Entrepreneurial? Better Prove It

lawyers as entrepreneurs Originally posted in The National Law Journal on July 15, 2013

“We are very entrepreneurial at our firm.”

Just because you say it, doesn’t make it true. Your law firm is a business, so in that sense, every lawyer is an entrepreneur. But very few law firms actually behave like entrepreneurs. They take risks with every file they accept, new associate they hire or attorney they elevate to partner, but they aren’t truly entrepreneurs because they don’t take the types of risk that allow them to develop as businesses.

In his book The Lean Startup, Eric Ries lays out three steps in the innovation process: build, measure, learn. A new company tries something new, measures its success or failure and then learns from it. No technology company works on an idea for three years before releasing it as a finished product; they launch one or more beta versions to help verify that the things work and their business strategies are correct, pivoting as the results require. Read more

Ignoring LinkedIn Has Consequences

LinkedIn for lawyersOriginally posted in The National Law Journal on July 29, 2013

“What happens if I don’t clean my room?” my son, Taylor, recently asked me. He is fascinated by the concept of consequences. Just as children respond well to consequences, so do professionals. So instead of looking at the benefits of LinkedIn or the fact that, according to Greentarget Global LLC and Inside Counsel, 67 percent of in-counsel use it on a daily or weekly basis, let ‘s weigh the negative consequences of ignoring the site.

You may inadvertently ignore messages from important contacts. A law firm partner ran into a friend who was in-house counsel for a major company. She asked, “Why didn’t you ever respond to the message I sent you on Linked In last month?” He replied, “Why on earth would you send me a message on LinkedIn? I never check that!” Ignore all the invitations sent to you via LinkedIn, and you might miss messages from people you don’t want to alienate.

You may miss invitations. I helped a well-connected lawyer finish setting up a LinkedIn account. This person had only seven connections on Linkedin, but more than 100 outstanding invitations. For all they knew, she had clicked “ignore” or “I don’t know this person.” Your Google search results won’t convey your level of expertise or depth of experience. Most lawyers don’t realize the weight that search engines give to their LinkedIn profile. Google your name, and 74 percent of the time it will show up among the top three results and one-third of the time it will be No. 1, ahead of your law firm bio. If you have a poorly ­written, brief or nonexistent LinkedIn bio, you are sending a message to people who haven’t met you yet, and it isn’t a positive one. If you are a brilliant and successful lawyer, make sure your LinkedIn profile conveys that message.

You will miss the chance to be the connector. Many new users of LinkedIn don’t understand the value of connecting your high-value contacts. They worry about ­competitors sniping their contacts and stealing their ­business, so they “hide” their contacts and miss the opportunity to be the business equivalent of the matchmaker. Perhaps the most valuable feature of LinkedIn is the ability to see who knows whom. Let your clients know you would be glad to introduce them to anybody in your network.

Nothing will change in your practice. Many lawyers feel they are stuck in a rut. They have a book of business that has reached as high as it will go, or maybe it’s shrinking. They would do well to remember the words of Bruce Lee: “There are no limits. There are only plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” Jumping into LinkedIn with both feet will keep you from suffering the ­consequences mentioned above. You are a great lawyer; let ‘s make sure LinkedIn becomes an asset for you instead of a liability.