We have some interesting contributions this week on what the legal industry needs more of right now. I was a little disappointed that my friend Emily didn’t follow through on her dibs on “cowbell” – just because I really wanted her to say something like “The legal industry’s got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell!” Since she didn’t, I thought I’d just toss it in there for kicks.

Just a reminder of why we have the Elephant Posts each week. The idea is that we all have different perspectives when it comes to what we do in the legal profession. Kind of like the story of the blind men describing an elephant by the part of the elephant they are touching. So, although some out there feel that we are asking insipid questions, instead of giving you our original thoughts, we feel that we are expanding our perspectives by asking you to share your own with us.

Next week’s Elephant Post question is listed at the bottom. If you like the post earlier this week about turning an iPad into a mobile phone, then I think you’ll like what we’re asking (and hopefully will contribute one or two apps that you use.)

Juggler of Cats Perspective

Management Training

In a profession where leaders are delegated and not created, few are actually trained in the art of management.
Managing people and their projects takes a special skillset. Talking a good talk is not enough. Managing people takes dedication.
Some people are naturally good at it. But most are not. To be a good manager takes effort, selflessness, and an understanding of all the parts of a business.
I would love to see more management training at the law school level and more cooperation between law schools and business schools. Columbia’s law school is moving in this direction. I am anxious to see how this works out for them.

Law student in waiting Perspective

Reason 1: Picture a line graph. Now picture the x axis as servers and the Y axis as problems. Now picture a diagonal line going from left to right. Get it? Mo’ servers, Mo’ Problems. – Notorious B.I.G (Loosely Quoted)
Reason 2: 1992 called, it wants its servers back
Reason 3: “I got 99 problems but a server ain’t one” – Jay-Z (loosely quoted)

Law librarian Perspective
Consumer advocacy

See “Why The Largest Publishers Require Us To Unite Efforts In Consumer Advocacy

Lawyer Perspective
Business Sense

Too many of us still fail to recognize the “practice” of law as a business.  Professionalism is important, but does not conflict with commonly accepted business practices.

Legal Blogger Perspective

I had to laugh when I saw that one firm was creating a floor for the amount of legal spend that clients must spend each year, or be cut loose as a client. The issue here is that the firm has turned the responsibility of client-firm relations on its head. Instead of telling the attorneys that their clients have to show profitability, and hold them responsible for cutting unprofitable clients off… the firm has wimped out and created a rule that basically says “Dear Client: You must spend $X per year, or we will unfortunately need to stop doing work for you.” The problem is going to come when the partner comes back to whatever committee established this “line in the sand” rule and says that he or she wants to keep the client because they have a longstanding relationship with them that will pay off down the road. I’m assuming that this committee will fold like a cheap suit and move the line in the sand to a different point whenever someone wants to ignore it.

Knowledge Management Perspective

That’s right. Elephants. What the legal industry needs more of is:  elephants.
For those of you who have been reading these Elephant Posts for a while now, you know that elephant is another way of saying transparency. From sharing how law firms work, to how clients work, to how client development works, to how billing works, to how evaluations work, to how partnership paths work, to how negotiations work, to how leverage works, you get the idea.
The more educated junior associates and staff are about the business of law, the better they can support the business, and the better partners and senior management they will become.”

Intelligence and Other Things Perspective

Self reflexivity.
Is it a business? It is a practice?  There are those who, in the ruthless pursuit of pure academia, see the legal industry as being fundamentally and only about practicing law.  Others, likely those who are more inclined to bow-at-the-feet-of-the-all-mighty-billable-hour, focus on the legal industry as a business. As a result, there is infinite chatter surrounding the profession and what it should do, how it should look and what it should be about – from  legal process outsourcing, to knowledge management, to how and when to recruit to alternative fee arrangements. No other profession I can think of discusses its insecurities quite as openly. Ultimately, what the legal profession really needs is more self reflexivity about who and what lawyers and law firm are in the world and how that plays out in a social or business context. It is time to take a good long look at what the industry is really all about…

Next Week’s Elephant Post

What Mobile App Do You Use For Work?

There was a lot of interest in my post this week about turning my iPad into a Phone, so I thought that this questions would dovetail perfectly. We’ve all probably sat through those “60 Apps in 60 Minutes” programs at a conference and watched as a bevy of applications flew past us on the screen. Those are cool, but what how many of those do we actually use when we get back to our office? So, share with us any apps you use for work and why it helps you do your job. As usual, we try to make this as easy as we can for you to contribute, so you can fill out the form below, or if you want, you can DM me on Twitter, or email me directly with your answer. Remember, it is hard to describe “The Elephant” if you don’t share your perspective.