February 2008

I have had several requests to post an update on Valorem.  Is it working?  What have I learned? 

It is working.  I’ve learned a lot.  Thanks for asking.

Okay, that’s a pretty thin answer.  But humor is really important in a start-up.  We were fortunate to start with a full plate of work.  We issued a press release to announce our formation and got huge coverage in the press, especially the electronic press.  That press resulted in a number of calls, which have led to some new work.  We’re now in a position to think about hiring another lawyer.

One thing I’ve learned about a start-up is that client work is only one piece of the puzzle.  There’s so much to do, from space planning to technology implementation to marketing and everything in between.  More than once, we’ve resorted to the image of a one-armed paper hanger.

We expect another senior partner-level person to be joining us in about 6 weeks or so, which ought to coincide with the launch of our full web-site (we’ve a one-page temporary site up now) and some new marketing efforts as well.  Time and energy permitting. 

With all the recent hub-bub about great writing and speechifying, my friends at What About Clients? showed great timing with yesterday’s piece on great writing.  After providing a rock-solid example of good editing of an overally legalistic contract, Dan Hull concluded with this imagery:

    Either [editing alternative] would save trees, ink and space, be more to the point–and would help diminish the image of the self-important "I’m-special" lawyer rocking back and forth in his chair and talking to himself like a mental patient.

I’ll never be able to read bad writing by a lawyer without this imaging seizing my brain.  Thanks Dan.

Sometimes things go viral.  Sometime ago, I wrote about a slideshow set to music that became known as "Did You Know."  The show has been viewed well over two million times.  Earlier this week, I was emailed a link to a song about Barack Obama.  This is a song written and recorded after Obama gave a speech following the New Hampshire primary vote on January 8th.  I have no idea how many people have seen this song on Dipdive, but I checked it on on YouTube. Over 5 million people have viewed the song in its various downloads.  (Interestingly, only 250,000 have seen the actual speech on YouTube.)  It took a week or so for the song to be written and a couple of more days to record it and edit, so the song has been on YouTube for less than 3 weeks–and it has more than 5 million hits.  Viral.

Without regard to the political issues, the question that I’ve been pondering is what makes something go viral?  I don’t recall any briefs, Supreme Court or not, that have gotten this kind of play.  I don’t know of any law firm websites that have gone viral (even just within the legal community).  Why is that, I wonder.  Do we focus on precision and "technically correct" at the expense of soul and effectiveness?  Have any of us created a presentation as interesting and compelling as Steve Jobs’ launch of the I-phone?  Though we specialize as communicators, are we more puff than real?

I am going to spend some time pondering this.  But I would love to hear what you think about it.