Overcoming the Fear of Change

Many solo and small law firms today are working harder and longer, but failing to increase their profitability. Law firms that fall into this category simply haven’t discovered new approaches to their practice that allows them to work smarter.

However, many attorneys aren’t thinking about their law practice’s business model or dreaming of how to innovative their firm. Overwhelmed by client meetings and case proceedings, attorneys rarely find time to consider how they could make changes to their business. Sometimes attorneys even become so consumed by their matters that they become oblivious to the fact that their law firm is a living, breathing business.

Moreover, the very concept of change and futuristic thinking can seem at odds with an attorney’s practice that relies so heavily on the past.  Chad E. Burton, founding attorney of Burton Law LLC., in “Launching a Virtual Law Firm” describes how a futuristic mindset is antithetical to the way attorneys think. From the start of their journey in law school, attorneys are forced, as Burton notes, to “always look to the past for precedent.” The law is rooted in history, and the past informs attorneys’ decisions daily.  Although, to succeed in a modern high-tech world, adapting to best practices is essential. Attorneys must now let the future determine their choices, with new technologies increasingly providing a competitive advantage.

One of the major challenges small law firms face on this path to increasing their profitability is the fear of change. Some attorneys, like most human beings, have anxiety about disassociating themselves from the familiar and venturing into new territory. A common thread of thought is that it is often comforting to maintain nearly ingrained methods and difficult to experiment with new ones.

Another one of the reasons attorneys haven’t taken this simple road to success is due to the reluctance to change their longstanding ways of practice. These attorneys are against changing the approach to their practice because they find it unreasonable to alter the way they’ve been working for years, especially if it hasn’t caused them significant issues.

However, if a law firm believes they are functioning adequately because no visceral damages have occurred, they have the wrong attitude. According to Richard Hugo-Hamman, Executive Chairman of LEAP, this ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ attitude can be detrimental in a day and age in which “small law firms are being forced to change to maintain profitability.”  With an increasing competition, caused partly by changes in technology, law firms should not be rewarding themselves because they are surviving, they should be aggressively pursuing opportunities to increase their profits and enhance efficiency.

Rarely is growth achieved, without adjusting the current system. For a law firm to grow its profits, inevitably positive strides towards change must be made. Small law firms cannot dwell in the past, be aware of the present, and have fear of the future.  Why fear innovation when the risk of inaction is far greater?

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