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Flat Squirrels

The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn’t make a decision.

Spotted on social media: “Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels that couldn’t make a decision.”

The same can be said for law firms that remain indecisive about taking action in the face of legal industry evolution that’s been upon us for years. However, even though adaptation continues to be elusive for some, many firms are recognizing that to be relevant and solvent in five year’s time means acting now.

While some firms continue to quietly de-equitize partners to shore up profitability, other firms are making wholesale changes, such as restructuring to move away from tenuous practices that hold no hope for growth and, instead, shift transferrable skills to provide services that are valuable to current clients and enable attraction of new ones.

Doing so takes guts. And dedication and time.

As for flat squirrels, perhaps indecision was compounded by hesitation. A case of the proverbial “He who hesitates is lost” became “He who hesitates is squashed.”

Better to change with determination and intent over a couple of years – because that’s what it takes to make a successful transition – rather than dither and be indecisive, and end up with your innards splashed all over the road.

Having led a number of successful turnarounds in the corporate world many years ago, I was guided by the sage advice of a mentor who said: “Never remain on the horns of a dilemma. Do something. Anything. Even if it’s the wrong thing. The worst that will happen is you’ll get a different perspective.”

He was right, and his wise words have acted as a guiding light and instilled a sense of fearlessness that has served and sometimes surprised me ever since. As a result, while there have certainly been some wrong moves, they’ve been outnumbered by right ones.

And that’s the nut of it. Even though lawyers tend to subject themselves to analysis paralysis oftentimes due to both an inborn trait plus learned conditioning of fearsome risk aversion, there is never any guaranty whatsoever of being right or doing the right thing. Wrong is acceptable. It’s also often pardonable, changeable, and nobody dies.

So better to do something rather than be a mugwump sitting on the fence with your mug on one side and your wump on the other.

2017 needs to be the year to act with intent and be the change you want to make whether to your own practice or that of your firm.

Doing so is business and it’s personal. It’s also your decision.

Heather Suttie is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on legal market strategy and management of legal services firms.

For 25 years, she has advised leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — on innovative strategies pertaining to business, markets, management, and clients.

The result is accelerated performance achieved through a distinctive one of one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage leading to greater market share, revenue, and profits.

The effect is accomplishment of the prime objective — To Win.

Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or

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