Dont Mess With TX: 4 Mistakes Lawyers Don’t Want to Make

Dont Mess With TX: 4 Mistakes Lawyers Don’t Want to Make

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Texas may have some strange laws lingering on the books—it’s illegal to sell your own eyeball or take more than three sips of beer while standing up . . . and don’t even think about milking someone else’s cow! However outdated, laws and legal processes take a long time to change, which is why it’s easy for lawyers to run their practice “how things have always been done.”

Yet some of Texas’ brightest legal minds disagree. In a recent summit in Dallas, The Lone Star State’s best and brightest shared their two cents about the future of law firm growth and avoiding major mistakes. Even the greatest law firms, big and small, are at risk of falling into forgotten shadows. Local experts agree, it’s time for Texas lawyers to start messing with legal tech.

  1. The Set Up

What do you get when you toss some of Texas’ most innovative legal minds together in Dallas’ Belo Mansion (a former funeral home . . . fitting for a discussion about the death of old marketing practices)? The answer is not a punch line to a bad lawyer joke, it’s a frank and inspiring analysis of the future of law, marketing and justice as we know it. Brian Dalton, director of research at Above the Law, Craig Budner, administrative partner of the Dallas and Houston offices and firm-wide hiring partner of K&L Gates, Bruce MacEwen, law firm consultant and president of Adam Smith, Esq., and Jill Witter, senior vice president, general counsel, and ethics and compliance officer at Novation, all came together to share their expertise in a solution oriented bid to give the legal world a much needed image-lift.

  1. Lawyers: Let Data Illuminate, Not Overtake

“I try not to use statistics like a drunk man uses lamp posts- for support rather than illumination,” mused the wise Andrew Lang. Legal Tex-perts agree, citing “failure to use data adequately” as one of the biggest mistakes law firms can make. Budner notes that, while most firms may meticulously keep records and billed hours, they don’t necessarily know how to analyze said data to improve time management. Many firms over complicate and rely on past procedure without updating it. Instead, lawyers should use past billing to illuminate the future predictive pricing. Witter agrees, noting that in many of the cases she has seen go to trial, either the client or the attorney “got burned.”

What Does the Solution Look Like?

Ed Sohn, the global director for Pangea3 (A Reuters company) surmises that the aggregation of data should be harvested to make future predictions on billings. Sohn reminds us that if a lawyer has accurately predicted the billing process of the last 100 “mortgage backed securities” patients, then they should be able to use said data to illuminate the next, without relying on it.

  1. Think Local to be Global

Bruce MacEwen writes, in his book “The Seven Law Firm Business Models,” that there are distinct methods of success and failure that can be applied to the modern law firm. He wisely advocates that distinctive lawyers need to blend their “historic roots, future prospects, strengths and weaknesses” and “management techniques, priorities and perspectives” in order to have a truly global impact. Yet MacEwen knows that a global impact needs to begin locally, especially when it comes to law practices. The marketing world of the modern law firm needs clarification in a way that it never has before. It’s clear that the marketing ripples need to begin close to “home,” and then spread out accordingly as “local wins” become national examples.

What Does the Solution Look Like?

Witter points out that, again, the solution may look like a global grab for prestige and mainstream appeal. Alas, most of said appeal is generated locally. Budner points out that his firm, Hughes & Luce, began to try and make a splash across the U.S. by inciting buzz from their New York and DC offices, yet what really matters happens “close to home,” aka their Texas-based offices. In order to make waves, lawyers need to start focusing on what’s in front of them. They need to take the data and use it to their advantage to find out what it is that people in their local arena are really looking for.

  1. Lawyers Need to Turn Clients into People, Not Case Numbers

Dalton points out what he calls “the obvious,” that firms often bulldoze the needs of clients in their own search to succeed. MacEwen emphasizes that while he was “in house counsel” he romanced three firms looking to acquire the best legal in-house representation for a national brand. It all came down to a literal beauty contest (three firms competing to represent a well known and lucrative pageant). The firms that pushed their “prestige” front-and-center came across as though they were resting more on past laurels than being focused on the client’s future. They bragged about their own success as opposed to leading a client-focused presentation. The firm that snagged the client was the one that focused their efforts on actually reading the client’s 10k, getting to know them and openly discussing issues that they might help resolve. MacEwen recollects that the best way to do this is to look at [marketing] as a chance to hire or bring on non-lawyers and technology that understands the climate of legal marketing as a whole.

What Does the Solution Look Like?

MacEwen states that “Competence is table stakes. Your pedigree doesn’t impress me. Understand my business.” And even though MacEwen comes from a large firm, his sagesse applies to both large and small firms alike. In order to stay ahead afloat and ahead, lawyers must adhere to the laws of the land, while adapting to each local client’s needs. “Starting local and going global” isn’t just for major established firms. Whether a firm is a “David” or a “Goliath,” the ground rules are the same. Technology through mobile apps like One Touch Law allow Texas lawyers to embroider invaluable client patterns and data into a catered experience that reaches clients on their terms. No matter the size of firm (or ego for that matter), One Touch Law is an intriguing tool that every up-and-coming Texas attorney needs to look into.

Every state has objectively silly laws; it’s illegal carry a wire cutter in your pocket in Austin, and NEVER shoot a buffalo from a second story window anywhere in Texas. . . however, the growth and progress in marketing and analysis in the legal system far supersedes old ordinances. When it comes to progress and avoiding age-old mistakes (bison shooting aside) Texas lawyers know exactly  what not to mess with.

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