What Lawyers Can Learn From Steve Jobs

At Justia, we mourn the passing of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, a technical genius, marketing wizard, and superstar par excellence.

Most lawyers are familiar with at least a few Apple products. They play with them outside of work, and may be fortunate enough to use them in their practice.

Law firms can learn a thing or two from Apple:

  1. Do An Outstanding Job For Your Clients

    Litigators who’ve been around the courthouse have probably heard the adage, “you’re only as good as your last client.” If you don’t do well by that client, word can get around, no matter how much time, energy, and effort you put into their matter.

    Apple embodies that belief with all its products. If your iPhone or computer doesn’t work, the company knows that you are likely to have some pretty negative thoughts about this experience, and even consider switching to another company’s products.

    If your client complains to you, they are much more likely to complain to family, friends, and colleagues too. That’s not good for business.

  2. Never Forget the Details

    To Apple, there are no ‘small’ things. Their products are designed to work together seamlessly and flawlessly. Every component has a place in the grand scheme.

    The same is true for the contracts lawyers write, the oral arguments they make in court, and the painstaking research they do for their clients. Every paragraph, every bullet point, and every case must have a reason for being there. If not, clear your head, and try again and again until you get it right.

  3. Be a Brilliant Salesperson

    Steve Jobs was a brilliant salesman. When he introduced a new product, consumers worldwide waited anxiously for Jobs to tell them what they needed. By the time he was halfway through his keynote speech, people already knew that they wanted the new Apple product.

    A lawyer’s ability to sell their legal services is equally as important. Potential clients frequently contact you at a critical time in their lives: a loved one was seriously injured; they just learned that their spouse is unfaithful; they face drunk driving charges; their boss is sexually harassing them; or they fear losing their home.

    Potential clients want a lawyer who listens to them, has experience, and can talk with them in a language they understand. That means no legalese. You need to convince them that your legal services have extraordinary value.

    Can you explain to clients how you helped them save time, money, or protected their legal rights? Practice doing it in the mirror. If you can’t convince yourself, you’ve got some work to do.

  4. Do What You Love, and Do It Exceptionally Well

    Apple never made telephones, but when they finally decided to, they made what may be the best smartphone ever. Why the delay? They didn’t want to simply do what other companies did. That’s just not the Apple way.

    Lawyers, take note: you shouldn’t take every case that walks in the door. Some will have legal merit, but many will be of doubtful value. Others may require so much time that they would detract from your obligations to existing clients.

  5. Think Different

    Apple’s ‘Think Different‘ ad campaign is legendary. Lawyers need to think outside the box too (while staying within the law). “Because the people who think they are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do.”