♫ These days go by
And they’re gone before you know it
So come on, open your window
Let the light shine in
This is life don’t miss it…♫
Lyrics, Music and recorded by Francesca Battistelli.
It is not too often that I get to write about technology and theatre. However, to every rule there is an exception. And this is an exceptional exception.
Helen Lawrence is playing at The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver until April 13, 2014. This is a world premier. If you haven’t already seen it – I urge you to take a moment and head off to one of the remaining shows. It will be gone before you know it.
The writeup for the presentation is as follows:
“World premiere Acclaimed visual artist Stan Douglas and screenwriter Chris Haddock (Da Vinci’s Inquest, Boardwalk Empire) bring you an intoxicating mixed-media spectacle set in the Vancouver of 1948. Visit the vanished worlds of the old Hotel Vancouver and Hogan’s Alley—the city’s hot spot for gambling and vice.Helen Lawrence is an intriguing, hard-boiled tale of loyalty and money that illuminates our city’s politics during a time of historic upheaval.”
It is stunning in its use of visual effects. The acting is simply outstanding – it is crisp, exact and precise. The tone is perfect. The use of visual angles to great effect only accentuate the story.
In a word I loved it. I don’t want to say more as I don’t wish to be a spoiler. But this is a show not to be missed. Bravo!!!Posted in personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips | Permalink | 1 Comment »
.♫ And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun….♫
Lyrics and Music by David Gilmour, Nicholas Mason, Roger Waters, Rick Wright, recorded by Pink Floyd.
One of the most interesting things I did just prior to Techshow was to attend a small group presentation hosted by Bob Christensen of The Form Tool and Doxsera in advance of Techshow. Bob’s presentation focused on change and in particular, the effect of change on the legal profession. In order to set the stage, Bob started by noting that in earliest dawn of man, one major change appeared in say, 10,000 generations. That has gradually accelerated to the point where today, we are seeing four major changes appearing in a single generation.
So what has that got to do with the legal profession, you say?
Bob noted that the structure of the legal business was established in the 1700s. We continue to use that structure more or less today.
Bob continued by noting that the watchmaking industry was started at about this same time. During that same period, watchmakers were some of the wealthiest people around and handmade watches cost a considerable amount. Now fast forward to today…to the world of Timex. A $29.95 Timex watch today keeps far better time than the best hand made watch of the past.
Furthermore, 60% of the number of watches in circulation has plummeted - due to the appearance of smartphones. The members of the new generation do not buy watches – they all have smartphones that keep accurate time. They do not see the need.
Bob stated this is just an example of the fact that “the consumer will always dominate the marketplace.” And that applies just as equally to the legal profession.
He noted three major themes in life today:
Theme #1 – the rate of change is accelerating
Theme #2 – that evolution always starts at the top. It is incremental.
Theme #3 – that revolution comes from the bottom. And revolution is always disruptive.
Bob noted that www.LegalZoom.com has taught the legal marketplace (but not lawyers) that legal documents should be free or at least low cost.
Bob challenged the lawyers in the room to see themselves in the same position as the watchmakers of the past who made hand-made watches for high prices. Revolution = Disruption = Technology is coming.
A word about Bob’s latest product: Doxsera. Doxsera is priced at $89 / year (USD). It is a very sophisticated document assembly engine for Word for Windows (sorry it doesn’t work in Word on the Mac).
What makes Doxsera different? It pulls in vast amounts of info into multiple documents and assembles documents in a way that is unique and very cost-effective. You don’t just assemble one document – you assemble a group of documents all relating to say, a closing or real estate transaction etc. You can take a process that in the past, had to be used to produce documents in a serial process (one after another) to the point where it can produce a whole grouping of documents at one time (parallel processing). Bob is trying to demonstrate to lawyers how they can produce legal documents at low cost. Think of his product as taking the legal production process as moving from making expensive hand-made watches to producing inexpensive Timex watches.
However, after his talk I couldn’t help looking back over my shoulder for the legal equivalent of the smartphone. Hmmm….perhaps it is just a matter of time..Posted in Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ There’s a bridge
I don’t know how to cross yet
I need your hand
To hold along the way..♫
Music and lyrics by: Tozer, Faye/lauper, Cyndi/pilsford, Jan/irn, Jasper, recorded by Steps.
Since I am just recently back from ABA Techshow in Chicago which was held last week, I thought this blog post could be an amalgam of the sessions that touched on going paperless that I saw as well as the management issues that were raised in these sessions.
To start, there are “Three Key Steps to Paperless Success.” These are:
- Everything gets scanned
- You need protocols in place to make sure it gets done
- You (and everyone else) has to make time to do it
If you don’t scan everything, nothing else matters as the systems then start to break down.
There are three Scanning Methods that you can adopt:
- Centralized Scanning: This is suitable for large firms. Here you have one person or a team dedicated to the task, using large capacity scanners
- Distributed Scanning: This is suitable for smaller firms, where everyone scans their own documents. Here you have staff that have multiple roles, including scanning. The King of Scanners for this method of scanning: The Fujitsu ScanSnap.
- Hybrid Scanning: This method is suitable for medium to larger firms. Here work groups scan their own documents, using a variety of scanners. Staff have greater familiarity with the types of documents being scanned as compared to Centralized Scanning.
Regarding the management process behind the decision to go paperless, the suggestions were: Read the rest of this entry »Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 1 Comment »
♫ Wake up and live, y’all!
(Wake up and live) Wake up and live now!
You see, one – one cocoa full a basket,
Whey they use you live big today: tomorrow you buried in-a casket…♫
Lyrics and music by Bob Marley, Anthony Davis, recorded by Bob Marley and The Wailers.
This post is being written up in Whistler BC while on a spring-break ski trip. Garry sent me an email that he will be off to Jamaica this week to lie under a palm tree. Whether it be snow or sand that calls to you, the important thing is to heed that call and take the break from your routine and live big today!
Get away — often. It’s a fact: People who take vacations have lower stress and a less risk of heart disease — not to mention a better outlook on life and more motivation to achieve goals.
Need more motivation? Psychology Today in an article entitled “The importance of vacations to our physical and mental health” says:
Chronic stress takes its toll in part on our body’s ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and even ability to avoid injury. When you’re stressed out and tired, you are more likely to become ill, your arteries take a beating, and you’re more likely to have an accident. Your sleep will suffer, you won’t digest your food as well, and even the genetic material in the cells of your body may start to become altered in a bad way. Mentally, not only do you become more irritable, depressed, and anxious, but your memory will become worse and you’ll make poorer decisions. You’ll also be less fun to be with, causing you to become more isolated, lonely, and depressed.
So there are multiple reasons for taking that break!
Psychology Today goes even further:
In a 2009 study, Canadian researchers Joudrey and Wallace reported that “active” leisure pursuits (such as golf!) and taking vacations helped to buffer or ameliorate the job stress among a sample of almost 900 lawyers.
Advantage Behavioural Healthcare says in regards to vacations:
Relationships are enriched
Spending time together enriches a marriage, which strengthens the family foundation. Through traditions and rituals, such as vacations, any relationship can be enriched. Vacations and other traditions make memories and are the glue that binds us. Vacation can provide an opportunity to talk with one another, learn new skills or discover new interests.
It is not just the taking of the vacation that has benefits. The WebMD goes further:
Even better, the biggest boost in happiness comes from planning the vacation. You can feel the effects up to 8 weeks prior to your trip. And when you’re done with that retreat, start planning the next one. Simply having something to look forward to can be rewarding.
I can hardly wait to start planning the next ski break! Wake up and live now!
(concurrently posted to slawtips.ca)Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ 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.Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Tips, Trends | Permalink | 2 Comments »
♫ 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.
Learn how the Ohio State University Leadership Center is inspiring others to take a leadership role that empowers the world at http://leadershipcenter.osu.edu
To begin receiving Leadership Moments, or to update your information, please click on The Leadership Center’s Join Our Mailing List button.
Thanks Beth and the rest of the team for bringing us along and leaving a positive emotional wake!Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ 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.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, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ Even though you’re going through hell
Just keep on going
Let the demons dwell
Just wish them well…♫
Yesterday I taught the first class of the 2014 term on legal technology for the Internationally Trained Lawyer’s Program at the University of Toronto law school. We started the session with everyone giving a bit of background on who there are, where they went to law school, what type of law they practiced in their home country and hope to practice following their call here in Canada and what their background was in technology. They also had to provide one quirky fact about themselves that no one would know which provided a light-hearted fun aspect to the course.
Notwithstanding the humour introduced by the quirky question responses, two factors struck me in listening to the stories of these bright and enthusiastic lawyers…one of which being the challenges and personal sacrifices that they had undertaken in order to cross half the globe and seek qualification here in Canada. The second aspect was how deeply technology has penetrated how we practice law in Canada and the enormity of their task – to not only learn a new legal system but to learn how one interacts with that system using the myriad of tools and technologies available to us.
There is the analogy of the boiling frog – if you put a frog into a pot of hot water, the frog will immediately leap out. But if you put a frog into a pot of cold water and slowly increase the temperature, the frog apparently does not realize what is happening…the frog slowly adjusts to the increase in temperature (ultimately for its detriment…but I digress). The point is that technology has grown up around us to the point where we take it all for granted.
It is only when you are faced with the prospect of learning all that we take for granted that you realize how lawyers in Canada have adjusted to incorporating technology into all that we do. Unfortunately there are still a number of lawyers who do not embrace the benefits of technology and what we can achieve on behalf of our clients by applying technology appropriately. It is sad that some of this group wear the distinction of not knowing how to use technology as some kind of mark of distiction.
It also makes one realize the efficiencies and effectiveness that we have achieved as a result of incorporating technology into the practice of law. We have been through a tremendous period of change from the time of the introduction of the first personal computers into practice. Now with the Internet, collaborative technologies, social media, cloud computing and all the mobile devices from smartphones to iPads and Android devices, we have new and innovative ways to practice from wherever we are with clients that are scattered all over the globe.
I can’t think of a more exciting time to be a lawyer in Canada. I am encouraged and humbled by the determination of those in this cohort to come up to speed with all aspects of how to practice law in Canada. I wish them well!
(Cross posted to slaw tips.ca)
Posted in Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Technology, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ 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)Posted in Adding Value, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Make it Work!, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
♫ 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 Read the rest of this entry »Posted in Business Development, Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, personal focus and renewal, Tips, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »