We are a technology-oriented consulting company. We work with law firms to help them use technology to become more efficient and profitable. But it takes more than technology to build and maintain a law practice. It takes relationships. Law is about people, not things. That is the lesson driven home in a powerful way by Brian Tannebaum in his new ABA book, The Practice - Brutal Truths About Lawyers and Lawyering.
Brian hates technology, technologists, and "law futurists." He hates many of the things I love. So why do I think this is such an essential book for every lawyer and law student to read?
Brian and I disagree on the usefulness of iPads, smartphones, and the latest tech gadget to the modern lawyer. However, we agree that there are no shortcuts and the only way to be the lawyer you want to be is to develop and cultivate relationships with other lawyers, members of your community, and most of all, your clients. Clients need quality legal services to solve their problems. But they want someone on their side. If you are that lawyer, that person, you will succeed. Success doesn't mean winning every case or snagging every "big" client that contacts you. It means waking up every day and liking yourself and your place in the world.
Several times in this very well-written and easy-to-digest book, Brian urges readers to watch the movie, Jerry Maguire. So a few minutes after finishing Brian's book, I opened my laptop, went to my Netflix account, and did just that. Brian is right. Anyone running a client service business, whether lawyer, sports agent, accountant, or whatever, should watch this movie and take from it the lessons of loyalty and commitment to one's clients. If you are a lawyer who can't, or isn't willing to, do what Jerry (Tom Cruise) does for Rod (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), and just and important, what Rod in turn does for Jerry, then maybe a different career path would be best.
No, success as a lawyer cannot be boiled down to a two-hour Hollywood movie. But the several hours it will take you to read Brian's book will help to be the lawyer you want to be - or will convince you that you need to find a different way to make a living. Either way, you win. Read this book!
And Brian, I forgive you for all the bad things you write about the iPad and technology for lawyers - not that you care what I think - and that is one reason this book is so good.