During last month’s webinar,“Solo and Small Firms in Uncertain Times,” Mitch Kowalski, author of the acclaimed ABA best-seller, “Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century,” discussed the changing legal landscape and offered tips to help lawyers better position themselves to thrive.
If you missed it you can watch a video of the webinar here. During the webinar, there were a number of great questions asked from viewers that Mitch didn’t have sufficient time to answer. Fortunately, he was kind enough to provide us with his answers below:
1) Could you explain more about client solution centers? (John Clarkson)
I think the best way to do that would be to provide you with a link so that you can learn more about LeClairRyan and what it is trying to achieve.
2) Okay, the sky is falling. I get it. What do I do about it? (Roger Bundy, MSU Undergrad Alum Class of ’92)
I don’t think the sky is falling; the sky is changing. So, lawyers need to focus on risk management – scan the environment, understand what is happening around you, understand who your competitors are (including non-lawyers), look for new opportunities and how to you can deliver legal services in a way that is different from others. It’s what our clients have to do to survive every day. As lawyers we’re just not used to doing that.
3) Could you provide practical suggestions on alternative billing arrangements for straight hourly projects/cases? (David Fogel)
There is no magic bullet, no one-size-fits-all. Alternative fees are all about scope. Mapping out the scope of work to be performed and understanding where it can go off the rails. If work is properly scoped then you can discuss with the client what outcome she is looking for and the value of that outcome to her. If things go astray, that will trigger a change work order – much like would happen in the construction industry. If you compile your invoice data properly, you will be able to see the approximate amount of work that is needed for all your files – this will assist in understanding scope. It will also help you better manage your resources in order to do the same amount of work with less bodies and less work.
4) What are your thoughts on the use of social media in the legal services industry? (Janan Jarrah)
Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay. And our clients are increasingly using it – some times to source legal counsel. I tell my law students that social media should be not be ignored. It should be used responsibly and strategically to create a web presence that can be easily found, and to develop competitive advantage. It is also a useful way to plug into a community of lawyers who may be able to mentor you. I think the worst situation for a solo or small firm is for you to be unfindable on social media or the Internet.
5) What would you say to lawyers who are still resistant to using cloud-based tools like MyCase because of security issues–or worse still because of the learning curve. (Hunimano Coelho)
In order to resist the cloud you have to come to the conclusion that your office is the safest place on earth. And that you have invested heavily in bank-grade security features for your computers and that your physical office is impregnable. Remember that the core business of good cloud providers is data security – that is not the core business of law firms – so it is unclear why lawyers can honestly believe their law firm keeps files safer than a cloud service provider. In addition, we see USBs and laptops containing sensitive information being lost or stolen all the time. These instances would not happen if that information was in the cloud. Successful lawyers of the future will be those who can re-learn – ’nuff said!