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The perfect match?

The legal world could embrace the ‘specific formula’ approach encouraged by a revolutionary dating app.

Business lessons for law firms can come from surprising places.

You may or may not have heard of the dating app Tinder. Perhaps you’ve even tried it. I certainly have as a 30-something singleton in London and I have also spotted a few familiar faces from within the sector on there too (don’t worry your secret is safe with me).There has been a lot of talk recently about how Tinder has revolutionised the dating world. The easy-to-use app has taken a completely new approach to linking up singles, identifying the ways in which former dating platforms have fallen short and mercilessly exploiting them.The result? Well the Tinder CEO claimed in March 2014 that the app had already achieved a billion matches.The clever thing about Tinder is that it is a truly ‘now’ approach to the world of online dating.It is mobile-only – in the form of an app – and works using location services to find nearby potential matches. It is dating in its simplest form – a right swipe if you like the look of someone, a left swipe if you don’t – and it has cleverly captured the way millenials like to interact.The reasons why we might download and start using the Tinder app are plentiful (and probably best not explored in too much depth here) but the principal motivation is basically to make a ‘match’. Essentially, flicking through the photos and brief profile details are all leading to one thing and that’s the user finding a face that they like the look of to see if that attraction is mutual.It might surprise you to learn that there are some similar systems in the legal market – not for creating love matches but for forging attractive working partnerships.There are some interesting similarities between spending 10 minutes flicking through profiles on Tinder, based on your current geographical location, and turning the pages of the Legal 500 in the practice area in which you’re looking for your ‘match’.Okay, so Tinder doesn’t offer rankings (it would presumably open up all sorts of opportunities for controversy if they did…), but the action is similar – a brief judgement based on nothing more than a quick appraisal of potential. So, where do the other parallels lie?First impressions matter – and if they are wrong can rule you out – but don’t judge a book by its cover. With Tinder it’s often very easy to get drawn in by a pretty or handsome face – that is of course the purpose of the app.However, we all know that a photo is really just the tip of the iceberg and that alone won’t provide enough information to really determine a genuine match. Similarly, when browsing for law firms, directories are a great way to spot potentials, which then need to be whittled down to ‘the one’ through some actual contact.Do you have a ‘type’? Whether you’re swiping right on Tinder or a client marking pages in theLegal 500, it’s likely that we all have a specific formula we respond to every time. It could be ‘tall, dark and handsome’ or ‘American, City-based firm with an insurance leaning’. Sometimes, however, it’s worth looking outside that automatic response for a match that brings something new to the table.Dating around. With such a plentiful supply of potential candidates there’s just no need to settle for the first one that looks like they might fit the bill.Being wined and dined, networking and spending time with a number of different options and taking the time to get to know a potential choice before making the final decision are all part of making sure that you have a match that could create a lasting relationship – with your lawyers or a potential other half.Whether you’re looking for the perfect love match or the perfect law match, some similar rules apply.And remember, if you start to feel after a couple of meets like you’re just not getting the attention you deserve then it might be time to move on – maybe they’re just not that into you after all…*This post first appeared in The Law Gazette*

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