Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's Hard To Be Professional And Run A Business

I think it was easier to be "professional" in your law practice when you got 1.5% of the value of the property for a closing, 50% of referred PI cases (back before advertising when clients still sought referrals from their own lawyer), and you billed based on a minimum fee schedule, which assured that everyone charged the same minimum fee. It was unethical to charge any less. This prevented cut throat competition and assured that everyone made a decent living. Consequently, you could make a living in less than 12 billable hours a day. You had the time and energy to be noble and professional and to do some low cost and pro bono work.

The billable hour and court decisions killed a lot of that. Meanwhile, the same courts that encouraged greater business "competition" among lawyers now whine about a decline in professionalism. It is easier to be graciously professional when every minute doesn't count. Now clients treat us like plumbers because we bill them like plumbers. Everyone wants the lowest possible fee. They want it cheap, fast, and good. (I practice three kinds of law: cheap, fast, and good.  You can have any two simultaneously.)  They all want to share their losses with you, but none of them want to pay a penny extra for excellent results. I think what we're seeing is the fruit of the effort to increase competition, improve efficiency, and reduce fees. Those are all business concepts.  They aren't the concepts of a noble profession. Like any business we're now expected to appeal to "consumers." Consequently, the practice of law has become a business and lawyers have become more businessman than professional.  I don't think you can have it both ways. 

I Love My iPhone 3G! Part I -- The History

Note:  I originally drafted this post some time ago when I first got my iPhone 3G, but for some reason I never posted it.  It is no longer topical, but still holds true so I'm going to publish it now anyway.

I've  been a fan of Palm devices since my first, a Palm IIIc.  I was never good at keeping up with a paper calender.  My secretary needed one on her desk and I needed another to carry.  The only way to keep them both updated was to copy the information from one to the other.  I could never keep up  and quit carrying a calendar. The Palm IIIc linked with my practice management software Amicus Attorney and solved the problem. Now I could synchronize the calendar my secretary kept with the device that I carried at the touch of a button.

That led to my first smartphone a Treo 650.  Now I could keep my calendar up-to-date and with me and get my email too. Yippee!  I loved my Treo.  The Treo 650 died after two years and being left outdoors overnight.  I replaced it with a Treo 680 that was a source of disappointment.  Meanwhile, the Palm OS was getting longer and longer in the tooth.

I bought my wife an iPhone and it seemed good, but maybe not good enough to make me give up my Treos.  It did not have a "real keyboard" and wasn't able to handle MS Word docs.  But then I never enjoyed typing anything very long on the tiny Treo keyboards and editing documents on the tiny screen was a joke.  Actually the tiny keyboard coupled with the small screen made it really difficult.  It is simply easiest to edit documents on a laptop.  I could tether my Treo to my laptop, but learned it was much easier to find a wifi hotspot and only use hotels with wifi in the room. My wife's iPhone was pretty cool though.  Unlike the Treo, the iPhone was the Internet in your pocket! The Safari browser and big screen made surfing the Internet much easier than on the Treos.

The 680 became balkier and balkier and more frustrating.  The screen broke in my pocket, which was admittedly my fault, but had never happened before.  After the screen was fixed, the ear speaker broke.  I had to either use a bluetooth earpiece or a plug in earpiece to hear anything.  Neither was convenient when I was walking around.  (I refuse to stick a bluetooth headset in my ear and walk around looking like a dorky Borg.  After putting up with that for months, the iPhone 3G came out to pretty good reviews.  So I finally bought one and ....

I LOVE MY iPHONE 3G!  I love the big pretty screen.  I love the GPS.  I love the email.  I love the App Store. Over all on balance I really enjoy it.  Why? That's Part II.