Being a sports-savvy group of New Englanders, we Brightleaf folks pay attention to goings-on around the Red Sox clubhouse. Like most people here, we were beside ourselves in 2004, thrilled to be thrilled again in 2007, and in 2011, we felt like the “25 guys, 25 taxis” team was making a resurgence. Needless to say, it was disappointing.
Now turn to 2012. At this time, the Sox are in last place in the AL East, with a record of 12-19. The long streak of Red Sox game sellouts is in jeopardy. According to WBUR, you can now sit in the 8th row of the Fenway grandstand for about $4. Why? Well, late last season, when Boston got mad at a bunch of Sox players for eating chicken and beer in the clubhouse during games, the Sox promised to clean house. But in April, with a new manager in tow, the situation only seemed to get worse. And when Josh Beckett hurt his back playing golf on a team day off, which caused him to give up 7 runs in 3 innings last night, his response was “I spend my off days the way I want to spend them…my off day is my off day.”_
So what does this have to do with the legal industry? Plenty. When you hear people talk about the Red Sox now, you hear statements like, “they don’t deserve to win” or “they don’t seem to care.” Loosely translated, the Red Sox are not listening to their fans. They’re not acting like they care that people invest their time and money to watch them and cheer them on. They’re not fostering a good relationship with the people who keep them employed.
Lawyers have been struggling with this same issue for years. Survey after survey has identified gaps between general counsels’ needs and what lawyers deliver. The two sides always seem to talk past each other, and lawyers can improve this situation by doing a few simple things. Here they are:
1. Start a conversation – It sounds so simple, and it is. Talk to your clients about what they value, what value you propose to bring to the table, and come to an understanding on how you’ll meet in the middle.
2. Start figuring out how you make money – Look critically at where your costs are and how you can package services in a way that brings you profit and your clients value.
3. Use the tools that are available to you – Billing software, e-discovery, and document automation all help cut the cost of non-legal work that clients have been forced to pay lawyers to do. Cutting these costs will help clients feel better about their bills and help lawyers spend more time doing work they enjoy.
See? Now if the Red Sox would just act like a forward-thinking law firm, the city of Boston would be a much happier place!