Tuesday, June 21, 2016


When you grow up as the child of a nurse, you go into the world armed with a lot of information that is useful, petrifying, and some of it fun at parties.

Nurses tend to diagnose everyone and share the findings at Thanksgiving dinner, when they meet your prom date, and with other parents on the bleachers at baseball games. If two or more of them are together you can pretty much leave them alone for hours as they share war stories.  The favorite refrain being, “Does this bother you.?  Guess I don’t think anything of it.”

She’d leave the house for a double shift with chores written in shorthand and with the understanding that if she didn’t work, we didn’t eat. So if I’m sick, I BETTER be sick. 

Being a kid with asthma stinks, but has its advantages.  If you don’t want to do something anymore you just say you cant breath and you sort of get a pass.  However, the 2 or 4 am rushes to Broward General weren’t as fun.  The drug of choice, which has since been banned, was Primatene Mist.  When that didn’t work and mom needed a solution at 2 am, she first reached for pepper.  I’d sniff it and start sneezing like crazy. This would probably get a call from DCF now, but the simple solution was to sneeze a lot, clear my head, calm down, and breathe again.

When you are a kid with asthma, you grow up to be an adult that doesn’t take breaths for granted.  You try and fail and learn and succeed but thinking it to death is like having pepper when you cant breath and waiting for clinical trials on a wonder drug.

Years later I had “outgrown” asthma.   Travelling in Arizona at 2 am something hit me though.  Something in the environment that shot my eyes wide open and took me back 25 years.  Desperate for air, no inhaler in site.  My back hurt from the gasping.  Emergency room in a foreign city, deep Tony Robbins cleansing breathes, or get downstairs and find some pepper. 

I walked toward the door and looked to the counter.  You would have thought that I was Scarface as I poured the 2 small packets out and went all Martin Short in Inner space to sneeze (good luck ever tying those two movies together again)

Firms spend a lot of money on people that “know more” and promise solutions.  Is your firm gasping for air?  Maybe the attorney that you had in mind to take over just left. Your growth is based on bringing on more people with revenue.  Trim a group.  It’s all ways to catch your breath.

Sometimes desperation seeks the simple solution, and knowing the symptoms makes it easier to find the cure.

Does your practice need a miracle cure or do you just need to catch your breath?

Let me pass you the pepper..

Andrew Wilcox at (850) 629-9073, or Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Think for a moment about the great law firms that you know. Why are they great?

Now think of the best attorneys that you know (other than yourself of course). Why are they great?

In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek asserts that the organizations that outpace all others start with the Why (Purpose), then ask How (Process), and end up with What (Result).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sioZd3AxmnE

However, law firms and potential lateral candidates usually are at inverse ends of this model. 

Law firms want to know “what” portable business an attorney has.  If it’s big enough, then “how” is it built.  Types of clients, practice areas, bill rates, leverage.  If a candidate passes through those hoops then, “Why” would they be lucky enough to join such an amazing law firm as ours filled with such legally skilled rainmaking firepower.

The question becomes, why would anyone that has that kind of practice and book of business ever be compelled to leave their firm?  Certainly, firms do their homework.  They know what the market bears in compensation.  Some pay higher base, lower bonus.  Others pay lower base, higher bonus, but the days of going across the street for substantially more on a book of business are fewer and fewer.  In fact, so many firms have been burned on promised or historical revenue that the chances are you may have to take the same or less than you currently make.

Past performance doesn’t guarantee future success as the stock disclaimer reads.  Firms are buying a snapshot of when an attorney is trading at their highest returns, rather than picking based on fundamentals and investing in their professional growth.

The attorneys that make the move have to know WHY. WHY is the story that reduces the risk.  The painting of the picture in that firms model that gets them from where they are to where they want to be. The How and What of a firm is a Google search. Websites with city pictures, attorneys smiling looking busy while standing in front of bookshelves, and accolades.  Drop down boxes with office locations, practice areas, and snappy graphics. 

Chances are when I asked, why you thought a firm was great, it wasn’t because they have 20 offices and a thousand attorneys.

Just like when you think of a great attorney, it probably has little to do with their revenue.

The WHY is the alignment of firm and attorney with culture, values, aspirations, practice, clients, colleagues, etc.  It’s not the secret sauce, it’s the reason for the secret sauce.

With more firms going to a teaming approach, less certainty can be given on who and what clients would leave with anyone.  Smart if you are the firm, but it also means that they are going after a shrinking percentage of legitimate rainmakers that everyone else is trying to lure.

Last week I spoke with an AM Law 50 client that gets it.  They said find us the best talent that we can catch on the way up, and we will give them the resources or the “how” and we will watch “what” grows.  That takes time and investment.  A 10-20 year vision rather than a 1-3 year.

Clients can buy WHAT you do from a variety of attorneys.  Firms can hire rainmakers for HOW they develop their business.  Both can be commoditized.  If you don’t believe me, raise your bill rate by $100/ hour or demand a big raise.

Silek states “People don’t buy what you do.  They buy WHY you do it.”
So WHY do you do it, and are you with a firm that gets it?

Andrew Wilcox at (850) 629-9073, or Andrew@Wilcox-legal.com