Lessons from life by Maya Angelou

Taken from Worthwhile Magazine, the following ideas/lessons from Maya Angelou struck a cord with me as it did for Kevin Salwen:

-I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.
-I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights.
-I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.
-I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”
-I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
-I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.
-I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
-I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.
-I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
-I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
-I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

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Not Every Purchase Is Wise

In South Africa, banking group Nedcor purchased a law firm, ostensibly for the purpose of growing its business advisory services available for customers of the bank. However, the law firm didn’t perform as expected and lost money for the bank.

Now, the bank is selling the law firm back to its principals at a substantial loss to the bank; the sale price is estimated to be one-fourth of the purchase price, all told.

Nedcor CEO Tom Boardman said yesterday the deal was “fundamentally flawed” because as a Nedcor subsidiary the firm struggled to attract legal talent as it only paid lawyers a set salary not a percentage of profits like other firms.

In addition, the non-compete clause was about to expire, thus leaving many of the firm’s top lawyers free to leave and start up a new, competitive law firm.

The bank, in South Africa, was merely doing what the large accounting firms did (until that profession imploded) by purchasing a law firm to add to its stable of services in an effort to become a “one-stop shop.”
The principle is not dead, just delayed in the United States! It makes sense.

Today, a majority of the States now permit the sale of a law practice though the buyer still must be a lawyer. But, take a look at the insurance industry and its “captive” law firms; they have found a way around this challenge. Where the economics justify the solution, lawyers and third parties will find a way to “merge” their talents and services to offer clients.

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Mentor Remembered

On this date, in 1975, my most important mentor died unexpectedly and suddenly. My father. He was just shy of 66 years of age, very vibrant, very active in the business world, and far too young to leave this earth.

His teachings still resonate with me. In fact, I still feel his presence whenever I have a question or am unsure how to approach a challenge. Sometimes I hear him answer; other times, I use his principles and teachings to come to my own conclusion.

There have been a few other mentors in my life, some of whom haven’t even realized they were acting in that capacity for me. One of them was a good friend who taught me how to look at real estate investments, and how to live a full life, who died at 94. He had more than one career, each one successful. He stayed active in his life’s work right to the end of his life.

Another mentor was an extended family member who taught me, vicariously, how to stay involved with one’s extended family, and the beauty and value of that … and the huge and fabulous impact on the children and grandchildren who receive the loving and kindness of such a man.

And so, for you who are reading this at this time of year, I urge you to reconsider your priorities, not necessarily change them. Merely reconsidering them and focusing your energy for next year on those things that are important to you, both personally and professionally, will enable you to achieve ever greater successes.

Best wishes for a safe and healthy holiday season! And may you experience your greatest wishes for 2005! Thank you for being with me in spirit at this time of my life.

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Mentoring Is Not Coaching

In our LawBiz Managing Partners Roundtable, we have been discussing for several years the phenomenon of mentoring, a practice prevalent for many years in smaller firms. As law firms have increased in size, and as pressures continue to mount to increase billable hours, there is no time left for the old-fashioned mentoring.

Yet, new associates do not advance without the benefits of mentoring as we knew it. Law firms are experiencing the negative impact of the absence of effective mentoring. Associates are leaving the firms in droves, some going to other firms, some going in-house and some leaving the practice altogether.

First, managing partners are beginning to say that they know mentoring doesn’t work … and can’t be mandated. The relationship must be between two consenting adults … the older and the younger lawyers.

Second, managing partners are beginning to say that the newer lawyer must seek out his/her own mentor from among the firms’ elders who are willing to make the contribution. Once done on a voluntary basis, the process will work.

This latter function is, today, being performed by law practice management coaches who understand the industry, the profession, the way law firms generally operate, and can provide guidance in a myriad of ways.

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High Cost of Attorney “Turnover”

Many commentators look to the growth of law firms only in terms of the number of lawyers this year compared to last year. However, there is another critical element to consider. For every lawyer dismissed or leaving the law firm, there is a cost to the firm. This is

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Market share of legal services to your client

Do you want to increase your market share of the legal services purchased by your clients? Think of your best client. Then, the next one, and so on.

Now, go print out the MacKay 66 client profile.

How many of these questions can you answer for each of your clients, let alone for your very best client?

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Malpractice insurance

The Attorney General of the State of New York, Eliot Spitzer, has begun an investigation into the practices of malpractice insurance carriers.

The issue is whether insurance companies are refusing to provide malpractice coverage for class-action litigators because their lawsuits are forcing insurers and their clients to pay big awards and settlements.

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