THE MAGAZINE      May/June 2002
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Down with Courthouses, Columns and Currency

By Ross Fishman

Assume that a law firm wasn’t constrained by precedent or internal politics and that money was no object. What truly innovative practice management activity would you love to see implemented?

When I awaken invigorated from a good night’s sleep, it’s because I’ve been dreaming about the banishment of clichéd visual and linguistic icons from law firm promotional and strategic materials. How refreshing! In their advertisements, brochures and Web sites, lawyers reject columns, compasses, clocks and currency. There are no mundane collections of gavels or globes, light bulbs or laptops, maps or microscopes, beakers, boxing gloves or briefcases. No scales of justice. Not a single chess piece, DNA strand or stopwatch. No one shaking hands or sprinting up courthouse steps.

The language in these materials always describes each firm’s unique differentiation, not its "hands-on, value-added, business-oriented record of achievement" or its "client-focused tradition of excellence and innovation." Nowhere does the firm articulate its "high-quality, cost-effective, full-service skills for individuals and Fortune 100 companies."

And firms have truly strategic mission statements, not ones that generically proclaim: "To proactively deliver cutting-edge, results-driven, client-oriented legal services to ensure each client’s success, while observing the highest standards of integrity, ethics and professionalism, and providing opportunities for career advancement and professional development in an open, nurturing and collegial environment of trust, dignity and respect for every team member’s contribution. To give back to the community while achieving financial results that will permit the firm to advance and flourish."

Ahhh … that felt good.

Ross H. Fishman ( is Chief Exceleration Officer, Ross Fishman Marketing, Inc., in Highland Park, IL; (847) 432-3546.

"The man with a new idea is a crank—until the idea succeeds."

— Mark Twain