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.
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
. 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.
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" 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.
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:
It principally engages in those substantive areas of practice that are
traditionally identified with the conduct
of business, and
Its fees are principally paid with OPM (Other People's Money).
The concept of a corporate firm is itself
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 relations considerations
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 stands for My
Money. It is at the opposite end of the money continuum from OPM.
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.
While President Clinton may
debate what the definition of "is" is, we'll be content defining the 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.
Straightforward observation in an uncontrolled
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
This involves techniques such as word
associations or sentence completion
suggested by an interviewer.
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
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.
These are ordinal numbers with a value
assigned to the interval between them.
The numbers on a thermometer are good
These are numbers used as names, such
as serial numbers. These numbers have
no value in statistical analysis.
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.
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
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
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."
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."
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.
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.
The psychological root of comment
about a legal service provider to an individual who the recommender thinks/feels
will benefit from the comment.
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
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.
Quality attorneys are:
__ Hard to Find
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.
Larry, Moe and Curley.
Do they return phone calls?
Are their fees fair?
Do they know the law?
Likert Attitude Scale
This is a common technique that most
people recognize. Statements are made
and then categorized.
"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.
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.
___Lawyers make divorces more stressful
___Attorneys assume much of responsibility
for their clients
___Most cases are decided by back-room
___Our Court system is the best in the
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.
Somewhat Important Not Important
This method asks the client to rate
the attributes on the basis of their relative
importance to him or her.
Please divide 100 points between the
following five attributes that make up
quality legal services.
Here the client is asked to arrange a
number of points according to an
established criterion. The ranking is
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Please call, mail, or
with your comments or for more information.
Advocates Management, Inc.
1332 South 26th Street
Manitowoc, WI 54220
Voice: (877) ADVOCATES (toll free)
Fax: (920) 684-4414
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