Articles Posted in American Bar Association

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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+.

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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.

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november-december13cover.jpgIn the November/December 2013 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine, my marketing column talks about a favorite topic of many law firms (sarcasm) – branding! My constant yipping, yapping and yammering at the conference room table to law firm partners about branding is often met by head nods, eye rolls and that innate sense they believe my briefcase contains a liter bottle of snake oil.

Truth be told, there is really no such thing as marketing without branding. Because what we are doing with all that time, money and energy is developing, enhancing, refreshing or creating a brand or brands. Together with determining market position and looking to increase market share, the brand truly is the heart of the marketing message. This article should provide attorneys with a quick primer on what goes into branding–and why you need to care about it. There is a reason corporations spend huge sums of money protecting their brand–because that is what the public is buying. And damage to a brand or a weak brand identity will eventually lead to your demise.

Many attorneys and some law firm marketers still seem to think that a brand is a logo–determining colors and what type of coffee mug to put it on. When was the last time your firm refreshed its brand? Or conducted a branding & positioning audit? If you don’t know the answer, it has been too long. You’ve likely added an office here, a new practice area there, an attorney or two along the way. All of those components can shift your focus. If this is a topic of interest, you can learn more about Brand Development & Strategy here.