Learning to translate your legal expertise into writing that is clear, concise, and compelling takes time and effort. The best legal writers may think like lawyers, but they don’t write like lawyers; they write like a warm, intelligent, logical, and practical person. They transform complex issues into simple concepts. They set it out in a way that meets the reader’s need.
How can you help promote clear writing and save yourself time? Give good feedback.
Need help with your presentations? Call me. In the meantime, here’s a word about PowerPoint from my Green (Valentine) Spokesfrog.
Give yourself a pat on the back
The design site ApartmentTherapy.com is one of my favourite places to surf. In January, I came across Jackie Ashton’s 4 Goals to Boost Happiness at Home in the New Year. I was expecting to hear about the merits of making your bed every morning, categorizing your linen cupboard, and arranging flowers in every room (which I support, in theory if not in practice). Instead, the piece focused on contentment as a skill, and specific daily ways to develop it. Happiness as an inside job and all that. Interesting.
I clipped the piece for a future post about cultivating contentment at work. And on this rainy late winter’s day, with enough shades of gray to fluster E.L. James, finding some inside light seems just the thing. Read more
With this post, I commend to you a book that I have been pressing (figuratively speaking) into the hands of clients, colleagues, friends and family for the last couple of months: Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking (2012, Crown Publishers). A former Wall Street lawyer and high level negotiator, Cain offers an engaging, careful, and personal message about the power of introversion that I think we all need to hear. Read more
Looking for a lawyer who loves marching to the point twos of the billable hour? Good luck with that. Still, tracking and billing time to clients is an everyday reality for most partners, associates and paralegals. And doing it well—capturing all of your time, accurately—is vital to their success, and the firm’s.
Who do you need to have coffee with? It’s a simple question that I have found to be a surprisingly useful call to action at any time–including the end of a skills workshop.
A nudge for all of us, here and now
If you sit back right now and ponder The Coffee Question, you will no doubt come up with at least 2-3 names. A client, a colleague, a sounding board, a mentor, an old friend, a contact from the conference. [I just paused and did this. It took all of 10 seconds to write down three names: my successor on an industry board with whom I have been meaning to check in; an old friend from university working in Vancouver; and a dynamic professional acquaintance I played a few rounds of “we should get together” with before her maternity leave, now finished.]
Go one step further by picking up the phone or firing off one email invitation and you will have started (or re-started) something in your network—a conversation that could lead anywhere.
Bonus points if you take that cuppa on a walk Read more
Much has been written in the last decade about the black hole that many of our email in-boxes have become. Late last year, Ryan Holmes, Hootsuite’s CEO , wrote a piece in Fast Company declaring that email had become the biggest workplace time waster—a Pony Express of business communication that it’s time to put down in favour of more efficient collaborative communication tools.
Don’t blame the email messenger
Email still plays a key role in communication for all of my clients. From where I sit—communicating most of my working day with people in professional service firms and not for profit organizations—email’s problems do not stem from email itself, but from how we use and often abuse it as a business tool. After all, email demands the same rigour as any other form of written business communication, from annual reports to instant messages: get to it, be brief, be professional, and make the text easy to read.
Abe and Andrea’s guide to pleasing email readers
Abraham Lincoln (whose presidency, by the by, began the same year that the Pony Express ended) said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Planning is the key to beautiful email. While sharpening your axe, ask and answer three things. Read more
In this first Green Valentine post of 2013, you won’t find any New Year’s resolutions or advice about new beginnings. Instead, I want to encourage you to focus on finishing, or shipping.
I first heard Seth Godin talk about shipping and overcoming our internal resistance in his book Linchpin (2010). Here’s how he explains what it means to ship (p.103):
The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship. Shipping means hitting the publish button on your blog, showing a presentation to the sales team, answering the phone, selling the muffins, sending out your references. Shipping is the collision between your work and the outside world. … Shipping something out the door, doing it regularly, without hassle, emergency, or fear–this is a rare skill, something that makes you indispensable. (my emphasis)
It has happened to all of us at one time or fifteen. You’re at a work function, about to introduce a colleague to the person you have been chatting with, and then hesitate as you realize that you can’t remember the person’s name. I have just discovered (with some delight) that the Scottish have given a name to this specific form of tortured hesitation. You, my friend, have just “tartled”. Read more