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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of February 18, 2014

LawBiz(r) newsletter

While watching the Winter Olympics, we tend to look for perfection. Anything short of perfection reduces our chances of winning a medal, let alone a gold medal. If, however, we look at almost any major sport, we realize that the difference between the top performer and the next in line is usually a matter of only one or two percentage points. This, indeed, is a very high standard. In business, seeking perfection can prevent us from reaching our goal: success. Thus, when 80% toward our goal, my coach's advice is to "let loose." This seems to be the mantra, also, of most software companies. They are always repairing and fixing glitches, but getting their product onto the market as early as possible.

While not perfect, in my last week's commentary, I suggested that the mantra of CVS was "wellness and beauty." In fact, it is "happy and healthy." While not perfect, my message is the same: A healthcare company cannot sell tobacco products; it is inconsistent with their brand. Likewise, your actions as a lawyer must be consistent with your personal marketing brand.

On March 27th, I will be in Chicago and invite you to join me for breakfast at 8 a.m.. Write or call for further details. And while there, consider attending the ABA TECHSHOW 2014 at the Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue.

Ed signature

Truth in Humor: Words of Wisdom from Jay Leno

"The reason there are two senators for each state is so that one can be the designated driver," said Jay Leno.

Although Leno is retiring, his words of wisdom, steeped in humor though they may be, continue to work.

Certainly, his words work in the context of the legal profession because a law firm, like a state, should have a "designated driver." And it would be worth your while to consider choosing a designated driver that is a nonlawyer.

When General Motors, once regarded as the most successful company in America, had to file for bankruptcy and accept a government bailout due to its inbred management, the GM board in August 2010 did the unthinkable. It named Daniel Ackerson-not a "car guy" but a guy who instead had run telecommunications companies and a buyout firm-to be the new CEO.

Today, not coincidentally, General Motors under Ackerson's leadership has returned to financial health, reshaped its organization, and is again earning a reputation for product innovation.

There is a lesson here for law firms. Senior firm leadership is inevitably carried out by the lawyers themselves. But are such lawyers always the best choices to improve client service quality, marketing performance, attorney training and development, and competitive effectiveness? The history of problems that major firms faced during the Great Recession suggests that the answer increasingly may be no. Lawyers think like lawyers, not businesspeople, just as "car guys" think in terms of reliably running automobiles, not running a large organization that does more than simply build cars.

The idea of having a business professional such as a coach at your side, or at least available by phone, works in industry. That same idea should be incorporated in the legal industry. This will enable lawyers to do what they do best -lawyering, while still running a profitable service business.

LawBiz® Special Report Series

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Truth in Humor: Words of Wisldom from Jay Leno

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Video: Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Planning


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Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Planning 

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"Ed Poll created and presented your three-day workshop "Starting, Operating, Growing and Profiting from the Practice of Law" for our Law School, the Continuing Legal Education Committee and the Washington Law School Foundation. Ed's professional management skills and presentation talents provided our alumni and students with an outstanding program. The evaluations, both oral and written, were excellent and demonstrated that his audience agreed. One evaluator was particularly appreciative of the thought-provoking and interesting new concepts. Another said, "I have a much better understanding of what I'm to do -- I'm energized. Thank you!" Ed had a major impact on the future of our attendees; this is a unique quality and we are most appreciative of his efforts to create such an interesting and informative program. I enjoyed working with him and look forward to doing so again."

John F. Rapp
Director, CLE
Univ of Washington

"Ed Poll's efforts resulted in the success of our Mid Year CLE Program event. During the planning stages of this Mid Year Program, the Section's leadership indicated that if 75 lawyers attended the program, it would be considered a success. With our program attendance at over 100 attendees, the leadership clearly is very pleased with our efforts and want to continue bringing programs to the solo and small firm practitioner. We look forward to this challenge of making the Mid Year Program a regular event."

Lee S. Kolczun, Chair
Sole Practitioners and Small Firms Committee
American Bar Association


Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management

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