In the Midst of Life…..

…..we are in death, as the old funeral service has it.

A morbid thought for a Friday afternoon, but appropriate given that for many firms tomorrow sees the year end.

It is prompted by connecting Fabrice Muamba, Mervyn Davies and Rhys Thomas. Fabrice Muamba has been much in the news after his heart attack while playing for Bolton against Spurs on 17th March.

Two days before, Mervyn Davies, one of the great rugby players of the 1970s died. He had to give up playing after a brain haemorrhage suffered while playing for Swansea against Pontypool. Rhys Thomas is the Llanelli Scarlets prop who had a heart attack while training in January.

What saved each man was the medical facilities available where they were when they suffered the problem. As Mervyn Davies remarked, had he been on an obscure golf course, he would have died.

If very fit young men have been saved substantially by luck, where does that leave the rest of us? Does your life pass the “bus test?”

That test applies to both business and personal lives. How would your business carry on without you? What mechanisms are in place? Does everyone know what is going on, or is it all in your head? Contingency planning is advisable.

More important is your personal life, and the effect of your death on your loved ones. Importantly, are they actually secure that you love them? Have you made a will? Again, how much is in your head? Some people have the chance to plan for when they are gone, so (for instance) write birthday letters to their children for years ahead. Buses do not allow that.

Life is invariably fatal, and it does not do to pretend otherwise. If you accept the fact, it gives scope to make plans, just in case.

Here’s wishing you a long life.




Law Matters: ABS, Riverview, Too Many Fee Earners?

The March Law Matters, dealing with this morning’s ABS announcement, some thoughts on Riverview Law, and RBS’s view that there are too many fee earners,  is now available on the website.

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And They’re Off! First ABS Announcement by SRA

The SRA has announced the first ABS authorisations. These are:

Co-operative Legal Services

John Welch & Stammers (solicitors in Witney)

Lawbridge Solicitors Limited (of Sidcup)

Announcement here.

Lawbridge is authorised as of today, 28th March 2012, John Welch & Stammers from 6th April, and Co-op from 16th April.

Let battle commence!

Leadership and the Unexpected: Owen Coyle

It was one of those times when the back page made the front page. Fabrice Muamba of Bolton Wanderers collapsed from a heart attack during their game against Tottenham Hotspur.

Nobody expects one of the most athletic young men in the country to suffer a heart attack at the age of 23. I am sure that no football manager has thought (at least until last week) about how to approach such a problem.

Coyle had to face a player at death’s door with a family in shock, as well as distraught colleagues. And Bolton and London are over 200 miles apart.

Add to that the huge media interest, and the fact that there were scheduled matches to play.

Owen Coyle has been magnificent, from removing the media burden from the family, to allowing his players to decide for themselves whether to play in Bolton’s next game.

It is in dealing with an unexpected crisis that true leadership is manifested. Every leader should, of course, think ahead about how to address various eventualities. But it is the ability to “play what is in front of you,” to adapt, and to cope with the totally unexpected which is the real test. And Coyle gets an A*.

Leaders and Bleeders

I have posted once or twice about Steve Jobs’s management style, most recently here. I was recently reminded of a comment that sums up why that style could work for Jobs, but was not one to be generally adopted.

It comes from a 15 year old East End lad, speaking about leadership. He said

“I can stand a leader who is a bleeder but to hell with the  bleeder who pretends to be a leader.”

Lydiate: The Invisible Worker

In the aftermath of Wales’s Grand Slam success, something struck me. It is not really possible to say that Dan Lydiate is invisible, since he was awarded Man of the Match in two out of five Wales games! However, although I was in the stadium on Saturday, it was only the television coverage that showed me his immense contribution.

The Welsh coaching staff know his worth only too well. They monitor, watch and collect statistics of balls won, tackles made, and so on. Hence when selecting the team he is one of the first on the team sheet.

Many managers are unfortunately too like me, and do not notice the contribution made by some of their staff. It is easy to notice the obvious and the attractive, but not always the basic gritty activity that so often is the foundation of success.

One way to do this is to deliberately monitor activity and to gather statistics (it helps if they are the right ones). And (for law firms, and others) always remember that while many firms praise those bringing in new clients, few praise those who keep existing clients happy. The latter is generally more profitable.

Here are the highlights of Saturday’s game – count the mentions of Dan Lydiate. In particular in the run up to the try it is tackle, get up, assess, stand in for scrum half, pass. Masterly.


Alchemy for Managers

When I was a practice manager, I was the only full-time manager in each firm. The variety of problems passing across my desk was huge, and it made it almost impossible to know everything necessary to deal with them.

It is difficult enough managing people when you are a professional manager. This is even more the case when you are a professional who has to fit management around a professional workload. And management training may be limited.

How much are you likely to learn about managing people “just in case”? Not that much, I suspect. Some general principles, certainly, but not too much detail.

The alternative is to have information to hand “just in time”. This will be a familiar approach to lawyers, who are used to carrying out research on specific issues when it becomes necessary.

Alchemy for Managers is a desktop product which provides “just in time” comprehensive online resource of management tools, tips methods, and practical information. It covers a range of topics,from action learning to working from home. It takes in customer relations, posture and comfort, and strategy on the way.

Above all, Alchemy is scalable: used by companies as large as Homebase, it is equally applicable to sole practitioners and small businesses.

If you are interested, please contact us to arrange a demonstration and a free trial.

That was a blatant sales pitch for Alchemy.