Coping With Accelerating Change

This will be a short post, for me anyway. But I want to make an important point, with an example from Thomas Friedman’s excellent book on accelerating change in the world, “Thank You For Being Late.”

Why does a small town lawyer care about adapting to accelerating change? Let’s check a few of the reasons:

1.      Because it is ACCELERATING change! It is fast now, but it heading on a graphed curve that is getting steeper, faster! A relevant book is, “The Singularity is Near”  by Ray Kurzwell. The “singularity” is a vertical line to the future!

2.      Only 7% of Japanese live in rural settings. The same thing is happening in America. So, rural lawyers are vulnerable and must be adaptable.

3.      We just had a political tsunami in America, partly because people are so terrified of the increasing changes.

4.      Selling my experience is fine, but who wants an experienced lawyer who is doing things the way he did 20 years ago? If they think about it, they should want me to be current in the ever-changing law, AND the technology of running a law office, and the changes in our society, and  my profession. That’s a lot of change!

5.      Just a few changes can put a lawyer at an advantage over his competitors:

a.      Scanners at every desk ($450/each), and you are heading towards a paperless future, one without tons of paper to destroy someday in the future. A second vertical monitor at each work station allows for seamless editing. Document assembly with an application like Pathagoras accelerates document production. CLE (continuing legal education) and professional associations keep your knowledge current and your networking solid.

b.      A basic knowledge of Internet and Social Media Marketing, claiming your Google, Yelp, Yahoo, Manta, Merchant Circle, Martindale Hubell, Justia, and other places, and completing your profiles is ESSENTIAL for your visibility. You won’t be hired if the clients cannot find you.

c.      Getting consistently excellent reviews, and professional ratings is essential? How?

                                                    i.     Carefully and honestly follow the instructions on the AVVO. com dashboard, for example. With credentials like mine, you can achieve a 10.0 “Superb” rating in just 2-3 hours work. Even younger lawyers can get into the high 9’s! I recommend you defer inviting the constant complainer, but in our fee contract I ask clients to agree to give me my bad review face to face so we can redouble our efforts to please. And, be sure to explain, explain, explain!

                                                   ii.     Motivate your staff, by instructing, but also incentivizing, them, simply to ask your good clients for reviews. It you please most of your clients, then the best 25% will be happy to give a review.

                                                  iii.     If you have guts, give your clients a survey, and be prepared for the answers. I am  not there yet. But I know my clients love my staff, and I am happy to reward my staff with a small monetary gift if they take the time to approach and get good reviews from our good clients. There will always be that person who won’t tell you, but will tell the world, they didn’t like you.

6.      So, what is the example I mentioned from Thomas Friedman’s book?  Friedman explains that he went to a well-known whitewater kayaking school. Kayakers must adapt to constant change, and often to accelerating change. I like this analogy. Failing to paddle, but just floating in the flow, leads to capsizing, as does dragging one’s paddle.

7.      We survive in kayaking by paddling hard and moving somewhat faster than the flowing water. My friend Dick Billick and I relearned this principle in the Middle Fork River in April, 2012!

8.      So, also,  workers must forget about going into the mines or factory, and walking out 40 years later with a nice pension. Ain’t going to happen.

9.      Today, workers need education; not only specific and technical. To survive well. Do not ignore the liberal arts, language, mathematics, science, history, philosophy, biology, environmental science, and CRITICAL THINKING. I also suggest Fareed Zakaria’s book on the value of a liberal education.

10.   And, plan on a life of lifelong learning. Universities and Colleges will have to become cheaper. Many people will not be able to afford the campus experience, although get that too if you can.

11.   And plan to spend your life, flowing from one position or company to another, finding a nitch in your company, and learning on your own the skills that will let you bid a job, or take a leap.

12.   If you are self-employed, learn what you need to fund, manage, become tech-savvy, and market that business!

13.   If you fail, analyse why, and pick yourself up and keep going.

14.   I hope if a potential client reads this, they will realize that I do these things, make mistakes, learn from the mistakes, and try to apply experience the new technical platforms.

15.   Good luck!

This post was written by Burton Hunter

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