s urges seem far stronger than the inner executive’s good intentions. This is like the inmates having more influence than the warden. Managers who do not have a well-developed inner executive will not lead themselves consciously and intentionally, just as a company without a CEO and executive team will not have an intended strategy or the capability to coordinate disparate departments for strategy execution.

    When in its proper role, the inner elephant thrives as a follower, not a leader. Ideally, leaders will understand their own elephant, and will be conscious of its habits and needs. When a person is “unconscious,” however, he or she tends to live at the mercy of the inner elephant, following its needs and impulses without concerns for others or a bigger picture. When “conscious,” a leader can be intentional about doing the right thing (p. 11-12).

    From: Daft, R. L., (2010). The executive and the elephant: a leader’s guide for building inner excellence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    Ohio Leadership Center Updates:  OLC now has a blog so the discussion about Leadership Moments can continue.


    Go to OLC’s  blog and share your thoughts, ideas, or answer the questions below:

    When have you used your inner executive to see the bigger picture?
    How can you become “conscious” about doing the right thing?

    Thanks Beth and her team for continuing to foster the development of leaders and helping us understand our inner elephant!

    Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    Must See: Helen Lawrence at The Stanley
    Friday, April 11th, 2014

    ♫ These days go by
    And they’re gone before you know it
    So come on, open your window
    Let the light shine in
    This is life don’t miss it…♫

    Lyrics, Music and recorded by Francesca Battistelli.

    helen lawrence


    It is not too often that I get to write about technology and theatre.  However, to every rule there is an exception.   And this is an exceptional exception.

    Helen Lawrence is playing at The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver  until April 13, 2014.  This is a world premier. If you haven’t already seen it – I urge you to take a moment and head off to one of the remaining shows.  It will be gone before you know it.

    The writeup for the presentation is as follows:

    “World premiere Acclaimed visual artist Stan Douglas and screenwriter Chris Haddock (Da Vinci’s Inquest, Boardwalk Empire) bring you an intoxicating mixed-media spectacle set in the Vancouver of 1948. Visit the vanished worlds of the old Hotel Vancouver and Hogan’s Alley—the city’s hot spot for gambling and vice.Helen Lawrence is an intriguing, hard-boiled tale of loyalty and money that illuminates our city’s politics during a time of historic upheaval.”

    It is stunning in its use of visual effects. The acting is simply outstanding – it is crisp, exact and precise. The tone is perfect. The use of visual angles to great effect only accentuate the story.

    In a word I loved it. I don’t want to say more as I don’t wish to be a spoiler.  But this is a show not to be missed.  Bravo!!!

    Posted in personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips | Permalink | 1 Comment »
    A Story from ABA TECHSHOW
    Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

    .♫ And then one day you find
    Ten years have got behind you
    No one told you when to run
    You missed the starting gun….♫

    Lyrics and Music by David Gilmour, Nicholas Mason, Roger Waters, Rick Wright, recorded by Pink Floyd.

    ascent of man


    One of the most interesting things I did just prior to Techshow was to attend a small group presentation hosted by Bob Christensen of The Form Tool and Doxsera in advance of Techshow.  Bob’s presentation focused on change and in particular, the effect of change on the legal profession.  In order to set the stage, Bob started by noting that in earliest dawn of man, one major change appeared in say, 10,000 generations.  That has gradually accelerated to the point where today, we are seeing four major changes appearing in a single generation.

    So what has that got to do with the legal profession, you say?

    Bob noted that the structure of the legal business was established in the 1700s.  We continue to use that structure more or less today.

    Bob continued by noting that the watchmaking industry was started at about this same time.  During that same period, watchmakers were some of the wealthiest people around and handmade watches cost a considerable amount.  Now fast forward to today…to the world of Timex.   A $29.95 Timex watch today keeps far better time than the best hand made watch of the past.

    Furthermore, 60% of the number of watches in circulation has plummeted  – due to the appearance of smartphones.  The members of the new generation do not buy watches – they all have smartphones that keep accurate time.  They do not see the need.

    Bob stated this is just an example of the fact that “the consumer will always dominate the marketplace.”  And that applies just as equally to the legal profession.

    He noted three major themes in life today:

    Theme #1 – the rate of change is accelerating

    Theme #2 – that evolution always starts at the top.  It is incremental.

    Theme #3 – that revolution comes from the bottom.  And revolution is always disruptive.

    Bob noted that  has taught the legal marketplace (but not lawyers) that legal documents should be free or at least low cost.

    Bob challenged the lawyers in the room to see themselves in the same position as the watchmakers of the past who made hand-made watches for high prices.  Revolution = Disruption = Technology is coming.

    A word about Bob’s latest product: Doxsera.  Doxsera is priced at  $89 / year (USD).  It is a very sophisticated document assembly engine for Word for Windows (sorry it doesn’t work in Word on the Mac).

    What makes Doxsera different?  It pulls in vast amounts of info into multiple documents and assembles documents in a way that is unique and very cost-effective.   You don’t just assemble one document – you assemble a group of documents all relating to say, a closing or real estate transaction etc.  You can take a process that in the past, had to be used to produce documents in a serial process (one after another) to the point where it can produce a whole grouping of documents at one time (parallel processing).  Bob is trying to demonstrate to lawyers how they can produce legal documents at low cost.  Think of his product as taking the legal production process as moving from making expensive hand-made watches to producing inexpensive Timex watches.

    However, after his talk I couldn’t help looking back over my shoulder for the legal equivalent of the smartphone. Hmmm….perhaps it is just a matter of time..

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Going Paperless – Techshow Style
    Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

    ♫  There’s a bridge
    I don’t know how to cross yet
    I need your hand
    To hold along the way..♫

    Music and lyrics by: Tozer, Faye/lauper, Cyndi/pilsford, Jan/irn, Jasper, recorded by Steps.

    scansnap ix1500

    Since I am just recently back from ABA Techshow in Chicago which was held last week, I thought this blog post could be an amalgam of the sessions that touched on going paperless that I saw as well as the management issues that were raised in these sessions.

    To start, there are “Three Key Steps to Paperless Success.” These are:

    1. Everything gets scanned
    2. You need protocols in place to make sure it gets done
    3. You (and everyone else) has to make time to do it

    If you don’t scan everything, nothing else matters as the systems then start to break down.

    There are three Scanning Methods that you can adopt:

    1. Centralized Scanning:  This is suitable for large firms. Here you have one person or a team dedicated to the task, using large capacity scanners
    2. Distributed Scanning:  This is suitable for smaller firms, where everyone scans their own documents.  Here you have staff that have multiple roles, including scanning. The King of Scanners for this method of scanning: The Fujitsu ScanSnap.
    3. Hybrid Scanning: This method is suitable for medium to larger firms.  Here work groups scan their own documents, using a variety of scanners.  Staff have greater familiarity with the types of documents being scanned as compared to Centralized Scanning.

    Regarding  the management process behind the decision to go paperless, the suggestions were: (more…)

    Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »