Whether your goals are more clients, better clients, more money, more efficiency or more time for your practice, your family or yourself, making the most of the advances in the following three trend categories will get you moving in the right direction.
It will come as no surprise that the three categories involve technology. After all, technology has been the primary driver of the vast changes in the profession over the last decade.
There are advances galore in hardware and software to make your business leaner, faster and smarter, from billing and time management systems, to free or nearly free legal research software, virtual assistants and just about anything you’d need or want for a remote practice.
Investigate and use them. Just don’t get caught up trying to read and be informed about everything. It can’t be done. Pick one or two, for now, and study them. Then either adopt or discard them and move on to the next one. Remember, the technology revolution that made your practice so difficult can also make it much, much easier and more rewarding.
Like it or not, social media (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the blogosphere) is where your clients live. Pick one or more and investigate them, then get involved. Maybe first as an observer, then perhaps comment now and then. And when you feel comfortable (or less uncomfortable), post a blog or article.
This doesn’t have to take over your life; just set aside a little time each day, or perhaps a couple of days per week, and get involved. And consider blogging. Kevin O’Keefe is a lawyer and a huge proponent of social media for lawyers. Take a look at “Real Lawyers Have Blogs.” He’s pretty convincing.
You probably don’t like “selling yourself’ and therefore push marketing off, always finding something else more important to do.
How will people know about your skills unless you tell them? Or show them, by using social media to post useful content for your readers.
Referrals work, but in most cases, you’re going to have to do a lot of this yourself. Nothing moves without sales, and that includes law firms.
And nothing creates sales except marketing in one form or another. So use the social media platforms available, and do some pitching. I know it’s hard for most lawyers, partly because we have an image of sales as unseemly, and partly (mostly?) because we fear rejection. Pitching doesn’t have to be unseemly.
In fact, it shouldn’t be. Use your lawyerly powers of persuasion to craft an elegant message, letting your clients and prospects know how you can help them, even before they need help.
And take the fear of rejection away by using a device advocated by master web writer and consultant Nick Usborne. Nick says to market the message, not the person. If a prospective client says no, he/she is rejecting the message, not you, and it completely removes the “sting of rejection.”
3. Artificial intelligence (AI)
“If you can’t beat em, join em.”
Worried about artificial intelligence taking your job. You shouldn’t, but that’s another topic.
AI has already given rise to legal problems, such as liability issues concerning driverless cars, and the questions will continue and increase.
And, AI researchers are developing reinforcement learning in robots, which allows them to learn from past experiences.
Traditional tort theories (negligence, for instance) will not work with reinforcement learning because there is “no fault by humans and no foreseeability of such an injury. ”
Imagine multiple parties having a hand in the construction and maintenance of the robot, and more parties involved in its use (say, a hospital, with its policies and procedures regarding control of the robot, driven by HIPAA compliance, which conflicts with the manufacturers’ recommendations.)
And block chain architecture (of Bitcoin fame) may be applied in the future to help with the robotic learning process. Now, who’s liable?
A legal mind will need to sort it all out, to assist governments in the creation of law, and to counsel clients before, during and after an appropriate regulatory scheme is created.
Maybe you find this interesting and a possible niche, or sub niche. If so, get educated, and start writing about it (see item 2 above). You might just find yourself branded a go-to AI legal expert.
Consider spending the rest of 2017 investigating these areas and leveraging the possibilities contained in them.