Gary Mitchell's Biz/Dev Coaching Blog
The beginning of a New Year always offers us so much hope. Hope for a new start. Hope for another chance. Hope to improve, learn and grow. Hope for whatever it is that we want more of.
That brings me to my all-time favorite quote. It comes from one of Goethe’s couplets:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can-begin it-boldness has genius, power and magic in it”
Happy New Year! With so many people around the world saying goodbye to a very tough year, and beginning a new one with renewed hope for a better future, the concept of time comes to mind. On the treadmill the other day and watching the clock count down, I couldn’t help but remember a conversation I had with my Grandmother when I was younger. By the age of 25, I had already noticed how fast time was going by. She laughed and said, “Gary, wait till you get to my age”. She was 82 at the time. She said, “the more of life you have behind you, and the less you have in front of you, the faster it goes.”
Back to the treadmill. As the time was getting closer to my goal, it hit me. She was right. The more time I had already completed, the faster it went by.
So with this Year New Year, what are you going to do with your time today? What are you going to do with your time this year?
For the last couple of years there has been a lot of talk in the media about disruption in the legal market. I think it’s about time. I will keep this post short and offer you two very insightful references on disruption in the legal market.
The first link is to a six page article in the Globe and Mail
The second link is to a one day conference at Harvard Law School about disruption in the legal market.
These links will both provide you with valuable insights into how the industry is changing.
You’ve likely heard the loosely translated definition of insanity, ‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results’. Well I can certainly point to a lot of insanity in the legal industry right now. We are seeing an unprecedented disruption in the legal industry, and disruption is here to stay and in fact will only increase. Heenan was the first and there are likely others to follow. Lawyers at firms at all levels, shapes and sizes are experiencing more turbulence than we’ve ever seen before.
There are so many things wrong with the typical law firm business model. Starting with the billable hour, compensation models, lack of talent development, partners not pushing work down to associates, too many committees, not fully leveraging the skills and experience of your C-level professionals (you know, the ones who went to school to learn how to run a business), like you went to school to learn how to become a lawyer? Yes, I know I’m being a little harsh. But this is crazy. Your clients know it. Some of your junior lawyers know it. And your management knows it. This is not the time to wait to see what the other guys do. It’s time to do things differently and break out of the pack. If you don’t you’re not only foolish, you could be insane.
Change or die is an expression that’s been around a long time in the business world. Well legal industry, get used to the expression and live by it. Moving forward things will not look like it did pre-recession. Your clients will not continue to pay over-exorbitant fees. They will look for better value and be open to using non-traditional sources for their legal work. They will demand more. The insulation so to speak, is over.
If you are one of those lawyers that continues to think nothing will change, I ask you, what was your second career choice? You may need to revert to it and sooner than later. In Canada if we want to see the future of legal services, all we have to do is look south of the border and even overseas.
But this also presents abundant opportunities for those lawyers and law firms who are open to doing things differently. Go and speak with your clients before they come to you. Find out exactly what they need from you. How you can better accommodate them? What different models do you or your firm need to create?
Change or die. It’s only doom and gloom if you don’t take hede.
Good morning Lawyer X, this is your wake-up call. It’s time to re-think your career. This is not a call you were hoping to get. But let’s face the facts. Your practice is nearly dried up. Your market is flat. You are not bringing in any new clients, and you haven’t for some time. And the bottom line is there are no new clients to get. To make matters even worse the clients you do have are going away or have nothing for you to do. Yes, it’s pretty bleak. But it’s not your fault. Don’t beat yourself up, do something about it.
At the time of writing this, we are in the compensation season. And as a result, I expect we are going to see a lot of layoffs and more de-capitalization in Calgary and Vancouver in the coming months. There are a few practice areas that are feeling this pain, and basically on their last legs at many firms. This has been a long, deep and painful cycle. Your firm is unlikely to hold your life-line for much longer. And don’t think it’s any better across the street. No matter what firm you’re at, the work has dried up. The way I see it, you are left with the following three choices.
- Leave the profession and find something else
- Find an opportunity in-house
- Leverage your knowledge and experience and relationships and look for another practice area that you can apply them to
Look for my full article this month in The Lawyers Weekly where I discuss what your next steps should be if you chose #3.
Change in the legal industry is all around us. I point to two recent articles. The first, written by Matthew Grace, Senior Editor, The Lawyers Weekly, in the In House Counsel supplement. Matthew explains how the role of In House Counsel is evolving. He suggests that In House Lawyers get up to speed with Business Development-now that’s change. The other article was written by Jordan Furlong, Edge International, in the October 25 issue of The Lawyers Weekly. He talks about how we are approaching the dawn of ABS (Alternative Business Structures), in Canada. If that isn’t change, I don’t know what is.
It’s an exciting time to be a lawyer and especially if you are running a law firm. More than ever there are opportunities to really stand out from your competition. Are you up for the challenge?
What I love most about change is that it is constant. I find it ironic then that many lawyers are afraid of change. How is that possible when change is all around us all the time? The law for example is changing all the time and at this very minute. And those who have embraced change in the past have come to be the most innovative thinkers and doer’s throughout history. Isn’t it about time to embrace change and try things differently?