Two ugly stories from the mainstream legal media at least give us the opportunity to consider an under-publicized way in which the billable hour poisons the profession. First is this National Law Journal article about how law firms are responding to the recession (short answer: myopically). Among other things, firms are laying off staff and… Read more »
Jordan Furlong is a strategic consultant and analyst who forecasts the impact of the changing legal market on lawyers, law firms and legal organizations.
Bad news on the economic front continues to pile up — you don’t need the links from me — and the legal profession is finding its ride increasingly bumpy as a result. Wachovia’s legal specialty group reports that partners in large law firms are bringing in less revenue for the first time since approximately the… Read more »
My newest column for Slaw is up and running at the must-read site and ABA Journal Blawg 100 finalist. Even though I’ll also reproduce the article here, I recommend you read it there, in order to get a close-up look at the tremendous content, links and insights available to its readers every day. As law… Read more »
This is kind of a roundup post — a few things I thought might interest you on the theme of innovative information for lawyers. First, if you haven’t checked out JD Supra lately, you might have missed this handy new feature: a Facebook application for streaming your legal documents. JD Supra Docs allows legal professionals… Read more »
I’m delighted and honoured to report that the editors of the ABA Journal have included Law21 in their 2008 listing of the 100 best law blogs. It totally caught me off guard — I didn’t even know they were handing these things out this month — and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s an… Read more »
Two of the smartest people writing on the web these days are Seth Godin and Scott Karp. They have an important message that everybody in the legal services marketplace, especially lawyers, needs to hear. First, this is what Seth had to say in the course of a short but eye-opening interview about the book publishing… Read more »
Virtually all the talk these days in client circles is about the cost of legal services. It’s well established that institutional purchasers of these services are under great pressure to reduce costs by, for example, “taking bids, asking for discounts, shopping around for lower-cost options.” Patrick J. Lamb points out that many in-house lawyers don’t… Read more »
When Dennis Kennedy contacted me a few weeks ago, to ask if I’d like to participate in an online roundtable on the impact of the economic crisis on lawyers to be published in the ABA’s Law Practice Today e-zine, I of course said yes on the spot. But when I logged into the site and… Read more »
I’m very satisfied with the status of my investments. The reason I’m very satisfied is that I haven’t opened a single RRSP update from my bank since mid-summer. I already have a pretty good sense of how ugly things are inside that envelope, and I don’t feel up to having it confirmed just yet. But… Read more »
Malcolm Gladwell has written a new book about the factors that most influence the likelihood that you’ll achieve (traditionally defined) career success. Outliers: The Story of Success posits that much of what affects our success is out of our control, and that arbitrary or even trivial factors play a disproportionate role in what we end up… Read more »
Malcolm Gladwell has written a new book about the factors that most influence the likelihood that you’ll achieve (traditionally defined) career success. Outliers: The Story of Success posits that much of what affects our success is out of our control, and that arbitrary or even trivial factors play a disproportionate role in what we end up doing and how well we do it. As part of the book promotion tour, he spoke with the Globe & Mail the other day and made an observation that I think resonates deeply with the legal profession.
Giving an example of arbitrary success factors, Gladwell noted that a huge percentage of professional hockey players have birthdays early in the year. That’s because the standard cutoff date for hockey programs is January 1, so when all-star teams and other squads are recruited, the players who seem most talented are invariably picked — but in fact, they only seem more talented because they’re older and more physically capable. But then these players get special attention, more coaching, more opportunities, and by the time they hit their teens, they actually are more talented. The same applies in school — Jan. 1 cutoffs mean kids born later in the year are younger and therefore farther back on the learning curve. His point is that arbitrary dividing lines can have huge unintended consequences.
Then the interviewer asked Gladwell, at the end of their conversation, why anyone should care enough about this to actually do anything about it. His reply made me sit up straight:
Because we squander talent. Even in a country like Canada, where hockey is a priority, an obsession, we’re squandering a huge amount of hockey talent without realizing it. We could have twice as many star players if we just changed the institutional rules around finding talent. To me, that’s such a powerful lesson. Because it just says, look, in a simple area like hockey, in a country that cares more about it than almost anything else, if you’re still squandering 50 per cent of your ability, how much more are we squandering everywhere else?
I’d go further and say that squandering talent actually has two components: failing to realize the potential universe of talent at your disposal, and then failing to maximize the talent that you do choose. When you apply that analysis to talent identification, intake and management in the law, you come to realize just how arbitrary and undisciplined we’ve been. Look at it in these terms: Read more on “The perils of squandering talent” »