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September 07, 2005

So, read any good books this summer?

Colleagues back east say I've been in California too long because the business books I talk up seem always to be about "client relationships" and "corporate culture" issues. They lean more to biographies of business leaders or books on management and business strategies. I like those kinds of books, too, but it's true: in my short time here, I've grown to respect the let's-try-this openness of California. The state fairly revels in its role as the nation's main laboratory and clearinghouse for new ideas. They range from the sublime to the hopelessly lame.

However, one issue -- delivering services to a client -- has been a constant coast-to-coast favorite item of discussion under a variety of names for the past 15 years. Usually you see it under the rubric of quality control for companies which mix products with specific services, or under the maxim that all businesses are really service businesses. Even we lawyers will talk about quality service -- although not enough, which is the reason I launched this blog.

The following five books changed the way (big time) I thought about delivering legal services to clients:

Harry Beckwith, Selling The Invisible (Warner Business Books 1997)
Top-drawer legal work alone won't cut it. Even your best client is irrational in much of its behavior. Leave rigid logic at the door.

Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work (Tarcher/Putnam 1996)
Your client and its world will continue to change.

Richard D. Lewis, When Cultures Collide: Managing Successfully Across Cultures (Nicholas Brealey Pub./London 1999)
Your client or its adversary could be from Germany, Brazil, China or Turkey.

Jay Foonberg, How to Get and Keep Good Clients (Nat’l Academy of Law Ethics & Management, Inc. 1986)
Your client will keep coming back if you use your common sense. Foonberg has that in spades.

Karl Llewellyn, Bramble Bush (Oceana Pub. 1960)
You still have to be a lawyer -- and it's hard.

Let me know if you have books you'd like to add to this list. I would love to know what you are reading and what books you think are good.

Posted by JD Hull at September 7, 2005 11:00 AM


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