Glossary

The more complicated (many parts) and complex (many relationships between the parts) a situation or problem, the greater the human value of simplicity in the analysis of the situation or solution to the problem. The goal in discussing and hopefully limiting the meaning of words is to untangle the complexity of the law practice planning process.

Calibration
I asked a colleague to define 'calibration' and she said "Once a year or so all the engineers inthe plant get together and make sure that on each of their rulers, 10 cm is the same distance. Then they go out for a beer."
In practice development, together with client and market research, calibration has a similar but situationally specific meaning. For us, calibration is that part of the planning process where we design in to our data base consistency with other sources of information for later comparision. If you are doing a market research project to benchmark your firm in terms of a specific substantive specialty, you must assure that your data can be meaningfully compared to that from other studies. For example, if you are studying clients' perceived telephone call return behavior, responses on a Staple scale will be hard to compare to those expressed as a Semantic differential . Unlike the physical sciences and engineering, the form of the question, and the form of the answer affects the comparison and analysis of the results.

Client Constituency
The legal profession is as broad and deep as the society it serves. There are lawyers in service of every segment of society. Every group, from the CEOs of the Fortune 500 to the poor souls on death row, has lawyers. That group or segment of society identified in your, or your firm's, practice development plan is your client constituency.
The definition or identification of your firm's client constituency is an important part of successful practice development and a vital component of practice development efficiency. It is not the same as specialization, which identifies the substantive types of legal work to be done from the lawyers' point of view. Nor is it a commitment to meet all the legal service needs of those who fit within its parameters. It is more of recognition of the situational similarities of prospective clients so that the benefits that the legal service provider delivers are perceived in meaningful terms.
Identifying potential client constituency should be done early in the practice development planning process. Likewise, it is a major consideration in maximizing the benefits to the firm from client and market research projects.

Client Satisfaction
"Client satisfaction" is a conclusion in the mind of the client roughly defined by the verbal equation: experience over (or measured by) expectation. Client satisfaction can be categorical. For example, the client can have one level of satisfaction with an attorney or firm's competence in particular legal service situation and another level of satisfaction with the cost component of that situation.
Only individuals can be satisfied, even if the client is a corporation. We sometimes collectivize this concept, but we do so at our peril. The reason for this is that the importance of satisfaction to the firm is the individual decisions that are impacted by the level of satisfaction.

Core Concepts
Relationship principles between members of the legal profession and the real world.
Click here for more.

Corporate Law Firm
A corporate firm is a law firm identified by two principle markers:
(a) It principally engages in those substantive areas of practice that are
traditionally identified with the conduct of business, and
(b) Its fees are principally paid with OPM (Other People's Money).
The concept of a corporate firm is itself a continuum.

GT-SC
Goody Two-Shoes Crapola resulting from pious fraud and foggy thinking.
Click here for more.

Law Practice Environment
This expresses those total circumstances over which neither the firm nor its competitors have any practical control. For example a change in government regulation or stock market conditions would be an environmental factor for a mergers / acquisitions law practice.

Law Practice Marketplace
This expresses those total circumstances over which the firm and its competition has reasonable practical control. "Control" means impact, not exclusive decision making power. For example, for a securities practice, the entry of additional law firms offering the same services they offer would be a market factor. Any situation where a client or potential client has a choice as to using the services of a given firm compared to another alternative, such as a consulting or accounting firm, house counsel or the like is a market factor.

Law Firm Modeling
This is the system of understanding a law firm by operational or other characteristics.
There can be similarities between law firms of dissimilar size and dissimilarities between law firms of similar size serving similar client needs in the same service territory.
There are "firm markers" or things that are useful in distinguishing firms on categories of information that matter. These could include:
Client categories
Legal matters
Client relations considerations
Staff responsibilities
Gender or race relationships
Information that benefits one firm may not make much of a difference to another even when they appear similar from the outside. Law Practice Environment This expresses those total circumstances over which neither the firm nor its competitors, have any practical control. For example a change in government regulation or stock market conditions would be an environmental factor for a mergers / acquisitions law practice.

MM~OPM
MM
stands for My Money. It is at the opposite end of the money continuum from OPM.
OPM (pronounced Opium) Other People's Money. As its namesake, it has two markers: It is addictive and it screws up your thinking.
MM~OPM is a contiuum. On one side we have pure Other People's Money - money for which the party in consideration feels no responsibility to the 'owner' of the money. The other end of the continuum is 'My Money'.
The position of a particular chunk of dough on the MM~OPM continuum can be measured in part with a blood pressure cuff. Put on the cuff and tell the subject that his/her fees will be increased because you decided to hire the more expensive of two otherwise equally qualified expert witnesses because you owed the expert's uncle a favor.
The immediate rise in blood pressure will be directly proportional to the money's position on the MM~OPM continuum. The more it goes up, the closer to the MM end of the continuum.


Meaning
While President Clinton may debate what the definition of "is" is, we'll be content defining the meaning of "meaning".
In the discussions, "meaning" is used in an active sense. Passively, "meaning" may describe value judgments or interpretations. Examples might include "the meaning of life" and a spouse's rhetorical "What do you mean by the remark?" In the active sense, meaning is an attribute that relates and leads to decision and/or action. Example: where an individual positions the legal profession generally has "meaning" in that it relates to the individual's decision and action process in evaluating whether or not involvement of a member of the legal profession will benefit a particular situation.

Measurement Methods
Direct Observation

Straightforward observation in an uncontrolled setting.
In a marketing research setting, it might be sitting at the mall, watching and
noting the different reactions of couples as they stroll past the Victoria's Secrets
and the Gander Mountain window displays. In a legal setting, it might be
observing conversations at a cocktail about a hot local divorce.

Stimulus and Response
This involves the introduction of a topic and then observation in an otherwise
uncontrolled situation.

Indirect Observation
This involves techniques such as word associations or sentence completion
suggested by an interviewer.

Self Reporting
This is a form of indirect observation where the subject is asked to identify
their attitude on a topic or idea. This is the most common method of gathering
data from the law firm's client base because it easily provides data from a large
number of individuals while protecting their confidentiality. Click here for more .

Mission
This is the expression of the firm's vision expressed as an action statement. The word has been grossly misused. It is not a marketing tool and can not come from any source other than the stakeholders of the venture. Frequent changes in a mission statement usually signify a form of organizational schizophrenia.

I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what
direction we are moving -- we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes
against it -- but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor."
Oliver Wendell Holmes

My Hide~Your Hide
This continuum considers the emotional value of the legal services to the individual.

Numbers
Interval Numbers
These are ordinal numbers with a value assigned to the interval between them.
The numbers on a thermometer are good examples.

Nominal Numbers
These are numbers used as names, such as serial numbers. These numbers have
no value in statistical analysis.

Ordinal Numbers
These are numbers that signify range, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. They can also be used
in a 'more than' and 'less than' context. They do not connote any value other than rank.
They can be replaced with the letters of the alphabet.

Rational Numbers
These are interval numbers where the scale has an absolute zero. The zero position
is necessary in order to do the math by which the survey data is analyzed.

Why do we need to know this?
The benefit of doing research is in the conclusions obtained from analyzing the data. Regression analysis, Correlation analysis, Chi-square analysis, hypothesis testing, standard deviation and a host of other tools only a math nerd could love, all depend on properly gathering the data. For research to be more than a beauty contest, the GIGO rule cannot be violated.

Practice Development Efficiency
The relationship of resources (what you have to give) of every kind to the progress of achieving the practice goals (what you hope to get). Click here for more.

Practice Development Programs
Practice Development Programs are specific, finite, measurable activities.
These programs have attributes or "markers".
a) They are objective in that they have a specific purpose within the firm's practice
development plan.
b) They are finite in that they have limits that are neither too great nor too small.
c) You can tell what is part of the program and what is not.
d) They are measurable. The measurements must be relatively simple and allow the firm to
analyze the program in terms of its efficiency and effectiveness in reaching the
program's goals.

Prime Attitude
A prime attitude is like a prime directive, except that where a prime directive is an operational rule a prime attitude is a controlling prejudice or presumption. It colors any situation even vaguely ambiguous. Examples include: "People come to us because we're the best" and "If we haven't done it before, it can't be a good idea."

Prime Directive
This is the rule that trumps all other rules. There are prime directives within law firms, within environments, within markets and within the subgroups or niches thereof. Examples:
"You eat what you kill."
"Loyalty uber alles"
"Don't nobody bring me no bad news"
"You weren't listening, I said my ego is in charge"
"I Ain't changing, besides, computers are a fad."

Programs
Objective specific, discrete, measurable activities. Programs have distinct 'markers.'
They are specific.
They are finite.
They are measurable.
They can be judged as to effectiveness.
Programs are the specific activities of specific people that make it all (tactics, strategy, mission, vision) happen.

Rainbrokers
Those in a position to recommend you or your firm to those you wish to serve.
Borrowed from the work of Mark Powers of Atticus, Inc.

Recommendation Genesis
The psychological root of comment about a legal service provider to an individual who the recommender thinks/feels will benefit from the comment.

Resource
Anything you have to work with or must consider. In effective law practice planning and development, things you have to work with and things you must consider are often on the same continuum. A key concept in building efficiency into practice development planning is to always be positive. In simple analogy, a journey is more efficient if you are going somewhere positive rather than avoiding somewhere negative. Another analogy would be that of a coach looking at the players on the team. Rather than divide her team into 'good' players and 'bad' players, should rank them all on a 'resource' continuum and apply their skills to the team's mission. This is a more efficient planning paradigm than announcing that she's keeping the bad players on the bench.

Self Reporting Question Forms
Semantic Differentiation
This method goes back to the 1930's and a researcher named Charles Osgood.
The client expresses his or her position on a topic through bipolar adjectives.
Example
Quality attorneys are:
1 2 3 4 5
Expensive __ __ __ __ __Inexpensive
Readily Available __ __ __ __ __ Hard to Find

Staple Scale
This is similar to the semantic differential, except it uses one term and asks the
respondent to describe how well it relates to the issue in question.
Example
Larry, Moe and Curley.
Do they return phone calls? -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3
Are their fees fair? -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3
Do they know the law? -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3

Likert Attitude Scale
This is a common technique that most people recognize. Statements are made
and then categorized.
Example
"After being injured in a traffic accident, people are best served by
attorneys who are personal injury specialists."
___ strongly agree (+2)
___ agree (+1)
___ indifferent (0)
___ disagree (-1)
___ strongly disagree (-2)

Scoring the responses can be tricky, since the sign of the responses
must be changed if the statement is unfavorable.

Thurstone Differential
No, this is not part of the rear axle of a 1948 Thurstone Sedan.
This method gives each respondent a list of statements that they either
agree or disagree with.
Example
Agree Disagree
___ ___Lawyers make divorces more stressful
___ ___Attorneys assume much of responsibility for their clients
___ ___Most cases are decided by back-room deals
___ ___Our Court system is the best in the world

Graphic Scales.
A list is prepared and the client is asked to identify how important each
attribute is to them in their satisfaction with a particular matter.
Example
Very Important Somewhat Important Not Important
Fee ________ ____
Aggressiveness ________ ____
Speed ________ ____
Experience ________ ____
Outcome ________ ____

Comparative Weights.
This method asks the client to rate the attributes on the basis of their relative
importance to him or her.
Example
Please divide 100 points between the following five attributes that make up
quality legal services.
Fee ____
Aggressiveness ____
Speed ____
Experience ____
Outcome ____
Total 100

Rank Order.
Here the client is asked to arrange a number of points according to an
established criterion. The ranking is always ordinal.
Example
Please rank the attorneys on our firm's trial team based on their ability to
command the courtroom. Please place the number "1" beside the name
of the attorney with the most command and "4" beside the name of the
attorney with the least.
_____Attorney Larry
_____Attorney Moe
_____Attorney Curley
_____Attorney Shemp

Paired Comparisons
This was called a "T Square" analysis back when I was in college.
It requires the respondent to choose one of two options based on a stated criteria.
Example
In each pair below, check the statement that you agree with more.
A client is better off with:
___ An attorney who knows the law
___ An attorney who knows the judge.

A client is better off with:
___ An attorney who cares about him.
___ An attorney who cares about winning.

Service territory
This is the principle geographic area where a law firm does most of its business. I know, your firm in intergalactic in scope, or at least international. But for most firms, even some large firms, most of their money comes from defined clients in a defined geographic area.
There are a few firms that have a "virtual" geographic territory. These are usually specialty firms that practice in areas of legal service where geography is irrelevant. Examples in this category are firms that represent sports figures or members of the entertainment industry. Virtual firms usually do not offer services in areas of the law that traditionally require a license to practice. Thus a negotiating agent for a sports figure may have a law school education and may be admitted to practice before the courts of a certain jurisdiction, but the lawyer's competition need not be lawyers and the lawyer's success or lack of success in satisfying and keeping his clients is not based on activities that he need a law license to provide.

Strategy
This expresses the relationship of the firm's mission to its practice environment. For example, if the government is going to change toxic waste disposal regulations either increasing or decreasing the value a firm provides to its clients, and the firm considers this change, that is a strategic consideration

Tactics
This expresses the relationship of the firm's mission to its practice marketplace. For example, if certain categories of clients begin sending requests for proposals to multiple firms for certain legal projects, and the firm adopts a policy or programs to apply to RFP situations, this is a tactical consideration.

Vision
An articulated aspirational objective. It is not necessarily a good idea to start off a list of definitions with a mixed metaphor, which is what "articulated vision" is. We don't "see" in words, we see in non-verbal images. Vision, in the sense we're using the word is not limited to a visual analogy. Some of us "see" ourselves arguing before the Supreme Court, some of us "see" ourselves making a lot of money, some "see" themselves making a difference in their clients' lives. These various aspects of "vision" come together when we express this vision in words.
The expression of vision in words is important because words are the principle way we share vision with others. Until we share our individual visions we can not develop a common vision for the law firm whose practice we wish to develop.
Since it is aspirational, vision is individual and personal in its simplest form. Members of a group can come to develop a common vision. However it is difficult for a group to "impose" its vision on an individual member.
Implied in the concept of aspiring is the notion of not being there yet. I, for example, aspire to be thin.
There is a continuum of "distances" between where we are and where we aspire to be. I have a long way to go before I achieve my svelte aspiration, while I have friends who only aspire to stay thin. This concept of aspirational distance is important in a planning process because progress in achieving vision is usually made in small increments.


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