The concept of “design thinking” pops up again and again in conversations about innovation and change. Design thinking strives to make a process, service or product more engaging, usable and useful. At last design concepts have begun to infiltrate the legal world. Solos who truly want to differentiate themselves in the market should consider incorporating design principles into their law practices.
You don’t have to be reminded that the legal world has become very competitive. You face it every day. For example, some believe that keeping abreast of technology trends breeds more success for a solo than making good grades in law school.
Online innovators use technology to provide low cost legal documents and low cost legal advice from attorneys. Some of these clients getting online legal services might have been your clients in years past. But now they may expect their legal documents to be generated quicker, cheaper and more conveniently than you can generate them.
Even if the clients perceive the difference between your services and an online provider, client expectations about legal costs and turnaround time are being influenced by online innovators. Where does this leave you?
Due to the nature of our profession, we lawyers have plenty to stress about, and the unprecedented changes affecting the legal industry today just add to the mix. With my “fly on the wall” perspective as a lawyer-coach, however, I notice that the way lawyers talk to themselves about their situation dramatically affects their level of suffering, and can also impact their results. So I want to offer two kinds of tools that may help when you are feeling stressed, anxious or down.
When writing copy for a website, lawyers need to learn how to talk less about their degrees and qualifications, and more about the problems that they solve. Marketing experts call it describing benefits, rather than features. Are you doing this on your website?
A disaster preparedness plan is an essential element of law practice management. After experiencing Hurricane Irene in 2011, Susan Cartier Liebel wrote about having a communication plan for emergencies. Here are a few more items to consider including in your plan.
“You never told me that!” Those are words a lawyer never wants to hear, but unfortunately many of us do. That’s why CYA (cover your a$$) can be so important.
Often a lawyer’s interaction with a client occurs during one of the most stressful times of the client’s life. Although it may be a routine matter to the lawyer, it may be the only time the client has ever been in this circumstance. Just when the client needs full brain power to comprehend new and complicated concepts, stress negatively impacts the client’s ability to think and remember. So put yourself in your client’s shoes and see how you can make their experience easier while covering yourself.
Thoughtful colleagues, friends and clients sometimes make introductions by email or social media to people they think it would be helpful for you to know. Hopefully the new contact will become a client or a referral source one day, but often they haven’t actually requested this introduction. How should you follow up? Here are a few thoughts on the subject.
Over the years I have worked with a number of lawyers that struggle with perfectionism, and I might even call myself a recovering perfectionist. Some of those perfectionists don’t see perfectionism as a problem, however. To them, their problems are caused by clients with unrealistic expectations about time frames or legal costs. Others lament the necessity of doing everything themselves because their direct reports don’t do a high quality job.
I’ve asked hundreds of lawyers what differentiates them from their competition. Almost all of them say that it’s the quality of their work. News flash: you can’t all be better than the rest. Find out what you really need to do to separate yourself from the pack.