Category Archives for "Get Better Clients"

Steinbeck on the Emotional Impact of Contract Signing

Lawyers who spend our days squinting to foresee tragedy—usually by cataloging historical harms—tend to grow comfortable with the weight of such dire (if remote) risks.

We might forget, then, that our parade of portents can pack a punch for people who are unaccustomed to considering such calamity.

John Steinbeck captures it vividly in The Log from the Sea of Cortez. He and Doc Ricketts are chartering a vessel in Monterrey for a six-week scientific expedition in the Gulf of California. Upon agreeing to terms in principle, it is time to put ink on the page.

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An Easy Way to Detect Law Firm BS

Back in my software industry days, our company president (the wonderful Sally Von Bargen) was ahead of her time when it came to a relentless focus on customer experience. Her term: Outrageous Customer Service. She was also fond of pithy management one-liners that, despite their folksy wisdom (or maybe because of it), were highly effective in driving the right kinds of behaviors among her teams.

One that pops into my head quite a bit lately (given my recent experiences with BigLaw) is an elegant little rhyme: Measure what you Treasure. Continue reading

Market Your Law Practice Like a Startup

The other day I responded to a question on /r/lawfirm (for the uninitiated, that’s a Reddit group) and it was pretty well received, so I thought I’d clean it up a little and post it here.

Before I do, I should point out that the ideas I present are from the Lean Startup philosophy. The term “Lean Startup” is taken from Eric Ries’s book of the same name, and it has become something of a bible in the world of technology entrepreneurs. So much so that it would be difficult for tech startups to attract investment if they were not following Lean Startup principles.Continue reading

Understanding your Client’s User Stories

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My thesis so far: You have a greater opportunity to increase customer Value by delivering more Benefit than by lowering customer Investment. If customer Value = Benefit – Investment (my original theory), then it is easy to see that lowering Investment (cost control) can have a noticeable impact on Value when the initial Investment is large. But you can also see that the opportunity for Value improvement through cost control diminishes as the Investment shrinks.

I’ve also discussed the usefulness of Lean tools for cost control, especially identifying and eliminating Waste in your legal workflows (I even made a handy poster). But I cautioned that eliminating Waste for the sake of your own efficiency is a poor long-term strategy for improving Value: First you must understand what Benefit your work is adding for your customer, then you can scrutinize any activities that are not extrinsically beneficial.

So how can you better understand your customer’s desired Benefits?Continue reading