Tuesday's Top Ten

Top 11 Reasons My Wife Nan is the "Greatest American Mom"

NanBig For those of you have have read my bio, Nan is the girl who knew me for 20 days when she agreed to marry me. And, yes in my opinion, she was a bit distracted by the 'redness' of the Benz I was living in with my 90 lbs athletic and wise Golden Retriever named Prince, who slept on the back dash.  Nan did not seem to notice that I had quit my job as a lawyer, abandon all material possessions, had not cut my hair in over 8 months and traveled long distances by foot.  Somehow, Nan never saw me or our lifestyle as - well - totally and irreversibly insane.  As amazing as a wife as she has been to me over the last 14 years, she is an even better Mom.

So here it is without further adieu.  Here is my list of the Top 11 Reasons Nan is -without any question in my book, the Greatest American Mom

  1. Nan speaks to our three boys Echo, Fields and Apollo as though they were human beings, not children. 
  2. I always said that even in the years we made no money, she always was high maintenance food. She knows what she wants and how it should be prepared. And now Nan cooks fun, elaborate, high quality meals and snacks for these boys.  Part of her mission is to keep her boys fed well, with good food.
  3. Nan reads books with the boys, slowly and carefully.  She takes all the time that is necessary, as  though there was nothing else in the world so important and without even a hint of rush. 
  4. Nan teaches the boys about rules.  Mostly she teaches them how to bend them, or break them without getting caught.  Nan has never been a rule follower.  I guess that's one reason she may even love me.
  5. Nan is what some might say 'competitive.'  If you don't win, what's the point?  I wish I had learned Nanboys to 'win' earlier in life.
  6. Nan listens intently to most everything the boys say and engages them in meaningful conversation about kid stuff as though it were even more important that adult stuff.
  7. Nan smiles, giggles and sometimes even snorts in the most easy sense of laughter I have ever known.  I think it is because she grew up as one of seven sisters.  Silliness is a skilled trade in a house of seven girls.  And Nan was the entertainer of her family.  
  8. Nan was a full fledged groupie of several bands, remained single until me at 34 years old, a hippie chick, a reggae devotee, endlessly irreverent and adventurous, and liked to spend her summers in the place we now live - Leelanau County, MI.  She brought us to Traverse City and for that me and the boys are forever indebted. Need I say more? 
  9. Nan loves the beach and insists that the boys spend the entire summer along the Lake Michigan Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore, from her summer condo at the Homestead Resort with lazy days at the Glen Lake Yacht Club. It's tough, but I am sure it is good for the brothers to learn how to rough it.
  10. Some of Nan's beauty seems to have transferred to my children.  They are all gorgeous and we know it didn't come from me.
  11. Nan loves and cares for the brothers as though she were - well - a mom. 

Happy Mother's Day Nankins.  I love you for loving the boys 24x7 and me on occasion as well.  Your best friend  -  E.   : - )

Top Ten Tuesday: The Legal Industry Is About To Be Turned Upside Down

If the cheap availability of technology wasn’t enough, lawyers now face an even more daunting challenge.  With the economy taking a drastic downturn, the “status quo” is about to be challenged in ways which would have never occurred under any other set of circumstances.  Many law firms, and especially the largest law firms, are suffering along with their mega-sized clients as a result of cash flow problems.  Until last year, representing the biggest companies in the world was seen as a major feather in your cap.  Today, those mega clients cannot pay their bills, many of them sizable.  Big law firms are imploding all over the United States.  Cutbacks, lay offs and firings have become the norm. 

  1. As long-standing attorney-client relationships between large companies and large law firms come under stress as a result of the economic crisis, there is going to be turnover on both the client and law firms.  This means new players who will not share the same allegiances that existed previously.
  2. Clients of all sizes will sense the financial stress their law firms are under and wonder whether or not they are being billed for “make work.”  This will cause clients to start looking at other options in the legal market.
  3. Virtually every law firm now has a website.  Many lawyers share their expertise online.  It has never been so simple to find an A+ lawyer for a specific legal problem using Google Search.
  4. The rationale for using a single mega law firm for all your legal problems in a “one stop shopping” approach simply do not hold up anymore.  Clients will start to realize that simply finding the best firm or lawyer for the job is a better alternative.
  5. Clients are beginning to realize that there are different billing approaches out there being used by various law firms.  You should expect clients to continue to seek alternative billing arrangements as they make decisions about who will represent them on a particular matter.
  6. Big law firms cannot compete across a range of technology and innovations issues.  Like any large organization, implementation of technology is a massive undertaking in a large organization.  Conversely, small and boutique firms can identify and implement new technologies almost in real time.  Implementing the technology at a “human” level is also much easier in a small organization.
  7. Everything in the commercial world is about to be turned upside down.  Consider it anarchy to one degree or another.  Anytime the pot is stirred, a reordering of players naturally occurs.
  8. Forget large companies that cannot even pay their rent or salaries.  The real clients law firms ought to be going after are the new and start-up companies who have no allegiance to any particular lawyer or law firm. These are the ones that will find you online and hire you because of the expertise, which you have revealed on your blog or website.
  9. Many clients are going to start engaging in “self help” right out of the gate.  If they come to your blog or website and it provides the insights they need, a percentage of them will decide to hire you instead of trying to figure their problem out themselves.
  10. The concept of “change” is in the air.  Obama is pushing it.  Adherence to the status quo is no longer in vogue. 

Top Ten Tuesday: My Best Blogging Tips For Building A Loyal Readership

Recently, I wrote a post titled “The Lessons of Format and Familiarity How To Take Your Blog To The Next Level and Build a Strong Reader Base” which discussed how to improve your blog by creating a more familiar format and sticking to certain key content areas in which you are passionate.  Today, I’m going to give you my top ten blogging tips to take your blog to the next level.  I guarantee that if you follow some or all of these ten items, you will see your traffic, the number of readers plugging you into their RSS reader and comments to the next level and beyond.

Continue reading "Top Ten Tuesday: My Best Blogging Tips For Building A Loyal Readership" »

The 13 Worst Things about Hourly Billing

I am driving to work.  It’s 10 degrees Fahrenheit in Traverse City Michigan.  In celebration of the cold air that is rushing through our area, solidifying winters grip, I give you a list of the 13 worst things about hourly billing:

1. Reducing lawyers to assembly line workers whose product is six-minute increments.
2. The feeling the lawyer gets in the pit of their stomach when they’re out to lunch with someone who’s not on the clock, or their spouse calls during the middle of the day disrupting and invading the number of six minute increments which can be billed in a single day.
3. The reality that a shitty lawyer can make a great living for the simple fact that they can fill out and fill up a time sheet.
4. The moment a client opens up an hourly bill and realizes that the last month effort just cost three times more than she expected for the entire project.
5. The built-in and often overwhelming incentive built into the hourly system for lawyers to spin their wheels on otherwise low value or even meaningless activities.
6. The simple fact that each lawyer task is valued at exactly the same rate irrespective of quality.
7. The fact that your client doesn’t want to call you to tell you what important things are going on, because they don’t want to incur a .50 time entry.
8. The fact that every conversation with the client you must avoid topics like “how’s your family” because of the uneasiness created as to whether or not the client will get billed for telling you the answer.
9. The simple fact that the lawyer’s incentive is to keep the matter alive, so it can billed, while the client’s interest is to solve the problem and end the matter.
10. The pain and grief that is caused when any person begins to think of his or her life as measured in six-minute increments.
11. The disincentive to create efficiencies within the business model of law when all that matters is an eight-hour day.
12. The fact that the brightest and best new lawyers are taught to think like stop watch, rewarded for the same, and become blind to the thought of measuring value.
13. The lack of incentive and reward in the hourly bonus formulas for anything beyond hours billed and hours collected.

Can you think of other items that should be on this list? Especially if you are stuck in an hourly billing system, you know better than anyone what might be missing from this list.  I encourage you to add to the list by way of comment, send this to your friends, and post it to your blogs.  Let’s see if we can get the most comprehensive list of hourly billing negatives going on the web.  After we get the list in place, we’ll turn it into a poll and see if we can rate them and identify the number 1 negative impact of hourly billing.