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46 posts from August 2006

August 31, 2006

Reebok Rules for Lawyers Serving Entrepreneurial Clients

Sun General Counsel Michael Dillon, who’s now blogging, points to a fascinating article (pdf) titled  “Reebok Rules” from former Reebok GC John B. Douglas, III.  The “Rules” contain “important lessons about lawyering in an entrepreneurial environment.”  If you serve businesses of any size, it is a must read.

OK Trial Lawyers, Keep Those Palms Up (not just out).

(Via BuzzBodytalk:

"If you talk with an audience with your palms in an upward position, they not only remember up to 40 percent more of what you've said, but they like you."

Time to shoot new pictures for those yellow pages ads. 

Fire Us, Please!

Joel Spolsky has noticed that FAQ pages for online services almost never include instructions for how to cancel your account, then talks about making it easy for his clients to “fire” his company.  And about their moneyback guarantee?

Since we started the company in 2000, the moneyback guarantee has cost us precisely 2% of revenues, which also includes chargebacks, credit card fraud, and people who accidentally ordered twice. That figure that has remained remarkably stable through the years and which I think is well worth it, but then again, I'm only measuring the cost, because the benefit is too hard to measure!

Do you have instructions how your clients can fire you?  And about that guarantee….

Going to Get Really Sick? Follow These Rules

Gretchen Rubin is trying to find happiness.  Her blog, The Happiness Project, chronicles her year-long journey, in which she tests “every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study [she] can find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah” to help her become happier.

Lately, she has been reading dozens of memoirs about illness.  Here are the lessons she’s gleaned from them about dealing with doctors and hospitals (though they could just as easily be applied to dealing with lawyers and law firms):

You need to educate yourself as much as possible. Doctors don’t have the time or the emotional energy to explain all the possibilities to patients and their families.

Write everything down. It’s hard to take in information the first time you hear it. And keep thorough records for insurance purposes, too.

Every additional course of action carries pitfalls: side effects, pain, the difficulty of recovery from surgery, subsequent infections, time in the hospital, the real possibility of medical mistakes. So resist the impulse to “do everything.”

Double-check everything you can. When my father was in the hospital, his doctor told him not to drink anything, then a nurse urged him to take a pill with water—which would have been disastrous, if he’d done it. A friend who went through chemo had a special notebook where she wrote down her prescriptions, and checked her notes against the chemo bags before she allowed each treatment to proceed.

Before following a course of treatment, press as hard as you can—is this procedure absolutely necessary (e.g., do you really have to have that enema)? How painful will it be? How invasive is it? What other options exist, and are any of them less invasive, painful, etc? What will happen if the procedure isn’t done? Arthur Frank refused to sign a consent form when his doctor didn’t explain an operation to his satisfaction—and then ended up not having it at all.

Note that the medical staff often minimizes the discomfort and difficulty of treatments. Perhaps this arises from a desire not to be discouraging, but the effect is often to make it difficult to plan (will it really be possible to go back to work within a few days?) or to make patients feel that they’re complaining unreasonably.

Stay with the patient as much as possible. I don’t know what the visiting rules are in hospitals, but having read these books, I don’t think I’d leave a patient alone there, ever, if I could help it.

Insist on understanding the true prognosis. In several accounts I’ve read, people reflect sadly that they didn’t really understand that the patient was going to die. And so they made choices they regretted—for instance, resisting using methadone, despite its effectiveness in fighting pain, because of its addictive properties. A ridiculous concern to someone who will die in three months! Terrible news is hard to hear, and it’s hard to give, so if you want to know, you need to push. Stan Mack recalls that Janet’s doctors’ talk was “ambiguous.” He recalled a doctor saying, “You don’t have a curable cancer anymore, but with medication there is a subset of women who…” They didn't understand what they were being told.

The Anti-BlogHer?

This looks like an interesting conference, but wow, only one woman speaker?  No thanks.

Law Firm Recruiters, Beware

As Larry Bodine has recently pointed out, a lot of lawyers-to-be don’t care about making partner anymore.  For a more up-close look at this phenomenon, read this post from a first-year Indiana University law student:

I’ve found that I’m actually rather happy spending time with people that I like and who like me back, and that friends and family are way more important to me than any traditional notion of success in the legal world. To put it differently, I think it’s fair to say that I want to be a successful person first, and a successful lawyer second.

I think that I now see success in my career as something different than I did when I came to law school. I don’t want to work 80 hours a week and see the people I care about in the few hours in between; I want to work with people who are nice and well balanced and in an environment I like and still have time to have a life outside of my job. Whatever that entails, it’s what I’m interested in, and I think this post from Anonymous Law Student has a lot of insight and really gets to the heart of what matters to me in life these days.

The time is coming where money won’t be the motivator for young lawyers to take your firm’s offer that it used to be.  You’ve been warned.

Surprise Your Clients With Lunch

Via Hugh:

One of the crazier PR stunts I've seen for a while: Cambrian House, an open-source software company, turn up at Google unannounced and feed them 1000 complimentary pizzas .

I love this idea, but if I were a law firm serving any medium to large business, I’d take it in a different direction:  I’d surprise my biggest/best clients with enough free pizza to feed all their employees. 

If I wanted to create even more buzz, I’d buy pizza for all my business clients’ employees ON THE SAME DAY.  You could surely work a pretty good deal with the local pizza places, and think about how much everyone would talk about you. 

If I had a few thousand dollars I was thinking about spending on that secondary yellow pages book in my town, I spend my money doing this instead.  I’m sure I’d get a much better bang for my buck.

August 30, 2006

Things I Like

I’m playing around with Amazon’s new “AStore” product.  It allows me to build a virtual storefront with products I choose.  I’m going to change it every month with new and cool books, magazines, and gear that I personally recommend.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

links for 2006-08-30

August 29, 2006

Office Design for Employees

Designing your firm’s new space?  Take a look at this post about a printing company in Montana.  Some of the unique office features:

  • Day Care and 'family' is built in; there are no other options!  The first thing you see when you come walk the parking lot to the front door are little kiddos playing under the Montana sky.  All employees pay a pitance to have their young kids on site with them.  It's a fundamental.  Andrew made it a key design driver.  And the # of Baby Bjorns in the office was an indicator that for many of the employees, a family 'quality of life' decision was made without compromising their careers.  And its a spectacular daycare.  Small adult/kid ratio.  Healthy environment.  Kids loved.  And obviously very happy teachers and parents on site.  It wins all visitors over the second they come into the building.
  • The main floor is designed for humans, not executives or administrators.  Andrew had been told by the design team at first that a 'traditional' executive/client floor was needed.  Sends the right message.  Fits the design.  Tradition.  Andrew felt that didn't match the company's feel.  Instead, the upper floor does have all of those elements -- like a typical 'entry' to a school -- but for any visitor, the real sense is that it's an open series of collaborative spaces that are designed for all team members (regardless of rank) to relax, create, rest, and connect. 
  • Every space is a learning space.  Man, there just weren't any spaces in the building that didn't suggest learning, collaboration, experiment, and team.  Sure, business had to be done and things were divided up by tasks and teams, but the real take-away had to do with energy and collaboration.  I'd have given anything for teachers/administrators and school designers alike to have spent time on the bottom floor (ground level, due to the slope that building sits on) where the teams were moving at full speed, serving clients around the nation, and providing rigorous real-time design/printing solutions.  Spaces were vibrant.  Team members were free to work in a variety of settings. And the place had a learning buzz about it.
  • All workers are humans, learners and team members first.  I was struck by one programmer/service expert that had forgone the chair entirely. He used a yoga/exercise ball as his chair -- not only did it help create a different dynamic, but it also had a huge impact on his back problems.  I also liked that it allowed him to move.  To bounce.  To fidget.  To shift.  Mmmm....imagine if kids were given the same option.  Imagine. We talked about this a bit, but what really struck me was that the 'trappings' of professionalism were tossed out the window with a grand investment being made instead to support 'how' people worked, created, succeeded, and collaborated.  Every team member looked happy/healthy.  And the spaces reflected that -- not choosing expensive design but instead being creative and letting the teams be able to gravitate towards what worked best for them.  Solo. Small groups. Large groups.  Formal.  Informal.  Inside. Outside.  In other words, every space a learning space.  Even hallways.  Very little wasted...and a far more vibrant learning organization because of it!
  • Check out the entire post for more.