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What a Vending Machine Can Teach You About Running a Law Firm

By Neil J. Squillante | Tuesday, May 27, 2008


We have a vending machine in our office.

Popular items such as Peanut M&Ms disappear in a day or two after a refill yet the company that "manages" (I use that term loosely) the machine inserts the same number of packages each time rather than devoting an extra row or two.

What's worse, the vending machine often sits half empty for weeks before being replenished.

Yes, half empty as in half full. I think the Almond M&Ms date back to the Eisenhower administration.

So what can a poorly managed vending machine teach you about managing a law firm?

1. Capitalize on Definitive Trends: When a fad becomes a trend, jump on it. The earlier, the better though the greater the risk. Timing is everything.

Example: Twitter URLs may become as important as domain names, and generate trademark-related work.

2. Meet Deadlines: Obviously, you already meet court deadlines, but meet self-imposed deadlines as well — even something as simple as a promised phone call. When you announce a deadline and meet it, you foster trust, which results in more opportunities.

3. Walk a Mile: Try to view the world from your client's perspective. Don't offer what you want, but instead figure out what your clients want. They may not know so asking them may not help. At least, not directly.

Example: Lots of firms mail boring memos about new laws to their clients. Instead of writing a legal analysis, write the memo from the point of view of your clients, especially the non-lawyers. Work with a graphic designer on a layout that enhances comprehension. A better understanding of a legal issue by your clients may trigger a heretofore unknown legal need.

One last tip. Lay off the Sunkist orange soda. I recently noticed that it doesn't contain any orange juice.

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A TechnoEditorial is the vehicle through which we opine and provide tips of interest to managing partners, law firm administrators, and others in the legal profession. TechnoEditorials appear first in TechnoGuide, and later here in TechnoLawyer Blog. TechnoGuide, which is free, also contains exclusive content. You can subscribe here.

Topics: Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Law Office Management | TL Editorial
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