Hi, I'm John E. Grant
(a/k/a The Agile Attorney)
I help people harness Agile tools and principles to build legal service businesses* that are:
» Scalable, and
For themselves, and for the communities they care about.
If that sounds like something you're interested in, you've found the right place.
* That might be a law firm, or it might become something else entirely. I like to remind my lawyer-clients that your license to practice law is not a limitation.
What is Agile?
(And what does it have to do with law practice?)
If you're new to capital-A Agile (or even if you just want a refresher), the best way to get up to speed is to subscribe to my Agile Attorney Bootcamp. It is a free 5-day email course to teach you the basics of Agile thinking and how you can apply it in your law practice.
Kind Words from Clients
John's work with us has been critical to the way we handle our work, and our confidence to grow as a team and as a practice.
John helped me step off the "legal marketing" roller coaster to design and build a practice that truly works for me and my family.
You provide a voice and greater context to my real and illusory fears. After each session I felt less confused. I had more direction. The greatest benefit of working with you was your gift for honesty and ability to test my ideas during our sessions.
We really like working with John. He listens, understands our problems, and talks us through practical solutions and a workable plan to implement them.
I'm the Agile Attorney, and I help lawyers suck less.* Or more accurately, I'm an agile attorney, and I help lawyering suck less.
I'm not saying you suck—far from it! I do this work because I LOVE working with smart, passionate professionals who are using their skills to make a difference for their clients and their communities.
I've been there, and I know that work isn't easy.
But I also know that you're on to something when you ask yourself, “Does it really have to be this hard?”
(hint: it doesn't)
* If you didn't laugh at this, just a little snort maybe, then we probably aren't good fit for each other.
I'm a fourth-generation lawyer who spent nearly a decade in the technology industry before going to law school. I approach my work through that lens: I understand the history of how lawyers have worked through the decades, and I also know how modern tools and methods are powering the practices of the future.
Don't think for a second that my family history makes me reverent for the old ways of practicing law. I respect elements of the past, but it had plenty of dark sides.* My tech career taught me the need to question assumptions and cut through traditional BS to make the progress you want to see.
* I once found a phone directory for my great grandfather's firm that had two sections: "Lawyers," and "Girls." Ugh.
How I Help
I've been called a "law firm whisperer," which is a cliché but it isn't far off. I've worked under the hood of scores of legal businesses, and I've developed a pretty good idea what works and what doesn't. I wish I were as funny as the Car Talk guys, but I'm working on a similar ability to quickly diagnose that weird noise your law practice is making.
I use a lot of metaphors.
I'm not especially dogmatic, and I'm equally skeptical of quick-fix, magical solutions as I am of guru-driven, "this is the way" systems. Especially the expensive ones. Although, to be fair, there are usually elements of truth in all of them.
I do lean on a number of core principles I've learned through the years:
- Respect people. Every single person in a system plays an important role. Failing to engage your people in problem solving is at best a missed opportunity, and at worst a recipe for failure.
- Question assumptions. Flawed assumptions are at the core of nearly every problem I've seen in a legal business. Some are individual, some are cultural. Validating—or invalidating—those assumptions is the key to improvement. The hardest part about questioning assumptions is recognizing when you've made one.
- Practice kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese word that roughly translates to continuous, incremental improvement. Contrast that with big-bang overhauls: software changes, re-orgs, new practice areas. Too much change is hard on people (see #1), and it obscures your ability to understand which pull on which lever actually makes a difference.
- Improve systems, not stages. Systems are complicated; there are always plenty of parts of a system that, viewed in isolation, could work better. But isolated improvements in one area often put more strain on the system as a whole. Sometimes an intentional inefficiency at certain stages is required to help the entire system work better. (In the justice system, we call this "due process.")
- Communicate better. If you want everyone's oars to hit the water at the same time, you need a consistent rhythm that everyone can perceive. And I mean everyone: team members, clients, even third parties or opposing counsel. Not enough signal, or too much noise, in your communications will lead to more splashes and less progress.
How I apply these principles—and how I help you apply them—depends on your specific practice and where you are in your improvement journey. Head on over to the working with me page to see what feels right to you.