Here are some pieces from around the web that I’ve enjoyed reading recently.
Let’s talk about the green stuff. A lot of lawyers go into law to avoid sales. Others are in it to avoid business. Unfortunately for them, the good old days are gone, law firms are now businesses, and most lawyers need to spend time and energy developing new business. Still, it’s tough for a lot of us to talk frankly about money matters with our clients, but Pam Woldow makes the case in “Grubby Money” – Lawyers’ Reluctance to Talk About Fees that lawyers need to open the lines of communication and spend more time talking with our clients about money matters.
Re-engineering the business of law. There can be no doubt that the legal profession is going through a significant sea change. More than ever before, we’re facing pressures to continuously improve the efficiency and quality of our services, and most firms — maybe all firms — must innovate in order to survive. J. Stephen Poor, chairman of Seyfarth Shaw, makes the case for innovation in his Dealbook post Re-Engineering the Business of Law. It’s a good, short read.
New and improved in-house operation. One reason law firms need to innovate is that many of their in-house clients have taken the path of innovation themselves. Law.com’s Corporate Counsel website highlights changes at the Dallas-based chemical company Celanese Corporation in Systems With Room for Hunches: Celanese [Note: link removed on January 6, 2014 because it's now subscription-only content]. The Celanese legal department has adopted a proactive and organized approach that has resulted in the legal team’s tripling of the company’s patent filings, reducing the company’s budget for outside counsel by 30%, and settling many cases internally. Like Seyfarth Shaw, continuous improvement via Six Sigma is a part of Celanese’s approach.
Put down that contract and slowly back away. I’m a devoted do-it-yourselfer, so I understand the impulse of business owners to do their own legal work. But I’ve seen some really awful self-drafted contracts, so I’m glad there are affordable self-help websites available to people who want to go it alone. The problem is that you don’t know what you don’t know so it’s risky to go it alone without professional help when the stakes are high. Florida business lawyer Bill Yanger (who’s not a fan of do-it-yourself websites) makes the case for getting professional help in his post Put The Scalpel Away. Document Factories: Legal Doom or Legal Boom?
IPO humor. Facebook went public yesterday, and my favorite joke about the IPO made the rounds on Twitter throughout the day: “Why did FB go public? Because they couldn’t figure out the privacy settings either.” Well done, Twitter people.