Monday, April 03, 2006
This week I had a visit from the father of the value-pricing movement and well-known author Ron Baker (author of Firm of the Future and Pricing on Purpose, among others). Over an extended meal we discussed the true leadership challenges in our industry. Experts such as David Maister agree that most law firms are over-managed and under-lead. This fine topic of leadership surfaced as we explored why such a logical and well-supported business model such as value pricing has not yet been done in the legal industry. After all, we are one of the only industries that operate under a model that nearly everyone hates, including the professionals who practice in it. (Google the words "billable hour" and see for yourself. If you find a single positive article on it, please let me know). The only logical conclusion is that there is no shortage of industry-changing ideas in this world . . . but there is a true shortage of leadership, specifically in our industry, to execute on such an innovative model. Pracititioners in the old model are too entrenched, their opportunity cost is so high considering the money they are making, and lawyers are risk-adverse by training. Lawyers spend their entire careers depending on precedent without questioning whether they are doing the right thing (cattle call -- can you hear the "moooing"). It is true that this is no recipe for leadership and innovation. However, we know that people lead at many different levels and that not all leaders are change agents. What I ask is for the true leaders in our industry to stand up. If you are passionate about positive change and innovation I would love to speak to you about how we can work together as leaders in a leadership-starved profession.