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January 2008 Issue | Volume 34 Number 1| Page 19
Frontlines

Law Firm Strategy

Be a Creator of Best Practices

Tactical advice from Patrick J. McKenna.

Strategic wisdom has it that if you don’t want to reinvent the wheel, you should seek out “best practices.” This is where your firm invests time in studying what some other firm may be doing better than anyone else. You then try to integrate that best practice into your own not-so-terrific activities, systems or structures.

But here’s the deal: Copying another firm’s client service standards may be easier than creating your own, but the creators of change always have the highest commitment to change. It is only through creativity, not replication, that people get the opportunity to fully commit to constructing the conditions for which they yearn.

You could also run the risk of becoming a firm of mimics. Ask yourself, where did this firm with the current “best practice” get it from? If they got it from somebody else, you are admiring the wrong firm. And if the practice was the result of the firm’s own innovation, then they’re probably planning to move on to something even better. Innovation is an innate part of who they are. You are going to be left trying to mimic last year’s model. You will never catch up with the front-runners. Innovators, by definition, are always one step ahead.

Simply adopting someone else’s best practice may not be your best practice after all.

About the Author

Patrick J. McKenna

is a principal with Edge International, consults with law firms on competitive strategy, and can be reached at (780) 428-1052.

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