Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Step Into Your Client's Shoes" & Other Practical Advice

Suzanne Kearns’ “5 New Year’s Resolutions to Consider for Your Business” on the Intuit Small Business Blog. Today’s post comes from an unlikely source, but that might be the very reason you should read it. Because it isn’t written for lawyers. It’s written for anyone running a business, for anyone who has customers and employees and goals and expectations. Who forgets sometimes that what she is doing often means the difference between success and failure for the people she’s doing it for. That the end game isn’t her product – the contract or the argument or the agreement – but what the client does with it.

“Step into your customer’s shoes,” writes Kearns. That’s solid advice, because it forces you to look at the context for your work, the world surrounding your client, the pressures he faces every day, the problems that he wants you to make go away. And so are the other four resolutions she proposes. Read the post. Take Kearns' advice. And make 2012 a great year, for your clients, for your employees, for your practice, and for yourself.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good Habits Come to Those Who Change: Reprioritizing Your Life

Tony Schwartz’ “‘No’ is the New ‘Yes’: Four Practices to Reprioritize Your Life” on his blog at the Harvard Business Review's HBR Blog Nework. Are you addicted to saying “yes”? To the rush of adrenaline that comes with taking on more than you can possibly get done in a ten hour day and a sixty hour week? To the high that comes from working late into the night to solve the unsolvable crisis, without losing your stride? Then you’ll benefit from reading this post, and following Schwartz’ advice.

It’s never easy to break bad habits. And when one of those habits is saying “yes” to things that make your life exciting, it’s likely to take more than reading a blog post and adopting Schwartz’ “four simple practices.” But it’s a start, an important step in the right direction. And if you, like Schwartz, can refocus your day, redefine your priorities, and recover time that’s better spent on the things you should be doing, you’ll thank yourself for the trouble.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Client Satisfaction: Start by Annoying Them Less

Matt Homann’s “Annoy Your Clients Less: Five Steps” on the Attorney at Work blog. Nobody wants to think that they annoy their clients. But all of us probably do. Homann’s post is less about not annoying your clients, though, than about making them happy. And isn’t making your clients happy your real job? Sure, they’ve asked you to research that issue or draft that contract or develop that argument. But what they really want is for you to make them happy, for you to solve their problems or at least make them go away for a little while.

Homann’s post will help you do that. Because he gives you concrete, achievable, practical steps for identifying that which makes your clients squirm. So you can stop doing it. Read the post, and start making your clients happier. Sounds like a good new year’s resolution, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Getting to the Point: You've Got 30 Seconds. Go.

Ron Ashkenas’ “In Presentations, Learn to Say Less” from his blog on the Harvard Blog Network. What would you do if you had to compress 30 minutes of message into 30 seconds? If every word that came out of your mouth – not every paragraph, not every sentence, but every single word – had to articulate your point? Transmit your material? Tell your story, make your argument, communicate, convince, and change your listener? Could you turn, as Ashkenas writes, “a ‘presentation’ into a ‘tweet’”?

Getting to the point isn’t innate. It’s nurture, not nature, a skill that can be learned and practiced and mastered. That’s where Ashkenas’ post comes in. His steps for refining your message and improving your delivery will start you off right. You’ll need to add time and discipline and hard work. But in the end, it will be worth it. You'll see it in the faces of your audience.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Spring Cleaning Tips: Unclutter Your Practice (and Your Life)

Allison Shields’ “Less is More” on her profile at JD Supra. I’m not sure I agree with Shields that less is more, but she’s spot on when she says it’s better. Particularly when it comes to out-of-date electronic files, old documents and periodicals, meetings you don’t really need, and all of the other things that clutter up your life. Shields thinks you can do without 50 of those things, and she provides a useful list to help you take your first steps down the path of getting along with less.

The first item on her list? Your worst clients. Yeah, that’s right, the clients that cost you more than they bring in, the clients that argue over every bill, the clients that miss appointments and distract you from the ones you appreciate and the work you love. The “20% of your clients” that give you “80% of your headaches.” Think you can do that? It won’t be easy, but it will make your practice – and your life – better, richer, and more fulfilling. Read the post. And start clearing out the clutter.

Friday, January 13, 2012

SWOT's That? You Want To Grow Your Law Firm?

Julian Summerhayes’ “A Good Old Fashioned S.W.O.T. Analysis” on his blog Brand You. Written as a guide for lawyers and firms that are considering branching out into new practice areas, Summerhayes’ post is a useful reminder of the planning and analysis that goes into any successful initiative. Even if that initiative is just business as usual.

Because there’s more to this post than a standard, “good old-fashioned SWOT analysis,” as Summerhayes describes it. The template he’s put together for analyzing practice initiatives is in fact a template for analyzing the firm itself. Yes, you can use it to sort through your firm’s willingness, abilities, and affinities for taking on new expansion efforts. But the questions Summerhayes sets out will guide the analysis you should do (and do often) of the institutional strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that bear on every effort your firm undertakes. Read the post. And have a happy Friday the 13th!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Client Communication: Sometimes It’s Not Just About You

Mark Britton’s “Keeping Clients Through Communication” on the Lawyernomics blog. Britton’s post is based on a premise that you probably already know: the foundation of client service is communication. Meaningful communication, regular communication, open communication. But there’s more to it than picking up the phone to chat about the weather… Communication on its own isn’t worth much when it doesn’t tell your client everything they need to know. Like when you don’t have the expertise they need to solve a particular problem. Or when it would make more sense to bring in someone with more experience. Or even that you represent other clients that occasionally need your attention too.

Good communication is more than a good idea. That much you know. But unless you’re telling your client what they need to hear, the conversation might end sooner than you would like. Britton’s post can help you make sure it doesn’t.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Client Service: The Big Four Secrets of Big Four Success

Tom Kilroy’s “Big 4 a reason” on his blog GC’s Eye View. Let me say this up front: when you discover a blog written by a general counsel, add it to your RSS feed. Whether they’re writing about how the Big Four run client-service circles around law firms (as Kilroy does in today’s post), or biscuits or burgers, general counsel blog about that which is most important to them. And by “that which is important to them” I really mean “that which is important to you.”

Kilroy’s post demonstrates that point. In it, he looks at the ways in which the Big Four approach client service as he isolates what he sees as four secrets behind their success. Not their delivery of legal services secrets, nor their empirical knowledge secrets, but their client service secrets. The way they talk to their clients about the problems those clients are facing. The way they help their clients prepare for future challenges. They way they establish meaningful relationships with the people leading and managing the companies for which they work. Because those are the things that are important to Kilroy and, as he makes it clear in his post, those are the things he’d like his outside lawyers do more.

Shouldn't you be doing them too?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Legal Costs: 5 Ways to Help Your Clients Reduce Their Legal Spend


Ron Friedmann’s “Open Letter to General Counsels: Five Imperatives for 2012” on his blog Strategic Legal Technology. Spoiler alert:  Friedmann’s imperatives for GCs are all about controlling costs. But that’s not particularly surprising, since the cost of legal services is something that 65% of the general counsel surveyed by Corporate Counsel indicated they would like to change in 2012.

So why should an outside lawyer read a post that advises her clients how to save money by spending less on outside lawyers? The cynic would respond: “because she must adapt or die,” but there’s more to it than that. The outside lawyer (let’s call her “you” in this example) should read Friedmann’s post because it describes how you can improve your relationships with your clients, how you can help those clients meet their own personal and professional objectives, and how you can maintain and possibly expand crucial client relationships.

Read the post. Talk to your clients. Help them determine what problems they need to solve, how much law is enough, the legal resources they need for the issues they have to resolve, how they can measure costs (and value), how to get more for less. Because, as Friedmann writes, “if you can’t do that, others can.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

Law Mergers: Is Bigger Better? Or Just Bigger?

Steven Harper’s “Another Day, Another Law Firm Merger” from his blog, The Belly of the Beast. This post is a few months old, but that doesn’t take anything away from Harper’s analysis of the challenges facing large law firms that combine to become, well, larger. And in doing so, he sheds light on some of the myths of success that drive the urge to merge: bigger is better because profits will grow, bigger is better because laterals will find us more attractive, bigger is better because it brings greater value to the partnership. The truth? Bigger may be better, but it’s above all just bigger. And that makes a law firm merger hard to pull off, for a number of reasons (as Harper lays out).

Does this mean firms shouldn’t merge? Harper doesn’t say, at least not in so many words. And why should he when no one would listen to him: firms will keep on merging as long as their leaders and partners keep thinking that bigger is better. But they’d do well to heed one of his lessons as they “take herculean efforts to vindicate” their merger strategy: “beware of that spin-thing.” Come to think of it, that’s a lesson for us all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Time Management: Done is the New Perfect

Melanie Pinola’s “The Done Manifesto Lays Out 13 Ground Rules for Getting to Done” at lifehacker. Still perfecting your business plan? Editing and re-editing your website copy? Tweaking draft after draft of your LinkedIn profile so that it reads “just right”? Re-running the Google search just to make sure nothing new has been published in the past hour on [insert research topic of the day here]? You’re probably not alone. But you’re probably not going to get very far on your to-do list, either.

Lawyers tend to approach work as if each project were so important that there is unlimited time to get it done. It’s not true. There’s never enough time, there’s always more work to do, and there’s always someone waiting for you to finish your part so they can start working on theirs.

Fortunately for you (and for them), done is the new perfect. Done is what gets work out the door, gets checks in the bank, gets new clients on the phone and into the office. So read this post, and then get your work done. Before lunch. So you can do that other thing you’ve been meaning to get to when you had a little extra time.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Law Marketing and Business Development: 2011 Was a Good Year (Your Favorites)


Yesterday I listed ten of my favorite resources featured on this blog in 2011. Now it’s your turn. Here are the ten posts you read the most last year.
  1. Michael Chang's "Think, and Act, Globally" from the Martindale Connected Lawyer Career Center. Chang is an international lawyer in the true sense of the word: multi-lingual and multi-cultural, he spent much of his career working outside of his "home" country. So when he writes about his experience, about what he's learned, about embracing the new and different, I sit up and listen. You should too. It's a big world out there. Experience it. And follow Chang's advice. (It's a big world. Experience it)

  2. John Hellerman's "5 Marketing Lessons From Howrey’sGraveside" at Law 360. RIP, Howrey. And Brobeck, Thelen, Coudert Brothers, Heller Ehrman. What can we learn from the demise of these almost too successful, too well known, too traditional, too well established to fail law firms? Plenty, if we listen closely enough. Hellerman does, and has written a thoughtful piece on marketing, branding, and products, and how they played a role in Howrey's failure. Can these lessons alone save your firm from collapse? Probably not. But if you're listening, they might just help you make it a little stronger. (Sorry Santayana: it's the ones who don't heed the lessons of the past that are doomed)

  3. Ron Friedmann's "Empirical Overview: The Life Cycle ofthe Client-Law Firm Relationship" from the Integreon blog. Miss this year's Georgetown University Law Center’s Future of Law Conference? No worries. Friedmann didn't, and has recapped several key sessions from the seminar on his blog, including this one presented by Lisa Hart, Chief Executive of Acritas, who talked to more than 2000 general counsels to find out what makes a law firm "top of mind" for their clients. There's clearly a lot more to Hart's study than the statistics included in this post, but when you learn that only 5% of clients cited "low cost" as a driver of selection, do you really need more data? (How many times do you have to hear this?)

  4. Michael Chang's "Luck - It Depends on How You Look atIt" at In-house ACCess. This isn't the first time we've recommended a post from Michael Chang. And it likely will not be the last. Chang exemplifies the true nature of globalization: not money moving around the globe or products being made ever more cheaply or the exotic reduced to kitsch and stereotype, but discovery and enrichment and empowerment. He's a road warrior working out of a suitcase and a hotel lobby, an immigrant learning the language by watching TV, and a California surfer dude all rolled up into one. And he's a potential client. So when he writes about being multilingual and multicultural, you need to read it. And then get out there and expand your own world. Prepare your own future. Make your own luck. (See the world. Learn a new language. Make your own luck)

  5. Mark Herrmann's "Inside Straight: Hiring Law Firms orLawyers?" at Above The Law. Yes, it would be nice to put this question to rest, as Herrmann longingly suggests. But that's probably not going to happen, at least not until law firms realize that their brand isn't their firm, but their people (right Mr Hellerman?). But this post is more than an exploration -- albeit an exhaustive one -- of why clients hire lawyers and not law firms. It's also a gauntlet thrown down at the feet of every firm that seeks to provide comprehensive service across multiple jurisdictions. It's an indictment of the "bigger is better" theory. It's a call for law firms to step up and apply stringent standards of quality across the board (and maybe even the globe). How are you going to respond? (Too big to succeed? A client's take on hiring law firms)

  6. Dan Hull's "In Praise of Structure" from his blog "What About Clients?" This post nailed it so well -- the working style of this culture, of the BigLaw environment where I learned how to work -- that it reached out of my computer screen and slapped me in the face. There's no guarantee it will do the same for you, but chances are pretty good that it will cause you to think about your work habits, about your project management skills, about the importance of setting deadlines and sticking to them. On every single project you touch. And it will also serve to remind you that no matter what you might read elsewhere, you can count on Hull to tell it like it really is, to tell you what's really important, to articulate why perfect is the new good enough. (Structure and deadlines. They're not just for clients)

  7. Rees Morrison's "How to help your law firms understandyour business better" on his blog Law Department Management. We've featured Morrison's posts before. They provide valuable insight into what clients are thinking, what they are looking for, what they consider to be problems with the delivery of legal services. Apparently, the ignorance of outside counsel with respect to the business of their clients is one of those problems. But I wouldn't say that resolving this one is the responsibility of the client (though I certainly understand Morrison suggesting client-based solutions). On the contrary. Knowing their client's business -- what they do, where they do it, who they're competing with, etc. --  is some of the best "business development" a lawyer can do. Read the post. Then read up on your client. They'll be glad you did. (Think you know your clients' business? Your clients may not agree)

  8. Leo Babauta's "Your Emails Are Too Long" on the zenhabits blog. It all starts with communication, doesn't it? And it all ends with communication, too. So the next time you're writing an email, focus less on enumerating everything you have to say and more on what the recipient has to read. Be concise. Have a point. Get to it quickly. Use no more than five sentences. Ask no more than one question. Don't make your recipient work too hard, because she probably won't. It's your email, after all: isn't it only fair that you do the work? Read this post, then start cutting. Your clients and colleagues and friends and family will appreciate it."Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte"- Blaise Pascal, Lettres provincials(Sending an email? It's probably too long already)

  9. Scott Preston's "Technology is not your friend – yourclient is" on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. To honor this week's release of Google+, today's post is about using technology, the cutting edge kind, to interact with clients. But it's not a post about shiny, happy people using shiny, happy tools to foster shinier, happier relationships. It's more like a giant level-set for everyone who thinks that Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and all of the private and semi-private law practice networks they have joined will automatically give them something they never had before. They don't. Technology is a tool. And while tools may facilitate communication, they don't build relationships. People do. Start using technology the right way. It's a lot more work than sending a few tweets, but in the end, it might actually pay off. Preston's post will point you in the right direction. (Sorry Google+: a lawyer's best friends are her clients, not her tech tools)

  10. George Wallace's "Blather. Wince. Repeat. [Mutteringson Marketing]" at his blog Declarations and Exclusions. Although this post starts out a little like The Killers (albeit with less mystery), Wallace only admits to the sins of his past to provide context for his rather unique perspective on legal marketing. And when I say "perspective" I really mean "critique." Of legal marketing. Of selling legal services. Of the Legal Marketing Association.
    So why is this legal marketer telling you to read it? Because the questions Wallace raises are the ones we all--lawyers and legal marketers alike--should be asking. And answering. For ourselves, our clients, our peers, our colleagues. Is legal marketing "as much about the interests of the marketer as it is about anything else"? Are "[t]ime and resources spent selling legal services" truly "time and resources not spent performing legal services"? Are the two always in conflict? Is it naive to think that lawyers need to know how to sell themselves, their skills, their expertise? Or is it naive to think that they never will? Is the raison d'être of legal marketing really "persuading the prospect that he or she needs and wants what is on offer, regardless of whether what is on offer is actually what the client needs and regardless of whether the proffered service matches, in reality, the appealing description offered by the marketer"?

    Read the post. Think about how you're marketing and why. Make it better and everyone wins. Especially the client. (
    I'm a legal marketer and I endorse this post)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Law Marketing and Business Development: 2011 Was a Good Year (My Favorites)

In 2011, I featured more than 150 resources on this blog. Here are ten of my favorites:
  1. Eric Fletcher's "The Quest For A Silver Bullet" on his eponymous Eric Fletcher Blog. Looking for a silver bullet? Yeah, you and every other cowboy who rode into this crowded legal services marketplace. But the truth is that silver bullets don't exist, for lawyers or anybody else. Success is a function of effort and focus and discipline, not volume and hope and chasing down everything that even remotely looks like an opportunity, whether it sits in your sweet spot or not. And more often than not, success comes from knowing what you cannot do, the work you should not try to land, the opportunities you should not pursue. Fletcher's post reminds us that saying "no" is an important part of strategies that work. (Maybe the ability to say "no" is the real silver bullet)

  2. Rees Morrison's "How to help your law firms understand your business better" on his blog Law Department Management. We've featured Morrison's posts before. They provide valuable insight into what clients are thinking, what they are looking for, what they consider to be problems with the delivery of legal services. Apparently, the ignorance of outside counsel with respect to the business of their clients is one of those problems. But I wouldn't say that resolving this one is the responsibility of the client (though I certainly understand Morrison suggesting client-based solutions). On the contrary. Knowing their client's business -- what they do, where they do it, who they're competing with, etc. --  is some of the best "business development" a lawyer can do. Read the post. Then read up on your client. They'll be glad you did. (Think you know your clients' business? Your clients may not agree)

  3. Betsy Munnell's "What Do Blogging and Vegas Have in Common?? ....Building a Niche Law Practice in the Digital Age" on her blog. Marketing and business development weren't always about blog posts and tweets and Facebook pages. Back in the day, a lawyer did her best networking when she was doing her best work. Munnell's post reminds us of that, even as she looks at digital tools as a way to enhance your reputation in today's world, where "personal interaction is at a premium." Are the good old days gone forever? Maybe. Or maybe you just have to do it differently, to build a reputation online so that you don't have to start building it from scratch at each and every in-person encounter offline. Either way, your reputation is just the starting point. You always have to earn your stripes the old-fashioned way: adding value. This post reminds us of that. (Earning your stripes at 3:00 am: fixing client problems is the best business development tool ever)

  4. Michael Chang's "Luck - It Depends on How You Look at It" at In-house ACCess. This isn't the first time we've recommended a post from Michael Chang. And it likely will not be the last. Chang exemplifies the true nature of globalization: not money moving around the globe or products being made ever more cheaply or the exotic reduced to kitsch and stereotype, but discovery and enrichment and empowerment. He's a road warrior working out of a suitcase and a hotel lobby, an immigrant learning the language by watching TV, and a California surfer dude all rolled up into one. And he's a potential client. So when he writes about being multilingual and multicultural, you need to read it. And then get out there and expand your own world. Prepare your own future. Make your own luck. (See the world. Learn a new language. Make your own luck)

  5. George Wallace's "Blather. Wince. Repeat. [Mutterings on Marketing]" at his blog Declarations and Exclusions. Although this post starts out a little like The Killers (albeit with less mystery), Wallace only admits to the sins of his past to provide context for his rather unique perspective on legal marketing. And when I say "perspective" I really mean "critique." Of legal marketing. Of selling legal services. Of the Legal Marketing Association.

    So why is this legal marketer telling you to read it? Because the questions Wallace raises are the ones we all--lawyers and legal marketers alike--should be asking. And answering. For ourselves, our clients, our peers, our colleagues. Is legal marketing "as much about the interests of the marketer as it is about anything else"? Are "[t]ime and resources spent selling legal services" truly "time and resources not spent performing legal services"? Are the two always in conflict? Is it naive to think that lawyers need to know how to sell themselves, their skills, their expertise? Or is it naive to think that they never will? Is the raison d'être of legal marketing really "persuading the prospect that he or she needs and wants what is on offer, regardless of whether what is on offer is actually what the client needs and regardless of whether the proffered service matches, in reality, the appealing description offered by the marketer"?

    Read the post. Think about how you're marketing and why. Make it better and everyone wins. Especially the client. (I'm a legal marketer and I endorse this post)

  6. Dan Hull's "In Praise of Structure" from his blog "What About Clients?" This post nailed it so well -- the working style of this culture, of the BigLaw environment where I learned how to work -- that it reached out of my computer screen and slapped me in the face. There's no guarantee it will do the same for you, but chances are pretty good that it will cause you to think about your work habits, about your project management skills, about the importance of setting deadlines and sticking to them. On every single project you touch. And it will also serve to remind you that no matter what you might read elsewhere, you can count on Hull to tell it like it really is, to tell you what's really important, to articulate why perfect is the new good enough.(Structure and deadlines. They're not just for clients)

  7. Bruce MacEwen's "Third in Our Series on Strategy: Bad Strategy" on his blog Adam Smith, Esq. Think you've got strategy? Then you need to read this post, which is easily one of the best pieces on law firm strategy I have read (and I read a lot of 'em). Law firms are notorious for spending time, money, and resources developing strategic plans that do little more than confirm a broad range of unrealistic assumptions, about the market, the firm, the competition, the potential for increased revenue. Not on purpose, mind you. It just happens. Because they fear dissent if everyone doesn't have a voice. Because they think if they want something bad enough it will come true. Because good strategy is hard: it requires making difficult choices, admitting weaknesses, setting unpopular priorities. MacEwen's post can help you break that cycle. If you heed his advice, that is:

    "Doing it the hard way-the right way-may be more painful in the short run, but anything else is sure to be far more painful in the long run." (Strategy as it should be)

  8. Adam Richardson's "Lessons from the Three Cups of Tea Controversy" on The Conversation at the Harvard Business Review. I generally try to avoid making connections of the "what folding my shirts in the all-night laundromat has taught me about running a law practice" variety, but I couldn't help it this time. Because Richardson's post about the Three Cups of Tea controversy contains a couple of lessons about setting goals and effecting change that law firm leaders need to know. Now more than ever.

    Change is hard, often harder than one could ever imagine. The change itself doesn't have to be significant or even important. Want to implement a new CRM system? Bring greater discipline to your business development and marketing budget? Create an environment where partners regularly talk to each other about business opportunities? It doesn't matter, because what you're really trying to do is change habits, culture, and attitudes. And that is hard. Read the post. It doesn't have the answers, but it will help you better understand the challenges you're facing. (Trying to get from here to there? It won't be easy)

  9. Scott Preston's "Technology is not your friend – your client is" on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. To honor this week's release of Google+, today's post is about using technology, the cutting edge kind, to interact with clients. But it's not a post about shiny, happy people using shiny, happy tools to foster shinier, happier relationships. It's more like a giant level-set for everyone who thinks that Twitter and Facebook and Google+ and all of the private and semi-private law practice networks they have joined will automatically give them something they never had before. They don't. Technology is a tool. And while tools may facilitate communication, they don't build relationships. People do. Start using technology the right way. It's a lot more work than sending a few tweets, but in the end, it might actually pay off. Preston's post will point you in the right direction. (Sorry Google+: a lawyer's best friends are her clients, not her tech tools)

  10. Garr Reynolds' "Dealing with public speaking nerves" on his blog, Presentation Zen. I just discovered this blog (when I read this post) and added it to my RSS feed. You should too. It's clever, funny, and full of practical advice. Like the content of this post. Public speaking is a great way to showcase your expertise, connect with potential clients, get feedback on your ideas, build your brand. But if you're like me, you'd rather be sitting in the dentist's chair than standing at the dais. Reynolds' post just might help you reduce some of that fear and find your presentation zen. (Finding your zen. In front of a crowd)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Building a Law Practice: "Get famous. Make contact. Repeat."

Mark Herrmann’s “Inside Straight: Building A Practice — A Case Study” at Above the Law. In the nearly six months that has passed since my last post, I’ve read a lot of blog posts, articles, and other resources, many of which will show up on these pages in the days and weeks to come. But when I read Herrmann’s post in mid-December, I knew right away I would use to kick off the new blogging season. Why? There are several reasons, actually, but here are just three:
  1. Because it describes specific steps Herrmann and his former colleagues took in their quest to build a drug and device product liability practice. It’s not vague advice of the tell-people-what-you-do-and-wait-for-them-to-hire-you variety, but rather “I wrote or co-authored three articles in 1998, seven in 1999, four in 2000, one in 2001, two in 2002, and five in 2003.” Big difference.
  2. Because building a practice – any practice – in a saturated, highly competitive legal market is hard to do. Really. Hard. To. Do. And Herrmann did it, building with his team an eight-figure practice over the course of ten years (with meaningful client work only coming in the last three of those years).
  3. Because the most important theme that you’ll take away from the post is easy to understand: building a practice is work. Hard work. Tiring Work. And a lot of it. But it’s the only thing that gets you from Point A to Point B.
Read the post. Lay out the steps for building your own practice, and get to work. And have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2012.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Making your firm's pitch exemplary. But not in the "don't do this" way.

Mark Herrmann's "Inside Straight: A Tale of Two Pitches" at Above the Law. It's hard to say what makes a pitch successful. Or unsuccessful for that matter, though the anecdotes are generally a lot more interesting when pitches don't go well. Most of the time it's just a matter of degree, of nuance, of being able to convince the in-house team that you and your firm are smarter / more experienced / more efficient and that you really can help them better / cheaper / more quickly than the others. Herrmann's post gives a little bit of insight into those nuances, the ones that make the difference between doing it right and doing it wrong.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Marketing your law practice: are you asking yourself the right questions?

Lee Rosen's "Marketing: Does It Take Time or Money?" on his blog, Divorce Discourse. Sometimes the difference between success and failure comes from asking the right questions. Rosen's post does just that. But you shouldn't read this post solely because Rosen asks an important question, one that you should ask yourself, early and often. You should also read it because Rosen answers that question, and because his answer gives valuable insight into the who, what, when, where, why, and how of marketing a law practice.  Read it and you'll agree.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Saving money on online research is good. Saving time is better.

Louis Abramovitz's "Cost-Effective Web Tools for Business Intelligence" at Law.com. Online resources for competitive information and business intelligence have never been more plentiful, or more comprehensive. It wasn't so long ago that the only way one could find the latest SEC filings or last month's news stories or the educational background and personal interests and work history or this or that general counsel was very expensive. But there's still a cost associated with online research, even if the data itself is free. Sure, Abramovitz's post will help you control the money you pay for business intelligence. But more importantly, it will allow you to reduce the time you spend gathering intelligence. And that's value you can take to the bank.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It's 10:00 am. Do you know what your firm's new business intake procedures are?

Steven Burchell's "Rethinking New Business Intake at Law Firms" in Law.com's Law Technology News. Let's face it. Automating the new client and matter process generally doesn't sit in one of the top spots on a law firm's to-do list. But that doesn't mean it doesn't make sense: "A well-designed automated new business intake system will also improve business continuity, reduce cost, and improve the integrity of data across the IT enterprise." Burchell's post identifies the key challenges establishing and adopting a system, and provides the solutions you'll need to overcome them. Read it, even if you're convinced your firm doesn't need an automated system. Because you just might need one more than you think.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Getting the most from your marketing efforts, the single-minded way.

Merrilyn Astin Tarlton's "Six Steps to Single-Minded Marketing" on the Attorney at Work blog. If you're not reading Attorney at Work every day, you should be. Because their "one really good idea every day" is almost without fail just that: a good idea, that will help you better market your firm, run your practice, understand technology, and do just about anything you do.

Today's post is no exception. Before you join all the social media sites you can find, before you start blogging, before you buy that ad space or sponsor that dinner or hire a PR pro to help you get the word out, you need to figure out just what it is you like to do, are good at, and want to be when you grow up. You need a plan, or you might just find yourself somewhere you don't want to be. Astin Tarlton's post will help you write that plan.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Maybe the ability to say "no" is the real silver bullet.

Eric Fletcher's "The Quest For A Silver Bullet" on his eponymous Eric Fletcher Blog. Looking for a silver bullet? Yeah, you and every other cowboy who rode into this crowded legal services marketplace. But the truth is that silver bullets don't exist, for lawyers or anybody else. Success is a function of effort and focus and discipline, not volume and hope and chasing down everything that even remotely looks like an opportunity, whether it sits in your sweet spot or not. And more often than not, success comes from knowing what you cannot do, the work you should not try to land, the opportunities you should not pursue. Fletcher's post reminds us that saying "no" is an important part of strategies that work.