Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Have you read these?

A smattering of insightful and important posts from the blawgosphere and beyond.

  • How Essential is a CMO?” from AmLaw Daily. This is what I do, so it’s not surprising that I have a viewpoint on this question (first thought: this isn't the right question to ask). But that’s not why you need to read this article. You need to read it because your own answer to the question should provide the foundation for your marketing plan, for the initiatives, budget and scope of how you market your practice. You also need to read the responses it has sparked, including those from Heather Milligan in The Legal Watercooler, “How Essential is a CMO? Depends,” Mark Beese in Leadership for Lawyers, “How Essential is a CMO?,” and Tim Corcoran in Corcoran’s Business of Law Blog, “Law Firm Leaders and Law Firm CMOs: Stop Whining and Get On With It,” and Jordan Furlong in, "Trust and the marketing department."

  • Testing Marketing Competence” from Branding Strategy Insider. This post fits well with the ongoing discussion about the necessity of law firm CMOs. Why? Because these are the types of questions lawyers should be asking when talking to law firm marketers. And legal marketers should be articulating what they do, how they do it, and why it works or doesn’t work, in these terms. That’s how your clients do it.

  • Twitter – New Opportunities and Headaches for Companies” from Howard Rice. This is a client alert written by Howard Rice attorneys that takes a broad (and cursory) look at legal issues raised by blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Lawyers: whether or not you are directly involved in social media and social networking, your clients are. This isn’t going away, and the risks are only going to increase. You need to know this stuff. Really well.

  • Graduating into a recession” from I ask lawyers what advice they have for law students when I interview them on 22 Tweets. So when I saw that Jordan Furlong had answered the same question, in a blog post, I had to read it. And recommend you read it too. It’s not by accident that I regularly feature his work on this blog: his analyses are thoughtful, comprehensive and insightful. And this one rises to the top: in the course of advising student, Furlong provides an in-depth examination of how the legal profession is evolving, and how lawyers must evolve to survive in the world. Read it.  

  • Tough times, tougher questions” from Still trying to figure out what to do in today’s economic climate? You’re not the only one. This article captures a recent debate on the future of the legal profession (sponsored by Legal Week). In the process, it gives us valuable insight how this very diverse group of legal professionals see the profession and where it is going. The bonus? Reading what your peers and colleagues think the profession is doing right (and not so right).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Have you read these?

A smattering of interesting and valuable posts from the blawgosphere and beyond

  • Answering the Social Phone” from Conversation Agent. Whether you are actively involved in, still trying to figure out, or waiting until someone demonstrates the value of, social media and social networking, you can learn something from this post. Read these ten ways that customers / clients are using those tools, and you’ll understand pretty quickly that you need to be part of the conversation.

  • The Worst Thing About PR” from Communications Catalyst. You should read this post for two reasons. First, because you might employ PR professionals without demanding that they demonstrate how PR can add strategic value to your practice. Second, because David Mullen’s criticism of PR professionals might also apply to lawyers. Heed his advice, and you’ll probably find yourself providing greater value to your clients. 

  • In Defense of the Billable Hour: Bad, or Just Misunderstood?” from The National Law Journal via I like this article not just because I have been known to defend the billable hour (in spite of its obvious drawbacks), but because it takes the debate beyond “good v. evil.” Doesn’t true value come from the services provided, not the billing method? Read this post before you answer that question.

  • Lawyer Marketing Resources” from If you are looking for a valuable collection of lawyer marketing resources, aimed particularly at solo attorneys who don’t have a lot of time and money to spend on marketing, then this is a must read. 

  • Lawyers and Career Uncertainty” from Some Assembly Required. Lawyers: this post contains really good career advice. Legal professionals: though written for lawyers, this post contains really good career advice for you, too. Non-lawyers / non-legal professionals: you might have missed it because it’s directed at lawyers, but this post because it contains really good career advice. Did I make myself clear? Then why aren’t you reading it yet? 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Have you read these?

A smattering of interesting and insightful posts from the blawgosphere and beyond

  • The Great Newspaper Meltdown, and What It Means For Our Pricing” from Adam Smith, Esq. The dying newspaper industry provides the perfect backdrop for another thoughtful post from Bruce MacEwen on law firm economics and pricing in the face of increasing debate – from all sides – on how lawyers should bill for their work. Regular readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of MacEwen’s work. This post will make you one, too.

  • Great conversations build great relationships” from Building Enduring Client Relationships. You already know this, don’t you? So did the guy in this story. And yet he still couldn’t figure it out on his own. Conversations lead to relationships which, in the professional services business, lead to work. That’s one of the exciting things about social networking: it makes starting the conversations – traditionally the hardest part – simple and easy. But that doesn’t mean the hard part goes away…. 

  • First Signs of a New Equilibrium in Entry-Level Salaries” from Empirical Legal Studies. Unless you live on Mars, or are on vacation, you probably have already heard about Drinker Biddle’s one-year associate training program. Why should you read this post? Because Bill Henderson is one of the leading thinkers in the empirical analysis of the legal profession space (he co-organized the recent FutureFirm competition), spends his time studying how law firms are structured and managed, and knows this stuff better than most. Need another reason? The future is now, and Drinker Biddle is writing it. Shouldn’t you be doing the same?

  • Buying Lessons from a Master Salesman” from Trust Matters. Another post that tells a story about selling (and buying) to give valuable insight on the buying process. It works. Lawyers, read this post every time you’re pitching work. The people across the table already know you’re an expert. You don’t need to convince them of that. You need to show them that they can trust you.

  • Bear Experiences vs. Bare Products” from Working Knowledge. This post is about innovation. And teddy bears. Intrigued? Read it, and you’ll see why it is summarized as “innovate the experience, not just the product.” When you’re done, think about the ways you might be able to innovate the experience for your clients. Your competition is, and some of them are even doing it. Don’t let yourself be left behind.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Have you read these?

A smattering of interesting and valuable posts from the blawgosphere and beyond

  • Nine myths held by some in-house lawyers about their management of law firms” from Law Department Management. Lawyers: need ideas on differentiating yourself from the competition? Read this post. More than half of these myths have to do with what in-house counsel think YOU think about them. What if you were able to better align your firm with these beliefs? Think you would get more business?

  • Should law firms be in the hospitality business?” from legal sanity. I added Arnie Herz’s blog to my feed after reading this post. I find it full of practical advice while generating – at the same time – thought-provoking ideas on improving customer service in the legal profession. Read this post and you’ll agree that Herz is an important voice in this conversation.

  • Of Stars & Schmoes: The Mandate to Synch Social Media & Customer Service” from PR2 Squared. Whatever you think about social media, it is changing the way sellers communicate with buyers, lawyers with clients, corporations with consumers, doctors with patients, etc. But blogging, tweeting, using Facebook are useless if you’re not applying those lessons to the entire customer service experience. This post explains why. 

  • Text of Commencement Speech” from tins. Technically, this is not a blog post. But it is a great read. It is the text of the speech Rick Klau gave to students graduating from the University of Richmond School of Law on May 9. I like it because it answers one of my favorite questions for lawyers: “what advice do you have for people going to law school today?” You’ll like it too.

  • "Dealing with Recessionary Times" from tompeters! Dispatches from the New World of Work. Want some ideas on getting through the recession? Read this post. I have to warn you, though: all of them involve you doing more, or better, or longer, or harder, or some combination of all of those (and more). These economic times will end. But you’ll have to take it on yourself to make it through them in the meantime. This post will help you with that.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Have you read these?

A smattering of interesting and insightful posts from the blawgosphere and beyond

  • How to Perfect an Elevator Pitch About Yourself” from Harvard Business Publishing’s Voices column. This is a useful post for job seekers, who will find five pieces of very practical advice about selling themselves in 15 seconds. Not you? Don’t kid yourself: your life just as full of 15-second blips during which are you are required to communicate your value in an interesting and engaging manner.

  • Can We Honestly Measure the ROI of Online Relationships?” from Law Firm Blogger. This post, and the discussions that it sparked, is a must read for legal professionals struggling to quantify the value of social media relationships. Whether you think that using metrics to evaluate these types of time/effort/expense costs is pointless or you think demonstrable ROI is a requirement before you make any investment whatsoever or you still haven’t figured it out, you will learn something from these discussions.

  • Neighborhood #1: The Regal Queen” from WonderBranding: Notes on Marketing to Women. I don’t know when I picked up this feed, or whether I’ve even noticed it will sifting through the hundreds in my RSS reader. But this post makes me glad it’s there. What if legal marketers applied the same discipline to understanding – so they can better communicate with – their different customer types?

  • Thinking about business models” from Seth Godin’s blog. Godin always uses fewer words to say more than just about everybody else: he’s great at reducing ideas and concepts to their essential elements, and articulating them in concise and thought-provoking ways. Lawyers, if you are indeed serious about exploring alternative business models, this post will help you frame the discussion.

  • Excellence. Always. All You Need to Know. (More or Less.)” from tompeters! Dispatches from the World of Work. Posts like this really demonstrate the power of blogging. It used to cost money to get advice like this. Today it’s free. And Tom Peters is most likely doing more work because of it. There’s probably a lesson there. There is definitely a lesson in this post, six tremendously valuable ones to be exact. Read it and learn.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Have you read these?

A smattering of valuable and relevant posts from the blawgosphere and beyond

  • 50 Tips to Help You Win Client Competitions” from Ann Lee Gibson. Good ideas never lose relevance: the advice in this article is as valuable today as it was in 2001. Lawyers and legal marketers, this is a must read. The bonus? You don’t have to implement all 50 to see results. Making just a handful of changes suggested by Gibson is enough for you to improve the pitch process, the first step on the road to winning more work.

  • Key Account Management” from David Maister. When you read this article, you’ll think it was written in response to the challenges facing lawyers in today’s dismal climate. Think again. It’s hard not to wonder what the profession would look like today if more firms had adopted in 1997 the program outlined by Maister in this piece. There’s really no excuse for not heeding these lessons today, is there? 

  • 10 Tips to Build Trust with Social Media” from Sometimes it’s better to be socially creative. A lot has been written about optimizing your Web 2.0 presence to gain readers / followers / traffic / hits / etc. But it’s not just about ears and eyeballs, is it? Isn’t developing clients a function of building trust? Your Web 2.0 activities aren’t any different from your other trust-building activities, and this post will help you frame the discussion in those same terms.   

  • "A merger followed by a decimation of the acquired company’s law department” from Rees Morrison’s Law Department Management blog. If you don’t have this blog on your RSS feed, add it right now. Why? Because Morrison writes for in-house legal departments, and outside firms can gain a tremendous amount of insight from what he says. This post is a good example. Read it as a reminder that even if you do everything right and make your clients happy and provide them with value that goes beyond all expectations, you can't control everything. Plan for it. 

  • Tips for Delegating Marketing on the Cheap” from Nolo’s Legal Marketing Blawg. Written with sole practitioners in mind, this post provides extremely practical advice on how lawyers can maximize the value of their marketing time. Don’t let the context fool you, though. Even if you’re not on your own – even if you have marketing staff – this post will very likely help you better manage the time you spend marketing your practice. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Have you read these?

A smattering of interesting and insightful posts from the blawgosphere and beyond

  • Why Thinking Like a Lawyer Is Bad for Your Career” from the ABA Journal online. Lawyers, although they may not have changed your behavior, chances are you’ve already thought about the points raised in this article. But it’s worthwhile to think about them again, and then reflect on how “thinking like a lawyer” can impact other aspects of your career, like knowledge management (see Mary Abraham’s post) and marketing.

  • Extraordinary Impact” from Conversation Agent. Yes, Web 2.0 has changed the way professionals communicate. Yes, it has changed the way they market their services. Yes, it has changed the way they establish the relationships that drive success. But don’t be fooled: the same principles apply today as they did in the last century. This post explains how and why.

  • Being popular or populist? Innovation in law firms” from Decent Shred. Innovation is hard in any profession. It takes good ideas, relentless commitment, powerful marketing, effective selling, and significant goodwill. But it’s essential, even in the context of law firms, and this post provides practical advice for anyone trying to bring about change in their firm.

  • Nine Legal Technology Trends for 2009 - The Year of Hunkering Down” from Dennis Kennedy’s blog. If you’re not familiar with Kennedy’s comprehensive and insightful work, I won’t be able to do it justice in a single paragraph. So let me put it this way: read this if you are (i) part of the legal profession, (ii) use any form of technology to do your job, and (iii) want to remain competitive as the delivery of legal services evolves. Did I miss anyone?

  • A Shot Across the Marketing and Sales Bow” from Demand Trigger. I recently discovered Mike O’Horo’s blog, and promptly added it to my RSS feed. Read this post and you’ll know why I did. You’ll also get a better understanding of why legal marketers need to drive the repositioning of marketing as one of the legal profession’s core business functions.