This site is primarily about self improvement of your legal skills to allow you to add value to your employer and your clients.
It would be easy for me to suggest that there was some simple path you can tread which would instantly and permanently offer the solutions to every practical impediment that you now face.
But I would be lying. I’d be trying to feed you some line about the wonders of product X or system Y where you could see the financial and tangible benefits within mere hours or days.
Constant, Small Scale, Self Improvements
The reality is that self improvement when it comes to our legal skills is a life long process. We cannot improve without a constant dedication to improvement, a system of learning, reading and implementation that allows us to always look out better ways of practising law to offer our clients greater value and better service.
It is a sad state of affairs that many lawyers (most of whom have considerably more grey hairs than I) have a world view which suggests that “I did it this way, therefore this way works, therefore that is the way we will do it”. It’s often that person’s money you’re playing with, of course, but what it betrays is a system built by the risk averse rather than the entrepreneur.
What they have lost is an appreciation for the value of continued incremental improvement.
Traditional law firms have a tendency to look at improvements (or change – let’s not assume it’s better) in one of two ways on any given topic:
- Change is bad or risky, so we’re not going to change;
- We need to change in a gigantic and firm wide way at colossal cost.
Both Approaches Are Wrong
The problem with both approaches taken by law firms is that they result in the firm being late on everything. Just look at law firm adoption of Facebook, Twitter and social media generally. Law Firms are usually last to take up technological improvements, and systems used by law firms are often hundreds of years old. Who is normally the last to the party? Us.
Cost effective and resource efficient change is brought about by a series of small ongoing tests. For example, person X wants to adopt a new twitter strategy. The traditional law firm would get a consultant, pay them a fortune, get advice, hire a staff member to implement said advice, and then try it for a year and look at the metrics that were set up to measure success or otherwise of the project.
OR they could just say to person X – sure, give it a go for a couple of weeks or months – we trust you and we’ll see how you get on.
Less cost, faster implementation, and more encouragement for employees to offer innovative approaches. Of course there is risk involved – but that’s what every law firm was built on – somebody taking a risk. The beauty of smaller scale adoption of these systems is that the risk is minimised.
So here are the tips for today:
- In your own practice and life, try to adopt a system of looking for constant improvement. Not whole scale change, but small tweaks you can make to your habits or procedures;
- Encourage such an approach among your peers;
- If the opportunity arises, take a chance to suggest a new way of doing things in your firm. The trick is low cost, fast implementation.
I encourage you to foster an environment of constant, small analysis and self improvement among you and your colleagues. Heard about a better way? Why not try it out.