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I was in the airport in San Antonio not too long ago when I noticed him. He was about 30, dressed in Nordstrom corporate casual, and wearing an Apollo 11 cell phone headset as he spoke to some unseen Mission Controller light years away. “Well,” he said in utter seriousness, “we just can’t visualize the metrics of this until we evaluate the granularity we get from the data mining.” He went on like this for at least 20 minutes, grousing over granularity and musing over metrics with his unseen coadjutor until his flight got called or his compatriot’s spacecraft went into hyperspace or something. All in all, it was a pretty dazzling performance. I would have consigned this incident to that general mental filing cabinet reserved for stuff such as knowing that the world’s largest prairie dog is made of concrete and located in Oakley, Kan., or that oral argument in the famous 1819 U.S. Supreme Court case of Dartmouth College v. Woodward took six days, if it wasn’t for an incident a couple of days later. My son, Sam, has a bud whose dad works at one of the big consulting firms. We’ve known Brent and his dad for ages through a combination of Indian Guides — oops, Y-Guides — school and sports teams. Brent’s dad went to Louisiana State University, is pretty low-key and about as likely to be in an old pair of shorts and a T-shirt as work clothes. Dads in the tribe are “bro” in his speak. Anyway, I thought it would be neighborly to see if I couldn’t shoot some expert witness work his way. So, I called looking for someone who could be a consulting expert on a case I’ve got going on right now. Brent’s dad wasn’t in, so I left a voicemail describing what I needed and who was involved. Imagine my surprise, therefore, when he left me a voicemail more or less as follows: “I’ve reached out to my partners to determine whether we can capture suitable expertise for this project. I’ll advise soon.” Not long after that, I got a call from someone who referred to herself as his “E.A.” asking when would be a convenient time for a conference call and did I wish my E.A. to be involved? It took me about 10 minutes to figure out that my E.A. was a reference to Nancy, my faithful scribe of nearly 14 years and that E.A. meant “executive assistant.” SWOT ANALYSIS It took about one more minute for the big epiphany to hit. After mining some data, necking it down and examining its granularity, I realized Milspeak is out and Consultalk is in. Yes, your cutting edge now-go-milk-those-hourly-rates kind of guy no longer talks like the CentCom public affairs officer. He or she now talks like a consultant. In other words, unless you can talk like a project principal at Cardiaccenture or another of the big concerns that advertise on all of the billboards at airports not being used by firms and steakhouses, stick to J.P. Court. You are a bottom feeder in the pond of fees. I know you don’t want that, so let’s take a few minutes and evolve some strategies for modulating through this paradigm shift. See how easy it is? First, only guys whose hobby is Beanie Babies collect anything any more. Consultants mine. They mine data. They mine demographics. They mine everything because mining is more difficult, more value-enhancing. When you mine data, it makes you into a John-Henry-is-a-steel-driving kind of fee generator. Used in a sentence: “The data mining we performed on our opponent’s e-discovery yielded a number of important admissions.” If you can’t mine, capture. “Capture,” well, captures the metaphysical side of a consultant’s efforts to rip the very sinews out of a problem and wrestle it into submission. Consultants search for skills to capture like the martial artists look for the spirit of chi. “We captured the expertise necessary to measure the throughput or their damage modeling,” says the knowledgeable attorney, knowing that captured throughput expertise is Consultalk for, “Big bucks! No whammies!” With the mining and capturing done, we’ll need some analysts, but not just any analysts. We’ll need the SWOT team. SWOT, and I am not making this up, stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It’s obvious even to the most dunderheaded I-don’t-bank-online kind of guy that a SWOT analysis is pretty awesome. When you tell a client they need a SWOT analysis, you open the door for your team of highly differentiated microspecialists, the consulting equivalent of microbreweries, to barge their way into a client’s business, allowing you and your firm to leverage the throughput, increasing your own market differentiation and bringing more to the bottom line. For Mr. or Ms. Attorney, say it this way: “Our SWOT analysis suggests a low level of jury throughput when their data is assimilated.” But you say the client wants accuracy. Well, bucko, accuracy may count but it also costs because you can’t be accurate unless you capture the metrics and granularity of the data, both essential steps to optimized throughput. You might think that a metric is a standard of measurement, but it isn’t, because we’re talking about the plural here, not the singular. It has to do with dimension or magnitude. So does granularity, although that is a little more obvious when you think about it. So far as I can tell, metrics and granularity are Consultalk for, “size matters,” which is true. The size of my fees matters very much, so there’s not a client on my list who isn’t going to be worrying over metrics and granularity about 10 seconds after I get done with this. Worry means work. And for those skeptics out there who don’t think Consultalk works, I already have proof positive of how value-enhancing it can be. Ever since she’s been called an E.A., Nancy has been asking for a bigger salary and bonus. I rest my case. At Winstead Sechrest & Minick in Dallas, granularity is what happens when someone spills sugar on the floor by one of the coffee makers. That’s why the metrics and throughput of Tom Alleman, a shareholder in the environmental practice group in the firm’s Dallas office, aren’t necessary those of the firm, its clients or the National Sugar Cane Growers Association. “Cert Denied” appears monthly in Texas Lawyer.

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