Insulting Speech Describes E-Myth for Attorneys

Michael Gerber, law firm marketing, legal marketingI can save you from spending $16 and reading 178 pages. I just heard Michael Gerber speak about his book The E-Myth Attorney: Why Most Legal Practices Don't Work and What to Do About It. He addressed the Las Vegas Marketing Summit of PILMMA, the Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association, this afternoon.

Here's Gerber's thesis: most lawyers are technicians who focus only on their work, and end up spending thousands of hours taking appointments and practicing law. The smarter approach is to systematize what you do and hire other people to operate the system.

Duh. Isn't that why law firms hire associates? His formula sounds like a plan to create a legal mill. We know how much fun it is to work at an attorney mill.

Gerber wore a silly white hat, insulted the audience and called attendees "stupid," ordered attendees to write down what he just said, yelled at the top of his lungs, didn't finish his points, repeated catchphrases in triplicate and freely used obscenities. Other than that he's a great speaker.

"When Ray Kroc started McDonald's, he didn’t make hamburgers, fries or malts. Mr. Walton who created Wal-Mart didn’t run a store. Michael Dell didn’t personally sell computers. The owner of the store was in the corporate headquarters, where they managed the store. They had a system that worked," Gerber said. "The business didn't depend on their work." He didn't explain what a lawyer's system should look like, but you can find out by attending his upcoming workshop.

"You’ve got to operate your business as a franchise. If you don’t treat it that way you can’t scale it and you can’t grow it, because you can’t scale yourself. The people run the system, and the system runs the business," he said. I'm not convinced that selling legal services is like selling hamburgers.

He makes sense at some level, and I may use this approach if I ever restart my sales training business. It's a great thesis for people who enjoy managing other people and not actually doing the interesting work. But who likes managing people? It's a lot of performance reviews, settling fights between employees and attending long meetings. Most lawyers enjoy trying cases and drafting deals instead.

Gerber said you could follow his advice or shoot yourself in the head. Wowee, that's salesmanship. I expect some audience members were already considering slashing their wrists during the speech.

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Mitch Jackson - October 14, 2011 7:56 PM

Those that can do; those who can't, teach. The way I like to practice law is kind of like the way an artist might approach life. It's unique and personal. I do things my way and based upon my own unique talents. Imagine if Picasso and Rembrandt set up "systems" and made sure other people did all the drawings. We wouldn't even know their names. I'd rather be a legal Picasso than a no name CEO of a big company any day of the week. Relax and enjoy the weekend. Life's too short to get worked up about these kind of things :-)

Ian Brodie - October 15, 2011 8:40 AM

Perhaps someone sould have pointed out to Mr Gerber the irony of him being on stage, doing the work of his business himself rather than having systematised it, being sat in his corporate HQ and letting someone else go on stage for him.

There's lots of scope for legal production mills at the bottom end of the market. they'll probably eat a lot of small law firms alive. But at the top end, where you need the very best, the personal model that mr Gerber actually uses himself (rather than talks about) is where it's at.


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