Some of the best new ideas are actually born of old ideas. Or, at least, ideas others have used—with a tweak or two. Who would have thought, for example, that those obnoxious Myspace pages created by a bunch of kids at the turn of the century would spark one of the biggest transformations in how business is done: social media for grown-ups in forms like LinkedIn and Viadeo?
There’s Much to be Learned from Other Professions
Of course lawyers (who kind of like that old precedent stuff) are especially fond of seeing ideas tested by others before taking the risky leap themselves. But you’re smart enough to know that following other lawyers doesn’t necessarily give you the competitive advantage. So this week’s Friday Five offers ideas and information from five different other professions that just might help you and your law practice.
1. Architects. Just as lawyers have the American Bar Association, architects look to the American Institute of Architects. Check out their website and you’ll find all kinds of useful material that can just as easily apply to you as Howard Roark. A quick look turns up an article on Taming the Bull of Business Communications. It turns out that architects struggle to avoid jargon, just like lawyers. This is an excellent reminder that putting things simply is the best way to impress. The Client Interview: Sample Questionnaire could inspire your thinking on how you set the stage with a new client—and broaden your horizons about what is pertinent.
2. Accountants. For accountants, it’s the American Institute of CPAs. You may, for any number of reasons, want to get a grip on economic indicators and trends. This would be a great place to look for that, whether you plan to include it in a business strategy session for your firm or a discussion with your client. The 2012 AICPA Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey comes in PowerPoint form (convenient for seminars!) and features charts and graphs that are easily understood.
3. Doctors. It isn’t news to anyone that it’s a bit stressful over at the American Medical Association. When you wake up in the middle of the night hyperventilating about change in the legal profession, cast your thoughts over to the docs who observe their future livelihood dissected by politicians nearly every day. But there, too, you can find food for thought. Try Scribes Can Ease Documentation Burden, for example. Demands to implement new technology and meet insurers’ requirements is creating a new function in the doctor’s office. Might the role of “scribe” be something that would leverage your legal work as well?
4. Engineers. “Project management” seems to be the term du jour in some law firm meetings. And, frankly, it’s a pretty darned good idea to learn something about managing people, resources, work and time if you’re going to successfully transition to different means of setting fees. How about getting a clue from the folks who brought us project management? Engineers! We liked this Project Management Fundamentals PowerPoint from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Office of Technology Services’ Project Management Office. Good clear stuff. (You can skip all the Tier 3 VCU references.)
5. Designers. Graphic designers, photographers and other creatives have the luxury of a very active online community providing information and support for both their business activities and their technical needs. We really like The Lab, where they promise “Artist questions. Expert answers. No PhD required.” Here’s a sample: 10 Tips for Providing Superior Service to Clients. We challenge you to change the freelance artist references to law practice references and show us any reason it doesn’t all apply to you! Warning: There is a ton of really good reading on this site. Understanding Your Value When Negotiating Fees? Yep. Five Tips to Keep Clients Coming Back for More? Uh-huh. Head over there. You’ll see.