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TLI.jpgWhen I chatted with The Legal Intelligencer’s Lizzy McLellan about Small Firms Look to Attract Middle Class With Flat Rates (TLI, May 6, 2016), she asked me about a law firms’ initiative that touted (in a press release) an original and unique attempt to target the middle class through the firm’s website. Unfortunately, I may have burst her (and that firms’) bubble when I said there was little unique about the website offering and less original about using the Internet to target this massive potential audience.

But it did get us talking about how much of a role the Internet has played in providing legal services options to middle-income individuals and families when it comes to estate planning purposes and related consumer-driven practice areas. I also noted that services from entities such as LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer and Avvo often were competing with them, although in many instances, they are funneling work back to the same lawyers through various marketing initiatives.

For law firms, success on the web is driven by the power and credibility of their websites, paired with a combination of organic search results and paid online advertising–often a combination of both. But you can expect to spend on quality Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to win the battle of reaching your target audience. Make no mistake, I sit with law firms that are only targeting high wealth or possibly only targeting low wealth (more about quantity in numbers than quality of a matter).

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Thumbnail image for LP_Today_Logo-e1401945551625.pngPerhaps it is sad to think that customer or client service has gotten so bad of late that highlighting those that do it well should not be necessary, but it is. So many companies send us off to automated web and voice mail systems, force us to chat with folks half way around the globe that can’t speak the language too well and are flummoxed when forced off script, or in some cases show they simply don’t care. Where I live, Comcast’s monopoly means that no matter what happens I’m still a customer. When disgruntled with some experiences on Priceline, I simply took my business elsewhere. And in most cases, law firm clients can choose to do the same.

So when the service you receive is particularly personalized, attentive and caring, you practically go into shock. In serving as an issue editor for the Marketing-themed April 2016 edition of Law Practice Today (LPT), I contributed a feature story on Client Retention–It’s All in the Listening, which reminds us attorneys just how simple it can be to provide the type of client service that is both memorable and ensures repeat business. Taking some of my favorite personal recent examples–Kimpton’s Monaco chain for hotel travel, my long-time dentist Dr. Robert Marchinek, and two of the top Philadelphia restaurants in Bibou and Helm, I show how some simple listening and responsiveness goes much further than any sophisticated business development game plan can. It is all in the listening. See where you might fall in comparison to knowing the “personal” side of your clients.

With nearly 18 features and columns, the marketing issue of LPT is full of great ideas. In gathering articles for the issue, I thought about what I wanted to hear about and from whom. So I hit up some of the leading experts in the business to teach me something.

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Delaware.jpgWhen I started HTMLawyers in 2001, my first significant client turned out to be a fast-growing law firm in Wilmington, Delaware. A colleague in American Bar Association circles, Heather Jefferson, had asked me what I was up to at an Annual Meeting. Her response was that she had the perfect firm for me to work with. She was right. And my relationship with the Delaware legal market was underway.

At that time–despite growing up not too far south in Baltimore and attending college and law school an hour north in Philadelphia–I knew little about Delaware outside of visiting my cousin Peter, a Rabbi in Wilmington, and the great value of no sales tax.

In the 15-plus years since, I have become well acquainted with the Delaware legal marketplace. There is quite simply a uniqueness to the practice of law in Delaware that makes it different from every place else. I’ve had the pleasure of working at some point in time with most of the more prestigious law firms in town. And I’m not kissing up when I tell you that they are some of my favorite people in the business. The Delaware practice boasts some of the best and most sophisticated corporate and bankruptcy practitioners in the land. There are few courts held in higher regard than Chancery. And, for the most part, with few exceptions, I’ve enjoyed handling various aspects of business and professional development for them. I enjoy my days in Wilmington and grabbing some tax-free goods on the way home.

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law360.jpgIn today’s Law360, reporter Matthew Bultman writes on How to Manage the Millennial Lawyer. This is certainly one of the years’ hottest law firm management topics, and my interview with Matthew came on the heels of my panel participation in Bridging the Generational Divide: How Millennials Can Communicate with Baby Boomers and Succeed in the Workplace at the recent ABA Business Law Spring Meeting in Montreal.

“Running a major law firm has always had its challenges, but firm leaders in recent years have found themselves facing a new question: how to best manage millennials, a tech-savvy generation that values flexibility and wants meaning in work,” writes Bultman. “The truth of stereotypes around millennials — that they’re entitled, job hoppers, nonconformist — is debatable. But what is true, according to the Pew Research Center, is that the generation now makes up the largest section of the workforce.”

“You can’t keep things status quo or business as usual,” said Micah Buchdahl, the president of law marketing company HTMLawyers Inc. “There is a realization in BigLaw that you have to make these shifts if you’re going to attract the same caliber of talent you always have. A failure to do that will not put you in the market for the best talent that’s out there.”

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millenials2.jpgWhat do Baby Boomers expect from millennials in the workplace? How can and should millennials act in the workplace while still preserving their values? This program focuses on how millennials can communicate with Baby Boomers and other generations in a way that is collaborative and allows junior lawyers to thrive.

This diverse panel discussion features five attorneys coming at this hot law practice topic from different roles, ages, geographic locations and career experiences. Join Micah Buchdahl, President, HTMLawyers, Inc., Moorestown, NJ and fellow panelists Jonathan Stemerman, Shareholder, Elliott Greenleaf, P.C., Wilmington, DE; Jared Perez, Shareholder, Wiand Guerra King PA, Tampa, FL; Amy L. Drushal, Shareholder, Trenam Law, Tampa, FL; and Lauren Rikleen, Boston, MA for what should be a provocative and enlightening two hour conversation.

The CLE program takes place as part of the ABA Business Law Spring Meeting on Friday, April 8, 2016 at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, Canada.

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LPcover_MarApr2016.jpgIn the March/April 2016 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, my column asks the question: Do Lawyers Rule the Internet? Well, I would not ask the question if the answer did not lean toward “yes.”

With the 30th anniversary of ABA TECHSHOW on the horizon (and this is the TECHSHOW issue of the magazine), I examine the role that technology has played on the marketing and delivery of legal services. Google AdWord sales in 2015 approached $70 billion–and with 78 of the 100 most expensive keywords belonging to the legal profession, you realize just the impact the Internet has had on the practice of law, and vice-versa.

Throw in the changing landscape of social media, including changes LinkedIn made to accommodate attorneys (and the rules of professional conduct), and you can judge for yourself–do we indeed rule the web?

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LPcover_JanFeb2016.jpgIn the January/February 2016 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, I was asked to put on my ethics attorney hat in authoring Struggling with Ethics Issues Surrounding Branded Networks. Issue Editor Nick Gaffney asked me to write this sidebar in a magazine dedicated to the theme of branded legal networks–a huge topic of discussion in law practice management.

There is not a more controversial area of lawyer marketing when it comes to interpretation and enforcement of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) than the issues that arise from the ever-growing legion of branded networks in the legal profession. From Avvo and Justia to Best Lawyers and a slew of entities that may or may not be “lead generation,” the issues, rules and opinions vary from state to state. They remain…consistently inconsistent. One thing is for sure, these companies are not going anywhere. The question is where they end up fitting in the long term approach to business development among attorneys.

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ABA_Lead_Law.pngIn the December issue of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Today, I recap the inaugural ABA Lead Law program, a lawyer leadership conference presented by the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Division.

I had the pleasure of being asked to serve as Vice Chair of the ABA Lead Law planning committee, but it was chair Tom Grella who really saw this program through from start to finish. The one day program offered varying perspectives on how attorneys lead and need to lead in their firms and in the profession as a whole.

Read the article for a recap of the speakers and their respective topics. To access the program and materials, visit ABA Lead Law.

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LPcover_novdec2015.jpgIt was watching and reading news coverage from the aftermath of the deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia earlier this year that my marketing column topic came to light. Usually the theme finds me, and in this case, with each press conference, e-mail, press release and newspaper article–it occurred to me that Content Marketing is Outpacing the Ethics Rules (ABA’s Law Practice magazine, November/December 2015).

You can put this column under “Marketing” or “Ethics.” It works out well for my areas of focus. I spend the bulk of my time working with law firms on business development efforts. But I also maintain a niche ethics practice that only looks at marketing and advertising issues. Perhaps you will read this column and think of it as an ethics primer. Or you might read it and gain ideas and insight into marketing for a plaintiff’s practice. Before submitting my final draft to the Law Practice editors, I decided that I needed some differing perspectives beyond my own. The result was some hefty editing based on those thoughts. You’ll read some comments from the ethics attorney I myself turn to for advice, Tom Spahn of McGuireWoods. Some differing views came from my fellow LP columnist, Greg Siskind, who was focused on the value of content. A few unnamed ethics friends gave me some additional feedback and direction.

A number of pieces from The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s law firm beat writer Chris Mondics touched on many aspects of what I reference in his coverage of the Amtrak disaster–and the issues surrounding “the race for clients.” The simple speed of selecting counsel in today’s society–ramped up through social media and related technology tools–means that an attorney seeking a piece of this very lucrative pie needs to get moving fast. You might argue that your marketing needs to arrive before the actual matter at hand. The most successful lawyers in this space have figured out how to generate promotional opportunities without violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. If you are waiting for the dust to settle–as the 30-day moratorium was built to provide–you will find yourself a day late to the game.

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ABA_Logo.pngMicah U. Buchdahl of Moorestown, New Jersey has been appointed chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education (SCOCLE), the entity that oversees CLE for the largest professional organization of lawyers in the world. Buchdahl, president of the law marketing consultancy HTMLawyers, was appointed by ABA president Paulette Brown.

READ PRESS RELEASE HERE

“There are numerous critical issues surrounding the continuing legal education of attorneys,” said Buchdahl. “They include diversity of faculty, consistency of educational requirements from state to state, how lawyers should best be positioned to meet CLE requirements and how bar associations are best positioned to deliver them.”