Articles Posted in Speaking/CLE

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ABA_CLE.pngAmerican Bar Association members receive free continuing legal education credits through the monthly CLE Premier Speaker Series. Sponsored by the ABA and the Center for Professional Development, thousands of attorneys participate in each month’s complimentary webinar program.

It is a tremendous honor to have my program, Lawyer Rankings and Ratings: The Impact on Ethics and the Profession, selected for inclusion, on Monday, October 21, 2013 from 1-2:30 pm Eastern Time. If you are an ABA member, be sure to take advantage of attending this timely and topical CLE.

There may not be a bigger “industry” in law firm marketing and business development circles than the continued growth and proliferation of rankings and ratings. The Rules of Professional Conduct and ethics opinions have tried in vain to develop workable ethics barriers and parameters, however, the impact on the profession is significant–from the time and money spent to the permissible uses for promotion. Learn about ratings and their methodologies, and the ethical considerations voiced by various state and national bar associations. From long-time services by Martindale, American Lawyer Media, Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers; to relative newcomers such as Chambers USA and Avvo; and the thousands of other companies that have recognized there is a lot of money to be made in the business of lawyer rankings. Are they helping buyers of legal services make more informed decisions or hindering the profession as a whole?

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specialties.jpgIf you’ve attended any of my Internet marketing ethics CLEs since I started teaching them in the late 90s, you know I said this was coming. Remember when my prime example of social media was a MySpace profile? Yeah, things have changed a bit. But concern about the content in unforeseen online content has always been something I examine in writing and reviewing law firm marketing efforts.

On June 26, 2013, the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics issued Opinion 972, which in a nutshell says that “a Law firm may not list its services under heading of “Specialties” on a social media site, and lawyer may not do so unless certified as a specialist by an appropriate organization or governmental authority.” The opinion cites adherence to RPC rule 7.4.

In most cases and most states, I’ve discouraged attorneys from utilizing the “specialties” category for some time. In some cases, I suggest doing so with an added disclaimer pointing to the RPC. However, this is the first ethics opinion I’m aware of that really addresses the particular issue head on.

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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

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aba_cpd_general_sm.jpgAmerican Bar Association (ABA) incoming President James R. Silkenat has reappointed attorney Micah Buchdahl to a three year term on the Standing Committee of Continuing Legal Education (SCOCLE). The committee is a driving force behind all aspects of lawyer professional development and continuing legal education programming.

Buchdahl is President of Moorestown, New Jersey-based HTMLawyers, a law marketing consultancy, where he works with law firms around the globe on business development initiatives and strategies. He is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania.

The ABA Center for Professional Development (formerly Center for CLE) is guided by the SCOCLE, working closely with experts from ABA Sections and other entities and from the profession at large in developing programs and products. It serves as the central resource for the ABA and the profession for up-to-the-minute, quality CLE distributed through a variety of convenient formats.

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For more than a decade, I’ve provided the Pennsylvania Bar Institute with an annual ethics program on a law marketing or advertising topic. Over the years I’ve focused on a different theme each year–starting with Internet marketing ethics in the late 90s to years where I’ve focused on Supreme Court cases, social media, rankings & ratings–whatever was new and “hot.” This year, I simply pick 13 current areas that have recently been addressed or still come into play.

This year’s program will likely change from the first presentation (April) to the second and third compliance period presentations in August and December. However, there are plenty areas of interest to go around. Included in this year’s program is discussion of trade names, websites, blogs, social media, Groupons, specialization, ratings & rankings, direct mail, mobile marketing, video and whatever new ethics opinion comes across my desk this week.

In April, I will present live for PBI in Pittsburgh on April 24 and home in Philadelphia on April 26. Check the PBI website for video replays and additional live dates later in the year.

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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.

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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.

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What better place to repeat the ever-popular “online marketing ethics” course for lawyers than in my old stomping grounds, before a Sixers game at the Wachovia Center…where I was an in-house attorney back in the day.

This new PBI program includes an hour of ethics CLE and a Sixers game against the San Antonia Spurs. To learn more or to register, visit the PBI Site.

The possible tools are endless – web sites, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook, search engine optimization, referral resources, e-mail, etc. – and so are the ethics opinions, rules and interpretations of state bars coast-to-coast. Thinking about the states where you are licensed, where you have offices and where you seek clients…and staying compliant is enough to make your hard drive crash. This one hour program will examine the tools and the rules, so you can go out and use the business development opportunities on the Internet without running astray of the Rules of Professional Responsibility.