Ed's wife reminds him that there's no such thing as a free lunch, but today Ed shares tips that will promote your firm and services at little expense.
The Oregon State Bar (OSB) Association was at its most hospitable best. The standing room only group of lawyers shared their experiences as I talked about how to create stronger bonds of loyalty between client and lawyer. When I asked why we should care about this issue, two very poignant answers were shouted out: i) We'd like to get paid and an unhappy client won't pay their bill; and ii) when we deal with disappointed clients, disappointed in us, not the other party to the transaction or result of the matter, our own stress goes through the roof!
Increased revenue and decreased stress, two outstanding reasons why we should care ... I think the members of this audience hit it on the nail!
Next stop is Seattle ... come join us if you're in the area..
A major player in the IP field announced that its merger plans with another IP firm have been called off. The assertion is that there were conflicts issues with one major client that could not be resolved and the client would not waive the conflict. While I may be dubious about the veracity of this assertion, sitting on the outside, it does happen.
But, then the firm announces that "... the downturn in patent litigation persists, with fewer cases being filed and more settling earlier.... (C)ases coming in are smaller with tighter budgets and leaner staffing expectations...." And this results in firings/terminations/layoffs (say it anyway you want, the people are gone) of lawyers and staff. In other words, the troubled economy is still having its impact on law firms.
So far, so good. But, then the firm also announces that it sees an increase in patent prosecution, counseling and reexamination work, particularly in the electronics and software practice and the firm will hire first-year associates. Again, from the outside, it looks like the firm is firing experienced lawyers who get paid 3X and will hire first year associates who will get paid 1X. You fill in the numbers. When industry does this, it's called "age discrimination." It may also be called "stupid" because it negatively impacts the morale of the organization ... and you don't build a loyal, cohesive and capable workforce by seeking the least expensive team members. Why couldn't the firm offer the presumably lower paying jobs to the experienced folks? In this economy, they might not like it, but they'd rather stay employed and working with colleagues they know and like and trust. And, the organization will look like a caring place to work, making needed economic changes but also sensitive to the needs of its current work force.
Just seems to me to be a better way to do things. And, at the very least, the PR ineptness of these announcements coming on the heels of one another is just astounding.
While I was in Yreka, CA, I learned about The State of Jefferson. This was a political movement in the late 1930s. The focus of the movement was to create a new state out of southern Oregon (dissatisfied with the power of northern Oregon) and Northern California (wanting to keep its riches - water) out of the greedy hands of Southern California.
Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941, put an end to this effort. The entire effort of everyone was turned to the War ... Though I didn't know about this group, they surfaced again in the early 1960s, if not earlier. It was Pat Brown, the greatest governor (IMHO) California ever had. It was his focus that built the University of California into a powerhouse, and it was he that successfully lead the Feather River project on the ballot. This assured that water from the north would flow into southern California. This brought water for the farmers in the area as well as the growing population. With water connecting the State, there is very little likelihood the two segments will be separated at any time.
But, the State of Jefferson is still a state of mind. There are many folks who would like to see the separation. But there is no consensus. So, it appears to be more of an historical society.
In working with your clients, are you separate from them? Or are you able to create an inseparable bond, as Governor Pat Brown did for the people of California?
For the second day in a row, the WSJ ragged on lawyers. It's front page headline says "How to Surgically Remove Lawyers From Hospitals" .... Without reading more than the front page headline, one would think that lawyers are a problem for hospitals and need to be removed ... and here's how to do it.
But, when you turn to the Personal Journal section of the paper, the article talks about hospitals' negligence and the fact that many deaths and serious injuries/illnesses are caused by the hospitals and their staffs after the patients enter for other maladies than that which resulted in death.
The writer states that some hospitals are admitting their negligence and approaching the patients and their families with apologies and financial offerings that make sense. Under such circumstances, of course, the patients don't need to work with lawyers ... and that's one way of keeping lawyers out of the discussion. (There are other issues here from the perspective of the patient's protection; that's a subject for another time.)
The real reason for the lawyer is that the institution denies culpability and seeks to stonewall the injured party. What a novel idea -- actually talk to the injured party, admit responsibility and seek to negotiate/mediate a solution acceptable to all parties.
That, however, is not the tone of the headline, nor the attitude of the newspaper. Too bad. Truth should be the standard, not paper sales. I should admit that the headline is not false, just conveys the wrong impression of the article's content.