My last post was inspired by the discussion about “office housework” that focused on all of the little extras that, when taken care of, add up to success in business. As I mentioned, it is a major focus for Inter Alia Law to take care of these extras for our clients.
At the same time, though, the post also talked about the ways in which we try to streamline the practice of law – to practice more efficiently and to give our clients tools to keep their legal costs low. On Twitter, this has emerged as the hashtag discussion topic #DoLessLaw.
Although it may seem like this is a self-defeating strategy for a law firm, we don’t see it that way. We believe that for every client we help to work efficiently, we free up our time to help someone else. It is key to our philosophy that our clients have more time to focus on things other than law. When their business thrives, so does ours.
Also, we have not met an entrepreneur yet who isn’t looking to reduce the amount of time spent hearing about legal issues and risks. This was captured well in Bruce Poon Tip’s book, Looptail: How One Company Changed The World By Reinventing Business. In the book, he says that as the founder of the G Adventures travel company, he would rather listen to a lifetime of nails on a chalkboard than sit in a boardroom with lawyers for an afternoon.
We understand the sentiment under the statement (although we hope none of our clients would say that about us!). Law is a tool for business to be mastered like any other, not an obstacle. There are no points to lawyers for sitting in a room and identifying all of the possible risk scenarios to a client who wants to get into an adventurous new line of business. Issue-spotting is the skill that gets you the A on the law school exam, and an F in the boardroom of an innovative company. Instead, we see the lawyer’s job as being to use that issue-spotting and risk analysis to make sure the right documents and business practices are in place to ensure success and close deals quickly.
In short, we make it our business to find ways to make sure that our clients are empowered not to have to call us all the time. I liken this to visiting the chiropractor – I am always looking for the one that can fix an acute problem within a reasonable number of appointments, and am suspicious of the ones who tell me I need to see them every week for what feels like forever. I’m sure there are pros and cons to both approaches, but I would always choose the most time-efficient treatment plan if selecting between chiropractors, and believe the same should apply to lawyers.
#DoLessLaw seems very much in line with Inter Alia Law’s philosophy of finding ways to help clients focus on what matters, and is a discussion topic we will be following closely. For too long, the law firm business model has been based on clients needing to come back to their lawyer over and over. We want to change this and empower our clients. We are streamlining ourselves, cannibalizing the traditional law firm model, and looking for new ways to improve on our business and that of everyone we work with.