Today I’m reaching back to an episode I recorded for Megan Zavieh’s Lawyers Gone Ethical podcast back in the early days of the pandemic (April 2020). I had just published a video titled Why US Courts Will Gridlock, about why I (correctly) believed that courts shutting down in early 2020 would have long-term ramifications for their dockets. I bring it up now because the concepts I explored in that video (and in Megan’s podcast) are every bit as applicable to your law practice as they were/are to the courts. Topics Megan and I discuss include: The inherent tension between protection and accessibility.Survivorship biasLittle’s Law (or why work slows down if ... (Keep reading)

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A Chat About Accessibility

“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable work product.” —Principles Behind the Agile Manifesto I realized this morning that I’ve been carrying on about deliverables for several days now without explaining why a guy who calls himself the Agile Attorney cares about them so much. The quote above is slightly modified from the (software-centric) 2000 Agile Manifesto, which has been preserved in amber on a delightfully late-1990s era website. As I continue along my own learning journey, I find that I’m more of a pragamatist than an Agile dogmatist, but there is still a whole lot of wisdom captured in that original ... (Keep reading)

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Early and Continuous Delivery

Continuing my theme on phased delivery of productized legal services. Of course I meant to write and send this last Friday, but last Friday turned into a different day than any of us had planned. And then I took a few days this week to spend in the Cascades with my family (away from cell signal). They were glorious. So my streak is gone, again, but oh well. Time to start another one. To summarize how we got here: previously I talked about why being “responsive” to clients is a productivity killer that costs you and your clients real money. I suggested that being proactive is a far superior way ... (Keep reading)

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Minimizing Client Suspense

Continuing my theme on phased delivery of productized legal services. If you haven’t been following along, check out Part 1 and Part 2. Before we get into what deliverables mean for your workflows (punting that one to tomorrow), I first want to talk about how I think of a “product” (as opposed to a pure service). We all have a rough connotation of what a product is. You probably associate products with something physical, and while not all products are necessarily something you can hold in your hand, I like how you’re thinking. High level, a product is a tangible thing that people invest something to acquire, typically so they ... (Keep reading)

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Legal products that meet client needs

Yesterday I introduced the idea of the phased delivery of productized legal services. I left you with my insistence that each phase of your workflow should have a deliverable. Specifically, a client-facing one. Today I’ll unpack that assertion. A few bits of background: (1) While people can perceive plenty of value from experiences, the experience of working with a lawyer is not high on anyone’s bucket list. That’s not to say that legal work isn’t valuable, just that most people don’t perceive tremendous value from the process of working with a lawyer.* I’ve seen this be a major source of frustration for attorneys in their relationship with clients. “They have ... (Keep reading)

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What’s the Deliverable?

Happy solstice! As we mark a celestial turning point, I’ll jump on the metaphor to offer a few thoughts on what I think is the necessary turning point for legal professionals to build practices that meet my triple goals of being profitable, scalable, and sustainable: a shift to phased delivery of productized legal services. For purposes of this week’s posts, I’m using Richard Susskind’s continuum from his provocatively titled 2008 book, The End Of Lawyers (Amazon Link | Powells Link). In it, Susskind argues that in order to meet the demands of 21st century buyers of legal services, legal professionals need to migrate their offerings away from highly customized services. ... (Keep reading)

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Phased delivery of productized legal services

Continuing this week’s theme on Attention Pollution… Yesterday I challenged the conventional wisdom that lawyers should always be responsive to their clients. So how can a lawyer create a good customer experience without being responsive? Easy: Be proactive instead. You’ve probably heard that lack of lawyer communication is one of the most common sources of client dissatisfaction—and bar complaints! So put your communication on a schedule. Depending on your practice type, every single one of your clients should be getting an update on their case anywhere from weekly to monthly. Even if what you send is a “No update update,” clients will appreciate hearing from you and seeing what is ... (Keep reading)

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Proactive beats Responsive

Hey there: If you’re on this page because you clicked a link in my newsletter that was supposed to be information about Juneteenth, sorry about that. I obviously pasted the wrong link and now I look like a jerk for linking to my own blog instead. Here’s where I was trying to send you: https://www.waysideyouth.org/2020/06/18/10-things-we-want-white-people-to-do-to-celebrate-juneteenth/. Continuing this week’s theme of Attention Pollution… Yesterday I talked about ditching the dings, the little interruptions that take up way more of your time than you probably realize. Today I’m going to poke at some conventional wisdom of lawyer culture: the idea that “client responsiveness” is a hallmark of good lawyering. “But I need ... (Keep reading)

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Responsiveness is the Death of Productivity

Yesterday I wrote about Attention Pollution. A few of you wrote back thanking me for the reminder to focus on protecting your attention. One person suggested that it was similar to the advice that eating healthier begins in the grocery store; if you never bring the junk food home then you are a lot less likely to eat it. Same goes for attention pollution—the choices you make about your device settings (or even the physical presence of your devices) go a long way towards preventing distraction. That reminded me about the single best piece of advice about protecting yourself form interruptions: Turn off as many digital notifications as you possibly ... (Keep reading)

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Ditch the Dings

You’re probably familiar with the notion of attention hacking by now. Seems like every few months some former BigTech engineer comes out and says “huh, maybe this thing I helped build to steal people’s attention isn’t so good for society.” The most recent example, albeit a novel one, is the Google engineer who believes that their conversational AI has become sentient. (Like many, I initially scoffed, and I still don’t find his particular argument convincing. But the reality is that we are definitely going to have to wrestle with the ramifications of some version(s) of “sentient” AI in my lifetime… however that’s not the topic of this post.) I recently ... (Keep reading)

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Priority Planning vs. Attention Pollution