Think you can't think outside the box? Think again

Posted on Mon, Feb. 04, 2008

Special to The Miami Herald

Last Friday I lead a seminar on new idea development -- how to make new ideas come to life. I believe that a person is worth his weight in gold if he can identify a real problem and then focus on and create a valuable idea to resolve the problem.

''I don't see how I can come up with a new idea!'' That remark caught me by surprise. ``I'm a lawyer, and our profession has constraints that make new ideas almost impossible.''

So I asked, ``Would you agree that finding a lawyer is difficult?''

''Not really. All anybody has to do is go to the Yellow Pages,'' the lawyer replied.

Later on, in order to examine that assumption, I went to the Yellow Pages. There I found 136 pages of attorney advertising.

You could create a short list from the 136 pages, selecting candidates by reading ads to identify practice areas. Next you could consult with your top candidates before making your final choice, asking questions about their qualifications. Supposing you have to fork over $50 a pop for the half-hour consultations with five lawyers, you will have spent $250, plus the value of your time.

Then I remembered some people go to the Florida Bar for recommendations.

The Florida Bar, at, provides a pdf pamphlet, ''How to Find a Lawyer in Florida.'' They suggest, ``When you hire a lawyer, the lawyer will be working for you. He or she should be genuinely interested in your problem and in giving you the best possible advice.''

Looking for a referral in Miami, I went to the Dade County Bar Association ( That is where I learned attorneys conduct an initial half-hour office consultation for $50. But unfortunately the referral service wasn't working.

Now I began to understand why so many attorney searches are resolved by asking a friend to recommend a lawyer who successfully resolved a similar problem.

I focused on facts: Finding an attorney in Miami-Dade County is a frustrating and expensive process. This understanding helped me identify and confirm the prevalence of a real problem.

How can this process could be simplified, made less expensive and more effective? Are there others out there who have already seen and solved this problem?

I knew about They do not provide legal counsel. They target people who have simple legal document needs but don't want to spend the time or the money, at $250 an hour, to consult an attorney.

Through Google I discovered several online client/lawyer-matching services. I preferred -- it's free, fast, easy to use and protects your privacy.

You create a case presentation by answering questions just as a lawyer would during an initial consultation. Lawyers interested in your case presentation respond to you with a personal message detailing their experience and fee structure. You compare each lawyer's capabilities, fees, and educational and professional affiliations and contact the one you feel will best resolve your case.

My conclusions: Lawyers are developing valuable ideas. There are customer-friendly services that now are matching client and lawyer, working within the constraints of the highly regulated legal profession.

And, you too can create valuable ideas! Check out my Idea Path. Then put on your creative hat and begin gathering ideas!