Articles Posted in ABA Law Practice Management Section

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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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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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LPM_JA15_cover-nospine.jpgYou could also call my column in the July/August 2015 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine, “101 Uses for an Article,” but in The True Value of Your Published Work, I discuss how sitting down to write one article can pay dividends in so many ways. The key is not to think about the time spent as writing one article for one publication, but more as writing one thing that will be repurposed in so many ways.

This very blog post you are reading is yet another use of one article. Perhaps you reached this blog post through one of my social media feeds. Or maybe I handed you this very column during a pitch meeting at your law firm or during a subsequent meeting with an attorney about business development planning.

Print deadlines being what they are, I just submitted my next column for Law Practice earlier this week. You won’t see it until November. I would never spill the beans on the subject matter, but suffice it to say that while rereading it, I was struck that the column could be turned into an entire CLE program…and you will likely see it as my Ethics Potpourri offering in 2016 for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute. It is a little disturbing that this idea came to me in my sleep last night (there are better things to dream about), but it occurred to me that the column could be the centerpiece of the program and the accompanying written materials. In other words, the four hours or so that I put into writing, research and editing will pay numerous dividends moving forward. You get the idea.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.