If 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.
The 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?
In 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
The 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.
In 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.
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.
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.
In 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.
Join 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.
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: