February 2006

This issue contains the following articles:
  1. Beware The Barriers That Keep You from Improving
  2. You Can Take It With You - But SHOULD You?
  3. Paper Isn't Obsolete - And Won't Be for a Long Time


  1. Beware The Barriers That Keep You from Improving

    I passionately believe in the power of coaching. I've dedicated my professional life to serving lawyers as a key team member, an independent, objective ally who can listen to the challenge the lawyer faces and provide advice based on years experience and years "in the field," as a practicing attorney. Coaching works: most of my clients have increased their revenue by five or six figures as a result of coaching.

    What good coaching (and accountability to yourself through the accountability to the coach) does is help you realize your potential to accomplish more. I've realized that benefit from coaching many times in my own life, not the least of which has been in my love of cycling. By engaging a coach who works under the system used by Lance Armstrong's coach, I am much better trained, enjoy the time on my bike more and have gone to cycling camps I never would have attended but for the coaching. Yes I could do more, but without the coaching, I would have achieved less and enjoyed cycling less. I'll never be Lance Armstrong, but I'm much better at something I want to be good at. That's what happens when coaching works.

    If coaching helps so much, why don't we take more advantage of it? These are the objections to coaching that I hear time and again, and the responses that I offer. Can you see yourself in them? If so, you may be talking yourself out of help that can improve your career and your life.

    • If I seek coaching it means I'm personally inadequate. The more logical conclusion is that engaging a coach means you've decided to succeed. Because a coach can help you improve more quickly than you would on your own, accepting coaching is a mark of strength.

    • Engaging a coach is too expensive. I believe you must look at coaching through the eyes of investment - in yourself. The ROI is how much more you can earn, or reduce your stress level, as the result of working with a coach. (As far as earning potential goes, let me give you a typical example: one of my clients increased her net profit by $400,000 through only $30,000 worth of my coaching. That's a ROI of 1,300%, in case you don't like math.)

    • I can't commit to the time that a coach demands. The fact is that success has a price … the time required to do what's necessary to improve your training, your profile in the community, and your ability to run your "business of law" ®. No commitment, no success.

    • Coaches too often try to intimidate people. A good coach is neither a buddy nor a mentor nor an assistant. A coach can only guide you, not do the work for you. A really great coach will be a member of your team whose leadership compels you to be better.

    • I can't take direction from someone I don't know personally. A personal relationship is nice, but not necessary, and may be impossible if your coach has a national reputation. Most of my client coaching is done by phone - with the same lawyers whose incomes rise so sharply.

    Have you ever considered coaching? How can I make you comfortable enough to pick up the phone to try it?

    How about my 100% personally-backed guarantee? I know my coaching will make such a huge difference in your professional life and the profitability of your firm. Why? Because it works for everyone. In fact, I feel so confident, that if it doesn't work for you, if you don't learn at least three things from our first session together, then I'll refund your investment in whole.

    Plus! You'll get a complimentary gift just for trying it out - my latest white sheet "10 things every lawyer must do to be successful." This offer is only good today.

    Just consider the potential return you'll miss if you don't try it out - at least this once. For a small investment, you'll receive my expert coaching advice - advice that has helped dozens of my clients establish long-term strategies, improve revenues, focus firm energies, and accomplish key goals.

    But remember, coaching isn't about me and my strategies. It's all about you.

    Maybe it has nothing to do with profitability. Maybe it has everything to do with your partner, a difficult client, or even with your declining love for the law. Maybe you want me to help you focus on ways you can achieve greater work/life balance, or walk you through the process of closing or selling your firm.

    Whatever's keeping you up at night, you come to the first coaching session with the issue, challenge, or problem on your mind. Tell me what you want to discuss and I'll listen and help you turn the problem upside down on it's head, analyze, and break it down so it doesn't seem so scary or impossible. Then I'll give you a concrete, hard as nails action plan you can walk away with that will help solve your problem… fast. If you see the real benefit of what we accomplished together in this one hour, we can discuss ways to carry this relationship into the future.

    Here's what a few of my clients have to say:

    "... It has been a pleasure and a real assistance speaking to you on a weekly basis about issues as they came up, and about developing a roadmap for future actions. It was great to know that no matter what the issue, you have been there to field questions and provide ideas. ... "
    SEB (Central California)

    "... On a personal level, I'm not scared any more. The recession reduced my wife and me from a comfortable two incomes family to a one person income and a capital drain. When I first called you I truly was counting the months until we would have to put the house on the market...the things we have put in place and will continue working on just about guarantee that my business will pick up..."
    FW (Northern California)

    "You were coaching me during our firm reorganization when disaster hit! Key personnel departed and I was panic stricken. Not only did you honor your commitment to 24/7, your advice enabled me to refocus my priorities. Now, I'm eating, I'm sleeping, and I'm smiling thanks to your guidance."
    KH (England)

    Like any good investment, coaching yields much higher returns than your initial investment. Isn't investing in yourself smarter, more rewarding, and more personally fulfilling than investing in other channels that will only take you so far? If you agree, why don't you invest in yourself today?

    Call me today at 800-837-5880 to schedule your no-risk, introductory coaching session, or e-mail me at edpoll@lawbiz.com. Please remind us of the FREE gift we owe you, because it's only offered to our ezine subscribers!

  2. You Can Take It With You - But SHOULD You?

    Can a departing lawyer copy documents from files of the "old" firm? At first glance the answer seems to be an obvious "no," when the departing lawyer wants to use the files to take clients from the firm he or she is leaving. But what if the intent is more innocent, such as wanting to have a body of reference, and convenient forms, from which to commence new work for new clients in a new law firm? The objections may be less obvious, but they still exist - for several very important reasons.

    • Violation of copyright law. Even if the work product was personally created by the lawyer, the copyright protection attaches to the documents and resides with the law firm. The principle is that of "work for hire," in which the creator has no proprietary rights. Those rights belong to the person/entity that paid for the work.

    • Knowledge Management system requirements. Corporate clients increasingly demand Knowledge Management (KM) systems that systematically organize the firm's entire work product, prepared for all of its clients, making the collective research and advice of all lawyers available to each lawyer. Clients will no longer pay firms to reinvent the wheel, meaning that work files are no longer inert paperwork that no one will miss. Best practices require every firm, whether one lawyer or one thousand, to create a standard classification system for each lawyer's physical and electronic work, including correspondence, memos, forms, briefs, and emails. Files with such organization, particularly when enhanced by shared document management systems such as iManage and Docs Open, become integrated firmwide structures. Removing one work product item is like removing a brick from a wall.

    • Client ethics. Files and their contents always belong to the client, not the firm or a departing lawyer. You need permission from your client to move a file. The rules and specific time periods for storing or destroying client files vary by jurisdiction. Some states, for example, require a lawyer to securely store a client's file for 10 years after completion or termination of the representation absent other arrangements between the lawyer and client.

    On balance, what is correct and what is enforced may be two different things when negotiation is involved. If a departing lawyer wants work product of any kind, I'd suggest that being up front and seeking agreement is better and always the safest bet, especially if there is any possibility of getting future referral work.

  3. Paper Isn't Obsolete - And Won't Be for a Long Time

    Any discussion of client files can quickly become a philosophical discussion of whether paper is a law office essential or curse. I recently created a stir in a publication called TechnoLawyer (read the article here) by taking the contrarian position that - despite microfilm, disks, tapes and databases - paper files are not obsolete and won't be for a long time to come. A number of lawyers weighed in with concurring opinions, some passionately and others cynically: one responded to me that law offices won't go paperless because lawyers simply aren't interested in spending money on the necessary technology or the training to use it!

    Certainly paper is not dead; we seem to have more of it than ever before. Copies of faxes and printouts of email messages are anecdotal yet tangible evidence that paper has an attraction that will not diminish. These are some of the reasons why:

    • The sense of touch. Touch is one of the five basic senses. We learn by touching things from the time we're infants. That may be why as adults we retain emotionally positive feelings toward touching warm and familiar things like papers and books. People do not touch computer screens, and most of us view touching keyboards as a necessary evil.

    • The spur to creativity. People over the age of 40 may know and understand computer technology, but they remain more comfortable with the use of books and paper records as creative tools. A major reason for that is the free association that is made possible by glancing through printed pages. Facts and concepts leap off the printed page quickly and can be processed in different ways readily. Computer search programs follow a linear logic in processing information that makes developing a new concept much harder.

    • The need for fundamental skills. A cross-generational mix of communication skills is always best. Dictation to a secretary, who then creates a paper document, is often cited as an example of skill obsolescence. Yet clear, distinct dictation is required for effective use of voice recognition software, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, and many younger practitioners find the knack of dictation hard to acquire.

    • The advantage of permanence. Unlike a digital file, paper cannot be imperceptibly altered. That's a big reason why lawyers are required to maintain physical copies of important client documents such as original notes or securities, original wills and settlement agreements.

    • The avoidance of cost. The use of familiar paper documents is often less costly in the long run than the expense of hardware, software and training. In many law offices the staff prefers physical documents, is resistant to new technology, and has no emotional investment in its use. The paperless system languishes, with little of the expected savings or profits.

    Change happens slowly in the law - precedent (stare decisis, in the language of 2,000 years ago) is still a fundamental driver of what we do. That alone will help preserve paper's role.

    Share these ideas with others at work and in your personal life. Being a mentor and helping others is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. They may get their own subscription by sending an email to edpoll@lawbiz.com.

Published On: 

This Monthly Format is listed under the following categories: