Tag Archives: strategy

Steady Growth or Innovation? What Your Law Firm Can Learn From Microsoft’s Crossroads

Last week, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer announced his retirement. And, some sources are saying this is a good opportunity to reboot the company’s disenchanted corporate culture.

Is Microsoft in such dire straits?

Consider 2010, the advent of Apple’s iPad announcement. Microsoft had already created a buzz in the tech community for its mockups of a tablet computer. Dreamed up by the inventor of the Xbox videogame, the tablet folded like a book and its users could sketch directly on the screen.

But, Microsoft waited. And, while the Apple iPad transformed into a worldwide phenomenon, for its turn, Microsoft scrapped the entire tablet computer idea.

According to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft needed to refocus its efforts on the Windows operating system for which the company first earned its reputation.

“So ingrained is Microsoft’s culture of protecting entrenched interests that swinging for the fences is sometimes punished, and so people stopped trying, say current and former employees and outsiders,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

“They say that an outsider CEO may be the best choice to welcome back technologists who think outside the box.”

In any venture, it’s important to decide on a vision. There are two extreme choices in business: (1) invest in innovation or (2) invest in the sure-thing.

For centuries, entrepreneurs have known there exists a trade-off between risk and reward. Too much risk in finding the next, new, cutting-edge technology and your company may be left in the red. However, too conservative and your company may be left in the dust.

It seems as though Microsoft isn’t sure where it should land on this thin, insensitive line of risk and reward. To those law firm managers surviving the recession, do you?

Of course, a tradeoff does not imply one without the other. For law firms, there is middle ground between innovative legal resources and services and traditional practices.

“Whether to manage a company for growth or for efficiency is a classic business conundrum, and the choice isn’t simple,” Shira Ovide reminds us in the Wall Street Journal.

Before you throw out nautical décor and ask I.M. Pei to design your new law offices, consider the following:

  1. Is there a large innovation gap between your firm and others in your same practice area?
  2. When was the last time you updated your legal technology?
  3. What is the average age of your associates?
  4. What is the spread of ages for employees at your law firm?
  5. What is the type of profile for associates you hope to attract in the future?
  6. What is your mission statement?
  7. How large do you want your firm to grow in the next 5 years? 10 years?

Often innovative companies attract bright young talent. However, if your youngest associate is in his late thirties, how well will a 20-something tweeting law grad assimilate in your firm?

On the other hand, if your firm is top-heavy, it’s likely your firm is lagging behind in the best latest technology and methods for managing your firm.

If you haven’t yet, it’s important to create a 5 to 10 year plan for:

  • Risk Management
  • Global operations
  • Incorporating technology
  • Growth targets
  • Leadership training
  • Social media/mobile devices

In the case of Microsoft, Mr. Ballmer may scoff making radical ideas come true, but he knows how to make the company green—with money, that is. Since becoming CEO in 2000, Microsoft has become one of the world’s most profitable companies by quadrupling its annual revenue, making about 75 cents in gross profit for every dollar in sales.

Google takes in half that amount.

So, yes, maybe Microsoft’s digital music player was too little, too late (do you even remember the Zune?). And, perhaps Apple’s brand is little a bit more “cool”. But, if slow and stead wins the race, Microsoft is right on track.

Does your law firm strategy match your corporate culture? Learn how to grow your business with C4CM’s audio course: Increasing Revenue Per Lawyer: Creating a Healthy Culture of Business Development.

This information-packed webinar will present best practices used by today’s most profitable firms for creating a vibrant culture of business development, including (but not limited to):

Steps to build client loyalty, manage expectations and generate client referrals

  • Identifying and maximize cross-selling opportunities
  • How to match your marketing strategy to seniority level
  • Making business development a sustainable, ongoing part of your culture

-WB

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Be As Savvy As An MBA With One Question A Day: How HBR Case Studies Can Help Law Firm Managers

As law firm professionals, you may or may not have heard of Harvard Business Review Case Studies. For MBA students and aspiring business professionals, however, solving HBR case studies is the key to success in business strategy.

HBR case studies draw from real-life examples of business dilemmas. Too soon to IPO? Challenge the boss or stand down? Are you losing all your good people? Can this brand be saved?

These questions and more are addressed in narratives written by real-world professionals. And, the attached teaching note includes the answer—at least, the action of the firm that experienced this debate at ground zero.

Case studies teach the fundamentals of business and aim to evoke out-of-the-box solutions to traditional business problems. Practice them over and over and pretty soon, you’ll surprise yourself with the ease at which you can tackle corporate obstacles.

So, imagine for a second that you are living a HBR case study. You are about to prepare a timeline for a case on PPT. Why PPT? Why not Prezi or Keynote or SlideRocket?

You are about to go to lunch when a client calls. He wants a discount on his billables for a case because he gave your firm a positive referral. What’s your firm policy for clients regarding referals? How much will a discount affect your firm’s bottom line? Will a discount today set a precedent for lower and lower fees in the future? What is the moral hazard for capitulating?

“By adopting the ‘Everything is a case study’ mindset and seeing the world through the Case Method third eye, you’ll learn to filter out the disinformation that life throws at you and uncover startling insights,” writes Robert Plant, associate professor of computer information systems at the University of Miami School of Business Administration, in the HBR Blog.

“You’ll also increase your effectiveness at questioning your company’s strategies, processes, procedures, and methods of data collection.”  For law firm managers, this means initiating the creative problem solving mindset necessary for advancing your firm.

Law firms—specifically old-school equity partners—can be stuck in their traditional ways. Sometimes it’s difficult to know where to begin with long-overdue changes. Purchase new technology? Hire younger lawyers? Retrain older lawyers?

Start with one HBR case study-style question a day. For example, when signing off on billable hours, ask yourself, what are the needs of this client? How did today’s casework directly contribute to those needs? By what methods are the associates assigned to the case fulfilling these needs, and can these methods be improved?

Read the timesheet descriptions line by line and look for one way to improve the process. Start with one case, one client, and one question.

“This will help you assist your company in finding innovative solutions. And it might be good for your career,” continues Mr. Plant.

“After all, CEOs hate canned, staid, boring, predictable answers to business problems (just as business professors hate canned, staid, boring, predictable responses to business cases). They crave creative, adaptive, innovative thinking.”

Law firm managers must be the best in the very specific business of law. Legal services may have idiosyncratic strategies and processes about them, but there are certain fundamental business principles that apply to every firm. That’s what case studies are all about.

Furthermore, case studies remind us to question and criticize in a productive fashion.

Finally, case studies remind us that success comes from paying attention to detail, challenging stale business practices, and continuing to practice the basics. Innovative thinking can grow from a simple 4-page academic exercise. And, you don’t need to get an MBA to give it a try.

-WB

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Handling Sensitive Conversations With Clients & Associates: Code Talkers, Navajo & The Language Of Law

“Code talkers” refers to persons who use an obscure language as a means to transmit secret messages.

The use of Navajo during World War II is perhaps the best known example of code talkers. Philip Johnston, a civil engineer for the city of Los Angeles, first proposed the use of Navajo to the United States Marine Corps. Johnston was a World War I veteran who was raised on the Navajo reservation as the son of a missionary.

As one of the few non-Navajos to speak the language fluently, Johnston knew that the complex grammar, the fact that the language was unwritten, and mutually intelligible pronunciation with the even the language’s closest relatives within the Na-Dene family meant Navajo could provide meaningful information across enemy lines, as well as an undecipherable code.The use of Navajo code talkers in World War II was invaluable in winning the war, but the practice of using code talkers in wartime dates back to World War I.

In fact, the first known use of Native Americans in the American military to transmit messages under fire was a group of Cherokee troops in the U.S. 30th Infantry Division during the Second Battle of the Somme in 1918. The unit was under British command at the time.

Cherokee is the only Southern Iroquoian language that remains spoken today. And yet, on March 25, 2011, Google announced the option to perform searches in Cherokee. As of November 2012, Gmail is supported in Cherokee, and on December 18, 2012, Microsoft announced Windows 8 will be released in Cherokee, containing “nearly 180,000 words and phrases” in this Native American language.

“Why do organizations like Microsoft and Google care about languages with so few speakers?” asks Nataly Kelly for the Harvard Business Review Blog.

“Without a doubt, providing members of linguistic minority groups with access to technology in their native tongues is very important. It empowers these communities, enabling their languages to survive and thrive in the digital age,” Kelly answers.

But that’s not all. In an analysis of gross domestic product by language use, Mark Davies discovered in 2003 that English and Chinese held the highest purchasing power, followed by Japanese, Spanish, and Russian, i.e., $87.50 of every $100 spend corresponds to a person who speaks a world language (via HBR).

Kelly goes on to argue that the remaining percept of micro-language speakers, like Cherokee or Navajo speakers, still possess a powerful and influential market share.

However, there’s another reason why businesses should care about language. Communication today, whether via code, programming, tweets, or traditional press releases, is an important and powerful tool.

For law firms, the extent to which you can effectively communicate your services and practice philosophy to clients affects your profitability. In his article “From Biglaw to Boutique: Networking Contraditions,” Tom Wallerstein stresses the need for partners to ask clients for work.

He points out that lawyers asking their acquaintances for work doesn’t have to be laced with a clandestine agenda. Nevertheless, “beating around the bush” won’t boost your firm’s bottom line.

Furthermore, attract clients by speaking in their language. If you want to represent a young, upcoming start-up in technology, the first step would be increasing your Klout score (or, at least, knowing what one is).

Clear language is important for selling your firm to clients. It’s also important for keeping them.

Your clients are no longer restricted to a single national, cultural, or language border. Especially in a melting pot like America, clients come from a variety of countries and cultures around the world, and their businesses serve a variety of different interests and needs.

Law firms are in the business of servicing micro-language clients—put in a single room, your engineering clients, corporate clients, and criminally prosecuted individuals will stress words, phrases, and their general demands differently.

This means your use of language should be meaningful and direct, but also universal. Unlike the intent of code talkers in military ventures, the language of law firms should aim to be understood by all. There should be no hidden messages, agendas, tricks, legal jargon, fine print or fees.

Retain your clients with a clearly written, custom retainer.

Finally, language is important in internal communication. Ethnic, cultural, and gender differences exist within, as well as outside the firm. It’s not just about preventing workplace discrimination suits with a one-size fits all policy, but it’s about making employees feel heard.

When associate competence and career goals are understood, management can them employ them in more productive ways. This is only possible with effective, adaptive internal dialogue.

So, not only is it important to know the language or your own law firm, but it is also equally important to know the language spoken by your clients and their customers. Cracking the code of sustainable business strategies is knowing when to speak up, what to say, and how exactly to say it.

For more information, listen to C4CM’s audio guide on Handling Difficult Conversations: Communication Strategies for the Workplace.

-WB

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The Hidden Costs Of Being Too Picky: Advice For Firms, Associates & Clients

Many Americans are out of work in the recession, but attorneys, specifically, are experiencing an overwhelming over-saturation of the job market.

At the same time, myriad employers are complaining about not finding the right fit for their firm. Companies protest that there is a skills-mismatch between computer illiterate older candidates versus young inexperienced applicants in today’s technologically-evolving world.

Meanwhile, recent graduates are refusing jobs. There’s a desire to “love what you do” despite the fact that there’s not enough to do in our suffering economy.

Finally, clients complain about high fees and billing structure for their legal representation; and yet, there’s plenty of competition for legal services on the market.

So, we ask, who is being too picky here? The employee, the employer, or the client? And, who has the most to lose in this confusing situation?

“I think it’s important to remember that employers control everything about the process. They define the job, they create the requirements for the job, then they decide how the word gets out to people, recruiting-wise,” explains Peter Cappelli, director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, in an interview with Knowledge@Wharton in Forbes.

“They set the rate of pay, which helps determine how attractive the job is, and then they handle the selection part where they look at the applicants and sort them out.”

The power of employers is at the heart of this problem. Employers believe that in a recessed economy, they can afford to be picky. As a result, many job openings remain unfilled.

“That’s certainly part of the problem—that the internal accounting systems in most organizations are so poor that they can’t tell what it costs them to keep a position vacant,” says Cappelli.

“They easily know how much it costs to employ somebody, but they can’t measure that employee’s contributions. So, in most companies, given their accounting systems, it actually looks like they’re saving money by keeping positions vacant. If you think that’s the story, then you’re obviously in no rush to hire. I think it starts there, and that’s clearly not a good thing for society or for employers.”

What’s another problem? Being too stingy with salaries.

Price must meet demand. So, if more attorneys are looking for work, the salaries that greet them must be lowered. Fair enough.

But, according to survey by Manpower, eleven percent of polled employers said they can’t get people to accept the job at the wage offered. Cappelli says, it’s not a mismatch of skills, these firms are just being cheap.

Attorneys have expensive student loans, families, and other financial obligations. Plus, they have a set of unique and specialized skills to offer. With a 50-plus hour workweek in store, if your firm can’t meet the minimum wage requirement of the job, people will prefer to stay at home (or start their own business and compete for your clients).

Employers, forgetting to invest in your own staff is hurting your firm.

Employers these days have forgotten about paying their dues. That’s right, bosses and firms are obligated to train their employees. Although it may be ideal to hire somebody with previous experience, it’s likely cheaper to hire a recent graduate and train them, instead.

Employees, for your turn, you are too picky about finding the “right” job.

Employees shouldn’t accept positions where they simply “pay their dues.” Employees should hold out for that job whose training does, in fact, pay dividends in experience. Nevertheless, employees—like employers—should count training as a benefit. It costs the employer money and it gives the employee skills. Plus, despite the well-known difficulties of a recession, being unemployed for long doesn’t look good on a resume.

If a job offer provides a lower-than-average wage but a higher-than-average training opportunity, don’t discount the latter—it is equivalent to payment.

Being too picky about salary without considering the perks of training is to the detriment of employees. Mentorship and training by experienced, older employees is invaluable—and unattainable if you start your own company directly out of college. Self-employment or lengthy unemployment may leave an individual with little options in the future–the hidden cost of a picky grad.

Finally, clients, recently, have the feeling they’re being cheated by law firms. High billable hours and competition among firms should benefit the client, right?

Unfortunately, clients often want to have their cake and eat it too. Clients want law firms to produce innovative work and billing schemes, and also compete for their business. Businesses should become more proactive when looking for representation.

Not satisfied with your current firm? You risk being left without representation at all. In this environment, that’s something entrepreneurs can’t afford. No lawyer is always worse than keeping your current lawyer.

Law firms should adapt with the economic recession and remain strategic about their hiring practices. This includes being open to client suggestions—or, at least, making it clear that suggestions by both employees and clients are welcome.

In any job, there are opportunities and then there are challenges. The key is acknowledging both. The truth is, in the best or the worst of times, it never pays to be too picky. Firms, associates, and clients should each compromise and find a middle-ground. Mutual gain is the way to achieve long-term success.

-WB

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For Higher Growth & Revenue— Don’t Hire New Employees, Get To Know The Ones You Have

Year-end growth results for the legal industry are the best Wells Fargo has reported since 2008, according to Jeff Grossman, head of the bank’s legal specialty group, reported by Thomson Reuters.

The bank confidentially surveyed 100 law firms, which reported a five-percent increase in gross revenue in 2012. In addition, net income rose by six percent. For managers, the good news continues as profits per partner rose five percent, reports Thomson Reuters.

What changed in our downturn economy? Policy.

“Grossman cited the fiscal cliff negotiations between the Obama administration and the U.S. Congress over automatic tax hikes scheduled for Jan. 1, as one possible driver of the revenue growth,” says Thomson Reuters.

In late 2012 and early 2013, some law firm said their mergers and acquisition, tax and trust and estates practices received extra work in the fourth quarter as their clients prepared for tax hikes, according to the Wells Fargo report.

Nevertheless, don’t stop penny-pinching quite yet

“Top law firms are getting what little premium business there is,” Grossman said to Thomason Reuters in an email.

Luckily, with a new year comes new ideas for revenue generating. The following tools will help your firm keep up the good growth, without growing in numbers.

Don’t hire new associates when you can just make better use of the ones already hired. Here’s how.

Firm Competency Database

If you were a baseball coach, you would be sure of the home-run and strike-out averages of a player before putting him up to bat.

Likewise, as a law firm manager, you should be aware of the capabilities and experience—both pre-hire and post-hire—of all your employees. This is not just a list of cases won or lost, however.

When hired, associates bring in a certain set of skills. But, once working, these same employees develop new ones. CVs may be updated, but current employers are often left in the dark.

Develop a sophisticated model for tracking employee competencies. For example, include number of years experience both at the firm and outside, create a rating system for computer skills (and provide a standardized test for it, if necessary), and record area-specific knowledge, from patents to accounting to foreign languages (and if they worked on cases requiring these skills).

Most importantly, keep this list standardized, up to date, and eyes-only. There’s no need to circulate this database outside managing powers-that-be. Nevertheless, when assigning projects or cases, you’ll have a better idea of who among you is best suited for the job.

A competency database will increase your efficieny in assigning cases and the productivity of those assigned to them.

You were already wondering how lawyers use Excel. Consider this your first chance to try out new technology. You’re at bat!

Career Leadership Opportunities

You don’t need to hire another administrator to balance the budget, write internal policies, or manage social media for your law firm. Why? It’s likely your firm already has these competencies, but just doesn’t know it yet.

Chris Smith, partner and co-founder at the management consulting firm ARRYVE, helped develop career leadership opportunities or CLOs at his company. He explains in the Harvard Business Review Blog that CLOs are mini-projects given to employees.

The projects address a specific need of the business while allowing employees to develop new skills and competencies.

“Similar to 3M’s or Google’s innovation time, CLOs give employees a way to try out their ideas in a less risky environment—but in the context of the company’s needs, as well. Some of our marketing-oriented consultants, for instance, jumped at the chance to develop our firm’s social media strategy,” explains Smith.

“This helped them build new skills, reduced the cost we incurred on outside agencies, and created a great case study for the strategy work we sell as a service.”

Lawyers have diverse backgrounds—whether it be in technology or accounting—so it’s natural that a firm would exploit these talents. In turn, it provides a little variety what can be a monotonous workday for lawyers and fodder for annual bonuses at the firm.

Furthermore, lawyers can seize this chance to build their arsenal of competencies. For example, a senior associate can learn the ins and outs of social media by taking charge of a CLO project aimed to increase a firm’s online presence.

CLOs don’t have to be assigned. In fact, they will be more effective if the projects are voluntary. So, create a list of your various firm needs: Twitter account, website content editing, social media policy, short-term strategic plan, year-end budget goals, fantasy football organizer, pro-bono work, etc.

Create a “catchy” pitch for the task, and watch employees sign up!

With the right incentives, every associate can exploit his or her creativity and satisfy his or her secret entrepreneurship ambitions. Associates are waiting for an opportunity to impress their superiors, break up a stagnant workday, and increase their chances for promotion by being a team-player. Put me in coach!

Public Awareness Committee

If you don’t already have an in-house public relations representative, consider creating a “public awareness committee” at your firm. This group should be responsible for proofreading press-releases, organizing benefits, and generally ensuring a positive image on the world-wide-web.

In this economy, it’s never enough to trust word-of-mouth referrals or equity partners to bring in new clients. Even the legendary Babe Ruth needed a publicist.

Proactive firms are also aware of their public image. Do you know yours?

-WB

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Set Goals Like It’s The End Of The World

The end of the world—in addition to the fiscal year—is fast approaching. And while some managers are struggling to balance the books and achieve their bucket list on time, others are feeling confident about their resolutions for the New Year.

With a new budget year and second change to set goals, non-apocalyptic managers can look forward to December 22nd as a second chance.

You know what happened to Ford when they pursued Lee Iacocca’s ambitious goal for the company of building a car “under 2,000 pounds and $2,000” by 1970? Ford’s affordable model car, the Pinto, ignited in flames every time it was rear-ended.

Remember when iconic, former New York Jets quarterback Ken O’Brien rapidly improved his interception percentage? He was financial incentivized by the team to achieve this goal. The result, yes, it was fewer interceptions, but it was because O’Brien just threw fewer passes (often to the detriment of team strategy).

The New York Times was one of the first to report this phenomenon of unforeseen consequences of goal-setting in strategy.

“Besides possibly leading to unethical behavior—a lawyer being told to bill a certain number of hours a week will be tempted to fudge the numbers—too much emphasis on goals can inhibit learning and undermine intrinsic motivation,” Professor Schweitzer, co-author of “Goals Gone Wild,” told the NYT.

Professor Schweitzer’s journal article, which appeared in the Academy of Management Perspectives in 2009, doesn’t discourage incentivizing employees or throwing out the strategy manual.

The Professor merely states, “Goal-setting is like powerful medication.”

“You need to make sure how appropriate it is and keep monitoring it to determine, ‘Is this goal too specific? Is this goal too stressful? Is it pushing many people beyond the normal bounds of what they should be doing?’ If so, then you need to rethink that goal.”

For example, Sears set a productivity goal for their auto-repair staff, motivating them to collect $147 for every hour of work. Sales goals are not uncommon—the result?  Employees resorted to overcharging customers on a companywide basis simply to satisfy Sears, explains Peter Bregman in his article “Consider Not Setting Goals in 2013,” for the Harvard Business Review Blog.

The problem with the majority of year-end, company-sweeping goals is that they’re typically motivated by fear or negativity.

You didn’t like your profit margin from 2012, so you raise expectations for 2013. You poorly incentivize employees to become more productive workers, or you point out inefficiency to managers and demand change.

There’s a reason why self-fulfilling prophecies come true. You fear the end of the world, so you hastily drive to that one town in France allegedly immune and excessive highway speed causes a wreck that ends your life.

If you start setting expectations and view progress from a purely negative perspective, you may find you’re unhappy with the consequences.

So this year, stop setting hard-to-reach goals and expectations for your firm. Try, instead, a go-with-the-flow fiscal attitude and set manageable, incremental strategies.

Instead of identifying weakness in your business practice, identify your most successful corporate structures. Then, find out how you can keep these structures going, or how you can improve upon them. 

Set small targets, not in sales or billable hours, but for increasing employee satisfaction or associate mentorship programs.

If you focus on the positive, achievable (and often intangible) targets for your firm, you’ll find that you also benefit fiscally. And, you’ll never be disappointed with the results at the end of next reporting year.

Don’t worry about all-encompassing, omnipresent firm objectives. Give the Mayan’s time to take their foot out of their mouth, let the yuletide roll, enjoy your office holiday party, and worry about assembling a small, enthusiastic brainstorming group to set targets sometime in 2013.

No resolutions set for your firm this year? It’s not the end of the world.

-WB

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Five New Year’s Resolutions For Law Firm Success In 2012

New Year’s Resolutions, according to historians, date as far back as Ancient Rome with Janus, a mythical king. Janus’ two faces allowed him to look forward and back in time (and, incidentally enough, through doors).

Before the beginning of each year, Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts. In 153 B.C., the Romans declared January 1st the start of the New Year, the calendar month to which Janus donated his name.[1]

“Making a resolution on New Year’s Day is a time-honored tradition. Earlier celebrants of the holiday went through elaborate rituals to chase away the ghosts of the past. While the Chinese used cymbals and fireworks, others used rites such as exorcisms and purifications. Ceremonies, involving bonfires, processions or parades, often had masks that symbolized the dead,” writes Tree.com.

By denouncing past sins, bad habits, or weaknesses through resolutions, it was thought that a person could exorcize his demons. Announcing intentions for a clean slate at the New Year would provide the release needed to escape ill health or oppression.[2]

For lawyers, making New Year’s resolutions may not release you from ill health, oppression, or war, but resolutions could release law firms from its financial ills or other woes.

So, consider making resolutions for your firm this New Year. Here is a start on five:

1. Create a business strategy for 2012

Around the New Year, when work is at a peak, it’s often difficult to find the time to meet. But, law firm partners and administrators should get together to discuss the short and long-term future of the firm.

Each party should arrive with contributions and ideas. If one area of the firm is weakest—like marketing or technology—hire an expert to push the strategy and decision-making process forward.

Whether your goals are lofty, modest, large or small, a firm’s business strategy should be formalized and written down. No more hallway conversations about the problems and solutions you face.

This year, hire a stenographer to transcribe—not your next court case—but your next partners meeting to ensure no creative idea, innovation, or thought is lost.

2. Revamp your website

Like the Trojans, never look a gift horse in the mouth. This year, that means, don’t question the World Wide Web and the gift of its practically free access and marketing for your firm. Creating a firm blog or starting a social media site, for example, require some time and almost no money.

This year, revamp your firm’s website to connect to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Advertise your firm’s expertise and exceptional employees to attract new clients and associates in 2012.

If your site and its content has already been perfected, consider going mobile.

3. Start using social media

Just like a firm website, social media is a great way to establish free marketing for your firm.

Assign a younger associate to the task. Not only is their billable rate low, but their eye for Millennial detail and savvy for attracting new followers will, undoubtedly, be greatest—an thus most effective—at the firm.

4. Personalize legal products to your clients

This year, clients want specialized services and products. This means alternative billing arrangements or tailor-made service.

Make a New Year’s resolution to be flexible. The economic recession is creating change in a variety of traditional industry—law, healthcare, financial services. Stay competitive by becoming adaptive to your clients’ needs and requests.

Set up January meetings with your clients to discuss ideas for improvement. Ask them if there are any services or products they’d like to see from you this year. Arrive with a few ideas, yourself.

Opening up communication and the willingness to change will certainly lead to success and survival during these difficult economic times.

5. Ask for help

Whatever demons your law firm is hoping to expel this year, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Budget some funds to hire new experts in the field or contractors.

Law is an industry where human capital is of the upmost importance. Like Janus in Ancient Rome, two faces is always better than one.

-WB

Sources:

1. Blair, Gary Ryan. “The History of New Years Resolutions,” Ezine articles. [LINK: http://ezinearticles.com/?The-History-of-New-Years-Resolutions&id=245213]
2. “History Of New Year’s Resolutions,” Lifestyle & Leisure Article in Tree.com. [LINK: http://www.tree.com/lifestyle/history-of-new-year-s-resolutions.aspx]

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