Killer Lessons for Lawyers and Entrepreneurs from Rework

by Fred Abramson on April 6, 2010 · 4 comments

My commute from the lovely North Shore of Long Island to the New York Supreme Courthouse near Chinatown in Manhattan is an hour journey.  I devoured the new business book entitled Rework by @jasonfried and David Hansson in one round trip.

Unlike most business books, Rework is the product of real life successful entrepreneurs.   These guys are not “gurus.” They provide advice that is easy to read and visually appealing.  The visual aspect reminds me of Tom Peters who wrote one of the best business books ever In Search of Excellence.

As a business law attorney, I read this book with an eye towards small businesses and its applicability to the practice of law for small firms.  Feel free to join in and post your thoughts.

  • Make a dent in the universe. You should feel a sense of urgency about this because you won’t be here forever.  As an attorney, your work is your  life’s work.  If you think that it sucks making a living as an insurance company whore (insurance defense attorney) then  quit.  Go work for legal aid if that makes you happy.
  • Ideas are cheap and plentiful. The real question is how you execute. When the economy started tanking you just knew that bankruptcy’s would soar.  But what did you do to go out and get you some of that business? Probably nothing.
  • You can’t recognize the details that matter most until after you start building. That’s when you see what needs the most attention.  If you want to start video blogging about ten things you should know before entering into a contract you should just look into your cam and do it.  You can then graduate to a flip camera. If you are telegenic, you may one day even become a YouTube star.
  • Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for a perfect solution. Decide and move forward. Decisions are progress. Lawyers often agonize over hiring the best web designer for their new blog.  Instead of making a decision, they wait and wait and wait…..and guess what? No decision.  Decide and move on.
  • Quick wins. The way that you build momentum is by getting something done and then moving to the next thing. Don’t spend too much  time lingering on Facebook, checking out your friends artwork. (But you should check out the link which leads you to the work of my friend Michael Sprouse).  After entering your billing, start preparing for tomorrows deposition.
  • If you think a competitor sucks, say so. If you are a solo, tell the world that you hate big law firms. It is a great way to differentiate yourself. Hell, I do.  I especially hate them when I go to court.  They have no clue how to draft a simple order. They love to make useless motions so that they can bill the fuck out of their clients. Sitting through a deposition with a newly minted big law associate is torture.  “When you started your first company at the age of 12, was your mother working as a waitress or a podiatrist?”
  • Don’t spend much time focusing on competitors. Focus on yourself instead. Here in New York City, this would cause serious anxiety due to the plethora of lawyers.
  • Say no by default. If your clients want you to say yes to a deadline that is too optimistic, you probably won’t meet it.   You will lose the client anyway. It is best to explain why their expectations are impossible to meet. If they won’t except it, let the next sucker attorney deal with it.
  • Build an audience. Speak, blog, tweet-whatever.  Share info that’s valuable and you’ll slowly build and audience. Unless you are personal injury or criminal attorney with a Warren Buffet sized war chest, lawyers shouldn’t waste their time on ads.
  • Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or out sponsor competitors, try to out-teach them. Use your blog to teach the world about what you do.
  • Emulate chefs. Share everything that you know. For lawyers, posting all of your documents is your cookbook. Cooks can’t copy Batali.  Why not crush Legal Zoom and post everything for free?
  • Go behind the scenes. Hell, people watch ice road truckers. Lawyers can take a flip camera and with court permission, film.

If you want to do something, do it now. Inspiration is perishable.  What do you think?

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