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March 18, 2015

LPT -- Law Firm Management Struggles with Multigenerational Issues

LP_Today_Logo-e1401945551625.pngThe March 2015 issue of Law Practice Today (LPT) focuses on the theme of multigenerational and multicultural issues at law firms. As Editor in Chief of LPT, I wanted to also serve as the issue editor for this particular topic. It is an interesting one that seems to creep into conversations at my law firms and in bar activities on a daily basis. It is a struggle, and it simply can't be ignored.

Depending on the size and makeup of your firm, you might have traditionalists, baby boomers, generation X and Millennials in the mix. Many articles provide the definitions and traits tied to each. They often have little to do with the lawyer business and more to do with employers and employees in general. I've changed the "generations" around a bit to better identify with the real struggles that law firm management encounters--what I call the originals, "junior" senior partners, next-generation partners and the largest..."others" (entitled "not an equity partner and who cares?).

What this topic really addresses are underlying and overlying issues tied to attorneys of different ages and generations--work-life balance, dual-income households, retirement, telecommuting, technology, social media, the billable hour, nannies and au pairs, quality time with the kids, and materialism. Besides age, factors and issues related to race and gender become part of a firm's cultural makeup. It is one thing to fund a women's initiative and another to have female partners. It is great to have a diversity officer on staff, if the end result is actually diversity. Yet a complaint of many departing attorneys of varying diverse backgrounds is that the culture was simply not comfortable.

Hopefully, this article will resonate with conversations you've had at your firm about hiring, succession, communication and culture. It is not a quick, easy fix--but a philosophical approach that you choose to engage in.

March 5, 2015

LP Magazine -- Effectively Managing and Maintaining Your Online Portfolio

LPM_MA15_cover.jpgIn the March/April 2015 issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine, my topic is relevant to pretty much every practicing attorney (not to mention almost every human being on the planet). What does your online portfolio look like, and why should you care?

Every week, I will meet, speak with or e-mail a prospective client. While I will send them my own crafted biography, links to my website and blog, and additional information--what they will often be more interested in is what they find when doing a search for my name. With a somewhat unique first and last name, what they see will almost always be me. This is not the case with many that have more mainstream names to search for.

While some individuals and firms are forced to use reputation management companies to "fix" a page of results, most of us simply live with what we see. But the thought that you have no control over what appears is not accurate. Taking advantage of profile pages on powerful sites should help control that first page of results. Few will venture on to page two. Almost nobody will get to page three. And only stalkers are likely going beyond.

On this given day, I went and did what I try and do every few weeks--search for myself and see what pops. A Google search for Micah Buchdahl landed nearly 4,000 results--but only nine are on the all-important page one. Chances are pretty good that on the day you take a look, your results will vary. But here are today's top nine...

1. The bio page on my website at www.HTMLawyers.com.
2. My LinkedIn profile.
3. My bibliography of articles on Web Marketing Today.
4. My Twitter feed
5. My Facebook page
6. This blog (marketingattorney.com)
7. One of my many articles on Law Practice Today, where I serve as Editor in Chief.
8. My bio on the ABA Law Practice Division site.
9. A recent podcast on the Legal Talk Network.

Page two included Justia, Avvo, Google+ and others that often will show up on a first page. The bottom line is that while I don't "control" the page, the website, articles, speaking, blogging and social media profiles populate a page with positive results that enhance my portfolio. And when I ask you what your online portfolio might look like, make sure you know the answer. It could be the difference between being retained and getting passed over.

February 20, 2015

Ted Olson Keynotes ABA New Partner Institute in DC - April 17th

TOlson.jpgSince the inception of the ABA New Partner Institute in 2011, I have had the privilege of serving on the planning board and speaking on business development each year. While many law firms provide excellent professional development to its attorneys from summer associate through associate and ideally partnership, ABA New Partner provides something unique that you can't get in-house--different firm perspectives and philosophies, and the opportunity to network with fellow new partners from around the country--new partners eager to help one another build a bigger book of business.

This year, for the first time, New Partner moves to Washington, DC. And it is difficult to think of hearing from a bigger name partner than Ted Olson, and a more prestigious firm than Gibson Dunn.

For less than the cost of a billable hour, New Partner takes place as a one day conference in the heart of Washington. Make sure your law firm is represented with one or more of your new, recent or soon-to-be partners. It is built as a 50-person maximum program to better allow networking and intimacy among attendees and faculty.

Registration includes CLE credits, course materials, networking breakfast, lunch and networking reception. A special conference room rate is also available at the nearby Capitol Hilton. The program takes place at the ABA, 1050 Connecticut Avenue NW.

Substantive panel programs with an expert faculty from law firms and in-house counsel include:

• Advancement to Ownership - What Happens Next?
Learn some of the key financial and personal considerations associated with becoming partner.

• Ethical Considerations in Business Development and Marketing
Learn techniques on how to build or increase your book of business, all the while taking into consideration how the Rules of Professional Conduct come into play for compliance with the standards of the states in which your practice and solicit business.

• The Pitfalls of Partnership

Minimize your potential liability as a newly-appointed representative of your firm and learn how the economics of a law firm work, including how to increase profitability for yourself and your firm.

• Transitioning from Mentee to Supervisor: Partner Responsibilities Under the Rules of Professional Conduct
Examine the mechanics of mentoring, learn the art of delegation, and receive tips on how - as a new partner - you can build meaningful and constructive relationships.

If you have any questions about the ABA New Partner Institute, please feel free to contact me directly. Be sure your law firm is in attendance.

February 17, 2015

Legal Talk Network Podcast: The Legal Advertising Landscape

podcasts.jpgIf you would like to hear a short podcast discussing how legal advertising has changed due to the internet and social media, how to launch a successful marketing campaign without getting into trouble with state bars, and some advice to small and big firms about advertising in certain practices and geographic regions, LISTEN HERE to the podcast on the Legal Talk Network. Thanks to interviewer Jason Marsh, Adriana Linares and the LTN team for the opportunity to chat during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Houston, Texas.

January 6, 2015

LPT: (Women) Progressing into Partnership--Road Rules for a New Role

road-rules-logo.jpgThe December 2014 issue of Law Practice Today (LPT) is dedicated to the theme of New Partners, in advance of the annual ABA New Partners Institute in Washington, DC on April 17th. Amy Drushal of Trenam Kemker (a speaker for the NPI and co-chair of the first NP conference a few years back) served as issue editor.

I will also be presenting at NPI (and has served on the planning committee each year) on the topic of business development. However, at the recent ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop, I spoke on the topic of women progressing into partnership. While not talking, I took copious notes from esteemed fellow panelists for an article theme that fit right into the subject of partnership--whether you are trying to get there or are just arriving.

How do you get to partner? What are the criteria? What are the expectations? Can you have it all?

(Women) Progressing into Partnership--Road Rules for a New Role

Those were some of the questions answered during a panel presentation at the recent ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop in San Diego, California. The program, entitled "Progressing into Partnership--Road Rules for a New Role," featured a balanced panel of four attorneys--two men and two women--from various perspectives.
The panel included Ali Sylvia, managing partner of Plews Shadley Racher & Braun in Indianapolis, Indiana; Rori Goldman, a director at Hill Fulwider, a 13-attorney firm, also based in Indianapolis; Bob Young, chair of the ABA Law Practice Division and a partner at English Lucas Priest & Owsley in Bowling Green, Kentucky; and moderator Tom Bolt, chair-elect of the Law Practice Division and managing attorney of BoltNagi PC in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

January 6, 2015

LP Magazine - Embracing the Changing Face of PR (and a tribute to Lou Corletto)

LPM_ND14_cover.jpgIn the November/December 2014 issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine, I write about Embracing the Changing Face of PR. In the column, I write about how much the concept of PR has changed with time and technology. While I still believe that PR is a significant part of business development, the way you utilize it and how it works has little resemblance to the way that it functioned a decade or two ago.

With print deadlines for Law Practice coming about four months prior to publication, it was summertime when I sat down to write this piece. What the column does not tell you is why I chose this particular issue to address PR. At that time, my first boss, Lou Corletto, had just passed away. I started my professional career as a PR professional, before law school, before a lot of things. In high school and undergrad, I had PR internships with the Baltimore Blast and Philadelphia Fever of the Major Indoor Soccer League (and at the league office). But my first formal PR training came via an internship with the Philadelphia Flyers. I learned a lot from the PR triumvirate of Rodger Gottlieb, Mark Piazza and Joe Kadlec. To this day, Mark and Joe are among my dearest personal friends. I "see" Rodger on LinkedIn from time to time, and while not in touch, have always appreciated what he did for me. They played a role in suggesting to the Washington Capitals that they hire me the following year. The Caps PR director was a long-time, old school, gentleman named Louis Corletto. For his memorial service, I sent along my thoughts and remembrances (ironically, an ABA meeting prevented me from attending in person). The memorial took place in Richmond, Virginia in August. I thought this would be an appropriate forum for sharing those words. Thanks Lou.

LOU CORLETTO MEMORIAL

I'm sorry that I could not be in Virginia today to say a proper goodbye to my dear friend Lou. He hired me as his public relations assistant for the Washington Capitals nearly 3 decades ago in 1985. I was a fresh out of college, 22 year old know it all that came to him via Temple University and a PR internship with the Philadelphia Flyers.

No matter how condescending or insubordinate I was, Lou never raised his voice, never disciplined me, never did anything but show patience and try to teach me the way that maybe I should behave. He was a tremendous mentor who knew how to treat people--regardless of rank or stature. I was especially appreciative of the way he would treat my parents as they entered the Capital Centre--like they were the Mom and Dad of someone quite important.

One particular anecdote in 1986 has always stuck with me. Lou asked me to include in the media notes a welcome to corporate sponsor Ace Hardware. He was under some fire by the Caps marketing guy. I said that the media notes were for the media, not to welcome sponsors. Lou asked if I could please do it. I responded that I did not want to, but would if he ORDERED me to do it as my boss. He said that he would not order me to do it, but hoped I would.

I did not. Later that night, he came up to me and said "you couldn't have done that for me?" I said "I told you if you wanted them in, you needed to insist upon it." He never brought it up again. He would not punish me and rarely said no to a request from me. The sheer disappointment in his face that night was enough to make sure I never did something like that again. He did not order, instruct, yell or curse--Lou Corletto got things done with kindness, respect and a hearty laugh.

As a young man, I'd complain that all he did was play golf at Congressional or have lunch with Larry King at Duke Ziebert's. All this while I slaved away at the typewriter doing the real PR work. As I matured, I learned that any punk can write game notes, but not everybody can pick up the phone and ask George Michael at NBC or George Solomon at the Washington Post for a favor. As the years went on, knowing that he enjoyed so many moments like those only lightened my heart.

Fast forward to the late 90s. I had gone to law school and was living outside of Philly in Voorhees, New Jersey. Lou showed up unannounced. He was at the train station and needed a place to stay. I had a little one bedroom apartment. Lou stayed with me, sleeping on the futon in the living room and making phone calls--looking to get back on his feet. I listened as he called some of the great people in the NHL--David Poile, Bill Torrey, Larry Pleau, John Halligan, his dear friend Nate Greenberg and others--looking for help in getting another opportunity to do what he did best. It was impressive that he made the calls and that everyone would take the calls as well. As we spent time together, I told him this was my penitence, the payback for the Ace Hardware omission. This was my chance to give back to someone who deserved it. He just laughed and said that he loved me. Lou could only remember the half full part of dealing with me. That is how he lived his life.

Eventually, with the help of our mutual friend George Starr, we saw Lou on to his next stop in Raleigh, North Carolina. I told him my young girlfriend did not understand what this guy was doing at my apartment. Lou understood. Today that girlfriend is my wife of 14 years. Lou loved hearing about my six year old son and 10 year old daughter as they've grown up. In our conversations, he always told me how much he appreciated me. He never let the rocky times keep him down. Lou was ever the optimist. I enjoyed sitting with Commissioner Lou at a Southern Hockey League game and PR director Lou at a Major Indoor Soccer League game. But it was his love of the Caps and the NHL that brought the widest smile to his face. He truly appreciated everything and everybody. I learned a lot from the man. There are times where I could stand to learn a little more. I'll always cherish his friendship and miss him. As NHL photographer Bruce Bennett said upon hearing of his passing, he is up there in that great press room in the sky smiling and laughing and taking care of people. That is what he did. Rest in peace, Lou. I'll always appreciate the times we had together--good and bad--but especially appreciate that you only saw the good in people.

October 3, 2014

ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop: Progressing into Partner--Road Rules

Women_Rainmakers.jpgThe biannual ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop will take place November 7-8, 2014 at The US Grant hotel in San Diego, California. I will be speaking on a panel entitled "Progressing into Partner--Road Rules," with an esteemed faculty that includes Rori Goldman of Hill Fulwider, Ali Sylvia of Plews Shadley Racher & Braun and Law Practice Division chair Bob Young of English Lucas Priest & Owsley.

I often remark to people that as a summer associate at Bernstein Shur in Portland, Maine, I quickly realized that my personality and career goals did not equate to a likelihood of becoming a partner at a law firm. It had nothing to do with Bernstein Shur--an excellent firm with outstanding people--but simply the partnership process at firms in general. My philosophy--right or wrong--was that if I was not going to be on a partnership track at a law firm, I'd just as well not be at a law firm at all. I won't go into whether that thinking was right or wrong, but that was my approach at the time. In retrospect, I still think it was the proper path for me.

Of course, back in the day, most attorneys entered a law firm as summers or first years with the belief or understanding that you would put your head down for 6-10 years and lift it when the partnership committee came a'votin'. That is certainly way different today. As a matter of fact, most would argue that it is the opposite. Most attorneys start "training" at a law firm knowing they would not likely be there for the long haul--whether it is your choosing or the law firm deciding--maybe it is for life/work balance, maybe you seek a different area of practice, decide to relocate, or join a client in-house--the odds of becoming partner are better than a college basketball player making it to the NBA, but not enough for me to place a wager on it in Vegas.

The great irony today is that while I did take the successful approach of starting my own business and thus instantly becoming partner (although my wife sometimes barks orders that make me think I'm a first year Associate), my clients are those very law firms--midsize to large U.S. law firms that annually go through the "who makes partner" ritual. And, in many cases, I've found myself involved in some of those conversations with law firm management. Does he or she have what it takes? Do they or can they develop a book of business? Do they understand what it takes to step up? Just how profitable is their practice? Is it really a loss if they leave? Can we compromise on a non-equity or "of counsel" role? And on and on...

An area of great satisfaction for me now is to see attorneys at law firms that I worked with a dozen years ago as summer associates or first years' becoming partners at those firms. People I saw as rookies and pups are now inching toward management committees. I've seen those that I expected to become partners reach their goal. I've seen others become partners at other firms. Or go inside with a client. Quit entirely and stay at home. Or continue to wonder with frustration if that partnership invite will ever come (in most cases, probably not).

But reaching partnership takes more than simply hard work. It takes planning and strategizing. It takes a road map. And, in the area I often am speaking about, it takes an understanding and embracing of business development at the earliest stage possible to enhance those odds. For women in particular (this is about the ABA Women Rainmakers Mid-Career Workshop after all), there are unique challenges that can go hand in hand with all of the aforementioned issues.

In 2010, I was asked by ABA Young Lawyers Division chair David Wolfe to help plan and speak at the inaugural ABA New Partners Conference. The NP conference co-chairs were young attorneys (and both now full-fledged partners at their respective law firms) Dan McKenna of Ballard Spahr and Amy Drushal of Trenam Kemker. I am still involved in the planning of ABA New Partners, taking place April 16-17, 2015 in Washington, DC. Each year I speak on the all-important area of business development for new partners. But I've also had the chance to become better exposed to so many of the other criteria and responsibilities that come with being a new partner (as opposed to making partner). While learning your craft, doing great work and taking care of your bosses and clients are certainly the biggest factors in making the move from associate to partner--there is more to the recipe. Make sure you know the proper ingredients at your firm. Like most great recipes, there are plenty of different ways to make the stew; just know which ingredients are weighed most heavily in your kitchen.

And, of course, consider attending either/or/both conferences in 2014 and 2015. If you'd like to learn more about them, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an e-mail.

July 14, 2014

LP Magazine - Age over Beauty? Marketing a Law Firm's Anniversary

2014-july-august-cover107x139_jpg_imagep_107x141.pngIn the July/August 2014 issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine, I address the always-sensitive subject of age. In this case, it is about the marketing value of a law firms' years. It is yet another subject that seems to present itself to me with clients a few times every year. How young is too young? And how old is too old? And is there value in touting age--and more specifically--an anniversary to clients and prospects?

Many law firms have taken anniversaries--literally as short as the one year mark and as long as 200 years--and looked to make them into marketable events. In some cases with good success; in others, it simply does not work. My column provides anecdotal examples of ways your firm may or may not commemorate a business birthday. When you look at all the possibilities, you might be surprised to find that some of the ideas and scenarios fit right into an upcoming anniversary of your law firms' entry into the marketplace. We often look for excuses to celebrate. We often look for ways to manufacture firm "news." Somewhere in the middle is the marketing of a law firms' anniversary. If you are going to invest time, money and effort into such a commemoration, read my column first. It should serve as a guide to ways to ensure the highest level of business development return possible.

April 21, 2014

Lawyers Shifting Facebook Strategies

fb-like.pngLike and Like. This is like two Facebook posts in one.

For my April 2014 contribution to Web Marketing Today, I return to a topic that I last covered just 11 months ago in May 2013. So much has changed in the social media space in a relatively short time. The players are still the players. But with Facebook changing--more focus on mobile and more focus on revenue (advertising options)--you simply can't sit around and stay status quo.

On the marketing side, it has certainly gotten my attention. Many law firms are finding that Facebook provides brand awareness options that are sharper, cheaper and more focused than many traditional advertising methods. And you do not need to be targeting a mass consumer audience to find ways to use some of these tools effectively. The bottom line is this--there are two ultra-powerful websites in the world--Google and Facebook--and if you don't exist on both, your online universe is not operating at full strength.

A special thanks to Robyn Davis Sekula, a communications consultant in Kentucky. She is an excellent guide on using social media for clients, including but not limited to law firms. Robyn provided some good examples for the article along with low cost to no cost tips for posting on Facebook. I had the privilege of working on a project with Robyn--and now we're fast Facebook friends.

ABA Journal Podcast -- How lawyers can get the most out of Facebook's paid status updates

If you'd rather hear my voice than read an article, listen in on my recent ABA Journal podcast on the subject. Moderated by reporter Stephanie Francis Ward, I joined two colleagues with different perspectives for a spirited discussion. Nicole Hyland, a partner with New York's Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, focused on ethics issues (usually my area of concentration on these programs) and Anthony Johnson, an Arkansas plaintiffs' personal injury lawyer, gave his perspective on using Facebook advertising options to obtain new clients.

All three machers (look it up--it is Yiddish--and would likely be referenced by Krusty the Clown on The Simpsons or one of Dan Schneider's shows on Nickelodeon) - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn--with Google+ likely on the horizon as #4--are still growing and refining their products. They are all relevant to all law firms--but the targets, usage and focus certainly vary significantly.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I did not invite you to find my personal page on Facebook and be sure to "like" my Facebook company page as well. Or Twitter. Or, of course, LinkedIn.

April 16, 2014

Marketing for Law Firms: Priorities, Purpose, and Pay Grades

In today's The Legal Intelligencer, reporter Gina Passarella writes about the trend toward sticking "business development" into the titles of many Philadelphia law firm lead marketers. She could have changed the title to "Philly Law Marketers should not let the revolving door hit them on the way out."

The latest step (or misstep) for many of these firms is to add or change the CMO title to lead or include "business development" in it. Somehow, law firm management thinks this will make it all better. The irony is that most of the hires and candidates have the same set of credentials as their predecessors. It is nothing but semantics. Few have true BD experience, backgrounds or credentials. But that has not stopped many of these management committees from moving forward with their umpteenth marketing head of the last decade.

I often find myself reminding law firm management committees that there certainly is a connection between business development and marketing. In reality, every single employee of a law firm is somehow engaged in BD. We are all in business and we all are trying to develop more of the same. Marketing provides the image, messaging, tools and resources to develop said business. In corporate America, many CMOs are held to a number--meeting a revenue target, increasing market share, balancing the budget between them. In most law firms, it is the attorney that either generates a number--or not. They rely on the marketing team to give them what is needed to develop business. There are exceptions. But generally that is how it works.

Ms. Passarella cites Dilworth Paxson, Blank Rome, Ballard Spahr, Montgomery McCracken and Pepper Hamilton as just SOME of the firms where the marketing merry go round have made recent stops. This is certainly not a knock on the personnel. And it is not really a knock on firm management either. It is simply a reminder that law firms continue to struggle with the priorities, purpose and pay grades...which ironically is the title for an upcoming ABA webinar on the subject.

On May 5, 2014, I moderate and speak on a panel designed to address some of these very issues. My fellow panelists include Nick Gaffney of Infinite PR, who will address issues of public relations and media relations. Maziel Abrego is Practice Development Manager for Vedder Price. A former president of the New York chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, Maziel has bucked the trend with significant longevity at large law firms. All three of us are trained attorneys and marketers. We will discuss the issues that law firm management face in determining the best routes for spending and staffing marketing and business development. Thanks to Saturno Design's underwriting, the ABA webinar cost is well under $100. A small price to pay to avoid blowing another couple hundred grand.

Law firm marketing and business development efforts have increased significantly in the last decade. Recent shifts in firm demographics, client, and market pressures are making it more important than ever that a law firm's leadership and management has a working knowledge of the core aspects of any successful marketing plan and department.

We will discuss what a management team needs to know about the effective components among marketing efforts, staffing and spending. Learn first-hand what is working for the competition and what truly is a proper amount of time, money and resources for your practice.

Topics include: branding and advertising, technology tools (including web and social media), networks and professional associations, marketing materials, public and media relations, professional development training, proposals and pitches, ratings & rankings, sponsorships, community/charitable giving, ethics compliance, client surveys, staffing, and budgeting. CLICK HERE for more information and registration.

March 11, 2014

LP Magazine - The Impact of the Three R's: Ratings, Rankings and Reviews

2014-march-april-cover107x139_jpg_imagep_107x141.pngIn the March/April 2014 issue of the ABA's Law Practice magazine, I address a law firm marketing topic that never seems to lose steam--the impact of lawyer ratings, rankings and reviews on the legal profession.

Of course, I should not really complain. The topic has proven to be great fodder for my Pennsylvania Bar Institute ethics courses; I've been quoted countless times in the media on the subject; in the ABA Law Practice Division, we led the "educational" charge with major panels (and participation from all the players in the business) for both the ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference and an ABA Annual Meeting. Last October, an ABA CLE Premier Speaker Series program on the subject attracted nearly 5,000 attorneys. Everyone always is interested and has an opinion.

It has been fascinating to watch the evolution of the industry over the last 15-odd years. To think, when I first became a lawyer, the only thing you really knew about was Martindale-Hubbell. Today, the brand struggles mightily with shifts from across the pond (the UK's Chambers publication); from known ranking brands such as U.S. News & World Reports; from thousands of local-yokel attorney "awards"; and both legal and non-legal online reviews from the likes of Avvo and Yelp. The business has never stopped booming, but it has definitely changed--a lot.

What has not changed? The ego sell to many lawyers. The interest in "how did we do?" that varies significantly based on law firm size, areas of practice and client type. And, of course, there is the level of profitability that these companies have found selling in the legal space.

In the last few years, I've definitely established closer relationships with many of these companies. For the most part, I've found the executive leadership to be smart, friendly and accommodating (while there are some that I still find highly questionable). We both have jobs to do--and my clients care about how they perform here--which means that I care too. Read the column and look back at prior blog posts addressing the subject--you will likely find that I've learned to change with the times as well.

February 2, 2014

ABA Journal CLE: Leveraging the Press -- Marketing Yourself through the Media

press_hat.jpgJoin me on February 13th in Washington, DC for a full-day tutorial on media and press relations, presented by the ABA Journal, in conjunction with the ABA Center for Professional Development.

I still recall my old friend Dan Leary telling me about a conversation they were having in the Major Indoor Soccer League office back in 1986. I was the PR Director of the New York Express and Sports Illustrated had sent top reporter Franz Lidz to spend the week shadowing the team. He was writing an SI piece about the importance of the New York franchise to soccer in the United States. Leary told me that in the league office they were trying to guess how high in the story I would be quoted. The answer was paragraph two. I might have been 23 years old, but I knew how to get myself quoted and interviewed--on TV, in the New York Times, Washington Post, SI and major dailies throughout the country.

In my pro sports days, I was known as a go-to guy by the media--for quotes, for off the record stuff, for ideas to fill a column or a TV interview. If you were a journalist, you knew that I'd call you back fast, tell you something you did not already know, and provide a colorful quote (even if I was giving an evasive answer). When I needed a favor--put this in the paper, don't put this in the paper, quote this guy, do a feature on this player--I was paid back for being a reliable source. Some of the stuff I pulled was pretty clever. But even today, I would not write about it or give specific examples--I'm not sure the statute of limitations has run on everything. And many of those conversations and interactions were certainly off the record. But I was not a lawyer yet, so the Rules of Professional Conduct did not apply.

Fast forward a few decades and I'm still involved in media relations and PR--but now it is as an attorney--and I'm usually more interested in getting a law firm client media exposure than myself. It is a vastly different media world now as well. The late 80s was long, long, long before the Internet, blogs, social media and an accompanying change in the art of Journalism (still one of my favorite professions). After all, this is a BLOG POST--an entirely different way of delivering a message and finding an audience.

In my business of law firm marketing, media plays varying roles in the game plan. Depending on the market--which might be based on practice, geography or a combination of the two--press relations can be extremely valuable or of little interest. In general, I'm a firm believer that a good quote in a big-time publication or positive airtime on radio or television is immensely more valuable than a print ad, commercial, newsletter, seminar or website. It is "free" and considered much more objective and reliable (in most cases). Most attorneys say they would love to be on TV, quoted in the Wall Street Journal or a talking head on CNN, but few know how to make it happen.

In some cases, there is legitimate fear on the part of many lawyers in being misquoted when dealing with certain media channels. The lower level the publication and the more junior the journalist, the greater a chance that "this is off the record" might not be adhered to. In some instances, your client is interested in less media, not more media. And it is important to understand their preference. Of course, sometimes the media provides tremendous power with influencing jury pools and opinions in the court of public opinion.

Here are my top three missteps in trying to develop better press relationships between a journalist and an attorney:

1. BORING! The attorney is so concerned about saying something improper or inflammatory that he or she basically says nothing interesting at all. And your TV/radio voice demeanor puts the audience to sleep.

2. TOO LATE! In this day and age, most journalists are looking for a quote, reaction or interview yesterday. Returning the media inquiry phone call tomorrow is literally a day late and a dollar short.

3. THAT'S NOT NEWS! Whether it is a dull press release or a lame idea of what is newsworthy, I'm often pushing back on law firms asking me to get news coverage on something utterly meaningless to anybody in the outside world. I'd give you a list of examples, but my clients would recognize them and not be pleased with me. I have to make a living.

On February 13, 2014 in Washington, DC, I am part of an A-list faculty providing a day-long program on marketing yourself through the media. The program also includes advice on blogging, social media, and ethics. George Washington University law professor and media personality Jonathan Turley will provide the key note address.

I will be sitting on two of the program panels, including "So you want to be on TV?" with Jennifer Brandt of Cozen O'Connor and Seth Price of Price Benowitz. I'll also discuss "Social Media -- Your Personal Printing Press .. . do's and don'ts" on a panel with David Lat, Steven Anderson and Seth Price.

If your law firm is interested in developing or improving press relations, it is worth spending a cool February day in the nation's capital. To learn more and register, CLICK HERE. Or feel free to contact me directly for additional information.

December 26, 2013

Robert Grey to Keynote Fourth Annual ABA New Partners Conference

Former ABA President Robert Grey will keynote the fourth annual ABA New Partners Conference, taking place on February 6-7, 2014 at the Swissotel in Chicago, Illinois. Advance registration for the full conference is only $300 for ABA members and $350 for non-members, making it the most affordable conference of its kind in the country. Between the programs and networking opportunities, this is a must-attend conference for any law firm new partners and those on the cusp of partnership.

Among the networking events are an opening welcome reception at Baker & McKenzie on February 6th, breakfast and lunch on February 7th, and a concluding reception. The always useful "speed dating" networking event following breakfast and before the programming is a not to be missed opportunity to meet other new partners from around the country. One of the things that really sets this conference apart from all others (and provides something internal professional development curriculum can't) is the opportunity to meet other new partners and compare trials and tribulations. It also offers an outstanding opportunity to network for future referrals. Learn how other law firms and management teams face the challenges of partnership in today's economy.

Visit the New Partner Conference page to learn more about the programs and schedule. A nationally renowned faculty of law firm and legal industry leaders address topics including:

Advancement to Ownership: What Happens Now?

Ethical Considerations in Business Development & Marketing (Ethics CLE) -- New partners often find themselves with increased expectations in the area of business development and marketing. To make matters more difficult, many are unaware of the often complicated ethics rules that come into play when engaging in these practices. This 90 minute session will provide you with successful techniques on how to build or increase your book of business using tools that span from live networking to social networking; online, offline, across state lines, rankings and ratings, organizational involvement and solicitation... highlighting where the Rules of Professional Conduct come into play for compliance with the standards of the states in which you both practice and solicit business.

The Pitfalls of Partnership (CLE)

Transitioning from Mentee to Supervisor: Partner Responsibilities under the Rules of Professional

Many thanks to the generous sponsors that allow this conference to keep the registration costs so low and the quality of faculty, facilities and dining functions high--Avvo, Justia, ABA Law Practice Division and Trenum Kemker.

December 23, 2013

LPT: ABA New Partner Conference Edition

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for fb-lpt-sm.pngIn advance of the fourth edition of the ABA's New Partner Conference, Law Practice Today highlights the topic with an issue dedicated to the theme of new partners. With the New Year upon us, many new partners are taking their places at the management tables of law firms throughout the country. Yet many find themselves wondering what the new role brings with it. Many of the New Partner Conference speakers and planning board members have authored the articles that coincide with their respective program topics.

LPT issue editor and conference speaker Amy Drushal of Trenam Kemker in Tampa, Florida, authors Transitioning from Associate to Partner: What now? Yours truly, also a conference presenter, writes about the new partner's role in marketing and business development. Kerri-Ann Bent and Vanessa Cotto write on the effects of mentoring on the duty to supervise.

Avvo honcho Mark Britton discusses the New Partner Cheese--taking lessons from "who moved my cheese" to the law firm board room. Justia's Tim Stanley, with co-authors Ken Min Chan and David Kemp, writes about building great relationships online, focusing on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

The professional development article this month, on how "big law" can reinvigorate the practice of law, comes from Jen Bluestein, Brad Kaufman and Richard Rosenbaum.

Thank you to all those that contributed to this month's issue of LPT. Best wishes to all the new partners out there. May the experience bring the rewards that your arduous path from associate required. I hope it proved worth the effort and the wait!

To access the December 2013 issue of Law Practice Today, click here.

November 1, 2013

Your ABA: 10 Tips for Approaching Lawyer Rankings and Ratings

In the November 2013 issue of Your ABA, the monthly e-news for attorney members, they have effectively recapped my October CLE on lawyer rankings and ratings with an excellent top ten list of suggestions, based on speaker comments and the examples provided.

Nearly 5,000 ABA members tuned into the monthly ABA CLE Premier Speaker Series, which I led along with my esteemed colleagues--Florida Bar ethics counsel Elizabeth Tarbert and Best Lawyers co-founder and President Steve Naifeh. We were able to provide three very different perspectives of a powerful industry in the legal marketplace. Tarbert focused on bar compliance issues. Naifeh gave the perspective of the companies in this space. And I fell somewhere in the middle--since I provide guidance on ethics issues as an attorney and guidance on participation as a marketer.

The topic continues to spark controversy and interest in the profession--and will continue to do so as our business evolves. From the "original" Martindale AV to tier one in Chambers USA; top honors in the Best Lawyers/US News & World Reports law firm rankings to effective visibility on Avvo; working the popularity polls for your local-yokel "Top" Lawyer lists in your hometown to the truckload of lists, surveys and rankings from American Lawyer Media publications. There are thousands to choose from. Figuring out which matter is just the start of the process.