Seven ways to make any law firm run better
By Tony Poland, AdvocateDaily.com Associate Editor
Humourist and author Marcel Strigberger says his "Seven Simple Ways to Diffuse Problems and Prevent Trouble" approach can help make any law firm run smoother.
A retired lawyer, Strigberger is a humour writer and speaker who has written two books — Birth, Death and Other Trivialities: A Humorous Philosophical Look at the Human Condition and Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel.
He says he uses what he's learned throughout his long career to enhance his public speaking engagements, which include audiences with judges and lawyers.
Strigberger speaks effortlessly on topics that include travel, the joys of aging, and using humour safely and easily. He tells AdvocateDaily.com that what he has learned can help law firms of any size run more efficiently and “add more benefit and value’” to their practice.
He's available to conduct workshops or make presentations expounding on his seven-point plan, which he says can help lawyers waste less time, save clients money, become more productive, enhance wellness, enjoy more camaraderie and rapport, and have fun
“I have found after many years in practice that I must have been doing something right, as I was generally achieving these benefits. I know most lawyers rarely experience problems or attract trouble,” he says. “But surprisingly, there are some who do. In fact, they can qualify as experts at generating and expanding problems and finding trouble.”
Strigberger says the most important thing he learned during his career was how “to diffuse problems and prevent trouble.”
His seven steps to a better work environment include leaving your ego at the door, don’t take things personally, admit when you are wrong and apologize, be clear on what you ask for, never assume, take a pause to reflect before firing off an email and “unleash your sense of humour.”
“This plan is pretty much universal and could apply to just about any practice,” he says. “It came to me one by one. There's an experience that happens and then it happens again and you say, ‘What did I do right as opposed to what did I do wrong?”
Strigberger says curbing your ego is essential and a lesson he learned during his first week in practice.
“I had a real estate closing and a senior colleague told me, ‘You’re a real lawyer now. You have to show you’re tough,’” he says. “He likely said it tongue in cheek but he was certainly perpetuating an outlook many lawyers seem to believe, namely that to succeed, they have to be a badass. I found that you don’t have to have the demeanor of Attila the Hun to succeed as a lawyer.”
Strigberger notes that there’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re wrong and apologizing.
“As Mark Twain said, 'Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more,’” he says.
Strigberger also says managing your expectations is essential.
“You've got to ask what you want," he says. "Do you want to peace, do you want to win a point or win a battle?”
Most of all, he says having a sense of humour has helped him throughout his career.
“When I tell people I am a lawyer who also writes humour, I often get the response, 'Isn’t that an oxymoron? Do lawyers like having that image?’” Strigberger says. “However, using humour with respect attracts mega dividends.”
He says he is ready to share his method with large gatherings or small groups.
"I can provide an enjoyable and informative keynote or a more intensive workshop on diffusing problems and avoiding troubles before they rage out of control," Strigberger says.