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    2015 Predictions – Part 1!
    Friday, December 19th, 2014

    ♫  I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
    I can see all obstacles in my way
    Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
    It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
    Sun-Shiny day…♫

    Music, lyrics and recorded by Johnny Nash.

    2015

     

    This is the best time of the year in terms of being able to ask so many dear friends to put on their thinking caps, gaze into the future and share with us their vision for what is in store for the legal profession in 2015!

    We received so many great ideas that this post is going to be published in two parts.  Part 2 will be published on Monday Dec 22, 2014.

    Thanks to all these thought leaders whose visions will be here in Part 1 or Part 2:

    • Sharon Nelson
    • Nicole Garton
    • Ross Fishman
    • Dr. Frank Fowlie
    • Michael McCubbin
    • Nikki Black
    • Andre Coetzee
    • Simon Chester
    • Jordan Furlong
    • Andrea Cannavina
    • Ann Halkett
    • Garry Wise
    • John Tyrrell
    • Mitch Kowalski
    • Stephen Gallagher
    • Roger Smith
    • Andrew Clark
    • Joseph Kashi
    • and yours truly!

     

    And without any further ado, here are the predictions!

    Sharon Nelson:

    Sharon Nelson 2

     

    1. Cybersecurity is now universally the chief worry of large firms. We have already concluded that we cannot keep determined intruders out. While law firms will continue to try to keep them out, 2014 showed the mantra shifting to “detect and respond.” My prediction for 2015 is that those who hack into our systems will spend a lot of time and effort to make detection harder. What do you do when breaches are all but invisible, even to the best of the best? I suspect we’ll find out.
    2. The popularity of tablets that can really take the place of a laptop (I wouldn’t travel without my Microsoft Surface Pro 3) will soar.
    3. Now that IBM has announced that Watson will enter the legal market, you can bet that Watson will replace humans at an ever-increasing rate. Watson can do the legal research and analysis in near real-time, can predict outcomes (should you settle or go full steam ahead?) and search data to determine the probable budget for a case. The list goes on and on, but I believe Watson is a much greater danger to legal jobs than Legal Zoom and its brethren.

    Sharon D. Nelson, Esq. Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., is the President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc, a digital forensics, information security and information technology firm in Fairfax, Virginia. Ms. Nelson is the author of the noted electronic evidence blog, Ride the Lightning and is a co-host of the Legal Talk Network podcast series called “The Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology” as well as “Digital Detectives.” She is a frequent author (twelve books published by the ABA and hundreds of articles) and speaker on legal technology, information security and electronic evidence topics. She was the President of the Virginia State Bar June 2013 – June 2014. She may be reached at snelson@senseient.com.

     

    Nicole Garton:

    Nicole Garton

     

    1. There will be continued uptake of mobile devices, cloud computing and social media by lawyers in small, mid-size and large firms alike.
    2. In an age of decreasing loyalty, ubiquity of information and outsourcing, technological advances will permit smaller firms to outperform their large and mid-sized competitors as more efficient, cost-effective deliverers of legal services.
    3. And the billable hour is not dead and has no chance of extinction anytime soon, despite what pundits may say on www.slaw.ca and otherwise!

     

    Nicole Garton is a lawyer, mediator and parenting coordinator and practices in the areas of wills, estates and family law matters.

    Nicole is the principal of Heritage Law, which has been described in the media as “one of the most streamlined, automated and forward thinking legal business models in Canada.” Nicole has won awards in recognition of Heritage Law’s innovative structure and effective use of technology, including the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch Work Life Balance Award and the Business in Vancouver Top Forty Under 40 Award. Nicole is also the principal of Heritage Trust, which will provide executor, power of attorney, trustee and escrow services, commencing sometime in mid 2015.

     

    Ross Fishman:

    Ross Fishman LAW headshot 2012

     

     

    1. IBM’s Watson technology will become the legal profession’s game-changer technology. 

    It may take a while, but it will ultimately provide every small-town solo generalist with the same insight and expertise possessed by the highest-level, most narrowly focused specialist at the world’s largest law firms.

    2. WordPress will become the preferred website platform for sophisticated law firms.  
    2015 will be the year major law firms seriously decide to move their websites away from the closed, proprietary software owned by a single website-development company, and toward powerful, flexible, open-source platforms like WordPress.
    Ross Fishman, JD, is the CEO of Fishman Marketing, one of the legal profession’s leading branding and website-development firms.

     

    Dr. Frank Fowlie:

    Frank Fowlie

     

    I’d like to offer prediction that one of the areas ripe for the adoption of ODR is with  Sport.  In Canada we have a very well developed and respected technology assisted ODR system with the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada.  The SDRCC is established in the Physical Activity and Sport Act, and has been in existence for over 10 years.

    The SDRCC deals with disputes ranging from doping discipline cases, to team selection, athlete carding, or general dispute resolution.  The SDRCC does technology assisted mediation and arbitration.  I am a mediator with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) out of Lausanne, Switzerland.  My view is that Sport, either through National Sports Organizations, National Olympic Committees, Multisport Games, or International Sport Federations will increasingly turn to ODR.

    I foresee that the SDRCC Canadian built technology will serve as a model for the above noted sporting bodies.   Presently, for example, CAS opens an Ad Hoc court at the site of an Olympic Games some two weeks before competition to be able to deal with athlete or team accreditations.  ODR would allow for a longer window, with the Ad Hoc members still in  their home locations.  I think that ODR can also be helpful to CAS when it potentially dealing with participants from across the globe who now must convene in Lausanne for mediations or arbitrations.  For example, a sport dispute could involve activity in a multisport games in South America, with competing team from Oceania and Africa, with a named mediator from North America, and a court registry in Switzerland.  There is great complexity and expense in drawing all of these parties to one spot at one time for a mediation.

    ODR provides an opportunity for prompt, cost effective and relevant dispute resolution.

    http://www.crdsc-sdrcc.ca/eng/home

    http://www.tas-cas.org/news

    Happy New Year!

    Dr. Frank Fowlie is presently the Ombudsman at the International Organization for Migration in Geneva. He was previously the inaugural CEO of InternetOmbudsman.Biz. In addition, Frank Fowlie was the inaugural Ombudsman at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN).

    ICANN is the agency which administers the global domain name system which serves as the backbone for the Internet. He served as the Ombudsman from November 2004 to January, 2011.

     

    Michael McCubbin:

    michael mccubbin

     

    I will step out on a limb and join those whose names can go down in history for the inaccuracy of their predictions. Let me toss out a few and hope that I hit on one of them:

    1. All clients will begin asking questions about data security as concerns proliferate and more lawyers become digital. Lawyers are reasonably good about it, but the problem remains that most of our efforts are frustrated by the insecurity associated with services like Gmail which our clients often use. I have only had 2-3 clients who even bothered using my secure client portal in Clio – I think the insistence on this kind of option will appeal more to clients now that we see how Jennifer Lawrence and Sony feel about weak data security.
    2. We are going to start seeing larger tablets and way more touchscreens (touchscreens will become the norm in new devices in 1-2 years)it only took 5-6 years for colour screens to take over in the cell phone market). Why is the standard tablet not 8.5×11”? People think I have a large, ancient laptop with my 17” screen, but the reality is that I want the screen space to read and work with multiple documents. I was just speaking to my dad this morning, who is raving about my mom’s new Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It looks great and its features are those of future devices, but I want a bigger screen. In the office, I set my 17” laptop next to a 24” external monitor for an extended desktop, and I still would like my laptop screen to be bigger.
    3. Courts will continue to move (far too slowly) toward digital practices and not just in the admission of digital evidence…PPT in court, paperless communications, etc. I did a Passenger Transportation Board hearing last week. Virtually all pre-hearing matters and even the exchange of much of the evidence during the hearing, occurred via email. It was much easier and more convenient for all involved, particularly as it involved over 20 different parties (lawyers, clients, and Board members/staff included) spread around the province.
    4. Apps geared toward delivering tangible value to clients and not just making lawyers’ lives easier. There have been a few launched and crashed (like Launch Lawyer), but there is room for someone to make a move in this market in a substantive way. There are many ways in which apps could be rolled out to the client’s benefit, but lawyers are not getting into this, likely for the same reason that many of us do not even know how to type.
    5. We will find out if Ross is the real dealhttp://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/the-law-page/university-of-torontos-next-lawyer-a-computer-program-named-ross/article22054688/. OK…maybe we’ll only get a taste next year, but if this is the kind of product that can be scaled and rolled out to the legal profession for a subscription fee similar to that of Clio, Quicklaw, etc., then it will change things. It will take the grunt work out of lawyering, mean that the quality of research conducted will not be nearly as important as actual human judgment and analysis once that research is done. That will mean that a lot of large law firms will not need to hire droves of articled students, junior associates, and paralegals. It will also mean that productivity will dramatically increase, so clients will get more bang for their buck.
    6. Increasingly user-friendly lawyer software. This will include integrating DMS, chronology generators, discovery documents (including XFD transcripts) and making it really usable with tools like hyperlinking etc. Software like PC Law or Worldox is not nearly as user-friendly as Clio or the kind of simple, effective UIs we see in most mobile apps. The fact that a device as complex as a smartphone comes without a user manual should tell you just how user-friendly our software should be.

     

    Michael draws on a broad variety of life experience that allows him to understand and relate to most clients that walk in the door.

    He opened his office with the view that there was a better way to practice law, one that avoids the needless expense of conventional law firms and focusses on client outcomes. Today, his clients value things like not being charged for printing and file storage fees, as well as the responsive, efficient service associated with a digital practice that still has a bricks & mortar office in a Vancouver heritage building.

    Michael frequently speaks on legal technology issues and participated in one of the first paperless Court of Appeal hearings in British Columbia. He is an active member of the Trial Lawyers Association of BC and sits on its Legal Aid Action Committee.

     

    Niki Black:

    ABA Editorial

     

    In 2015, lawyers will become more comfortable with the concept of web-based computing and will increasingly utilize cloud computing software to help manage and streamline their law practices. Similarly, wearable technology will make its mark on the legal profession and upon the release of Apple’s Watch in early 2015, you’ll see more lawyers incorporating smartwatches into their daily workflow.

    Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase.com, a law practice management software company. She is the author of “Cloud Computing for Lawyers” (2012) and co-authors “Social Media: The Next Frontier” (2010), both published by the American Bar Association. She also co-authors “Criminal Law in New York,” a Thomson West treatise. She writes a weekly column for The Daily Record and has authored numerous articles and has spoken at many conferences regarding the intersection of law, mobile computing and Internet-based technology. 

     

    Andre Coetzee:

    andre coetzee

     

    Here are some of my predictions:

    1. The amount of data that is produced and stored has increase exponentially over the years. Having one centralized search tool that can search any data a user has created or has access to both on their local network as well as data that is stored on the Web i.e. a user can search and get quick access to their data whether it be an email, in a proprietary database or in a Word document is going to be a trend.
    2. The ability to be able to integrate legacy legal applications therefore getting rid of duplicate data entry and preserving data integrity.
    3. More people want to use whatever device they want at work. The trend of bring your own device (BYOD) will therefore continue and is becoming the norm. This BYOD trend will also drive more firms to seek online services and products so as to simplify integration.
    4. Bigger focus on going paperless and being more efficient process wise. This will reduce costs and increase efficiency.
    5. More and more lawyers starting smaller boutique firms. The smaller law firms will be leverage technology and internal processes and practices to be more efficient which will impact their bottom line. They will also change and be more creative the way they bill their clients. They will also be innovative the way they practice law (depending on the law they practice) by coming up with products and services that can be quickly and more easily produced and customized.
    6. PC sales will continue to decrease and mobility devices such as tablets, smartphones, Ultrabook’s will continue to increase – this is driven by BYOD
    7. The hype is over and hence more firms will move from on premise IT infrastructure to hosted products and services. Security, disaster recovery and backup, management costs and standardization being the biggest drivers for the move.
    8. A heighted awareness regarding compliance and security for Canadian law firms using Cloud Services.
    9. Firms who are have on premise PCs don’t move to Windows 8 and wait for Windows 10. The start button is back in Windows 10 and hence be an easier transition for firms.
    10. The Canucks will win the Stanley Cup – we can always live in hope :-)

    Andre is a director of i-worx. i-worx is a premium managed service provider focusing on enhancing productivity through virualization infrastructure solutions. OfficeOneLive i-worx’s flagship solution affords companies the ability to access virtual desktops in the data centre

    Specialties:Project Management, Business Analysis

     

    Simon Chester:

    simon chester

     

    1. The Ipad becomes the device of choice in law firms. So long PCs.
    2. Blackberry’s revival sputters. Lawyers are among the last to abandon their beloved devices.
    3. The first significant external investments in Canadian law firms happen in Halifax and Winnipeg, when Slater & Gordon establishes a bridgehead in North America. Toronto firms are still waiting for their Law Society to make a decision, and to figure out the fine print of regulating entities not individuals. Or rather both individuals and their firms.
    4. Another Canadian firm follows Heenan Blaikie over the cliff. Could it be in the oil patch?
    5. Other Canadian Law Societies follow the leads of the Nova Scotia Barristers Society, the Law Society of Manitoba, the Barreau du Québec and the Canadian Bar Association’s Futures Report in completely rethinking their regulatory stance, encouraging innovation unless there is an obvious threat to consumer interests or professional values. American observers are horrified. English and Australian commentators see Canada as just playing catch-up.
    6. Privacy Commissioner lambastes law firm security precautions in light of major data leaks from hacking attacks.
    7. Biometric password protection becomes a standard precaution. And firms no longer hand out unencrypted flash drives.
    8. TWU Law School sets up to train paralegals and legal technologists. Unless it can become a faculty of dentistry.
    9. Supreme Court of Canada further constitutionalizes the status of the legal profession in its decision on the application of money-laundering laws to the profession.
    10. A major Bay Street law firm will discover Twitter.

    AND

    The Seventh Pacific Legal Technology Conference is a huge success – not much of a prediction that one.

    Simon Chester is a law firm general counsel who has spent most of 2014 helping manage the largest law firm dissolution in Canadian history. His earlier career included law teaching, government service, senior positions in bar associations and organisational consulting.

    For twenty years, he has helped law firms navigate the complex and shifting landscape of professional regulation and solve an array of professional crises that threaten regulatory compliance, liability risk and reputational harm. He is one of Canada’s leading experts on conflicts of interest. With roots in three continents, he is a global lawyer, qualified in both Europe and North America. 

    Simon is a frequent commentator, writer and master presenter, delivering high-energy, provocative presentations to legal conferences around the world about change in the law and the pressures that firms face.

    A technological innovator throughout his career, he has earned an international reputation for his insights into the future of legal practice.

     

    Thanks to everyone who contributed and helped all of us part the clouds of the future so we can see clearly now!  Stay tuned gentle reader…Part 2 will be published on Monday!

     

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Call for Predictions!
    Friday, December 12th, 2014

    ♫ If you should see me walking
    Through your dreams at night
    Would you please direct me
    Where I ought to be
    I’ve been looking for a crystal ball
    To shed the light
    To find a future in me…
    To find a future in me…♫

    Lyrics and Music by: Tommy Shaw, recorded by Styx.

     

    The Swami

     

    To say that we have been thru a tremendous time of change in the legal profession is a wee bit of an understatement. Furthermore I believe that the rate of change is accelerating. This means that the changes that are coming at us like a Tsunami are totally unprecedented.  New competitors, new business structures, new technology, new ways of resolving disputes, new ways of communicating, new devices and services…there is hardly a corner of the legal profession that will not be impacted.  Then there are all the pressures from outside the legal profession to increase access to justice and bring the legal system within reach of the man on the Clapham Omnibus.  Of course a tremendous time of change is also a tremendous time for opportunity.

    Last year we heard from:

    • Jordan Furlong
    • Ross Fishman
    • Sharon Nelson
    • Ann Halkett
    • Richard Granat
    • Nicole Black
    • Colin Rule
    • Brian Mauch
    • John Zeleznikow
    • Michael Downey
    • Robert Denney
    • Mitch Kowalski
    • Buzz Bruggeman
    • Andrew Clark
    • UnitedLex
    • and yours truly!

    It is precisely at this juncture that I am calling on my friends, colleagues and readers to submit their predictions for 2015 in order that all of us can benefit by the collective thoughts and gaze into the crystal ball to shed the light ..and see where we stand …in order to find a future in all of us..

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Craft Your Future One Hour at a Time
    Thursday, December 11th, 2014

    ♫  Inch by inch, row by row, I’m gonna make this garden grow
    All it takes is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground…♫

    Lyrics and music by: David Mallett, recorded by: Peter, Paul & Mary.

    a dream is a wish

    Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying: “The best way to predict your future is to create it”

    Brian Tracy in his blog talks about the Golden Hour – a time that you set aside at the start of your day to work on the most important task you will have for your lifetime – namely your personal development.

    Brian states:

    [T]ake 30-60 minutes and read something motivational, inspirational or educational. Be sure that the first thing you put into your mind in the morning is positive, healthy and consistent with the kind of life you want to lead.

    A colleague of mine, Tom Grella, has been following this philosophy for as long as I have known him.  He takes an hour a day to read books and study leadership as it applies to lawyers.  His time invested in this activity has paid off in spades.

    Tom, the managing partner of McGuire, Wood & Bissette in Asheville, N.C., in 2012 was named the recipient of the Samuel S. Smith Award by the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section.

    “I cannot think of a more deserving honoree than Tom Grella. He epitomizes everything this award was created to recognize,” said Thomas Mighell, chair of the ABA Law Practice Management Section. “Tom stands out as a leader in LPM, the ABA and his law firm. His commitment to the improved growth and education of law practice management is steadfast, as demonstrated through his continued participation and leadership in LPM section activities.”

    The lesson here is to start – today – in investing in yourself to become the person that you wish to be. Inch by inch, day by day, you will be making progress towards your goal.

    Brian Tracy has great advice on how to make this happen. He says:

    After you have completed your morning reading, take a spiral notebook and write out your top 10-15 goals in the present tense, exactly as if you have already achieved them. Write goals such as, “I earn $100,000 per year”; “I weigh 165 pounds and am superbly fit”; “I drive a brand new grey BMW”; “I live in a beautiful 3500 square foot home” and so on. Rewrite your list of goals every morning without referring back to the goals you wrote the day before. This is a very important success factor for you to practice in order to achieve your goals.

    Only you will know what your goals are.. eHow says:

    Think about what you value in life. Your goals and aspirations need to be in line with your values in life. Defining your values will help you to set a direction for your goals and keep you focused and on track.

    Your goals can be as big and as broad as your imagination.  They could be to help your family and your children excel. They could be to make your business succeed. They could be to build your relationship with your spouse to be strong and powerful. Or they can aspire to achieve world peace and help end hunger.

    As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips | Permalink | No Comments »
    Lawyers and Pricing – Part 6
    Thursday, November 27th, 2014

    ♫  Saying, you got to play your cards and roll those dice,
    You may never get a second chance in this life;
    Don’t waste your time, ’cause time will tell,
    Good things yeah they hardly ever roll around twice.
    No second chances… No second chances….♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Damian Follett.

    impression

    This is the sixth post in the series on lawyers and marketing.  We have previously looked at  the product mix, the people who provide your services, how you promoted your services and the place where you render your services.  In this next instalment of the examination of the 7 P’s of marketing we have not yet looked at the physical evidence that you use to wrap around your (largely intangible) legal services.  This physical evidence is the material part of the services that you render.

    What do we mean by the physical or material evidence of your services?  Your clients will be looking at every physical and visual element of how your approach the market.  They will be looking at your office and how it is laid out, how businesslike and professional it is and asking themselves…does it exude the right sense of trust and confidence?  The physical environment in which you operate will send out many visual and physical clues as to your practice.

    They will be looking at your waiting room and consciously or not be wondering if you match their expected price point by the way you have decorated your office combined with your choice of colors, furniture, artwork, magazines and the like.  Is there a kid’s play centre or place for an office dog or even an aquarium?  How is the space laid out?  While functional is always good, people are also looking at how it is organized and what thought has been given to clients who may have to wait.  Is there Wi-Fi?  Air-conditioning? How are your employees ..and yourself…dressed?  Are the chairs and tables comfortable, clean and professional?

    What is the ambience of your office and in particular your reception area? Is it quiet and respectful?  Or do you overhear conversations going on in the office?  Is their quiet music playing in the background that provides a soothing atmosphere?  You need to ensure that you have matched your ambience with the messages that you want projected about you and your legal services.  Where is your office located and what does that say about your services?  Is the signage directing people to your office clear and fresh?

    Do you have a logo and corporate color scheme?  Is it reflected on your office stationery, business cards, website and in all other forms of marketing that you employ?  This corporate branding is increasingly important today in projecting your image to your clients and others.

    Speaking of your website, have you had it professionally designed and have you kept it current with regard to recent events, articles and such?  Does it render well on mobile devices such as smartphones?  Do you have a blog?  Have you updated it with new articles on a continual basis?

    When a client comes in to sign documents, do you provide a folder with your logo and contact information printed on it for the documents, along with a business card, a pen with your logo embossed on it and perhaps a brochure on the firm that speaks to the full range of services that you render?

    When you send out (by snail mail) copies of documents, articles of interest to clients and the like do you have printed notes with your name and logo on it to which you can write a few words to personalize the delivery of the documents or articles?

    Does your signature block in your email contain your logo and links to your website and other information (such as a privacy disclaimer)?

    If you sponsor events, is your logo, business name and color scheme reflected in the sponsorship materials?

    Think about some other businesses with whom you have recently visited and reflect on these elements. While your services may be intangible, the physical evidence that you wrap around those services can be a strong element in how you market your services.  After all you want to get it right since you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!

    (published concurrently on tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    The High Note
    Monday, November 3rd, 2014

    ♫ Boy, you’re going to carry that weight,
    Carry that weight a long time
    Boy, you’re going to carry that weight
    Carry that weight a long time…♫

    Lyrics and Music by Lennon & McCartney recorded by The Beatles.

     

    mccartney

     

    This is a guest post from Ann Mehl and originally appeared in her Newsletter and blog under the title “The High Note“. To say that it struck a note is putting it mildly.  I hope you find it to be as moving and reflective as I did.  It is reproduced here with her approval and consent.

    While scanning the radio in my car for a good song, I stumbled upon an interview with Paul McCartney. He was funny and engaging, so I stopped to listen for a while. He was asked about his voice, and if, at age 71, he could still sing all those old Beatles songs. His answer was honest and revealing. “Well,” he said. “I can’t hit all the high notes like I used to, but I’ve probably got better technique now, and you learn ways around that.” Some of those techniques? Changing the melody ever so slightly, letting his back up singers hit the high notes for him, or simply calling upon his audience fill in the blanks. Music legend Sir Paul McCartney has had to learn that even he has musical limitations.

    This got me thinking: How much of our lives are spent trying to chase a high note that we are no longer capable of hitting? And what does this cost us in terms of health and happiness? In my own life, I know I hit a high note when I ran my first marathon at 3:26, a personal record for me. It’s unlikely I will ever do it again, and that’s okay. I’m interested in different goals now. But it can be very hard to let go of who we used to be, or who we imagine we still are. We see it all the time in professional sports: the athlete who retires, only to “unretire” six months later. The boxer who wants “one more fight” when everyone around him knows he should have quit years ago.

    Most of us are not athletes or professional performers, but we do know what it’s like to chase our former glories, and to hunger for that intoxicating high note. Maybe it’s the version of ourselves that is 10 years younger, or 20 pounds lighter. Maybe it’s the earlier excitement of a new job, or the rush of a new romance. Most of us yearn for these peak experiences, and once experienced, seek to recreate them.

    That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can lead to a lot of frustration and heartache in the present. The problem with chasing only these moments, is that they are generally very fleeting, if they exist at all. And we can miss out on some of the really great moments happening in between. Martina Navratilova said it best: “The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else.”

    I knew of one serial entrepreneur who made a killing on his first venture, to the tune of almost $10 million. He went on to create several other successful companies after this, but none as big as the first. Measured against this impossible standard, he felt he was constantly failing, even when, by all outward signs he was a massive success. To his family and work colleagues, he had become a bitter pill who could not enjoy his own success. He was enslaved to the high note, in his case, some arbitrary number below which anything spelled failure. He was Sisyphus, compelled to roll an immense boulder uphill, only to become demoralized every time it rolled back down on top of him.

    There are two basic roads that we can travel: one is the road to freedom, and the other is the road to tyranny. The road to tyranny is based on always hitting the high note, and a refusal to accept anything else. It enslaves us to the past, and blinds us to new opportunities in the present. After all, who are we if we can no longer hit the high note? The road to freedom, on the other hand, accepts that all things are in a constant state of flux: our bodies, our minds, our relationships. What we are able to do in our 20s and 30s is very different from what we can do in our 40s, 50s and beyond. And not only is this okay, it is natural.

    At the root of all unhappiness is our refusal to accept that all things eventually must end: our youth, our beauty and eventually even ourselves. What we are really fighting against is our own mortality, and that is one battle we will never win. But like Paul McCartney, maybe we can learn some new techniques. We can accept that while a relationship has changed, it does not necessarily have to end. We can accept that while a job is no longer as exciting as it once was, it may offer its own kind of reward in the people we meet. We can accept that through age or infirmity, a parent is no longer the person we once knew, and try to develop a new connection based on who they are now.

    I’m not suggesting we give up or don’t stretch ourselves, only that we don’t have to be slaves to our past successes (or failures). Graceful surrender to the here and now is always preferable to screeching, or God forbid, ruptured vocal chords. Paul McCartney may not be able to hit the high notes like he used to. All he can do is make friends with the voice he has now, and the many beautiful notes he still can sing. And when the voice cracks, or won’t go where he wants it to go, he invites the audience to sing along.

    Thanks Ann for reminding us that unless we learn to gently acknowledge and adjust to the fact that we may not be able to hit the high notes like we used to, we will be carrying that weight a long time…

    (Hat tip to Stewart Levine for originally drawing my attention to Ann’s article).

    Thought for the Day: “In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” – Paul McCartney.

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    A Lesson From a Deli?
    Thursday, October 30th, 2014

    ♫ You’re a leftover
    Pastrami on rye
    Succulent and delicious
    Yes, the sandwich of my eye…♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Hot Soda Apparatus.

    Katz's Deli.I read an article today in Slate Magazine entitled “The UR-Deli – How Katz’s stays in business against the odds by Jordan Weissmann.”  This article is about how Katz’s deli in New York City has remained in business in the lower east side of New York since 1888 while its competitors have failed.

    The business model is to deliver a hefty pastrami on rye for $19.75.  Believe it or not, that sandwich is not much of a moneymaker.  The old-style delis are facing a conundrum: the very thing that makes them loved..those wonderful stacked pastrami and corned beef sandwiches – is the thing that makes it hardest from an economic standpoint.  They don’t make much money.

    Compare and contrast that with law firms:  the very thing that makes us loved – delivering bespoke legal services – is the very thing that makes it hardest from an economic standpoint.  We can’t seem to deliver legal services at a lower cost. We are facing a basic economic issue similar to these old delis…

    How does Katz’s deli survive?

    The reason Katz’s was able to live on while its competitors disappeared largely boils down to real estate. As Sax writes in Save the Deli, New York’s delicatessens can basically be divided into two groups: those that rent their buildings and those that own. Famous renters, like the Stage Deli and 2nd Avenue Deli, have closed in the face of rent hikes. Famous owners, like Carnegie and Katz’s, have lived on. (And when 2ndAvenue Deli reopened, it bought a building … on New York’s 3rd Avenue). If Katz’s had to deal with a landlord, it would likely have disappeared or moved long ago.

    Is there a lesson here for law firms?  Could – possibly – part of the solution to the access to justice issues be that law firms start owning their own office buildings? There are a number of advantages arising from this model.  The partners of such a firm would be building equity in the property over time; that same equity could be used to retire older partners when newer partners purchase an interest in the business as well as the real estate asset.  Keeping ownership of the office space may reduce the overhead costs that could help the firm render legal services to a broader base of clients.

    Certainly the issue of trying to broaden the ability of existing law firms to deliver legal services economically to a wider group of society does not have any easy solutions.  However, perhaps Katz’s and similar survivors have lessons for us today. Notwithstanding we are a leftover, perhaps we can still be the sandwich in a client’s eye…

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, humour, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Roger Smith on Contrast between BC and UK Legal Aid Cuts has Valuable Lessons
    Monday, October 20th, 2014

    ♫ Our contribution to the revolution…♫

    Lyrics and Music by Michael Jacobs and Patrick Regan, recorded and Created by Lucent Technologies Public Relations (2000) (this has got to be the geekiest music video I have ever seen!)

     

    roger smith

    Roger Smith

    This is a guest post from Richard Zorza on his blog: Richard Zorza’s Access to Justice Blog.  It is a very thoughtful piece about innovation here in British Columbia by the Legal Services Society when faced by massive budget cuts, as compared to what has been done elsewhere (such as the UK) when faced with a similar situation.  This blog post follows Roger Smith’s recent visit to us here in BC (where I was fortunate enough to have a fascinating lunch with Roger and others at the LSS offices) and Roger’s own blog post (mentioned herein) on this topic.  Hat tip to Erin Shaw, a lawyer who has an extensive background in policy analysis, dispute resolution and justice and law reform, for pointing this post to me this last friday in Victoria!  This post is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.

    I want to draw your attention to a blog post by the UK’s wonderful Roger Smith contrasting the BC and UK approach to cutting, and response to cuts in, legal aid budgets.  His essential point is that the BC cuts, while apparently just as draconian, were structured to allow for flexibility and innovation, and the challenges were  approached in that spirit.

    A couple of paras of contrast from the post:

    The crucial difference between our [UK] position and that of BC is that, unlike by Chris Grayling and the Legal Aid Administration, cuts were not seen as an end in themselves. Yes, the government wanted blood but, provided legal aid could work within a reduced budget, then its administration was left free to do the best that it could. At first, the extent of the slaughter left little wriggle room and lawyers still argue that they should have been the first beneficiaries of any discretionary cash. But, the Legal Services Society, the legal aid administrator, has gradually sought to re-engineer its purpose as not only to provide representation in core cases but to deliver self help and advice designed to assist people to resolve legal problems on their own.

    The difference a decade after BC’s cuts is that I have come all the way to Vancouver to see the brilliant work that the Legal Services Society, the Justice Education Society and the Courhouse Libraries are providing in digital delivery to those on low incomes. Google clicklaw.bc.ca, families change.ca, familylaw.lss.bc.ca (soon to be mylawbc.org) for a host of cutting edge provision in the province. Even the Ministry of Justice is joining in. Legislation in 2012 allows the funding of an online small claims court, the civil resolution tribunal, which will come on stream next year. Try even to file an electronic document in our own dear courts. No chance. No imagination. No innovation. Just a Minister and a Ministry shorn of any interest save in reducing expenditure. Cuts, Mr Grayling, are the easy part. Making sense – or even the best – of them takes imagination and innovation. Get on a plane; meet your BC counterparts and be appropriately humble about your government’s limited imagination and barren approach to policy.

    In some ways, the cuts in these jurisdictions put them roughly where the US is now.  So the question is whether we approach digging ourselves out of the access crisis with the same creativity.  Or are we only nibbling at the edge of change.  Inevitably, in the US the answer is “it depends” usually on the state and on the quality of leadership in the state.  But I fear that our fragmentation means that we lack national leadership on things like a broad roll-out of self-help centers, forms, unbundling, and the other elements of the continuum of services, and all the quality and cost benefits that would come from national strategies.  An exception is special kudos to LSC, Pro Bono Net and others for creating a near-national network of websites (although all would agree that the integration could go much further particularly on the marketing/partnering end.)

    I hope that we as delivery innovators never forget that there will always be cases in which lawyers are needed — even as we work through simplification and innovation in both community based and court-based legal aid to reduce that percentage.  But I also urge right to counsel folks not to forget that explicitly or implicitly taking the position that lawyers are always needed makes their proposals far more expensive and both politically and legally much more likely to build resistance.  It’s an interesting question how the recent Boston Bar (article) (Report) and Maryland Right to Counsel reports deal with this challenge.

    The key, of course, is triage and the key to the politics of a solution to the differences in perspective is common research and understanding about triage.

    p.s. There is a newly updated website on right to counsel developments, including an interactive map, recently launched by the Coalition.

    I hope you have enjoyed this little contribution to the revolution!  Thanks Roger, Richard and Erin!

    Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Lawyers and Pricing – Part 5
    Thursday, October 16th, 2014

    ♫ I want you
    Do you want me too?
    I have one question
    Can I help you?
    Now watch me, what I do
    Now thank you for coming through my drive-thru..♫

    Lyrics and Music by: Julian Casablancas, Santi White, Pharrell Williams, recorded by Julian Casablancas, Santigold, and Pharrell Williams.

    drive thru lawyer

    In the four prior posts in this series, we looked at how price is just one of seven components of the legal marketing mix. Part 2 discussed the product mix – and how changing your product mix may result in a great match between your services and the needs of the clients. Part 3 looked at who was on your team and how they deliver your services – and how this can have a big distinguishing effect on how clients view your services against the competition. In Part 4 we looked at promotion and how this can make your services stand out from the pack. In each of these posts we have looked at how each of these components helps distinguish your services from the competition; services that are distinguishable are priced differently, as they are no longer comparable with the competition.

    In this post we are looking at yet another component of the marketing mix – namely the place where you deliver your services.  Just consider the range of physical office configurations – from storefront offices on main street to walkup offices to Class A office space in a gleaming skyscraper. Each one of these sends an unwritten message to a potential consumer of legal services. Furthermore, you can practice as a solo, in an office sharing arrangement, an associate or a partner of a firm, large or small. Lawyers can maintain branch offices in the suburbs, in another town, province or state or even another country or continent. You can be a travelling lawyer who attends clients at their places of business, home, hospital, care facility, union hall or even a Starbucks. You can offer handicap access or after-hour access.  Lastly but certainly not least, you can maintain a virtual office, using internet technologies to meet, share, collaborate and meet the needs of your clients who could be down the street, across town, in a distant city or even across the world.  The range of possibilities are unbounded.

    Indeed, bold lawyers have envisioned practising in ways that break the familiar constraints. Axess Law in Ontario has launched law offices that are embedded within Wal*Mart stores in Ontario and offer home, family, business services, legal contracts and notary services in an affordable and approachable context.

    The range of offices and services that can be offered from different locations to meet client needs is as open and wide as your imagination. Perhaps one day a lawyer will open an office where a client can receive legal advice right in their car…and the lawyer would say…”Can I help You?” and then conclude with: “Thank you for coming thru my drive-thru…

    (cross-posted to tips.slaw.ca)

    Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Lawyers and Pricing – Part 4
    Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

    ♫ That’s why I fell for (the leader of the pack)…♫

    Lyrics and Music by: George “Shadow” MortonJeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, recorded by The Shangri-Las.

    promotion

    In the three prior posts on lawyers and pricing, we have looked at how price is only one part of the 7 components of the legal marketing mix. Part 2 discussed the product mix and how you can change your legal product mix to better meet the needs of your clients in a way that distinguishes your services from those of the competition. Part 3 examined how the people on your team can have a big impact on how your services are delivered. In fact, in Good to Great, Jim Collins said that the most important factor applied by the best companies is that they first of all “Got the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off the bus.” In this post we are exploring how promoting your business can be a distinguishing feature, setting your business up as being different from the competition…allowing you to price your services differently from the competition.

    Think about all the different ways that your clients learn about your services.  Certainly word-of-mouth is the gold standard of referral marketing, but not everyone who is a client in your firm came in the doors as a result of a personal referral.  When it comes to marketing your practice, the one truth is that whatever works today will stop working at some time in the future for reasons that you might never know. Accordingly you need to change up your promotional or marketing activities and keep trying new things. Small changes can have big effects.

    Social media is all the rage today and for good reason. Facebook has now reached 1.3 billion people – and that doesn’t include anyone in China!  LinkedIn and Twitter are the other members of the “big three” social media networks. Have a look at your Facebook page, your LinkedIn profile and your use of Twitter.  You can choose to not be on any of these (after all you can choose how to market your firm and your practice) and if these wouldn’t resonate for you or your clients ..fair ball. What is worse is being there but not having updated anything for some time.  This indicates lack of commitment and follow-thru.  Same goes for a blog – I personally find blogging to be one of the easiest and more effective ways for a young lawyer to establish themselves and their expertise in the market, if done consistently and well. Combine a blog with your thoughtful use of twitter on developments in your legal area of choice and you can become known as an authority in short order.  For a great overview of how Canadian lawyers are blogging see the Clawbies website – the Canadian Legal Blog awards.  You can be as creative as your imagination will take you..provided you still stay within the marketing ethics of your jurisdiction.

    If social networking is not for you, there are a host of more traditional marketing methods.  In person presentations and webinars are one way to get known and demonstrate your knowledge of your area of practice.  Financial institutions are always putting on presentations.  If writing is your thing, then offer to do a regular column in a local or community newspaper (you can then reuse these articles in a blog or newsletter).  You can clearly show your involvement and interest in local affairs, schools, sporting events, churches and other organizations and help them – thereby building your presence in the community.

    Whatever you do, try to ensure that your marketing makes you stand out from the pack.  After all that is its purpose – to show that you are different from the rest.  You want your clients to have fallen for the leader of the pack.

    (cross-posted to slaw tips.ca)

     

    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, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    2014 Solo and Small Firm Practice
    Thursday, September 25th, 2014

    ♫ I only need to tell myself
    See what the future holds… ♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by S.P.Y.

    solo and small firm

    Just a note that the 2014 Solo and Small Firm Conference early bird rate ends tomorrow…!!

    This is a CLE-BC conference and we have worked quite hard on the content and the speakers. This is for anyone running or in a solo or small firm practice or thinking of launching one.

    This is the latest in a series of Solo and Small Firm Conferences that have been hosted by CLE-BC.  It only comes around every 2 years.

    We have outstanding speakers including the Past President of the CBA Fred Headon doing the lunch keynote on the implications of the CBA Futures Report for solo and small firms (by Skype!).

    You can attend in person or virtually.

    Topics include Business School for Lawyers – what they didn’t teach you in Law School; Managing the Finances – Making the Numbers Work, Law Office Management and Technology, Marketing Ethically, Dealing with the Self Represented and Freeman on the Land, Solo and Small Firm issues and a guest presentation by the founders of the Axess Law Firm in Ontario – who have ‘embedded’ a law practice inside a number of Wal*Mart stores in Ontario.

    This is a fresh look at solo and small firm practice…and an exciting one.

    As the conference chair, I welcome you to the conference and I am looking forward to seeing you all there.  Come and see what the future holds!

    Posted in Adding Value, Budgeting, Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »