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A friend, economist and well-known blogger notified me that I have been slacking in my blogging duties. “The Christmas holiday came and passed with nothing new on your blog,” he told me. “Now the New Year has passed and still nothing new,” he added. After I reminded him of the many different hats I wear and all of them need to be simultaneously worn at year’s end, he simply responded that “all can be remedied with a good transition into 2013.” I found this particularly interesting, since his own blog’s “transition into 2013” predicts a major catastrophic disaster for theU.S. legal industry. Nevertheless, I suppose reducing some of my own musings into written prophecies for the New Year might be a bit therapeutic, if not interesting or controversial.
LaunchingPeoriaLegal Blawg. The year 2012 saw the launch of our new website and Peoria Legal Blawg. Our web host tells me we have a little over a hundred people reading our blog every month. That’s probably less than most (my friend referenced above has several thousand viewing his) but more than I expected. After all, our Blawg is relatively new and we have done virtually nothing to promote it. Our readers at this point amount to family members, clients, a couple of close friends and maybe a few web surfers with nothing better to do. The venture has been primarily experimental until now, but our feedback has been positive and the attorneys in our firm are committed. We plan to take steps to promote our Blawg and increase interest in 2013, so please stay tuned for more to come!
Strategic Planning. January 2013 brings us to the culmination of a two-year strategic plan involving short-term and long-term transformations of our firm that will enable us to remain competitive far into the future. Since all of our attorneys have at least one youngling crawling around at home, we will all be doing this for a long time to come. As a result, our firm will soon be as “paperless” as possible for a law firm, and the final stages of our hardware and software upgrades and investments will be complete. Many thanks to IT360, AdCo, Affinity Consulting, Ben Stein, Ron Collins, Time & Cents Consultants, the writers from 3 Geeks & a Law Blog, and the many other vendors, consultants, and allies who have assisted us along the way and put us technologically far ahead of our competition. As we all know, however, the process never ends and resting on these laurels is not an option. As a result, new strategic planning sessions will begin within our firm as early as next February.
Lean Six Sigma and Legal Project Management. This past year brought the end of formal Lean Six Sigma training and a Black Belt Certificate to hang on the wall. It also began the ongoing process of educating ourselves in the art of Legal Project Management and all of its complexities and intricacies. These were two personal pet projects of mine that were met with initial resistance within our firm, but gradually everyone has come to see how these business ideals interact with our strategic plan and are essential to providing superior but cost-effective services to our “new age” clients and the leaders emerging from the Great Recession. The New Year will see our firm grasp an even deeper understanding of these principles, as they need to be tailored, tweaked, and truncated in order to be effectively implemented into the culture of a small business law firm inCentral Illinois. We still have a long way to go, but we are miles ahead of our competition on a path that I truly believe leads the future of the legal industry.
New Beginnings and Back to the Future. I never anticipated that a day would come when I would spend more time wearing my business hat and utilizing my business degree than my lawyer’s hat and JD, but 2012 brought this and more. Effectively managing our small business in this economic and regulatory environment became equally if not more important and time-consuming than trying cases and drafting operating agreements. I believe the results have provided us with a stronger bond and more effective legal team than I could have imagined. Our younger lawyers have matured and risen to the occasion, while staff has evolved to a level of efficiency beyond my brightest forecasts. More important, our clients have reacted positively and reached an understanding that project management necessarily means utilizing the proper resources to address any given problem. If the year 2012 was a Reformation and Reconstruction for our firm, I believe 2013 will bring us into a Renaissance. With internal operations and administration where they need to be, and the principles of Legal Project Management and Lean Six Sigma guiding our front and back offices, I can return to trying cases full-time at levels never before achieved. I will do this with the knowledge that our entire legal team is no longer merely a supporting cast, but an efficient and powerful force capable of attacking any legal project that our clients may experience.
Thank You. No meaningful reminiscence over the past year can take place without thanking those who made it possible. A very special thank you to our clients, employees, vendors, friends, consultants, and families for a great 2012. Most important, I need to thank my wife and partner in all things Shannon, who I’m sure grew understandably frustrated with her lawyer husband over this past year for, among other things, persistently grabbing his iPhone at 3:00 am to preserve his latest greatest ideas in writing. She is probably the only person ever born who can live with and tolerate me. Love you!
Welcome to our new website & to our legal blawg Poetic Justis! Formerly known as Peoria Legal Blawg, we have re-launched our website to better focus on our new blawg and the artwork of Mr. VanFleet’s children, which will be featured and periodically rotated as the background theme of our entire website. Please join us each month to follow our legal based blawg posts and a special poem written by Mr. VanFleet himself!