Of course it’s better to learn from the mistakes of others than to learn by making your own mistakes.
But if history has taught us anything it’s that we humans have trouble learning from the mistakes of others. Lawyers, being human, have trouble with this too.
For example, most of us have trouble learning how to create smooth-running law firms.
And yet, lots of lawyers have figured this out. Mostly, by trial and error though.
A small group learned by modeling the success of others.
Of course, there are lots of elements that comprise a successful law practice: marketing, operations, staffing etc.
And there’s technology, which is probably the most insidious aspect for solo and small firm lawyers. That’s because lawyers don’t have good instincts for how to deploy technology effectively.
When your tech instincts aren’t well developed it’s easy to make really disastrous mistakes.
And those are ones you definitely want to avoid making (and learning from). I call these “cat by the tail mistakes” because of the famous Mark Twain quote.
Twain once observed that “the man who swings a cat by the tail learns a lesson that can be learned in no other way.”
Here’s how that applies to technology…
So many tech options seem like a great idea in theory. But when you try them you often discover that you’ve got a tiger by the tail.
Acquiring good instincts about how to use technology effectively is hard no matter what business you’re in. But it’s especially difficult in a small firm law practice.
If you stop and think about it, you may realize why.
First, technology is in a stare of constant, rapid flux. So that’s a major challenge—even for people who spend all of their time trying to understand technology.
Sadly, the best way to improve one’s instincts about which tech trends will prevail long enough to make it worth the effort to leverage them is…
Swing a lot of cats by the tail.
Back when I was starting to use technology there weren’t a lot of other people to learn from. Hence, I suffered a lot of scratches.
I’m not complaining. It worked out to my advantage in the long run. But you don’t have to suffer the way that I did.
That’s because now there are more opportunities for you to learn how to make effective use of technology (which—theoretically—means you’ll get scratched less).
I say “theoretically” because the odds are still high that you’ll wind up swinging a cat by the tail when you try to use technology to improve your practice.
Why is that?!
Well, it’s because, unfortunately, too many of the “tech savvy” gurus aren’t adept at using their tech instincts to help lawyers learn how to use technology effectively.
And a lot of them of them have a dismissive attitude. They believe the best way for lawyers to use technology is just grab it by the tail and start swinging.
I believe that’s ridiculous advice.
I’m sure you do too.
Because the only thing worse than learning a hard lesson on your own, is hiring a tech guru who “teaches” you hard lessons via bad advice.