Guest Blog: James Swede, Darlingtons.
The concept of Know Your Client (KYC) is well known to most lawyers in the context of money laundering and other identity and bona fides checks, but lawyers should maybe spend more time, when writing on the web, on Know Your Reader (KYR).
There has been an explosion in legal blogging in the last year, but as with many aspects of legal practice, a sheep mentality is perhaps too apparent.
Reading legal blog posts can be painful – many strike us as attempts by 1 lawyer to prove how clever he or she is or knowledgeable about a very specific niche. Many write on the basis they are writing for other lawyers.
In some cases and on some blogs that is the case, but in the vast majority of cases, readers will be non-lawyers looking for an overview, some practical tips and experience which answers their needs. If the blog post is written in that way, it offers an insight that the lawyer understands the readers needs and may then lead to the reader getting in touch.
As lawyers (on the basis that lawyers may be reading this particular blog post) how many of you check the levels of engagement with your blog posts ? This is very simple to do, just by accessing google analytics or any other web analyticsprogramme.
If you do so, you will find that the average amount of time readers will spend on any legal page or post is around 90 seconds.
Remember the old story that if you can’t explain a new business proposition to a potential investor by writing it down on the back of a cigarette packet, your investor is unlikely to invest ?The same holds true for writing on the web.
For any non-academic writing, we suggest that when writing, lawyers remind themselves of who they are writing for and that, if the post cannot be understood and the main points easily absorbed in 90 seconds, it’s unlikely to have the impact you want from it.
Darlingtons home page, http://www.darlingtons.com
Last Friday was my last blog for a while.
This weekend, I had a real back to basics experience with the family. A weekend together, away from distractions, we camped, built fires, played barefoot football and ate around a camp fire.
I started blogging as a cathartic exercise, as a way to vent frustrations with the pace of change and to rail against “guruitis”. It has lead me to meet (virtually of course) some wonderful people and a small number of cynical windbags – people I hope to stay in touch with.
What I realised this weekend is that it will be far more cathartic for me to enjoy summer evenings playing football or reading with my children and conversing with my wife – free from the commitment I set myself to blog daily.
Being a private blog, I did it all as an extra-ciricular activity giving myself a day job and an evening “job”, if you like.
Taking a look at my big picture, that time is better spent with those I love.
I have loved writing, may blog occasionally or may even get “that book” out.
My priority for now, is to keep pushing the market in my day job and to invest all my spare hours into my lovely little family.
Stay in touch.
An ex-girlfriend of mine used to say:
“Never explain, never apologise.”
At the time, I was too young and too naive to challenge her assertion. However, years later, and the fires of passion having dampened and died, I look back and think “What a load of b****cks”!
Her attitude of ‘brazening it out’ was not only arrogant but showed a complete lack of understanding of the foundation of relationships.
It is no different for business relationships. Trust is as much built from the accepting responsibility for mistakes and fixing them, as it is from anything else we do.
Many lawyers confuse an apology with being some kind of “admission of liability”, for them, sorry does seem to be the hardest word. The challenge will come when new market entrants from “service” backgrounds begin to compete. Service levels becomes a core element of their “product” and acceptance of “service failures” forms an essential part of their offering – then some lawyers may be face to reevaluate their relationship with the “S” word.
To aid this transition, emotionally, here are some famous apologies from history:
- BILL CLINTON TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE for his dalliance with Ms Lewinsky, which he acknowledged was “a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible.”
- MEL GIBSON (take your pick) for his anti-Semitic rant at a Jewish police officer, which he described as “unbecoming” in his ”inebriated state”.
- RICHARD NIXON TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE resigning post “Watergate” – Nixon manages to get through his whole speech without expressly apologising or using the “S” word.
- NOBEL FOR INVENTING DYNAMITE – and seeking a better legacy through the peace prize.
- TONY BLAIR FOR: Slavery, Irish Famine, Historical Miscarriages of Justice – all before his time and then, finally, for Iraq deaths.
Please post any more you can think of?
“We often speak of the violence of the river, but never of the violence of the banks that confine it.”
Unlike the current UK Government (see the utter car crash of an interview with Chloe Smith) – I am happy to admit that I have changed my mind!
For years I have always thought that “open plan” was corporate speak for “crating the workers”. In fact, even Robert Propst, father of the ‘cubicle’ later reflected on his legacy as a “monolithic insanity”. In fairness to Propst, his original concept of the “Action Office” that would give people more space to spread out over, increasing productivity in place of closed off offices with stacked in-trays.
As with so many visionaries, Propst had failed to foresee the opportunity his system offered to corporates to dramatically reduce and depersonalise working space.
The second problem, historically, with “open plan” is that it does not promote intended challenge to traditional hierarchy as those with the power to choose, have chosen the office as a corporate status symbol.
Well, I was wrong. Yes, the corporate penchant for “packing ‘em in and paying ‘em cheap” remains abhorant……….but the basic principle of Propst remains sound. Mitchell Kowalski’s “Avoiding Extinction” makes a compelling case for open, flexible working spaces to promote energy, interaction, co-creation, good governance, team working, knowledge share, etc.
A quick survey on Twitter and LinkedIn suggested that most people felt the benefits outweighed any downsides. However, as you may expect, I think there are some golden rules:
- It has to be for all, no hierarchy;
- Rooms for group calls or smaller team sessions should be available;
- No cubicles;
- Seating flexible so that teams form and sit together for particular legal projects;
- IT to support mobile and cloud based team working;
- No desk phones;
- Decent coffee machines (compensation);
- Light and open spaces; and
- Encouraging working from home for head down type work.
Walls are like the banks of the river, they violently constrain creativity.
To be sung to the Pulp, classic, DISCO 2000
I said things will have improved in the year 2012.
Won’t it be strange when fees aren’t by the hour.
Be there at 2 o’clock by the ABS down the road.