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Published by Kevin O'Keefe, CEO & Founder of LexBlog

Seyfarth Shaw chairman joins conversation via blog and Twitter

Subject Stephen Poor, Seyfarth Managing Partner Stephen Poor says Six Sigma is adaptable to transaction-based legal work–such as the mortgage-backed security transactions client Merrill Lynch & Co. was churning out during the height of the real estate cr

J. Stephen Poor of Seyfarth Shaw

Stephen Poor, Chairman of Seyfarth Shaw, a firm of 800 attorneys in the U.S., London, Shanghai, Melbourne and Sydney, is blogging (Rethink the Practice) and using Twitter (@stephen_poor).


I took to social media… in an effort to engage in candid conversations. I hope others who lead law firms will join the discussion. Do I think Twitter feeds from one – or even many – of us will materially change our industry? Of course not. I do believe that we need to speak frankly and listen intently and the more voices the better. After all, open dialogue can only be good for our clients.

Poor writes in a piece at Bloomberg that law firms simply are not listening to clients. With innovation being the term de jure in the industry and a staggering amount of legal work moving from outside law firms to corporate legal departments, 63% of law firm leaders in a recent Altman Weil survey were doing nothing to change their business models “because clients were not asking for change.”

Why with the need for change for real innovation do we have what Poor calls cognitive dissonance?

We lawyers do not listen.

Lawyers are notoriously bad listeners – we listen with the intent to respond rather than with the intent to understand. We are also a quite competitive and argumentative bunch. These are not traits easily adaptable to change or collaborative problem-solving — and the problems before us demand collaboration in the truest sense.

Worse yet, law firm leaders are absent from the online conversation.

Oh, sure, we may attend seminars, sit on panels and talk at crowds of people about the importance of change – but there are too few voices participating in open discussion about the challenges of change. I think those voices are important. I believe that there is more change happening under the surface than we are prepared to admit. At the same time, I believe that our pace of change is lagging behind the velocity of change needed by our clients. Unless we join the discussion with the willingness to share our experiences – whether for good or bad – we may never catch up.

Poor has taken to social media not as a broadcast medium, but as an opportunity to join the discussion being led by others. Listening intently and speaking frankly, with the more voices the better is what Poor believes in.

The authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto wrote back in 1999 that marketing is a conversation. The concept of a conversation drives “true blogging and social media.” Unlike most lawyers, Poor gets it.

And how popular is Poor’s message on the need for leaders in the law to enter the conversation through social media? Poor’s post was one of the more popular items I’ve shared on LinkedIn.