Articles Tagged with “ABA Law Practice Magazine”

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LPcover_JulyAugust2022-231x300The last few years of recruiting and hiring marketing staff for law firms has certainly been interesting. On the plus side, law firms continue to invest in marketing and business development personnel. Some might argue that it is even more important as we come out of COVID and start to connect and reconnect with clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. The law firms that have retained me have been wiling to make the proper investment to hire the right people. On the minus side, depending on geographic location (I’ve placed marketers in the MidAtlantic, Northeast, Midwest, and South in the last year), the pool of candidates can be quite shallow. I won’t go into specifics, but some markets simply have more available talent than others.

My marketing column in the July/August 2022 issue of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Magazine, Staffing Your Law Firm Marketing Team, addresses many of the issues and concerns that law firms have (or should have) when it comes to new hires. Like the job market everywhere, there are lots of moving people and moving parts. In some cities, the best some law firms can do is poach junior personnel from competing law firms by overpaying. This is happening more at the lower to mid-level positions on a marketing team. To oversimplify things, you end up hiring someone else’s marketing coordinator by offering him/her $75k when they are earning 50k where they are.

Pre-COVID, there was no talk of hybrid versus fully remote, and less discussion of a willingness to hire in a satellite office market versus one of a law firm’s more substantial office locations. As I often tell my law firm clients, I’m still a bit old school when it comes to having a marketer that you can see and interact with at the water cooler on occasion. On the flip side, I’ve had some marketers complain to me that it made no sense to sit in an office when 95% of the attorneys there are working from home (or the shore, or in the Virgin Islands somewhere). I’ve found that “back in the office” is more about geography than a law firm deciding across the board. I’ve sat down in many law firm offices across the country in the last year—yet not a single visit to New York City (which is a quick New Jersey commuter train from my home), although I’ve been to ballgames and other sporting events in NYC.

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LPcover_MarchApril2022-232x300In that brief time snugly between delta and omicron, I had the opportunity to speak at a law firm retreat. Live. In-Person. With people. No masks. In a hotel. Food served. It was circa 2019 and it was so nice to put on a suit and close the Zoom app.  In the March/April 2022 issue of Law Practice, I discuss The Return of Law Firm Retreats.

An argument can be made that the law firm retreat in 2022 or 2023 will look and feel a lot different from those in the past. For a myriad of reasons:

Mergers and movement of attorneys and practice groups did not stop over the last few years, meaning there are lots of people at your law firm that you’ve never actually met before. The retreat becomes the perfect venue for getting acquainted.

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LP Magazine - Leadership IssueThe third annual Up-Down Drill, which played off my favorite morning-after column in The Philadelphia Inquirer after an Eagles game (why did Jeff McLane stop doing it?), was one of the more difficult to write. In the November/December 2021 issue of Law Practice, The Law Marketing Up/Down Drill tackles relationship-building, lawyer ratings, webinars, social justice and getting back out in the real world for in-person business development.

It was especially difficult to write due to my failure to prognosticate exactly how COVID would play out since the first quarter of 2020. It is still hard to believe we’re getting ready to hit the two year mark—and normalcy still seems to still be slightly in the rear view mirror (remembering that “objects are closer than they appear”). However, I finally got to go out and do my first in-person presentation last weekend—a law firm retreat in the DC area—in front of a crowd and without a mask over my mouth), so there is that. See my next LP column for more about the return of the law firm retreat.

Roaring back—hopefully—is true blue relationship building. While Zoom happy hours and wine tastings were quite the creation, the option of grabbing a drink or lunch or golfing has never looked so good. And as I’ve been counseling my law firm clients, strike while the iron is hot. People are not overbooked or over traveling yet—and are eager to accept the invites. That will not last forever. The “I’m way too busy to get together” will return in time.

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LPcover_JulyAugust2021-231x300Yes, I went with the lowest hanging fruit of topics for my marketing column in the July/August 2021 issue of Law Practice, Getting to In-House Without Ending Up in the Outhouse, by doling out pearls of wisdom as it relates to a law firm’s successful pitching of corporate counsel. It never fails to draw an audience.

Unfortunately, one of the key pieces of advice is simply this—everyone is different. It is a very subjective measuring stick. And for some reason, many articles written, and programs presented respond to a handful of in-house folks’ personal philosophies as if they were trends in the industry. When I drafted the column, I used as an example the Benjamin Moore & Co. decision to dismiss its entire legal department. Spoiler alert—it was not a trend. It was a one-off. And if I were writing the same column from scratch today, I’d replace that example with the recent uproar created by Eric Grossman, Morgan Stanley’s longtime chief legal officer, who sent a “warning” to the bank’s outside law firms about their policies allowing remote work and “the lack of urgency to return lawyers to the office.” Hey, if that is a “requirement” for Eric and/or Morgan Stanley—then perhaps my law firm would comply to get or retain the business. Because, as I said, it is a subjective target.

Of course, putting the squeeze on law firms to get attorneys back into the office is probably a little tone deaf today. Most of the law firms I work with and interact with most certainly would like to see attorneys and staff back in the workplace—but not at the expense of health and safety. They also must balance the happiness of associates—who are often in positions to bolt for greener pastures if they don’t like the arrangement. Work from Morgan Stanley would be great; but if you don’t have lawyers to staff it, then you lose regardless.

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LPcover_MarchApril2021-231x300Earlier this week, I read an interesting article about how business travel will never fully return, because you can just go on Zoom, saving a ton of time and money. The story and premise all made sense until a quote at the end saying that the first time someone lost a sales pitch to a competitor that presented in-person—they’ll be right back on those airplanes. And I shook my head knowing that was so true.

Zoom fatigue is very real. Many of us have slowly chopped down on screen time whenever possible. However, when you really think, imagine life without it the last year? At least we see each other’s faces. What if the whole year was just thousands of hours of faceless conference calls?

Most of my phone and videoconferencing meetings with attorneys and law firms these last 13 months or so have revolved around the topic of my marketing column in the March/April 2021 issue of Law Practice, Replacing Face-to-Face in Business Development. While the subject of virtual online meetings is already old and stale (if you have not figured it out by now, nobody can help you), unfortunately we are still living a life of staying relevant and visible without the fun part of business networking—lunches, conferences, social outings—all those things that in the end really seal the deal for new business, winning business, referrals and references. I hope this column is soon very outdated (I’d like it to be laughable), but the timeline I give out about resuming face-to-face is a moving needle. So we still need to approach much of 2021 like we did most of 2020. Having said that, I’m scheduled to get dose one of the vaccine this week—and with it you start to think a little more wide-eyed about the people you can see and the places you can go. My calendar now shows some very possible business and conference travel in Q4. You can only hope.

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LPcover_NovDec2019-231x300There was some sense of irony that on the same day the latest issue of Law Practice arrived via the U.S. Mail that I was in Philadelphia talking to the Greater Philadelphia Law Library Association at their 2019 GPLLA Institute Bringing a Marketing Mindset into the Law Library program at Drexel’s Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy. You may be wondering how I am going to tie in that speaking engagement into the subject for my marketing column in the November/December 2019 issue of the ABA Law Practice Magazine, Marketing Musical Chairs.

At the GPLLA program, I was asked to speak on the topic of “Marketing Your Organization’s Milestone Anniversaries.” For my remarks, I was able to basically work from my magazine marketing column from 2014 on Age over Beauty? Marketing a Law Firm’s Anniversary. Another friendly marketing reminder on the power of blogs and search—in making content not only still relevant six years later, but repurposing itself into a speaking slot.

What do librarians have to do with the rapid turnover of professional marketing personnel in the law firm business? Well…back when I started working with law firms on marketing and business development initiatives in the late ‘90s, it was not unusual for a law firm to point me towards the library when chatting with the person in charge of marketing. While we were technically nearly two decades beyond Bates vs. Arizona and the ability for lawyers to market themselves at the time, attorneys were super slow to accept and adapt. So the person that updated the text-heavy, pay by the line, six-figure investment that was the Martindale-Hubbell print directory listings was marketing in their eyes.

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LPcover_JulyAugust2019-237x300In the nearly 20 years that I’ve run my law marketing consultancy, HTMLawyers, there are few things I enjoy more than the in-person pitch. For me, those pitches are always at law firms, and often are delivered to a variety of audiences—a few select attorneys, a management committee, or marketing committee. But I always feel like if I have the opportunity to describe my services and offerings “live” that I have a great chance of getting the business.

Of course, I also find from time to time that those opportunities are not real. Some firms are just looking for free advice, others are looking to get a better price out of their current providers, and some really have no idea what they are looking for (but it is not what I’m selling). While I never hesitate to spend out-of-pocket travel and time on a pitch invite that sounds viable, I still feel a bit deflated when I quickly realize I was wasting my time. But that goes with the territory. On the flip side, there are pitches that I thought were a waste of time and turned out to be quite lucrative. Yet others did not pay off at that moment in time, but many years later. In some cases, declining the invite–which I did not too long ago from an Am Law 200 law firm—can be the smartest move yet. You just know it is a loser. So you don’t waste your billable time and money on something that was not going to be profitable.

Just this week I was preparing one of my law firm clients for a huge pitch opportunity at a Fortune 100 company. In reviewing the correspondence between the in-house legal department and the law firm, I was as excited about it as if it was me doing the pitching. Because I know that getting in the door to sit down with corporate counsel and pitch a law firms’ services is as good as it gets in business development. Yet I continue to be amazed how many law firms blow it…and that is the subject for my marketing column in the July/August 2019 issue of the ABA Law Practice Magazine, Wild Pitches: Law Firms Often Miss the Strike Zone.

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LPcover_MarchApril2019-235x300I read many articles on the morning after an Eagles win in my local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer. On the day after a loss, I read a few less—but win or lose, I enjoy the Up/Down drill that points out the highs and the lows with a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or simply two thumbs going sideways. So I thought I could copy the concept in what I plan on having as an annual column, The Law Marketing Up/Down Drill in the March/April 2019 issue of the ABA Law Practice Magazine.

For my column, the beauty of the up/down drill is that it allows me to cover a myriad of hot topics and areas of interest in law firm marketing circles—rather than just focusing on one. You’ll need to click over to the column above for the detail, but here is a synopsis of the subject matter addressed. You may not agree with my opinion or perspective on all of them. I’d love to hear from you.

Online Reviews

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LPcoverNovDec2018-235x300Perhaps life has really been about search all along. We search for the right job, the right spouse, the right schools, the right restaurants, pretty much the right everything. So Google has either made searching easier, or harder, depending on how you look at it.

In today’s legal marketplace, as lawyers, we want to make sure that we can be found by those doing the searching. What complicates things for people like me in the “law marketing biz” is that the methods, tools, tricks and rules keep changing—those pesky algorithms—meaning that you need some sort of online PhD to keep your law firm clients on track, so they can be found by their prospective clients. So it made sense for me to address this fluid subject matter in my November/December 2018 ABA Law Practice Magazine column, In Search of…Lawyers and Clients (For 2019 and Beyond).

As is the case with most of my marketing columns, the topic finds me. Every day, I’m working and talking with different attorneys at different law firms in different parts of the country—and whatever topic comes up the most is often my next column. A few conversations on the most effective search mechanisms left my head spinning. I’m not going to lie about it either. I had no idea what newsjacking or hyperlocalization or geo-fencing was. I did not know all the nuances of what could and could not go into various forms of Facebook advertising. And focusing on things like “snippets” in Google definitely helped me steer some of my law firms in the right direction.

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LPcover_JulyAugust2018-234x300Whenever I pass a roadside diner promising something like “world’s best cherry pie,” I think about lawyer advertising restrictions. Because no law firm or lawyer could tout themselves as the best or greatest—and many of the taglines, phrases and symbols used to market products and services to consumers are restricted or outright prohibited in the legal profession.

Of course, I’m a sucker for that cherry pie. And it never is remotely close to the best I’ve ever had, but I also know the difference between a marketing message and stark reality. Which all somehow leads into the topic of my marketing column in the July/August 2018 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, Law Marketing Model Rule Revisions – Better Late than Never?

It remains to be seen what will actually happen to the proposed model rule changes to law marketing and advertising when it gets to the ABA House of Delegates in August. After all, it is a long way from the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility (which arrived via multiple reports starting in 2015 from the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers—APRL) to the House floor. The debates at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver this past February volleyed back and forth between those that thought the suggested revisions went too far, and others who firmly believed they did not go far enough. Of course, once something is approved—state bars often like to remind us that they are nothing more than “model” rules, and that the states will decide themselves what direction lawyer advertising should go in down the pike.

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