Recently in Business Development Category

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.

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 15, 2013

Bloomberg BNA: Some Procurement Practices Thriving Despite Sequestration, Budget Cuts

seque.jpgSequestration may be bad for the economy, but it has boosted some law firms' federal procurement practices, attorneys and marketing professionals told Bloomberg BNA, in an article by reporter David Hansen, published on November 14, 2013.

Those interviewed in the article included McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP Partner Elizabeth Ferrell, Lateral Link Group LLC Principal Larry Latourette, Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) Personal Finances Researcher Dan Auble, CRP Research Director Sarah Bryner, George Washington University Law School Assistant Dean for Field Placement Jessica Tillipman, and yours truly.

The story touches on what sequestration has meant for law firms' federal procurement practices, including the impact on those practice groups, their desperate need to recruit experienced government contract attorneys for both litigation and lobbying, the impact on lobbying efforts, and internships--namely unpaid law school interns to fill staffing needs.

I provided the marketing and business development perspective to Hansen's piece, discussing how large law firms were winning big, thanks to the uncertainty surrounding federal budgets and the numerous practice groups positively impacted--including tax, banking, employment, corporate, immigration and litigation. I also noted that while midsize firms might not be able to grab a piece of the pie without already servicing impacted clients, there are niche opportunities in targeting small businesses that are not positioned to retain big law.

To read the article in its entirety, please visit Bloomberg BNA.

August 26, 2013

WMT: Law Firms Join the Apps Craze

If it appears this month's Web Marketing Today article on law firm apps is courtesy of the Department of Redundancy Department, I apologize. In the time I was writing it, I was also interviewed on the subject by two law publication journalists reacting to what must have seemed like an onslaught on law firm press releases touting the latest & greatest app. But I certainly saved some of my tips and examples for the loyal WMT audience.

In Corporate Secretary magazine, Abigail Caplovitz Field writes on "Law firms offer mobile apps to attract new clients." Her article revolves around two US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) apps developed by Latham & Watkins and O'Melveny & Myers. In developing apps, the type of law firm and the related content runs the gamut from global mega firms to mom & pop shops.

Almost every attorney involved in the development of an app at a law firm will (accurately) tell you that the expectation is not that it will generate new clients, but more likely offer a branding or awareness tool that (hopefully) will be seen as an added-value item by clients, colleagues and the media.

The keys to success are not necessarily first-to-market with an idea. For the most part, you will rely on some element of push from your marketing professionals to get the app into the hands of interested parties. I'm sorry to say that not a lot of people are perusing law firm apps when in the iTunes store downloading the latest version of Candy Crush. It takes a strong engine to get the word out and put the app in the right places for the right people. The reality is that most people that download your app will look at it once, think it is slightly interesting, and never return.

For an app to truly be effective in the long haul, it means constant updating. Recently, I flash backed to a project I worked on with Morgan Lewis in the late 90s. A partner at the firm had the idea for creating an online resource which we called HSRscan, containing information about the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 and its regulations. The data was unique and the relatively new "Internet" seemed an ideal place to market this content. Blogs were just coming into being. But what really would have been a perfect fit was an app (I did not have a crystal ball to identify this stuff or I would not still be working and writing these blog posts). Does the attorney or practice group have a specific idea that would provide a unique resource to the public at large?

In a blog post on July 24th, I recap and point to Gina Passarella's piece for American Lawyer Media on "Deciding whether law firms should have an app for that." Her article looks at vastly different examples from the Latham and O'Melveny apps, including family law (for consumers), labor & employment, and recruiting.

If you are considering app development for your law firm, I encourage you to read the three articles cited in this blog post--my WMT column and the stories from Corporate Secretary and The Legal Intelligencer. This should give you enough background to determine an effective route for your idea. Apps are not for every firm. At the same time, it is not about firm size, resources or budget; it is about having an effective idea for an impact tool.

July 25, 2013

Buchdahl to present Ethics CLE on Building a Book of Business at ABA Annual Meeting

aba_yld_logo.jpgIf you are attending the upcoming ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California, you are welcome to attend this complimentary continuing legal education program being put on by the ABA Young Lawyers Division, at the Palace Hotel (Presidio, Second Floor) on Friday, August 9, 2013 from 11 am-noon PT. For more information, click here, or contact me directly for more information.

Moderated by Amy Drushal, a partner at Trenam Kemker in Tampa, Florida, I will offer tips and strategies alongside panelist Walter Karnstein, in-house counsel at Hewlett-Packard, who will provide the all-important corporate counsel perspective.

ETHICS CLE PROGRAM: Building a Book of Business: Ethical Boundaries and Sound Approaches to Business Development & Marketing

Whether you are starting out on your own, reaching for partnership ranks or simply looking for new clients and matters, building a book of business is imperative to your success. But the task can be daunting - with so many options out there, ethical boundaries and little time/money to waste. This professional development CLE will provide tips for utilizing networking, online tools and sound marketing techniques while avoiding missteps with the Rules of Professional Conduct as it relates to advertising and solicitation. The panel includes perspectives from a law firm partner, a corporate counsel and an ethics attorney that focuses on business development strategies.

Speakers:

Micah Buchdahl, HTMLawyers, Inc., Moorestown, NJ

Amy Drushal, Trenam Kemker, Tampa, FL

Walter Karnstein, Hewlett-Packard, Portland, OR

May 15, 2013

LPT: Professional Development

PD_image.jpgFor the May issue of Law Practice Today, focusing on the theme of professional development, I asked my colleague Megan Greenberg, formerly Director of Professional Development at Richards Layton in Delaware to lead the charge as issue editor. Megan's experience as a practicing attorney and PD director, along with her involvement in the Professional Development Consortium (PDC) made her the perfect person to put together leading experts and authors, with timely qualified topics on the ever-increasing role of PD in the law firm.

If you are looking for a compendium of professional development topics and expertise, look no further than this month's LPT. Among the highlights are:

Peta Gordon's very timely piece on "The Other Half." With the popularity of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's best-seller Lean In, the author talks about work/life balance following the birth of her second child. Peta is a senior associate in Kaye Scholer's litigation department. Her story will resonate with many female attorneys working to balance a demanding professional life with raising a family.

Nick Gaffney's Roundtable series takes on Law Firm Associate Perspectives on Professional Development, with contributions from Chandana Ravindranath, an Associate at DLA Piper in New York, Henry Warnock, with Ford Harrison in Atlanta, and Tracy Weiss, an associate at Greenberg Traurig in Phoenix.

Why are associate attrition rates so high? Author Rachel Silverman asks and answers the question in "Associate Engagement Is No Laughing Matter." A key reason is a lack of genuine engagement in the most important drivers of professional satisfaction. A savvy associate engagement strategy will increase your associates' motivation and productivity--and your bottom line.

Of course, I'm going to highlight my own contribution. In "Ethics Imperative to Business Development Learning," I address the way PD and marketing programs intersection when it comes to ethics compliance. From websites and social media, ratings and rankings, the ethical implications of marketing activities are varied and complex. Ensure your professional development program isn't forgetting the ethics component of marketing. It is highly embarrassing to law firm management than the letter from the state disciplinary counsel citing a firm for violating the RPC in marketing, advertising or solicitation.

To read the May issue, CLICK HERE.

March 19, 2013

WMT: LinkedIn for Attorneys

LinkedIn.jpgFor lawyers, there is so much more to LinkedIn than creating a profile, getting some connections and joining a few groups. The real value of participation is from the other products and services they offer. In this month's Web Marketing Today column, I try to address some of the components that go "beyond the basics."

Personally, I probably don't use LinkedIn the same way as many other marketing professionals or attorneys. I find the tool extremely valuable--but more as a super-powered directory of contacts for lead generation, competitive intelligence and a better source of data about people and companies. I find it very useful when following up with someone, learning more about a business card picked up at a networking function or refining a list of prospective clients. Others, however, spend hours on end building a network and doing a slightly more sophisticated method of cold calling.

As noted in the column, there is no disputing the power of LinkedIn. It is the second search result when looking myself up on Google--behind only my own website. With 200 million-plus users, there is a pretty good chance that the professional I'm looking for is in the network. He or she may have a skeletal profile and three contacts--but they are there nonetheless.

Like many friends and colleagues, I'm on Facebook multiple times each day. But I'm there to show you what my kids are up to, talk Phillies, Eagles, or Temple Owls basketball. My wife--a master at the "check in"--makes it easier for me to get served with a subpoena, since you know what restaurant to find me in on Saturday night. While I do mix personal and professional contacts, it is clearly a social environment. Depending on your practice area, it might be fertile ground for marketing. And with recent changes in design, it is becoming a more viable advertising option for law practices as well. But it is not for everyone.

Twitter, the third major player in today's social media circles, skews a little younger. The audience is huge, and loyal followers are avid. But, once again, the interest in participating among law firms is not always there. Somebody has to be tweeting all the time, and that does not work everywhere.

You may or may not choose to engage in Facebook or Twitter, but any business professional should maintain a level of activity on LinkedIn.

February 1, 2013

Drexel Law's Improv Class Provides Unique Professional Development Training

Thumbnail image for sctv-734261.jpgIt is rare that I make a trip to Chicago or Toronto without spending an evening at Second City. There is nothing more entertaining (to me) than great improvisational comedy. Growing up, I was a Second City TV groupie of sorts, now possessing the entire DVD collection of SCTV. I love the creativity, thinking on your feet and ability to laugh at oneself (and others). So it was easy to talk about Drexel University Law School's "Improv for Lawyers" class in an article written this week by Associated Press reporter Kathy Matheson.

Matheson was writing about the uniqueness of such a law school elective, taught by actress/comedian Sharon Geller, who has also provided improv training as a CLE to lawyers in various settings. While this all coincidentally took place in my home base of Philadelphia, it was my role in the American Bar Association--as a past chair of the Law Practice Management Section and a current member of the ABA's Standing Committee on CLE that led her to ask about my experience and views on the subject. I was asked about the uniqueness of the program and the value to a new or seasoned attorney.

In many law firm retreats where I've participated in some manner--either in organization, as a speaker, or in conjunction with a business development project--an improv session taught by one of many skilled troupes in the United States (including Second City traveling casts) is used to develop skills including team building, public speaking, "thinking on your feet" and training for improved client and prospective client interactions. Improv has also been used by a number of law firms I work with for associate and partner professional development training programs in-house. Whether or not they qualify as "substantive legal training" as a CLE is a state-by-state matter--but that is a subject for another post. Whether or not it is CLE accredited, the program provides a useful training ground that incorporates numerous elements of law practice.

The Drexel class is a huge hit. The school has always been known for providing some out-of-the-box "real world" training. In a short time, the law school has done a nice job carving out space and a good reputation in an excellent Philadelphia area law school market (led, of course, by my undergrad and law school alma mater Temple).

In the AP article, Matheson quotes a former course participant and present Ballard Spahr associate about being prepared for responding to difficult things or difficult people. Yes, those are not wasted skills for a new attorney to possess. And at a time where law firms are becoming increasingly more focused on PD and business development, an ability to be creative, think outside the box and challenge conventions is not a bad thing to include in the workplace curriculum. Many law firms should take note of the interest that a course such as this one has generated. It takes some guts and personality to succeed on the improv stage. There is no question that the skill set translates to the practice of law.

January 22, 2013

NYT on NLRB Rulings; Law Firms should review social media policies

newyorktimes.jpgRecent rulings and advisories by the National Labor Relations Board regarding social media policies in the workplace impact law firms in a variety of ways. Today's New York Times article by Steven Greenhouse reviews how the NLRB is basically telling employers to scale back limitations as it relates to many social media policies that might be seen as illegal blanket restrictions.

Can you really stop Facebook and Twitter from happening in today's workplace? Nope.

The NLRB says workers have a right to discuss work conditions freely and without fear of retribution, whether you are in the employee cafeteria or on Facebook. Although Facebook might have better food options (I said that. It is not in the article).

The bottom line--many companies are rewriting social media rules. If you want to read about social media in the workplace from an employment law perspective, you are better off going to Molly DiBianca on The Delaware Employment Law Blog. I'm here to discuss the potential impact on the law firm from an ethics compliance and business development perspective.

Having taught social media courses at many law firms, written a few of the policies myself, and conducted ethics compliance reviews for a number of the AMLAW 200, I can tell you that some of the policies--both written, unwritten and suggested--are somewhat out of whack with recent developments. I often remind some firms that they might "suggest" or "guide" employees (lawyers and staff alike), but some of the policies I've seen have been overbroad and overreaching. The Rules of Professional Conduct take care of many of the ethics issues for the lawyers. However, there are plenty of gray areas as they relate to LinkedIn profiles, Facebook posts and tweets.

Be sure your law firm's approach to social media is appropriate. Because it is one thing to read about a corporation coming out on the short end of these rulings; it is another for a client to see you listed as one of the offending parties.

January 8, 2013

LP Magazine - Trade Show Marketing for Lawyers

trade-show-intro.jpgIn this month's Law Practice magazine, my colleague and alternating "marketing columnist" Greg Siskind provides an outstanding primer on the benefits and how-to of trade show marketing for the law firm. Greg's immigration law practice, Siskind Susser, has successfully used trade show participation as a significant marketing tool for many years.

In the article, Greg discusses budgeting, show selection, booth planning, working the booth, follow-up and ethical issues. Depending on the practice and the personalities, I've been a fan of trade show participation for lawyers--when appropriate. The breakdown is often in the lack of strategic planning, the people sent, and the all-important follow through. When you start adding up everything up from the organization sponsorship, to the booth development or rental, travel & entertainment, promotional giveaways and proper follow through, it can be a big nut in a practice group's marketing budget. However, if done right, and tracked properly, it can be a lucrative leader in generating new clients and matters. In most cases, attending a trade show is not a one-off event. It is usually the culmination of many other activities related to the specific trade, and often, a multi-year effort before a real payoff.

Many years ago, I authored a similar (but not as good) article on trade show marketing for lawyers. I discussed my own experiences and what I'd witnessed in visiting some law firm booths at a local Chamber of Commerce event. In reading Greg's piece and rereading my own, I'm reminded that in the right situation, trade show participation continues to often be an underutilized or under strategized component of a law firm marketing plan. However, if the target market is on-point and there is proper access to the attendees, it provides an opportunity often lacking in this age of social media and virtual society--in-person, real time contact with decision makers and buyers of legal services. But make sure that participation in a trade show is well planned and thought out, or the results can be detrimental instead of positive.

December 13, 2012

Professional Development Training for Lawyers is Suddenly All the Rage

Someone woke up yesterday and thought it might be a good idea to provide better professional development training for attorneys. Go figure.

Last week, I had the privilege of spending some time with the leadership of the Professional Development Consortium (PDC) at their annual meeting in Washington, DC. For the record, this organization has been looking to organize and improve PD in (mostly large) law firms since 1990. While the group is growing rapidly, the reality is that for a long time it has been a relatively small gathering of people dedicated to delivering PD for larger law firms. However, the idea that the need for stronger and better investments in PD for partners (and in some firms, gasp, associates too), is not new or news.PDC_logo.gif

With the ABA, I have had the opportunity to further professional development initiatives on multiple fronts. First, as a speaker and planning board member for the first two ABA New Partner Conferences, designed to provide a wide range of training--from business development and ethics to issues of diversity, electronic discovery, and managing legal relationships. Secondly, as the creator and chair of the ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference, founded in 2007, focusing on BD, marketing and overall rainmaking skill sets. Third, as a current ABA presidential appointee to the ABA Standing Committee on CLE--now entitled the ABA Center for Professional Development (go figure). Finally, as Editor in Chief of the ABA's Law Practice Today monthly webzine, we have joined forces with the PDC to provide a bi-monthly column (beginning in March 2013) from some of the country's leading PD professionals from the largest law firms, along with an entire themed issue dedicated to PD in May 2013. Thanks to PDC leadership, including Jennifer Bluestein of Greenberg Traurig and Jeanne Picht of Stites & Harbison, for helping to further develop this relationship. In addition, ABA LPM's sister publication, Law Practice, has an issue devoted to the topic as well in the coming months. In other words, the American Bar Association has long recognized the importance of PD and continues to provide numerous resources to lawyers and law firms interested in better training.

Recently, Claire Zillman of The American Lawyer, wrote about her publications' latest survey of new partners. The most significant finding she reported form the survey was that "new partners fear lack of training will hamper ability to win clients." The survey confirmed what many law firms know--that reaching partnership usually means you learned how to practice law pretty well, but nobody is talking to you about the need to develop your own book of business--until now! The survey results highlight the obvious. For decades, the concept of understanding the law biz outside of actually practicing law was considered an afterthought.

The incoming chancellor of my hometown bar, Kathleen Wilkinson of Wilson Elser, is touting the need for expansion of training and educational programs for the Philadelphia Bar Association, as one of her highlighted initiatives, according to Chris Mondics in The Philadelphia Inquirer. The story touts her plan to "institute a new speakers' series next year that will focus on bolstering young lawyers' skills in networking, business development, and other areas on the theory that many are not getting that guidance from their firms." In reality, especially at mid-size and larger law firms, this training needs to be as much a part of the internal curriculum as legal research and billing.

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to do numerous programs in conjunction with a law firms' PD professional or department, including introductory marketing training for summer and first year associates, rainmaking strategies for new partners, use of social media, ethics for everyone, and related areas of "the business of law." But the number of firms that do it seriously and do it right are small. Of course, this could mean I'm not being retained enough as a speaker, or firms are not doing it. Let's just call it a little of both. Either way, the concept and need for effective professional development in law firms is not news--but the changing marketplace, increasing competition and higher business acumen has once again brought the need to the forefront. PD is suddenly hot again, and just in time to grab an increase in the line item for your 2014 budget. Lawyers--young and not really young anymore--recognize that a lack of investment from the firm into an individuals' well-roundness as an owner or potential owner in the practice sends a message too.

November 21, 2012

LPT: Prepare Your 2013 Business Development Goals Now

fb-lpt-sm.pngThis is the time of year where I'm working with law firms on developing strategic marketing and business development plans (and budgets!) for 2013. As I said to one marketing partner yesterday, while we need to be fluid and creative, you still need an outline and parameters to be as effective as you'd like to be. It is with that thought in mind, as we enter the final "holiday" phase of the calendar year that this month's LPT asked for contributions along that line.

Many thanks to Barbara Brown of Meagher & Geer in Minneapolis, MN for serving as the issue editor for the timely "Prepare your 2012 business development goals now" theme of this month's Law Practice Today.

Among the excellent contributions are those from a number of my Philadelphia-centric colleagues. Nancy Gimbol of Eastburn & Gray (and a member of the LPT editorial board) discusses establishing a culture for marketing and business development in a mid-sized law firm. Amy Galie and Amanda Steinbach of big firm Fox Rothschild address big law issues in "Business Development - Fail to Plan and Plan to Fail." Greg Stephens provides the managing partner view in "How to obtain and retain clients." Thanks as well to this month's feature contributors Allan Coleman, Greg Stephens, Steve Henning and David Freeman.

To read the November issue, click here.

If you are interested in writing for LPT, please contact ABA LPM for more information. We are always looking for good, original contributions from "real life" lawyers and industry experts.

Thanks,

Micah U. Buchdahl
Editor in Chief
Law Practice Today

November 19, 2012

Are Women's Initiatives in Big Law Firms Really Underfunded, or Misdirected?

Why do I have the feeling that discussing Women's Initiatives in law firms will only get me into trouble?top_logo.gif

A recent report by the National Association of Women Lawyers finds that 97% of large law firms have women's initiatives, but that they often lack the funding and goals to make a difference. I read the entire 34-page report, and came to a few conclusions. First, nothing surprised me about the results. Second, most of the concerns correlate to one another. Yes, there are less equity partners, thus yes, women don't end up with as much rainmaking credit; thus yes, women don't end up in positions of firm-wide leadership (since they are not equity partners and not originating business); and yes, women don't receive the same compensation since they are not originating as much business. In the end, it all comes back to the ability to generate business.

What the report fails to do is offer any real solutions to the stated problems. I've worked with many similar initiatives over the last 10+ years and found mixed results. For the most part, it is not for a lack of funding. Law firms finance these efforts, and finance related activities. Surprisingly (that is my mocking voice), putting a firm logo or advertisement in a dinner program or similar magazine supplement does not make things better. Providing "workshops" on rainmaking by people that are not actually female lawyer rainmakers in real life don't help either (if you are going to be effective, then you need to provide women partners from your own law firm). And, finally, providing spa services and high teas (yes, these are done) does not lead a female associate into the partnership and leadership ranks of a law firm.

In highlighting "networking", the question is whether largely internal, female-isolated events really do anything to correct the problems of partnership, origination and compensation. Isn't your best bet to expose attorneys of any gender to the most successful rainmakers (of any gender) within your firms? Many of the networking events are subliminal (or not) recruiting and retention vehicles for women attorneys. With more and more corporate counsel expecting (and demanding) a more diverse mix, law firm leadership often sweat the lack of representation from the non-male core. Simply not having female partners can lead to lost business--and at the end of the day revenue is revenue, regardless of who specifically is bringing it in.

I've found it imperative that a women's initiative be led by example--by a female attorney that has successfully navigated the minefield to partnership at your law firm. Rather than run around and attend "women's" programming, attend practice-specific and leadership conferences that are not necessarily about gender. The greatest benefit of affinity groups--and I could say the same thing about groups directed toward race, religion, charitable or civic commonality--is that we are more likely to send business to similarly situated colleagues--thus the value there is in networking that would ideally lead to actual origination.

Where my views and ideas tail off is when the conversation really shifts from sexism and bias to work-life balance and parenthood. Many of the post-report articles morphed into discussions about quality of life, and in some cases, pointed to the publicized departure memo from a Clifford Chance associate. I read the memo, and to be honest with you, gave out a quiet "boo hoo." She briefly references her husband as a do-nothing helper. I have no idea who he is or what he does, but I can tell you that if he does not contribute his fair share to child-rearing, they can go see a therapist. That is not a big law issue, it is a marital one. There is a tradeoff to the money you earn at Big Law. In working with young associates, I'll often remind them that they are not earning $200k for nothing. And there are family decisions to be made by the "corporation" of two partners (if I sympathize with anyone on these issues, it is one parent households). You can maximize revenue at the expense of day-to-day happiness; hire help at the expense of raising your own kids; and have a household with two inflexible jobs that leads to constant stress. I live in a two professional household with two little ones (4 and 8), and we weigh the pros and cons of each of these things in all of our decision-making. I know that in the last week, I missed one day taking care of one sick kid and my wife missed one day taking care of the other.

If your firm is serious about narrowing the gender gap, then you need to get more serious as to process, procedure and where the money is spent versus being able to say that you support it and fund it. There is support and then there is support. Some of the most effective law firm management committee partners I interact with are female. For the most part, they are not thought of as "representing the female constituent" but are in those positions of power because they have been successful lawyers. Building initiatives that can lead to the desired end result would be a welcome change.

November 8, 2012

LP Magazine - Auditing Your Law Firm Marketing Efforts

november-december12cover.jpgIn the November/December issue of Law Practice, my marketing column is entitled "Auditing Your Efforts" and discusses the value and importance of a law firm objectively auditing its marketing and business development efforts. Read it to see how I compare myself favorably to Tom Cruise (although the editorial team deleted my reference to Scientology).

There was a time when spending money on an audit would have been borderline crazy--since so little time and effort was being invested--what did you really have to lose anyway? Today, however, law firms are investing heavily in these endeavors and often find that efforts are often...overpriced, ineffective, or simply off the mark. A proper audit is an important accompaniment to a strategic plan and a budget. The time has come where ROI needs to be measured, and a firm's marketing foundation solidified. It is not all that different from the recent energy audit conducted on my home--imagine how much I would save with the right equipment and resources in place? If your law firm has never conducted a thorough marketing audit, talk to me about it. Year-end and the start of a new year are perfect times to evaluate. As I like to say, stop throwing good money after bad.