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Say Yes to Summer Ambition

Many CPD providers hit the breaks between July and September as lawyers and CPD decision makers leave town. But writing off the summer as “dead time” can be a costly mistake. Last spring, one of my clients asked me to put a strategy in place for their team to keep moving over the long lazy days of July and August. Yesterday they told me it was their most productive summer ever.

Here are five strategies any provider can employ:

1. Reach out to faculty and decision makers before things go into lockdown mode. Not everyone is away at the same time. Organize your calendar for when key people will be around.

2. Two months isn’t long. Set weekly mini milestones – these can be financial or registration targets, marketing or other campaign related goals, or program preparation. Having regular targets will help ensure forward progress.

3. Identify one large project to complete over the summer – redo your website, revise teaching notes, create a loyalty campaign, update your marketing list.

4. Analyze your feedback and program evaluations from last year to figure out how you can improve this year. If additional surveying is required, reach out to members or program attendees to ask for their opinion.

5. Lastly, take advantage of the down time to socialize with your colleagues. Go out to lunch and reconnect before the fall rush hits. You’ll enjoy working together more and you’ll probably get more done.

Don’t drink the industry Kool-Aid that the CPD calendar ends in June. With a little bit of effort, July and August can become critical planning months to ensure you hit the ground running come September.

End of Summer Reading List

Looking for a good book to occupy what’s left of your summer? The ABA has just published a terrific list of the 24 greatest law novels – ever. To select the winners, they assembled a group of lawyers and academics to “find the best portrayals of lawyers and the law”. From Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment to Grisham’s The Firm, there’s something for every reader.

Who was number one? I’ll leave that to you to find out. But I will tell you there’s a tie in the mix so the list is actually 26 novels (not 25). So, whether you’re spending your time in a Muskoka chair or on an airplane, grab a book. There’s still time to reflect on what you love most and least about the profession.


Those Tricky LinkedIn Endorsements

LinkedIn endorsements trouble me.

The first time I received a notice that “X has endorsed you for..” I thought “what the hell is that?”. I actually received two in as many days and it freaked it me out so much that I contacted both people to ask how it happened that they endorsed me. I was mortified to think that they might think that I was asking them to endorse me. One seemed to understand that it was some kind of automatically generated thing that just happened with LinkedIn, however the other person, did, in fact, think it was a request I had sent them. I felt powerless, confused. I even sent LinkedIn an email questioning the practice, in response to which I received some standard, unhelpful reply.

All of that was some time ago now and, although I only rarely actually log-in to LinkedIn these days, it would appear that endorsements, for better or worse, have become common-place. An article last month in the ABA Journal reignited my train wreck-like attraction to the topic by asking “do LinkedIn endorsements violate legal ethics rules?” The article, together with some poll results about whether lawyers hide their endorsements on LinkedIn taught me some things I didn’t know about Linked In and also offered the following closing advice for lawyers: remove endorsements you believe are false or misleading.

Hmmm… one more thing for my summer to do list. And I smell a CLE topic.

Drama Class

Lawyers’ love for the stage is as old as the legal profession. The ABA, in its annual focus on lawyers and culture, last August devoted its cover story to the Theatre’s 12 Greatest Courtroom Dramas. With so much interest from lawyers in the craft of the actor, it makes sense that we may have something to learn from actors.

Acting workshops for lawyers have been offered in the U.S. since at least the 1970’s. More recently, mandatory CPD has led to a resurgence of these programs on both sides of the border. Can acting classes improve lawyers’ presentation skills? I think in most cases they can. Perhaps more importantly, I’m convinced they can improve lawyers’ confidence levels in the courtroom. But be warned – it’s a bit of a mind shift. The first time I hosted one of these workshops I cynically thought “breathing and vocalizing exercises? How are we ever going to get people to stay beyond the first break?”

I overlooked how open-minded and extroverted lawyers can be. They not only stayed through the first break, but also through lunch and then the afternoon break, and at the end of the day, they were singing the presenter’s and the program’s praises. That workshop, The Powerful Performance, was presented three years ago by Touchstone Theatre Director Katrina Dunn. Today, Touchstone Training is Canada’s best known provider of acting-based presentation skills training for lawyers. Dunn’s one-day course is offered in BC through the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, and in Ontario through The Advocates’ Society. So go ahead, get on stage. And get CPD credit for it.