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How Gretzky’s Advice May Teach Us Much More Than Hockey

puckWayne Gretzky is famous for being one of the greatest hockey players in history. He is also known for inspiring thousands with his quotes. One of my favorite Gretzky quotes is: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” It is simple but incredibly powerful and exactly how lawyers need to approach their practices today.

Too many lawyers we work with are discouraged by the reality of the marketplace, unwilling to embrace change, not convinced or scared that they need to practice differently, or angry that the practice of law has changed so drastically. We certainly appreciate that change is hard, and practicing law was easier, more lucrative and admired more years ago. But we still see a healthy and vibrant career for those willing to skate to where the puck is going to be rather than where it has been.

Our thousands of interviews and business development coaching sessions give us an interesting perspective on how some law firms and lawyers are drastically embracing change (and succeeding above others) as well as the overall marketplace disruption. A few observations include:

  • There continues to be an appetite for predictability and transparency of fees. Clients are demanding it, and the law firms willing to embrace alternative fees and offer creative billing solutions with transparency are winning work away from other firms.
  • Clients are doing everything possible to bring as much work as possible in house. The lawyers they are looking to hire need to have an expertise or niche they can’t fill internally. I’ve never had a client say they hired a lawyer because he/she was a generalist or could handle a bunch of matters well.
  • The lawyers that have busy, vibrant, fulfilling practices look beyond an individual matter or opportunity and build long-term relationships. Their investment in the client pays dividends on both sides.
  • Technology, accessibility and 24/7 work is overwhelming everyone. There is tremendous benefit to those lawyers who carve out face-to-face time with their most important clients.

If your practice, client base or work load is not where you want it to be today, consider taking a page from Gretsky’s playbook. Stop looking in the rearview mirror.  Copy this quote down and boldly display it on your office wall to inspire and remind you of both the challenge and opportunity within our industry. Where should you skate based on the reality and change facing us today?

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