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November 2006

Think Big

If you really want to get ahead in the world of business, you need to think big. Whether it's an entire marketing strategy or a revenue objective, the only way in which to make yours a great operation is to set out with high goals in mind.

Its so important to "go big" because to do any less would be to sell your business short. You have a definite faith in your product, so why wouldn't you want to maximize customers? I mean, if you set little goals, aren't you just stunting your growth? Accepting the accomplishment of a little goal as an achievement in itself, when in fact you have the capacity to do so much more?

This "big thinking" is so important in the world of new-age firms because you have a product that is on the verge of an explosion of popularity and is multitudes better than old-style competition. Think big. New-age firms are the next generation for the practice of law, and it is in both your, and every clients', best interest for the end of old-style firms to come as soon as possible. So make it happen! Start up a large marketing campaign to trumpet your technological advantage and set a challenging goal for a minimum client load. Don't allow yourself to accept small, aim big.


One of the largest obstacles that keep people from making the "digital jump" is their fear of the well-known computer crash that erases all of your records and puts a halt to your life while you try and salvage what you can. Even for clients, the inherent distrust of technology can inhibit their ability to understand and appreciate the lengths at which technology allows you to beat out all other competition.

In order to put away those fears and fully release yourself in the digital era, you need to have backup systems in place, both for you and your clients' sake. The most effective way to do this is online, whereby you can hire-out the storage space and time that it takes to manually backup files that come into your system each day. There are companies today that will even scan and backup paper files on their own servers, which removes even another hassle. Some of these backup companies also have internet access, whereby you can access their servers (with your data) on a daily basis.

Making the investment in data backup is necessary for the security of your entire business. To allow your firm to work off of one copy of all client data puts you in a very hazardous position, and will have your firm in dire straits when your server fails. Seek out those companies that will backup your data as often as you update it, because it will not only eliminate that risk of data loss, but it will also allow you to answer your clients' question of  data security with one simple explanation.

Corporations are Very Limiting

I hate the industrial age society.  I am so glad it is dieing.  Its death is only prolonged by the baby boomers that slowly age, still thinking the internet is a cool little gadget that allows them to email their grandchildren.

There are many people in this world who realize that the internet and the technology, which has born it, will in fact continue to change the world in new ways at an accelerated rate, probably beyond our comprehension.

I have posted previously about the industrial age here. I hate the industrial age.

Those of you who understand the importance, and appreciate the gift, that is the information age should be flexing your first amended rights.  The power of having the idea -- well -- has simply never been so powerful.  The revolution has begun.

Staying Ontop of the Wave

Capital is the key to success in any business, but in the world of new-age firms that can virtually start from anywhere, you need to be willing to continually re-invest in order to maintain a firm that is just as high-tech it is supposed to be.

Your ability to do email correspondence and upload files to an extranet is a great asset that does give you a step ahead of the competition, but without continued research and investment of capital, that boost can quickly fall back into the pack. Any business that is so heavily dependant upon the internet needs to have the best in available technology so that they can best harness and utlitize the abilities that are sustained by it. High-tech isn't something you purchase once, you must continually strive to maintain that title.

Today, these are necessary tools that support the title of "high-tech":
Up-to-date projectors that allow you to display your models to clients much easier and cleaner than binders and photocopies;
Mobile computing capacity so that you can access your work from anywhere, be it at home, the coffee shop, or even the courtroom;
Small digital recorders so your ability to dictate expands farther than your access to files;
Networking and Server capabilities that encompass all computers within your office;
and the countless different software options that give you the ability to monitor email status, organize filing systems and transfer large-size files online.

There are many more pieces of technology that are just as necessary, and even some of these you can get around, but it is so important for new-age firms to stay at the leading-edge of technology because they are the firms that are most aided by new-found abilities. You dove into the new-age wave to gain efficiency and capacity, but both are subjective terms that can easily be lost if you don't remain mindful of current technological breakthroughs.
Do not let yourself fall behind, use capital for what it is for: investing in your business.

Finding Your Values

Looking back at the last two years, I realize many things. One of the things I realize is it is easy to loaf your way through life when you're working in a classic law firm partnership. Your values are heavily influenced by the firm's values. It's inevitable. Someone else's blue and your red make a new color purple. But it's still not your color.

The coolest and hardest part about being an independent practitioner is there are no cop-outs. You decide how you live your life every day. Your values, your creativity, and your passion dominate everything.

I Represented Michael Moore

As I was reflecting the other day (which is something I'm not prone much to do), it occurred to me that my little law firm sponsored the world premier of Borat right here in my hometown. I paid $1,500 to sponsor a film which Warner Brothers had not ever seen. They had a special section roped off for Michael and a group of Warner executives. Rumors were running wild in the back streets of Hollywood over this movie. In the form that we first saw it, the film was not yet rated. It was beyond R for sure, crossing the line well into X. The entire theater erupted in side-splitting laughter from the first moment the movie began for the first 40 minutes solid. It was unlike any other experience I have ever had in a theater.

My little independent practice was the sponsor of that film. We sat in the front row, right in the middle. Michael Moore stood 4 feet from us as he thanked my law firm for sponsoring the film. Larry Charles attended as well. He was dressed in a tunic-type dress suit with a full beard that ended in a point at least 12 inches below his chin. He looked like a Jewish Rabi.

And my little firm in the middle of nowhere sponsored that film.

How in the world could that have happened? And how did I end up on the phone with Michael Moore at all hours in the night working on contracts for the festival.

Perhaps the most important question that you all could ask yourself is whether something like that can happen if you are walking someone else's path.

It is hard for destiny to take you by the throat -- to fulfill your potential -- if you are not on your path. My path has led us in some incredible directions. The best reason to become an independent practitioner is because it makes you independent. It frees your mind, your body and soul to fully become -- you. The second best thing is knowing your children see you as a man fulfilling your potential and answering to no one at no value beyond your own.

Have you Ever Been a Defendant in a Court Room?

Every attorney should get sued. Every attorney should sit in the back of the court room as a client. Every attorney should know what it feels like to rely on someone else for legal advice.

As you know from this thread GAL GETS SUED, me and my firm got sued by my old law firm several months ago. I had no hesitation about hiring my own attorney to defend me. I never carried the delusion that I could be objective enough as a defendant to give myself good legal advice. It's cost me some bucks, just like our clients pay us big bucks out of their own pockets -- from their own hard-earned money -- to defend themselves in court or seek justice through the judicial system.

Marketing to a New Base

Marketing any business is the most important part of making your endeavor a success. In the world of the new-age law firm, new-age marketing is an area never fully explored by this field before, but essential to a firm's survival. The use of the internet as a marketing tool can go far beyond simply sponsoring search-engines; the simple existence of a website, along with a broad strategy of internet marketing can attract those clients who are confident in the world of technology, and will be in the best position to appreciate the capabilities that your firm will be able to offer  when they are comparing you to their grandfather's firm.

As a technological firm you can offer increased transparency and better communication; but in order to take advantage of those traits, your clients do need to be a little tech-savy. This is why internet marketing is so important, because the latest generation of lawsuit-facing Americans are the ones who grew up using computers and the internet in elementary school, and are using the internet daily.

Targeting this new client base is the best way in which to sustain your new-age firm and display your skills to a base that will be able to appreciate what you offer. A client who knows exactly what you are talking about when you say "set your username and password for the extranet" is the best one to take advantage of, and fully utilize, the capabilities offered by the technology. These are the clients who will also realize the advantages of your firm (and the entire corps of new-age firms) and leave the last-century firms at a loss for words.

The Power of Positivity

There is a great discussion going on in the blogosphere concerning the dependency of bloggers to point out what is wrong with the world.

David Maister has this post "Are We Too Negative" which started a vigorous debate (actually more folks agreeing with David that blogosphere may be making us more cynical).

Stephanie West Allan picked up on the discussion and provided these great links:

* Arnie Hurst "Seeing the Positive Side of Negativity in the Law Profession"

* Julia Fleming Brown "Look What’s Right"

* The transcript of Larry King Live on Positive Thoughts and the Benefits of Gratitude."

Beware Unsolicited Email from Prospective Clients

The ABA Journal has a great article called "Open Season on Email?".

The article analyzes an ethics opinion from the San Diego County Bar Association which concluded that attorneys who receive unsolicited emails from prospective clients can represent a client adverse to the sender of such email. Essentially, attorney in question received an email from the driver of a vehicle who hit the attorney’s current client. The issue was whether or not that unsolicited email precluded the attorney from representing, or continuing to represent, the current client arising out of the same auto accident.

The ethics committee, in my opinion, correctly decided that no attorney client relationship or expectation of a relationship is created by unsolicited email. The practical reality is that the internet makes communication so easy that lawyers would always be at risk of conflict of interest as a result of unsolicited emails.

Note that the lawyer in the unsolicited email even received information which would otherwise be strategically advantageous to the adverse party. Although the opinion covers a hypothetical situation, it is instructive for all attorneys who practice and market on the internet. Here is a link to the Opinion and your thoughts are welcome.