♫ Doin it right, doin it right
Doin it right, doin it right
The blues bands cookin and the drummers burnin down
Doin it right on the wrong side of town!!! ♫
Lyrics, music and recorded by the Powder Blues.
Law firms like to think that they do things rather well. Exceptionally well, as a matter of fact. Particularly the biggest ones.
Only problem is, not everyone agrees with that perception. Take Casey Flaherty for example. Casey just happens to be the General Counsel at Kia Motors America. In his words (and this is an exact quote) “Lawyers see themselves as Tom Cruise but most of their work is drudgery.. and they suck at using computers.”
His proof? He gave a mock assignment to lawyers that he knew should take no longer than 30 minutes to complete. When tested the average time to compete the assignment was 5 hours and some took as long as 8 hours.
He has devised a technology audit that he gives to firms before he engages them to test their technology competence. We are not talking sophisticated legal tools here. Casey is testing knowledge and use of basic Microsoft Office applications such as Word, Excel and Adobe Acrobat.
From the ABA Journal article by Casey Flaherty himself, he stated:
Sample tasks include:
(a) formatting a motion in Word,
(b) preparing motion exhibits in PDF, and
(c) creating an arbitration exhibit index in Excel.
The specific tasks, however, are of little importance as they are designed to test general skills. The foregoing examples could just as easily be:
(a) formatting a contract in Word,
(b) Bates stamping a document production of PDFs, or
(c) isolating pertinent performance data in Excel—or, really, any of the other myriad, routine, low-value-added tasks that lawyers regularly complete on their computers (or should).
He has given the audit 10 times. All firms failed…some spectacularly. Both the median and mean was 5 hours.
What does he have to say about the audit results?
My claims are much broader: a lot (of waste exists in the legal system) and enough (of that waste is attributable to technological incompetence to make this a problem worth addressing)
The real issue is that law firms (and particularly the largest ones) have absolutely no incentive to have their lawyers increase their technological knowledge. So long as they bill by the billable hour – meaning there are no competitive pressures forcing them to acquire greater skills, this situation will exist. The greater hours put into a file translate to a bigger bottom line.
There is something very very fundamentally wrong here. No other business or profession has been allowed to languish on the borders of technological incompetence and still be in business. Most if not all other business would have been driven out of business by failing to meet mounting competitive pressures.
Is there a correlation here with Access to Justice? The middle class have been claiming that lawyers are far too expensive and out of reach for their typical legal problems for some time now.
I wonder just how long the public will stand by before they start to call for fundamental changes to the legal system in order to bring about the changes that they desire. My co-author for this column, Garry Wise of Toronto, in reviewing this article stated that:
But in fairness to Canadian lawyers, in part, without paperless courts and automated systems for court and other filings, there is even less incentive for us to master the skills that would be necessary to put electronic documents together. Our system simply doesn’t require that we prepare or know how to complete effective “non-papyrus” documents.
I agree with Gary ..the solution is not piece-meal. We have to address the entire workflow of how we produce, serve, file, share, store, search, and archive legal documents. I was presenting at a CBA Immigration conference in Vancouver last week and my co-presenter Laura Best a lawyer at Embarkation Law Group asked the attendees how many people in attendance filed electronically in federal court. Only a handful of hands went up indicating that even where e-filing is possible, lawyers are not getting on the bandwagon (Laura happens to be one of the biggest users of e-filing here in BC, I understand).
This is a knowledge management issue, it is a management issue, it is an issue where all the players in the room have to come to the table to brainstorm on how to change not only behaviours but the system itself to encourage lawyers to bring about the necessary change.
The call to arms here for lawyers, law firms and regulators is to prod, push, cajole and otherwise mandate greater change before this change is thrust upon us. We have to become students of change and move with the technological times. Management of firms should not stand by and simply be satisfied with the status quo. They should be bringing in IT training (complete with tests and assignments) to ensure that their lawyers are up to speed on at least basic technological tasks. There are no lack of trainers and programs, both in house and available thru consultants for this to occur. Furthermore, court administration, judges and tribunals should be right on-side and equally looking at how their systems can be improved to increase efficiencies and effectiveness.
Perhaps another message for general counsel like Casey Flaherty is to look for smaller firms that could do it right…even if they come from the wrong side of town….
This article is concurrently posted here and on slaw tips.ca.
♫ I’ll be your savior, steadfast and true
I’ll come to your emotional rescue
I’ll come to your emotional rescue..♫
This is another guest post from Beth Flynn at The Leadership Center at the Ohio State University.
Leadership is one quality that we so need in all walks of life, from the International scene all the way down to the local community level. Leaders are people who make demonstrable changes in others lives. The don’t accept the status quo and look for ways to do things better. I believe that lawyers need to develop greater leadership skills to bring the legal profession into the 21st century and have it flourish in the face of incredible change and challenges. I have been a fan of Beth and the work of her colleagues at the Leadership Center for some time and encourage readers to subscribe to their newsletter (below) and if you are close to Ohio, to attend their leadership Series Workshops.
This post is taken from the book: Hayashi, S.K. (2011). Conversations for change: 12 ways to say it right when it matters most. New York: McGraw-Hill.
An “emotional wake” is the feeling we leave people with. When we leave a meeting, are team members consistently feeling angry because they were not heard? Or are they feeling hopeful about what the team is working on? The predominant emotion we leave people with is our emotional wake.
Can you think of someone who creates a positive emotional wake? I bet someone comes to mind immediately. Being around that person feels good. Consciously or unconsciously, this person decided to be solution focused instead of problem focused in the face of change. Doing this creates respect for self and others (p. 12).
Conversations for Change is available from the lending library at The Ohio State University Leadership Center. Follow the link to borrow this book or any other resource. Once you are on their website, click on the Spectrum icon.
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Thanks Beth and the rest of the team for bringing us along and leaving a positive emotional wake!
♫ Only made me more focused, only wrote more potent..♫
Milton Wedman Zwicker or just “Milt” as he liked to be known, was the retired managing partner of Zwicker Evans & Lewis, an Ontario law firm. His law practice was restricted to business and commercial law and estate planning. He was the author of many articles and books on the subject of law firm management, and he was a past member of the editorial board of Law Practice Management magazine (as it then was known) published by the American Bar Association. His full obituary can be found here.
His books included “Successful Client Newsletters” published in 1998 by the American Bar Association.
In a book review Dave Freedman states:
This book is largely outstanding. The author is a lawyer and has written extensively on law practice management, but anyone who markets a professional service firm of any kind would benefit from this book.
In the introduction Zwicker says, “The most important thing to keep in mind when you are designing and writing your newsletter is the very thing most law firms forget — the newsletter is for your clients and prospects. Be sure the result is a publication that meets their needs, not just yours.”
I first became acquainted with Milt by reading his regular column in the Canadian Bar Association’s publication “The National” back when it was printed on newspaper and had a tabloid like format. These were the days before the Internet and Milt was one of the earliest voices on Law Firm Management that included other luminaries such as J. Harris Morgan, Sam Smith, Jay Foonberg, Jimmy Brill and many others that were active in the Section of Economics of Law Practice as the present Law Practice Division of the ABA was then known.
Milt had one strong message that always came thru his writings and presentations. It is a lesson that is just as important today as it was when Milt first started writing about law practice management. His message was always to make your practice ‘client focused’. This was his measure. If there was a system, a procedure, a policy in your office that wasn’t aimed at meeting client needs, then Milt would quickly say, get rid of it or change it in order that you keep your practice focused and on track.
According to Simon Chester, a mutual friend of Milt, “The extraordinary thing about Milt was that this pioneer sprang from Orillia – small town Ontario. His originality and exuberant enthusiasm were utterly unique.” He had an international reputation that was based on his writings and he was a trailblazer in terms of applying business management principles to the practice of law.
On my invitation, back in the 80′s Milt came to Vancouver to speak to the Law Practice Management section of the BC branch of the Canadian Bar Association back when I was the chair. After his terrific presentation we went for dinner at a sushi restaurant and that is where I started to get to know Milt as a person. Our friendship continued and I was fortunate to be invited to be part of his group in 1997 going to China to put on a week long course on Law Practice Management for the All China Lawyers Association that had only been formed in 1986 together with the Shanghai Bar Association. The legal profession had been reinstated in China after being dismantled by the People’s Republic of China for decades and accordingly we spoke to a group composed of either very young lawyers or very much older lawyers who were now allowed to resume their practice of law.
Milt largely disappeared from public life following his cancer diagnosis and he left his firm to practice from his home, but he continued to write on law practice management. He published “How to Use Marketing to Build and Sustain a Vibrant Law Practice” in 2013.
Milt was a friend, a mentor and a visionary. His writings on law practice management were always a wonderful read and highly informative. He inspired many of us to dig deeper and strive to meet his ideals. I know he inspired me to be more focused, to write more potent. Rest in peace Milt. You will be missed.
♫ more productive
not drinking too much
regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week)
getting on better with your associate employee contemporaries
eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)
a patient better driver…♫
I don’t know about you, but I have been largely disillusioned by the ‘traditional’ ways of trying to be more productive. They have come to feel like, well, candy-coated panaceas. And frankly, if they worked, then all of us would be a whole lot more productive. But, at least for most of us, they don’t. I suspect – if I am any example, that they don’t work for the majority of us because at the heart, we need fresh ways to get more productive than the ‘make up a to-do list’ every morning before you start work..yadda yadda….
So it was encouraging to read “Six Ideas For a More Productive Work Day” by Kit Hickey, co-founder of Ministry of Supply on CEO.com. Seems she has been trying to figure out how to be more productive, too. Oh and she noticed that her well-being and happiness at the workplace was tied to her productively.
Her first suggestion? Work out Regularly. This one REALLY resonated with me. You see, I had some surgery this last November. Awaiting the surgery, I had to curtail my activites by necessity. Before this, for the last 30 years I have been a runner. More particularly, I ran at noon. I was happy and productive. I LOVED running at noon. But waiting for the surgery, I had to revert to the lifestyle of eating my lunch at my desk and working working working …long hours – 12 hours most days with no real workouts or breaks. Could I say my productivity climbed as a result of the long hours? No. Was I happier at my desk? No.
Kit said that her best ideas came to her when she was running. I totally agree! My columns, papers and articles largely began as ideas on a run. Running made Kit feel more productive and creative. I echo that correlation. It also increased her well-being.
So the first hacker tip to get more productive at work: is to get away from it. Go for a run (or swim or whatever works for you). Tune up your body and let your mind think freely. I think you will be amazed at how this can change your life.
Kit’s other suggestions? Take meetings outside of the office. She schedules meetings with exercise classes. Wow.
Mix it up – don’t just work from your desk in your office. Find out what works for you and give yourself permission to follow those ideas.
Bring your dog to work. Well, ok, here I would have to say that I don’t have a dog. I am terribly allergic to them. So – Kit – this one is all yours. I can understand what you are trying to do here.
Evaluate work output, not desk time. Yes Yes Yes! We have been telling lawyers to move away from billable hours as a metric of work for some time. Why ? It is an input metric..”how much time did you put into something”..rather than ..”what did you achieve in that time?” If you evaluate results (and not just effort) you have moved yourself into a new paradigm. You can adjust your billing as well to bill for results and not effort.
Her sixth suggestion? Set aside distraction-free blocks for creative work. Again I can’t agree more. Block off your calendar for specific tasks, tell the office ‘no interruptions’ unless it is truly an emergency and give yourself permission to go at the matter at hand.
She advises that you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. After all, as Sherlock Holmes would say: ”How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” If the ‘traditional’ ways of trying to be more productive are impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
(cross-posted to www.tips.slaw.ca)
♫ He’s got this dream about buyin’ some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he’ll settle down, in some quiet little town
And forget about everything…♫
Lyrics, Music and recorded by Gerry Rafferty.
New Year’s Resolutions? Phfft. Been there, Done That, Got that T-Shirt.
We all resolve to get fit, lose weight and spend more time out of the office etc etc etc. Speaking personally I have had my fill of resolutions that are born from the best of intentions but then die a cold hard death on the shoals of life.
So here goes: The Hacker’s Guide to New Year Resolutions: How to make real change in your life.
First step: Realize that you do things the way that you do because of how you are: the way you find things enjoyable or appealing or not, the way that you reward yourself for doing certain things and avoid others, the way that you find that you are too tired at the end of the day to get out and head to the gym etc etc etc. In other words, it is the structure of how you go thru life that determines, to a large part, how you do things (or not, as the case may be). The problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that you set up goals without putting into place the mental supports that would allow you to change. If you don’t change the structure of how you do things, don’t expect things to change.
Second Step: Make ONE and ONLY ONE resolution and make it YOUR priority to get ‘er done before the first quarter is over. Stick it on your monitor. Put it on the top of your ‘To Do’ list. Think about it. Often. Take small steps towards it every morning *(not every day because that is how you let it slip it down the priority chain - because at the end of the day you will realize that yes, once again there it is sitting on the To-Do list)*.
Third Step: Schedule time in your calendar to work on it for 15 mins every Monday to Friday (inclusive). Rework and restructure your time, your schedule and how you approach life and work to intentionally fit in the time (and the energy) to achieve this one goal.
Fourth Step: Most of all, hold yourself responsible for making this happen. You have to change how you work before you can expect other things to change. So resolve to not only change this ONE thing but also – resolve to change yourself. Use this resolution to be the motivation to implement change, starting with you.
Fifth Step: Once you have achieved this ONE resolution, celebrate it! Give yourself a reward for getting the job done. Make sure you make yourself feel good about achieving this change (*in yourself*).
Sixth Step: Resolve to change something else. You don’t need to wait for a special day in the year to keep the changes happening. You are becoming - reworking – yourself into a person who can implement change. Congratulations. Now get started on your future!
(originally published on www.slawtips.ca).
♫ Silent night, Holy night
All is calm, all is bright..♫
Music by Franz Xaver Gruber, lyrics by Joseph Mohr, recorded by the Argyle Alumni Choir.
As in seasons past, I would like to pause from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives we all lead and warmly wish each and everyone the Best of the Holiday Season, Merry Christmas and a Wonderful and Happy New Year. With each passing year I feel it is even more important to reach out to friends and all those dear to us and remind them that they are the ones who truly bring meaning to our lives.
To all I wish for Peace, Hope and Happiness. For now and always, may your dreams become hopes, your hopes become plans and your plans become realities in the New Year.
My gift to you again this year is a few minutes of music and images, a time of joy and reflection in looking back at the year’s past events. This musical slide show combines two of my loves: photography and music. With some exceptions, most images have all been taken during the last 12 months with a Panasonic DMS-G3 camera with the 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 lens or an Olympus TOUGH with an Olympus 4.5-15 mm f/2.0-4.9 lens.
I hope this slide show and music (please turn your speakers on) brings to you a time of calm, joy and peace. The music is of course perhaps the most well-known Christmas hymn: “Silent Night”; from Wikipedia: “(German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas carol, composed in 1818 by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr in the small town of Oberndorf bei Salzburg, Austria. It was declared an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in March 2011.” It is performed by the Argyle Alumni Choir, Argyle Senior Secondary School, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, copyright Frances Roberts, Director. Used with permission.
I hope you enjoy the combination of the music and the images. Please be patient – they do take a bit of time to load. The time between slides has been extended just a wee bit since last year some people said there wasn’t enough time per slide to really see the image. I hope this works better!
Best wishes for a safe holiday!
(For those interested, the slide show was created originally in PowerPoint, converted to Keynote and converted into a Quicktime file on a MacBook, then uploaded to ScreenCast.com).
Prior Seasons Greetings slide shows can be viewed here:
♫ Let’s tell the future
Let’s see how it’s been done
By numbers, by mirrors, by water
By dots made at random on paper…♫
Lyrics, Music and recorded by Susan Vega.
(images: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fire_craker.jpg and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:San_Diego_Fireworks.jpg – creative commons licence)
“The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it” has been variously attributed to many authors, particularly Dennis Gabor.
Accordingly this is a call for all gentle readers to contribute their tips and predictions for 2014! Last year we heard from Stephanie Kimbro, Nate Russell, Tom Spraggs, Richard Granat, Jean Francois De Rico, Mitch Kowalski, John Zeleznikow, Andrew Clark, Colin Rule, Robert Denney, Ross Fishman, Noric Dilanchian, Steve Matthews and of course, Jordan Furlong.
I think that this is the most interested series of posts in the year and so I invite everyone to submit a post and we all can see what everyone thinks the future of law and legal practice will be like!
Let’s tell the future!
Will you fight for your name? ♫
I have to say that I was quite taken by this book. In keeping with the “One Hour” theme, it packs a lot of thoughtful ideas into its 98 pages. It starts out with the expected question: “What is Personal Branding?” and takes you thru an exploration of “Why Does Your Personal Brand Matter?” I particularly liked the chapter on “Is Your Personal Brand Happy?” with such sub-topics as: “Step into your Creative Brain” and “Who Cares about Joy?”. Now you may ask what does “Joy” have to do with branding or even the practice of law? As it turns out, quite a bit, apparently! SO many lawyers I have talked to do not find much joy in what they do. Yet Goshtasbi states that “People buy the products and services that ultimately bring them joy.” If you don’t project joy in your daily life, in your career and in what you do, then how do you make your clients happy?
Goshtasbi states: “What if you went on a campaign to make sure every legal client and prospect felt utter joy and happiness anytime they ran across you, your name, your firm name, or any mention of you and your legal services? Your business would boom, and your ability to produce quality legal product would increase as well.”
Once you have grasped the fundamental point that communicating joy is key, then Goshtasbi advises you to find your natural talent and make it your intention to make sure you perform it daily to bring joy to your work as you have brought it to your life. With that as your foundation, she then takes you on the process to establish your unique selling proposition (what sets you apart from other lawyers), visual branding, marketing materials, networking and communicating your personal brand.
This is one book that I would highly recommend that every lawyer and in particular, young lawyers, read. It is available online from the ABA for $49.95 (USD) or $39.95 if you are an ABA Law Practice Division member. Now, what would you do after you are branded?
On Friday Oct 4, 2013 a unique event will occur in Canada’s legal community. For the first time there will be a Canadian Legal Technology conference that will be accessible right across the country, courtesy of the ability to webcast all tracks and sessions concurrently (except for the noon keynote that will be recorded and put up for viewing later due to technical restraints).
The Pacific Legal Technology Conference is accessible from 8:45 Pacific to 5:30 Pacific – in person or on the web. This conference has grown and grown due to one important factor: its foundation is the result of an on-line survey of all past attendees. That on-line survey, designed by the planning board, contains all the possible topics that they can think of – then it is the survey respondents’ turn to tell us what topics are most important to them. This conference is not just about legal technology – it incorporates technology right down to its core. Its focus is that of the practising lawyer who is battling with all types of problems – and who is looking for concrete and practical solutions to help her practice better, faster and not the least of all, cheaper (such as the session “Tech applied to Dull Ordinary Things that MUST get Done”).
The theme this year is “Lawyers, Leadership and Technology” and focuses on leadership and change management. These are themes that are coming to bear on the practice of law as we move forward, underscored by the increasing rate of change in technology with which all of us have to cope. The session: “Implementation: The Hardest Technology to Change is the Human Brain” deals with the challenge of incorporating change into our environments.
Dan Pinnington in his post on Slaw on the conference stated that: “I think this is the best legal technology conference in the country.” As a past American Bar Association TECHSHOW Chair he should know. Dan also said:
I am disappointed that I can’t attend or speak this year because of conflict. As a past attendee and speaker, I can say you will get the same high quality content, speakers and materials that you would get at ABA Techshow.
While we will miss Dan this year, there will be experts from right across North America – from Florida to Alaska and of course, across Canada. Simon Chester (a past ABA TECHSHOW chair), Richard Ferguson (an ABA TECHSHOW speaker), Debbie Foster (an ABA Techshow Chair), Joe Kashi (an ABA TECHSHOW speaker), David Paul QC (long standing CBA author and presenter) and others round out the rich roster of speakers.
Sessions include a heavy emphasis of ethics: “Backups, Security, Privacy and Ethics in a Mobile World” and “Ethically Growing your Practice with Social Media”. The conference qualifies for 6.25 PD credits in Ontario and 6 in Saskatchewan and BC.
Litigators have their own track that includes “What Technology should you Take to Court or a Mediation (iPads to Electronic Courtrooms)” The closing session “All the Gadgets, Sites and More we can Squeeze into 60 minutes” focuses on providing as many useful tips as the speakers can fit into an hour.
The next Pacific Legal Technology Conference won’t be until 2015. Just imagine how much the legal technology landscape will have changed by then! I can hardly wait!
(cross posted to SlawTips)
♫ And there’s a road I have to follow, a place I have to go
Well no-one told me just how to get there
But when I get there I’ll know
‘Cause I’m taking it
Step by step, bit by bit,
Stone by stone (yeah), brick by brick (oh, yeah)
Step by step, day by day, mile by mile…♫
Lyrics and music by: Even Stevens, Eddie Rabbitt and David Malloy, recorded by Whitney Houston.
This is another great gust post from Beth Flynn of the Ohio Leadership Center. In this post she concentrates on the 15 steps for effective communication:
- Let go of your own ideas, role, and agenda and try to understand what the other person is saying.
- Become curious about what makes them tick.
- Before you speak, draw out the other person’s ideas.
- Search behind the words for the other person’s meaning. Especially is he or she disagrees with you.
- Discover and manage your listener’s unspoken expectations.
- Respond respectfully and nondefensively acknowledging and addressing the other person’s concerns first.
- Choose an appropriate form of communicating.
- Speak respectfully, empathically, and responsively.
- Demonstrate that you heard the other person’s deeper needs and feelings.
- Anticipate objections and address them before they are raised.
- Clarify and emphasize our agreements.
- Acknowledge differences and restate issues positively.
- State your interests instead of your positions.
- Ask for feedback.
- Compliment the other person for listening
From: Cloke, K. & Goldsmith, J. (2011). Resolving conflicts at work: ten strategies for everyone on the job (3rd Ed). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, p. 51-54.
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21st Century Leadership Series: These professional development opportunities are open to current and aspiring leaders interested in increasing their leadership knowledge and skills. Held on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, this leadership series is designed with relevant solutions to current leadership issues. Certificates of participation are available for individuals seeking professional development hours.
Thanks Beth for another great tip that will help us change one step at a time!