While the weather outside on Long Island isn't exactly balmy yet (at least not consistently), my calendar tells me that summer is approaching, and for many, that means it's time to find some great books to read, whether you prefer the paper and ink kind or reading on your Kindle or other electronic device.
Last week, I attended the Amercian Bar Association combined Spring Meeting for the Law Practice Management Section and the Young Lawyers Division, and the theme from one of our business meetings was books. That, coupled with several recent conversations with lawyers about books prompted me to write this post. The following is a list of book suggestions compiled from my own lists, last week's meeting, and those multiple conversations.
While some of the books on this list are books you'd expect to see on a reading list for lawyers, others are rather unconventional suggestions. This list is by no means exhaustive, but I hope you find at least one book that you hadn't considered before.
The End of Lawyers? Rethinking the Nature of Legal Services, by Richard Susskind There's been a lot of 'buzz' in the legal world about this book, which is a bit more optimistic than its title implies. Susskind opines that the nature of legal services, and the delivery of those services, will change dramatically over the next several years. I recommend the book to every lawyer, regardless of practice area or stage of your career. If you want a bit of a preview about the concepts in the book, you can hear Susskind's keynote speech that was given at this year's American Bar Association Techshow earlier this year at the ABA Techshow home page.
Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, by Peggy Klaus
Some may say that lawyers brag too much and focus too much on themselves, but do they sell themselves well? Whether you're a lawyer looking for a job, trying to impress the partners in your firm with your accomplishments or seeking ways to differentiate yourself and get your message out to clients, this book can help. Learn creative ways to talk about your skills and accomplishments to showcase what is unique about you without sounding like you're a pompous jerk.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini
As a lawyer, much of what you do involves persuasion, from persuading a jury to find in favor of your client, to persuading a potential client that you're the lawyer they should work with to persuading counsel to adopt your version of the contract provision or persuading an employee to take on a new project or responsibility. This book will provide insight into how people make decisions and identifies the most effective methods you can use to convince others.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Another book about how people make decisions, Gladwell's Blink focuses on split-second decisionmaking and how you can train yourself to focus on the most important information, and make faster - and possibly more valuable - decisions. This is an especially interesting read for lawyers, who are prone to 'analysis paralysis' and often have difficulty identifying when to stop researching or planning and make a decision.
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, by Malcolm Gladwell
Are you a "Connector" a "Maven" a "Salesman," or none of the above - and what does that mean for your practice? What methods can be employed to affect real change?
What Clients Love: A Field Guide to Growing Your Business, by Harry Beckwith
Beckwith's books are easy to read, and the chapters are short, making them ideal reads for waiting in court or for a 15 minute break during the day. This book puts the focus back where it belongs - on the client. If you want to attract and keep clients, this volume will give you practical, strategic and humorous tips to do just that.
Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing, by Harry Beckwith
I already wrote about this book in December in my post, "Good is Better than Best When it Comes to Planning," but the book has much more to offer than I wrote about in that post. Law is a service profession, which, by definition means that it's a relationship profession. In this book, Beckwith demonstrates how best to market a service business. This book demonstrates one of the core principles I discuss with clients on a daily basis - marketing is inextricably intertwined with the way you run your practice - your marketing will fall flat if you don't deliver the client experience.
The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron
Whether you consider yourself an 'artist' or not, the fact of the matter is that as a lawyer, you're in a creative profession. And the more creative and innovative you can be, the better the client experience you can deliver. But it's easly to lose that creative edge when you're mired in the day to day business of law. Cameron's program can help you unblock that creativity, and it includes one of the exercises clients have found universally helpful - the daily writing habit.
The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander
Another 'non-traditional' recommendation for lawyers, but one that's sure to provide inspiration and a new way of looking at your practice, motivating your employees and creating the results you want in your practice. It includes some techniques and practices that you may have seen before, but with a bit of a twist. In a time of economic downturn, it's especially useful for learning to look for possibilities and opportunities rather than seeing the world through a scarcity mindset.
(For more of my recommendations, see my recommended reading list in the sidebar of this blog)
Recommendations from others (that I look forward to reading):
Aligning the Stars: How To Succeed When Professionals Drive Results, by Jay William Lorsch and Thomas J. Tierney
The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action, by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I. Sutton
Spin Selling, by Neil Rackham
Small is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants and Remarkable Business Ideas, by Seth Godin
World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers that Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories, by David Meerman Scott
10-10-10: A Life Transorming Idea, by Suzy Welch
Special thanks to Jennifer Ator and John Remsen for their suggestions as well!
Please share your book suggestions by leaving a comment!