♫ 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.
♫ Yeah but I want to
Walk on the water with you…♫
This is another guest post from my friend and colleague Bob Denney. So many law firms are facing issues today that I thought his article on how to conduct firm retreats to develop a plan that has ‘buy in’ to tackle these issues would be a timely and useful post. Having been involved in firm retreats, I know that they are a fine art and require a skilled moderator to lead the discussions and keep everyone on track. Having a plan and having someone skilled to guide you along it can make the difference between a successful retreat and an outstanding one.
WALK ON WATER
Planning and conducting a successful retreat is like walking on water – it’s a lot easier if you know where the rocks are. The best way to find the rocks is to follow certain guidelines. Some of them apply to every retreat, regardless of the firm. Others vary, depending on the purpose of the retreat and the culture and goals of the firm.
Some of the reasons for holding a retreat:
- To develop or approve a strategic plan. This is serious business.
- To discuss a major issue – such as a possible merger or new compensation plan – or to launch a new marketing or business development program. This is also serious business.
- To discuss the “state of the firm”. This may be serious business.
- To provide an opportunity for the members of the firm – or all the attorneys – to communicate and socialize together. This is important.
- Even if there is no serious business, it is wise to hold a retreat annually. It is no coincidence that the firms with strong cultures and good internal communications generally hold an annual retreat.
Planning the retreat (more…)
♫ And I’m hangin’ on best as I can
Cause I know this whole crazy ride’s in Your hands
It’s Your plan… ♫
Music, Lyrics and recorded by: Dustin Lynch.
What business are lawyers in? This is the fundamental question that we face at this time. Many would answer that question that we are in the business of providing legal services. But are we? Is that the best way to characterize what we do? And why is this important?
This is vital, in my view, for one simple reason. The legal world today is in decline. We are letting others eat our cake for the simple reason that we are failing to meet the needs of all of our potential clients. The evidence is everywhere if you look for it, such as the rise of the self-represented litigant, the growth of websites such as www.legalzoom.com and the cry that the middle class can no longer afford lawyers.
The railroads once saw themselves as being in the railroad business. As a result, other methods of moving goods arose such as planes, trucks and automobiles. What the railroads failed to recognize is that they were in the transportation business, not the railroad business. And I submit that we, as a profession, are caught in the same myopia.
How do we define what business we are in? We need some thoughtful leadership here to help the profession build a business plan to its future. We are problem solvers. We are facilitators. We are dispute resolvers. But without leadership and a vision of where we can go, I fear that the profession will continue to decline.
The new overriding theme for the profession should be leadership. We need it at all levels and in all facets. We need it in the governance of the profession, in the courts and in the bar associations. We need to let go of the fear of change and see where the profession could go if it was allowed the freedom and creativity to grasp the new frontiers and with it, the new enabling technologies.
We need, in my personal opinion, to loosen the regulations around how lawyers can provide services, such as forming new business relationships with other professionals. Clients do not want lawyers or law firms. Clients want solutions to their problems. If we don’t allow lawyers to be creative in how they can collaborate with other professionals to form the kind of businesses that meet those needs, then clients will look elsewhere. Over-regulation chokes off creativity and growth as innovators are stopped dead in their tracks, fearing professional discipline. We are killing the future of the profession.
Take CPD credits for an example. Across North America, topics on how to market a practice or how to financially run a practice do not typically qualify for CPD credit. Yet a significant number of lawyers end up in trouble every year for not being able to profitably run a practice!
Other jurisdictions have allowed these kinds of changes to start, such as in Australia and the UK.
We need to instil entrepreneurial leadership deep within our profession to allow it to start changing to meet the new realities. We need a dialogue and a plan of how to bring about this change, starting right from law schools to law societies and bar associations all the way into the courts.
But first we must embrace a culture of leading change by embracing visionary leadership. Nothing less but the future of the profession is riding on this. Thank you to my colleagues Steve Gallagher and Shawn Holahan for seeding my thoughts on this topic.
This post originally appeared in the CBA Publication BarTalk.
♫ 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).
♫ Yeah yeah yeah yeah
I feel so alive
Now is the time
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
Let’s shout it out…♫
Music and lyrics by Wally Lopez, recorded by Jasmin Villegas.
Now is the time to nominate deserving blogs for the 2013 Clawbie Awards! There were so many to consider that, as usual, I had a very hard time just picking three. I am going to confine my nominations to BC Blogs, thinking that there are so many others back east that can nominate blogs in their jurisdictions that together we can help unearth the best in Canada. So with no further ado:
1. BC Law Watch Blog: Dye & Durham is BC’s full-service legal registry expert. “Founded in 1874, Dye & Durham Corporation (D&D) has been a reliable provider of timely and accurate information for well over a century. With 150 employees and 5 locations, we are also the largest, most comprehensive provider of legal support services in British Columbia and across Canada.” They have just done a great job in keeping the legal profession up to date on the developments within the legal profession in British Columbia with their BC Law Watch Blog. They also tweet at @bclawwatch. A ‘must read’ if you practice law in BC and they are a fine example for other similar legal service blogs in other jurisdictions.
2. J.P. Boyd on Family Law Blog: John-Paul Boyd is the executive director of the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family, a non-profit society affiliated with the University of Calgary. Before joining the institute, John-Paul practiced for thirteen years as an arbitrator, parenting coordinator, collaborative practitioner, mediator and litigator in Vancouver, BC.
John-Paul is the founding author of the public legal education wikibook JP Boyd on Family Law (originally published as JP Boyd’s BC Family Law Resource) and its syndicated companion blog, J.P. Boyd 0n Family Law. A wonderful resource on all matters involved with family law.
3. Eric Magraken’s BC Injury Law Blog: Again this year Eric has continued his wonderful blog on BC Injury Law and its developments. I constantly refer young lawyers who are interested in setting up a blog to visit Eric’s site and learn from his fine example.
Honourable Mentions: I can’t just leave it here. Here are the ones that fully deserve a mention, if I could only nominate more (and these are not limited to BC Blogs):
1. Stanley Rule’s Rule of Law Blog: I love the clever name but there is much much more to Stanley’s blog than just a clever name. As Stanley says: “I am a lawyer at the law firm of Sabey Rule LLP who works with people, assisting them with estate planning, probate and estate administration. I also assist people in resolving disputes about wills and estates. In this blog, I write about some of the legal topics that I deal with in my law practice, and about other legal issues that interest me. In doing so, I hope that I help others learn more about law, and that I encourage discussion about law and law reform. I hope that, in some small way, I help nurture the rule of law.”
2. Samantha Collier’s Social Media for Law Firms Blog: Samantha’s blog is clever, eye-appealing and full of great content. Not surprisingly: “Samantha Collier assists lawyers, law firms and legal industry consultants in their social media marketing efforts. The author of Social Media for Law Firms, winner of the 2011 Canadian Law Blog Awards in the Best Practice Management Category, Samantha is also recognized in ”The 24: Canada’s Top Legal Social Media Influencers” from The Counsel Network.”
3. Jordan Furlong’s Law21 Blog: Jordan is one of the judges and as such his blog is ineligible for an award. But he doesn’t need one. His blog is simply excellent in terms of setting forth his views in looking forward to where the legal profession is heading…even if others do not agree with him. In Jordan’s own words: “I’m a lawyer, speaker, industry analyst, and consultant based in Ottawa, Canada. I’m a principal with the global consulting firm Edge International and a senior consultant with legal web development company Stem Legal Web Enterprises. I specialize in delivering dynamic and thought-provoking presentations to law firms, practice groups, and legal organizations at a time of unprecedented marketplace change.”
4. Dan Pinnington’s Avoid a Claim Blog: Dan’s work on attempted frauds against lawyers and law firms is just the tip of the iceberg on this blog. This is a wonderful blog and just worth anyone’s time, particularly if they suspect that they have received an email or other fraud solicitation.
5. Slaw.ca: Simon Fodden’s brainchild is the leading legal blog in Canada, hands down. Another ‘must read’ by all lawyers of every practice area in Canada.
Those are my nominations for 2013. Yeah Yeah Yeah let’s shout it out!~
♫ 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?
♫ Silver whistle and an old clipboard
A polo shirt and a pair of gray shorts
In that summer haze, remember those two a days
Tougher than a 10 pound sack of nails
He’d throw down his hat and start to yell
At the top of his lungs, front and center, son
What were you thinkin’ on that play?
Take a lap and when you come back
Maybe you’ll do things my way
Let me tell you why I don’t let things slide
If you can live through me, boy, you can get through life
‘Round here what I say goes ‘cause I’m the coach..♫
This is another guest post from Beth Flynn at the The Ohio State University Leadership Center. I know that sports metaphors sometimes are a bit overdone in the context of business leadership and coaching, but this post struck a nerve with me and I felt it went beyond the typical stuff that is written in this regard.
Accordingly here is Beth’s post on what we can learn from sports coaches:
- To ask ourselves if we have communicated the goal for the team we lead.
- In order to communicate the goal, we have to know and believe in the result we want to achieve.
- It doesn’t matter what the goal for the year is if the people on your team don’t trust your motives.
- You have to possess personal values that the people on your team respect. Or put a different way, they need to see a level of personal integrity on your part that gives them the confidence to follow your leadership.
- You have to know it to lead it.
- You have to know your business (know the sport) and be dedicated to constantly improving your knowledge of it.
- You have to lead each individual.
- The coach knows that his or her efforts can’t be directed at the group exclusively. He or she will have to teach the fundamentals individually to each player.
- Create a team to be a leader.
- The coach also knows that after the individuals know their fundamentals, it’s up to him or her to create a winning team. The coach knows that she/he has to take individuals and determine how to put them together for maximum benefit (Monastero, 2010, p. 60-63).
From: Monastero, S. (2010). Winning at leadership: how to become an effective leader. Bloomington, IN: IUNIVERSE, Inc.
Winning at Leadership is available from the OSU Leadership Center. Click here to borrow this resource or any other resource. Once you are on their website, click on the Spectrum icon.
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Thanks Beth for keeping us up on leadership moments and not letting things slide!
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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Thanks Beth for another great tip that will help us change one step at a time!