Tag Archives: lawyer

The Law Firm as a Learning Organisation

“The shift to a learning culture is an aspiration; in practice it will take a long time and success in any organisation may be patchy, or even go into reverse on occasion.”  pg 15 Learning and Development 2020: A Guide For The Next Decade

It seems quite apt that my blog post following on from the previous one should look at this issue of developing a learning culture.

The quote is taken from Martyn Sloman’s excellent, and free, report on learning and development.  Follow the link above.

What do law firms have to do to develop a learning culture?

What unique obstacles are there, if any, within law firms?

What examples are there in the market place that demonstrate this learning culture aspiration, and how do they respond to it?

My own view is that competence is often narrowly evaluated within organisations including law firms.  We might see an excellent lawyer as someone who has the most remarkable knowledge of a certain area of law, and the ability to exploit that.

At the same time, however, we might see other skills as being sorely lacking.  Communication, presentation or effectiveness might all be close to nil with these shortcomings either overlooked or covered up.

It can be very difficult to accept that although we might be exceptional in one area that we are verging on the incompetent in others.  As a provocation I put forward the suggestion that future legal service providers might need very little in the way of specific legal knowledge.  They will always be able to access that particular commodity.  The new excellence may well, instead, be measured by accessibility, flexibility and alternative funding structures.

To my mind, the learning culture aspiration opens up a curiosity and an appetite to learn new ways of dealing, serving, working and thinking.  If we can do something to turn on that curiosity then my hunch is that we would see much more fluidity and responsiveness in the emerging legal services market.

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Filed under The Changing Legal Market

Client Centered Practice? Try Social Media.

Social media enables us as lawyers to make it easier for clients to understand us and work with us.

I was at an excellent meeting last night with 9 other motivated and energetic collaborative lawyers.

Our purpose was to consider what client centered practice, within collaborative law and family law generally would look like.  This was a discussion that Woody Mosten, a leading collaborative practitioner began back in February.

Various aspects were discussed – better aligning the first interview process, broader consideration of the changing legal market place and ABS and the like.

I was advocating social media as a means of client centering.

I had suggested that we look to communications and adult learning theory.  Part of this suggests that we need to have “warmed up” the listener, let’s say our client, so that they are ready to hear the advice that we might have for them before we first meet with them.  We give them a context, or as De Bono might say, an array, in which they can easily place us and what we have to say to them.

How do we reach clients before we meet them?  Website, yes, Yellow Pages (increasingly few I would hope) but what about our blogs, our LinkedIn accounts, our personable and professional Twitter account?

When we use social media in this way, we throw out indicators as to what we are about, what and how we practice.  The result is that clients, to a modest degree, already have some idea of who they are working with.

An example.

The other day I was meeting with an excellent training company.  I wanted to know a bit about the chief exec who I was due to meet with, and so I went to my social media circles.

I was pointed towards a book that this man had written.  What was more, the first 60 pages or so were on Google books.

I read what this man had been able to get out there and was really excited. The connections between us were obvious.

As a result I was very relaxed about the meeting.  I was able to ask him questions about his book and about stories that he had written within it.

We were able to progress to a level of mutual interest and shared connections very quickly indeed, probably within two minutes.

There will be some who tut tut and want to stay behind the impermeable membrane of the conventional company website.  And that’s fine.

But to be truly client centered, give the client a chance to know who they are meeting and working with.

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Filed under An End To Silo Thinking, Law, Lawyers and Social Media, The Changing Legal Market

New Website – Social Media Training For Lawyers

Click to link through to Social Media Training For Lawyers

I have recently had several enquiries to provide social media training for lawyers.  This in part follows on from my conference presentations at Oxford University a few weeks ago, and also as a result of my own social media activity.

It felt right to establish a web presence to support those requests and the point of this post is to show how simple that was.

Step One. Get a specific web address.

I went to www.123-reg.com to find a suitable web address. www.socialmediatrainingforlawyers.co.uk was available at cost £5.99 plus VAT for 2 years.  I bought it.

The web address is pretty long but it says exactly what I want it to say, and what I think lawyers and law firms who need social media training will be searching for.

I did not pay for hosting as I can forward the web address to a blog that I set up on www.wordpress.com, namely www.socialmediatrainingforlawyers.wordpress.com, obviously.

I could have just used the WordPress address but having the full bespoke web address enables me to use socialmediatrainingforlawyers.co.uk as a professional (if rather long) email address.

Step Two.  Prepare the WordPress blog

WordPress is very powerful and with a little bit of familiarisation time (and the book WordPress For Dummies is good enough) you can prepare good, if not dazzling, blog sites that meet all the functionality of a website that could otherwise cost hundreds of pounds.

WordPress is free.

Create a contact page, about, and load up a few blog entries explaining what you are offering, and giving examples.  Don’t forget to register your blog with Google, Yahoo and Bing verification services – instructions are on WordPress under the tools button on the dashboard.

Step Three. Direct email address into existing email account such as Gmail.

Step Four. Promote new website by writing about it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and existing blogs, er, like this one.

Time spent? 2 hours.  Cost? £5.99 plus VAT

Opinions and feedback?  Well, you tell me…

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Filed under Law, Lawyers and Social Media

C’mon! Let’s innovate!

Wikivorce the UK online divorce community

Wikivorce the UK online divorce community

There is a perception that the pioneers of what Richard Susskind calls “disruptive legal technologies” are on a mission to do just that – disrupt.

I was recently talking at an event which was attended by Ian Rispin, the pioneer and tech ability behind www.wikivorce.co.uk, perhaps the leading independent online divorce community, together with the equally resource rich divorceonline.

I had the impression that there was no agenda to disrupt here at all.  He had simply come up with an idea and gone ahead and implemented it.  He was very modest about his creation and showed an affectionate, almost fatherly concern for the community it hosted and served.

I also had the feeling that he was not concerned about just how great a threat he and his website is perceived as being by conventional legal practices.  There was no lawyer bashing agenda here.

Lawyers; Do not take comfort in this fact. There are plenty of other lawyer bashers out there who long to see the profession taken down a peg or several hundred.  What is more we are currently seeing only the first wave of these “disruptive legal technologies” or communities and to guess what the second wave might look like would be crystal ball gazing.

I am sure we will continue to see more and more innovation.

To close, and to encourage any lawyers out there wringing their hands, fretting about Tesco Law, Web 2.0 and whatever else keeps you up at night, take notice of that last sentence.

“We will continue to see more and more innovation.”

Now, here’s the good news!  There is no monopoly on innovation.  The only reason those pioneers are pioneers is because they did something, they started something, they had the germ of an idea which they then nursed and cared for and it grew strong.  Anyone, yes, even a lawyer, even you, can innovate.

What’s stopping us?

Stop fretting. Stop trying to denounce the changes that are already very well advanced and join in.  Conservative longings for the times gone by aren’t going to help us. It was just that conservatism and perhaps complacency (“Oh they could never replace solicitors”) that probably got us where we are today.

Nor will it help to simply polarise the market into us and them, demonising and denigrating the online providers and their services.  There is room for dialogue, scope for inspiration and collaboration.  Remember, they don’t have the monopoly on innovation.

So c’mon! Let’s innovate.

Now,who’s with me?

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Filed under Law, Lawyers and Social Media, The Changing Legal Market