Ernie the Attorney Blog

Latest from Ernie the Attorney Blog - Page 2

I’ve previously written about the big opportunities available for making money from your ideas. Well… Assuming those ideas solve big problems, that is. (e.g. Ted Nicholas’ million-dollar idea for solving a big legal problem). Developing ideas, and solving big problems… That’s what we knowledge workers need to figure out how to do. And, as we work on figuring this out, it‘s helpful to look at how different kinds of people used ideas to generate great profit. Like Henry Ford, for example. Welcome to History Class In 1907, When Ford announced his intent to create “a motor car for the great…
Once you realize that the essence of your law business is to solve problems by thinking… You’ll then be in a position to optimize your business in magical ways. Now, I want to tell you a story to help you better understand what I’m driving at. It’s the story about how one fellow solved a legal problem that netted him millions of dollars. But before I give you the details, consider this quote: “The task is not so much to see what no one has seen, but to think what no one else has yet thought, about that which…
Back in the 1980’s, I got my first law job at a big downtown New Orleans law firm. I was still in law school, but they let me clerk during the year (which was good because I needed the money). I had no idea why they’d pay me so much money because I had no idea how to solve actual legal problems. I could pull cases from books in the library and write legal research memos about bizarre hypothetical situations concocted by my legal writing instructor. But that was it. So I was a bit apprehensive when I was summoned…
Creativity is what lawyers need to tap into if they want to improve their practices. Creativity isn’t what you probably think, though. One of the best known lawyers observed: “Most people think of creativity as being entirely about the arts —music, painting, theatre, movies, dancing, sculpture etc. But this simply isn’t so. Creativity can be seen in every area of life… Wherever you can find a way of doing things that is better than what has been done before, you’re being creative.“ Hence, when you are working on improving your practice (by finding better ways of doing things), you’re being…
In 1971, , the first email was sent by Ray Tomlinson. Things have been going downhill ever since. If you’ve been overwhelmed by email you are not alone. And if it makes you feel any better, it’s not in any way your fault. Even computer wizards (who are adept at filtering, automating, and outsourcing) are drowning in email. For example, people like , an MIT grad, and more recently a computer science professor at Georgetown. More significantly, Cal Newport has written several books about productivity in the modern world (e.g. ). Recently, he wrote…
Easy success is better than the kind that requires a lot of work. That’s Warren Buffet’s mantra about avoiding unnecessary hardships in running a business. He said, in business you don’t get extra credit for solving a hard problem (and you usually make less money). So, if there’s an easier way to make money, do it the easy way. In my experience, marketing is an area where most small business owners make things harder and more complex than necessary. To make things easier, start with what’s most fundamental in marketing… Trust Building Trust is what you need to build up…
A lot of lawyers are frazzled. They want to work less. But need to earn more. And they also want more time for family, hobbies and the other stuff that makes life worth living. Are these things incompatible? It might seem so. But what if there was a radical solution to this problem? How many lawyers would try it? No doubt, for many, the idea of doing something ’radical’ would turn them off. In 1968 Dick Fosbury tried something radical at the summer Olympics in Mexico City. That’s when he set the world record for the high jump: 7 feet,…
Leveraging strengths and conquering weaknesses is vital to your success. When you harness strengths you can make big improvements in your practice that make your life a lot easier. The key to doing this is with a well-known 4-step analysis called which many business managers find to be indispensable. SWOT analysis reveals strengths and weaknesses are frequently internal, while opportunities and threats are more commonly external. The name is an acronym for the four parameters the technique examines: Strengths: things that give your business an advantage. Weaknesses: things that put your business at a disadvantage. Opportunities: things that your…
If you want to discover how to get more work done, more easily, with less effort, then get these books and read them. These books have been influential in helping many successful people learn to “work smarter.” Study them carefully. Strive to absorb the key principles so they become part of your regular thought patterns. Once that happens, your massive success is virtually guaranteed. 21 Recommended Books Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker The Four Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss Super Thinking: Make Better Decisions with Mental Models
What’s your vision for your law practice? I hope you have a really BIG one. That’s going to be important for a lot of reasons. One of which is that you need an exciting goal to keep you powering through the small stuff. Brutal Truth Time The process of building any successful business will often be boring and feel tedious. You are going to have to roll up your sleeves and delve into the nooks and crannies until you can effectively learn to delegate those parts. This is the boring, tedious part. And like I said, eventually, you can delegate…
While one might naturally assume otherwise, the ways of organizing information are finite. No matter what kind of information you’re dealing with it can only be organized by location, alpha-numeric, time, category, or hierarchy. According to Richard Saul Wurman in his book Information Anxiety 2, the L.A.T.C.H. framework can be used to organize any kind of data or information (e.g. annual reports, books, conversations, exhibitions, directories, conventions, or warehouses). There are nuances, no doubt. But if you’re ever wondering how to organize any kind of data or information, start by considering the five L.A.T.C.H. categories.…
If you want to grow your practice into something that makes you happy, then you need to spend some time figuring out how to work more effectively. That is, start by optimizing for effectiveness over efficiency. Many lawyers are obsessed with efficiency, especially the ones who heavily embrace technology. But, focusing too much on efficiency  can be a trap. Remember: if you make a low-value task more efficient, what are you actually accomplishing? Here’s what the well-regarded business consultant Peter Drucker said… “There is nothing so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.” Automation can deliver…
When you start thinking about creating “systems documentation” it’s best to begin by breaking things down into key categories. Basically, the main things you’re doing are… Defining how what actions are allowed or not allowed Defining how to do certain kinds of work Defining how to make certain decisions. Here are the three broad categories for the things listed above 1. Policies: are documents that describe over-arching considerations: Expectations for how to dress at work, when vacation time is available, how to treat clients etc. Key Criterial: for assigning tasks, for determining bonuses, for holding regular meetings or job reviews…
The best way to learn from your mistakes is to keep track of them. Then analyze what went wrong so you can improve your process. Or as the sage advice goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” And yet, as professional advice givers, most lawyers don’t keep track of the consequences of their advice. Which is not a good recipe for improvement. It’s like if you were a poker player who never kept track of your betting decisions. How well would you learn if you never kept track of how your decisions panned out? Obviously, you’d have a hard…
You need a realistic marketing strategy that lets you attract new clients easily and cost-effectively. The strategy needs to be simple to ensure you’ll actually implement it. And it needs to be based on proven principles of effective marketing. The #1 Principle Optimize for trust building across every aspect of your marketing: word-of-mouth, referrals, online marketing, advertising, and everywhere else. To do this effectively you must understand human nature and the realities of how trust is built up over time. You must understand the journey prospective clients take —from utter lack of awareness of you, to the point where they finally…