For the past year, I have written on this blog and for the Solicitors Journal (apologies for the plug) about a number of significant issues affecting legal practice, interspersed with my thoughts on social media. The driving force has been Excellence in Legal Practice.
The bedrock to my belief in Excellence is my total and absolute commitment to the profession, and abetting the very best of each and every person who directly or indirectly serves the client. In my (well informed) opinion, this is the only way the legal profession can stay ahead of and survive the competition.
Further, lawyers need to step away from their over reliance on the badge of truth, authenticity and credibility that comes with the Title and instead focus on serving their clients brilliantly, expertly, diligently and magnificently. In colloquial terms to provide a deep and meaningful *WOW* experience.
Given our increasing reliance on a knowledge based economy, I fundamentally believe that professional practice (or something closely resembling it) will be the mainstay of a new organizational model. Professional practice is about leveraging knowledge, and lawyers are one of the best if not the very best at this.
Implementation is paramount
My long time hero is Tom Peters. His mantra, indeed his alpha and omega and everything in between, is *Excellence*.
Nb. You may have noticed the strap line that is now included on all my emails. I challenge you to apply this in everything you do in legal practice.
“If Not Excellence, What? If Not Excellence Now, When?”
For those of you not fully acquainted with Tom’s scholarly output, I would start with his seminal book In Search of Excellence co-authored with Robert (Bob) Waterman and the other important work, The Professional Service Firm 50. Both are packed with a string of great ideas that if adopted have the potential to change the shape (and form) of your business. His website is also a treasure trove of free material. Indeed his latest book The Little Big Things, 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence has been provided as a series of free MP3 downloads and there is also a précis version that you can print off. Tom is a teacher without peer. He is someone who deserves much wider appreciation. I know he has his detractors but for me his style is immediate and cries out for one thing that is very often missing from any meaningful discussion on the business of legal practice – implementation.
Think about it.
How many ideas or schemes have you come up with in the last 12 months that have either been implemented in a half-baked way or not at all.
I have a saying which has served me well: “Do it until destruction”. By all means iterate around the idea (or thrash as Seth Godin says) but at some point you are going to have to nail you proverbial colours to one mast. Once you have mapped your idea then implement like hell and keep driving the process until you see some results, even if those are negative. Take a for instance: cross-departmental working/Excellence. It is easy to give up on this when you have insufficient buy in from the partnership. You know the sort of excuses that creep out:
“I am far too busy this month to attend a meeting.”
“I am fed up giving work to them in litigation and we get nothing in return. Why should I bother.”
“It is always held in their office” (usually the perceived nerve centre of the firm).
“I can’t be bothered.”
If you are fed up with these pathetic excuses then my advice is to work with those people who care enough to turn up. Don’t worry about the naysayers. They will either get with the programme or forever stay on the periphery. Thereafter, the issue is one of peer pressure. As soon there is sufficient momentum or head of steam built you will quickly find that those people who thought the idea a waste of time, will want to get involved for fear of: (a) losing out on possible fee income; and (b) the upstarts showing them up.
The key point is not to give up on implementation for lack of partner buy in. If you believe the idea a rock solid one or better than the alternative – which is usually nothing very much – then stake everything and go for it.
You also need to ask yourself what are the chances of anyone else’s project that you asked to help out with being successful. I was involved in enumerable projects that sounded stellar fantastic but just sucked time and never progressed from the paper stage. Watch out for these leeches and don’t be afraid to say a hearty “No” to people who you don’t think have the patience, perseverance and determination to see a project through.
Don’t let this point drop. So many ideas get talked about but how many get implemented. Keep a running record. If your strike rate is less than 50% then you need to cut back and focus on those that truly deserve your energy, drive and passion. Cut the rest down to size, abandon them or move them on to someone who can make them fly.
For more on developing profitable business, innovating in professional practice and implementing social media, subscribe to the RSS Feed of my Blog. Follow me on Twitter at @0neLife, or @Ju_Summerhayes connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your practice, check out my coaching and consulting firm via LinkedIn, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 075888 15384. I offer a free consultation and will quickly help you indentify the top 3 things that can make the biggest impact to your practice.