seeing matters through your clients’ eyes: an intervention for lawyers

My longtime client, artist Pamela Lawton, recently showed her abstract paintings of New York City’s modern architecture at an exhibit called Liquid City. Describing her work, Pamela says: “It’s almost an ‘intervention,’ that’s sort of an art term that people use to talk about taking something ordinary and conventional and altering it in some way. By noticing something obscure and distant and beautiful, I think it gives a different dimension to the neighborhood.”

Taking something ordinary and conventional and altering it in some way.

These words really strike a chord with me since I’m always considering how lawyers can add a different dimension to the profession’s ordinary and conventional mode of client service. I’ve posted before that this kind of intervention requires us to see things through our clients’ eyes and get to the heart of what they want and need from us and the law.

But, like other kinds of real-world interventions, this isn’t a simple or an easy proposition. Most lawyers and law firms are set in outmoded ways. Blogger Jim Hassett – who regularly posts on the topic of alternative fees – frames the problem out nicely in a series of posts on the profession’s addiction to the billable hour. At his blog, Patrick Lamb adds some insight in posts on firms raising their rates and being blind to fundamental market shifts.

For lawyers willing and able to shift perspectives, there’s a lot of inspiration out there. I first learned about William Kamkwamba, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, from a moving segment on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Blogger Carolyn Elefant picks up the story to encourage lawyers who are “put out by the economy” or otherwise “feeling trapped in the [ ] lawyering grind.”

Seth Godin provides some more fuel for our client service intervention in his recent post on Boundary Makers. Finally, we can tap into the possibility of taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary by viewing this Fast Company slideshow on innovation in materials.

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