When I was a big firm lawyer I was often asked to be part of a new business development group. In preparation for our audition with big company general counsel we would, of course, meet to discuss our strategy. And I would suggest, cajole, insist, plead and beg that we spend our time trying to really sit inside the skin of the person or persons with whom we might be working. Sadly, I usually failed to convince my colleagues that such an exercise was more powerful than simply rattling off our successes, our expertise and our references.

More subtly-but more insidiously - I realized that being focused like a laser on client service too often means a lightning quick response to a problem that: focuses only on legal solutions, forcefully advances the all hands on deck, leave no stone unturned approach while ignoring the why don't we call them up and see what they really want approach. Or even more shocking: perhaps the director of your trade association can help you settle this between yourselves.

I concluded that, especially for lawyers who have never worked in an organization other than a law firm, even a sincere desire to serve clients gets unconsciously filtered through the self interest of the lawyer and the lawyer's firm.
Yet this same perspective is under attack. Technology makes it more clear every day that the emperor known as law firm leverage has no clothes. And the moral ambiguity associated with ever greater billable hour requirements drives many to seek alternatives.

And so I chose to fly solo. Embracing technology and ready to spread the gospel of my timely, cutting edge insights.

Imagine my chagrin when I stumbled onto Charles Green's website TRUSTED ADVISOR ASSOCIATES Turns out that Mr.Green and his colleagues long ago anticipated my concerns. Indeed, they have been writing, teaching and lecturing about trust as the most important relationship in business. And when they say trust they don't mean win them over and then sell them what you've got trust. They mean the trust that includes : based on what you've told me I think that our competitor law firm can better help you with that problem or more humbly No I don't have any direct experience in that industry.

This site has truly been a revelation for me. The growth of business networking software, the increasing popularity of wikis, and enterprise 2.0 software are creating a business environment where problem solving takes place as a fluid process- where static notions of expertise impede rather than promote solutions to problems.
In a web based world with a zillion sites I am so grateful to have found a place where my instincts about how people truly interact can be validated or challenged.


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