You Can Learn New Tricks

Kathy Fortin

July 2, 2018

My husband and I recently bought a new car, after trading in my favorite ten and a half year old car.  The decision came after about two years of thinking when the time would be right to say goodbye to my German-made vehicle. There was nothing wrong with my car, which made the decision harder. I wanted to act preemptively, before any four-digit repair bill struck. After all, I like to plan and prepare before crisis strikes.

When the “looking around” process began, my husband and I realized that cars have changed a lot in more than a decade. Not only the styles and designs have changed, but the change in features was huge. Our old car has no side driver assists, navigation system, or even a computer screen. These are only the basics, while some models are gearing towards full driver assists, like vibrating steering wheels when you cross a center line.

Becoming educated on the cars of 2018, we grew nervous about all these changes. We began to cling to what we knew—our nearly eleven year old car—still good looking and running like new (to us). “Maybe we’ll keep it until it dies.” I thought. Then, the looming big repair bills brought me back to my original thought. Act now, before that happens. So, we did. We looked around more, got comfortable with what we would like and made a choice we both felt comfortable with. The new car has fast become our second favorite car.

Feeling this experience relates to embracing change makes me think of how hard we see it is for law firms to make changes to their old ways of doing things. I offer these thoughts:

  1. Change is not as scary as you think and it is a process.  Learning what you need to know makes making decisions easier.
  2. It is easier to slip back to the old ways rather than embrace the new. I came close to holding onto “good ol Bessie, but let that idea go.
  3. Trying something new is exciting. Even if it is just buying a new car, the feeling of exploring and learning felt good.
  4. Weighing the risks is important. I worried about a future repair bill which could have been costly and weighed that risk in our decision making. The age-old question of when to trade in a car has no easy answer, but you have to decide.

 As I think further about how all of this applies to law firms, I think of the fear of change that many of our law firm clients feel. I recall one firm that called in the moment of crisis and was ready to fall apart. This is the risk I make reference to. Do not wait too long before addressing problems, doing the work and making decisions. Maybe part of the solution is to call a consultant.  But, dealing with your firm issues is necessary. Like my old car, law firms don’t necessarily last forever.