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How Lawyers Can Channel Their 'Inner Steve Jobs'

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on November 10, 2011 5:45 AM

When Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs passed away this year, the technology world mourned.

Jobs was a man who not only saved Apple from an untimely demise, but introduced gadget-hungry individuals (including attorneys) to the iPod, iPad, iPhone, and whole slew of personal computers.

Attorneys might wonder how to channel their inner Steve Jobs. In fact, there was a recent article written about this very idea in the ABA Journal. But below is an original take on some lessons we can learn from the Silicon Valley giant's life.

Make something insanely great - or offer it.

Jobs, in 1984, called one of his early Mac computers "insanely great." It was, at its time, a cutting edge piece of technology. Attorneys don't innovate new products. But who's to say they can't innovate new legal arguments? Some of the most difficult cases require out-of-the-box thinking, which is what much of Jobs' career exemplified.

"Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of the life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?"

Jobs said this famous line to John Sculley, ex-CEO of Apple who was president of PepsiCo at the time. Sure, Sculley and Apple's board ended up stripping Jobs of his decision making power, which eventually led to his resignation. But, the quote is thought-provoking to say the least. Inspire others, and you might find yourself changing the world.

"Think Different."

In the mid-90s, Jobs rolled out an advertising campaign with this tagline. It probably helped the iMac become one of the best-selling computers in all of America. The line also rings true for lawyers. If you're working on your business strategy, or a new approach to a case, think differently. Don't just do what your competitors do.

Fill a niche market.

Part of Apple's success was its ability to fill a void for consumers. With the iPod, Apple responded with iTunes so that consumers could get relatively cheap - and legal - mp3 downloads. For the iPhone, Apple created the App Store. For your legal practice, you might want to consider what's lacking and how you can fill it.

If you're interested in learning more about Job's life, you might want to consider reading Walter Isaacson's biography. But one thing is true: you don't necessarily need to be a business executive to channel your inner Steve Jobs.

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