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THE INNOVATION ISSUE

 Table of Contents | Features | Frontlines | Technology | Business

April 2009 Issue | Volume 35 Number 3 | Page 12
FRONTLINES

Reading Minds

GUIDEPOSTS FOR CHANGING TIMES

W e haven’t quite completed the first decade of this century, yet it’s abundantly clear that our times are radically different from any that have gone before, in frequently incomprehesible ways. How might legal professionals rethink their practices in response? In this installment, three contributors share foremost books guiding their thinking right now.

Nicole Black Recommends: The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century

Thomas L. Friedman’s best-seller The World Is Flat (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005) is a fascinating overview of our age’s remarkable revolution in technology. The most interesting aspect of the book is Friedman’s analysis of technology’s impact on our professional lives—especially how rapid technological advancements coupled with distinct historical events, such as 9/11, have changed the business landscape in ways difficult to comprehend.

As Friedman explains, the Internet and Web 2.0 technologies have effectively erased the geographical barriers that once prevented businesses from engaging and competing on a global scale. He stresses that individuals unwilling to accept and embrace change will fall quickly behind, while those who are innovative and adaptable will thrive in this new world order.

By far, The World Is Flat is among the best books that I’ve read during, and about, the 21st century—in part because the book’s lessons are so particularly applicable to the legal field. I have long been an advocate for change and innovation in our profession, and Friedman’s analysis of the impact of technology on our world serves only to convince me that the legal profession must embrace technological change and that those who refuse to do so will undoubtedly be left behind.

Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach, coauthor of the legal treatise Criminal Law in New York (Thomson-West), is a newspaper columnist for The Daily Record and publishes four blogs.

Jenna Belil Recommends: The Secret

I had heard whispers about Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret (Atria Books, 2006) while I was still working as an attorney for a New York-based insurance company. Some of my colleagues there were very excited about the “secret” that lies at the heart of the book. When it was explained to me, I have to admit, I laughed it off as too simplistic. I mean, how can people get something they want just by posting a picture of it on their bathroom mirror? My skepticism was overcome by my curiosity when I started my own law practice after being laid off in 2007. For the first two months, I had only one client. While I was devouring a lot of extremely practical information during this time, I was starting to paralyze myself with worry over when the clients would come and how I was going to make the mort-gage payment. That’s when I decided to investigate Byrne’s book—although even as I was in the checkout line to purchase it, I still thought to myself, how could a book that is less than 200 pages hold the answer to happiness, success, relationships and even health?

Narrated mostly in excerpts from others who have harnessed the so-called Law of Attraction, this book has provided a transformational map for me to achieve things that once seemed out of my reach. Using its principles, my whole approach to life has dramatically changed, including how I run my practice. Now, in addition to following my written business plan, I have shifted my thought process to “attract” the things I want in my life and I have become more attuned to thoughts that are obstacles to my goals. And, no, it’s not as simple as I once understood it to be, but for me, it’s well worth the effort.

Jeena R. Belil is a Long Island, NY, personal injury and insurance coverage attorney. She has represented several well-known insurance carriers.

Tom Mighell Recommends: Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything

As a technology junkie, I am constantly pursuing the latest tech trends that affect the way people get work done. One of the greatest advances in this century is the meteoric rise of the Internet as a tool for communication and collaboration. That’s why Don Tapscott and AnthonyWilliams’s Wikinomics (Portfolio Hardcover, 2006) is such an important book: It demonstrates how the previously “read-only” Internet is now a place where knowledge and technology are combining to produce an amazing collective force, and the traditional ideas of hierarchy and control are giving way to new models of working based on “community, collaboration and self-organization.”

The authors describe some pretty amazing stories of regular individuals who are connecting with each other to drive innovation and success, with companies and projects of all sizes. Indeed, collaboration is even slowly seeping into the legal profession—witness the rapidly growing practice area of collaborative law and the Sedona Conference’s recently released “Cooperation Proclamation,” which encourages lawyers to collaborate in e-discovery matters.

The law traditionally has not been known as a collaborative profession, but Wikinomics makes the convincing argument that all businesses, including law practices, must collaborate to gain competitive advantages or they may not survive.

Tom Mighell is a Senior Counsel with Fios Consulting and is currently Secretary of the ABA Law Practice Management Section. He is coauthor, with Dennis Kennedy, of The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together ( ABA, 2008).

About the Editor

Reading Minds editor Stephanie West Allen is a writer, speaker and mediator who presents seminars on harnessing brainpower for improved business development and conflict resolution. Formerly a lawyer, she blogs at idealawg.net and brainsonpurpose.com.

What are you reading? Favorites from wise minds. Reading Minds invites sage professionals to recommend favorite books on a chosen topic. If you have a book you’d like to share, contact Stephanie West Allen.

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