Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Have you read these?

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

  • Why In the World Would You Give Away Your Expertise For Free?” from The Greatest American Lawyer. Why would lawyers want to blog, and give away their work? This post explains why one lawyer does it. And it makes a pretty good argument for all lawyers blogging. You’ve probably been doing it all along, in other contexts (speeches, articles, conversations, etc.). This post reminds you that demonstrating your expertise and your understanding of the complex legal issues that affect the business decisions of your clients is a pretty good way to market your practice.

  • Bar exam advice from a simple minded lawyer” from Real Lawyers Have Blogs. When you’re faced with a test, perhaps the hardest, most significant, biggest stakes test of your life, step back, breathe, and remember that you are ready, that you’ve prepared, that nothing you will do at the last minute will change your preparedness. This post is about taking the bar exam, but it applies to every trial and tribulation of life (thesis defense, job interview, sales pitch, etc.). Read it before every test in your life.

  • Overcome Insecurity and Bring In More Business” from Career Center. For most lawyers, business development and marketing – selling their services – is difficult. But you can make it less so. This post addresses two of the hurdles that are most likely holding back your business development efforts: the negative internal dialogue, and the lack of experience. You’ll need to read the post to see their solutions, but you’ll be glad you did.

  • Ask Good Questions” from Leader Talk. Why do you need to ask good questions? Because good questions lead to engaged conversations, which lead to stronger relationships, which lead to increased influence. Not the “force your ideas on others” kind, but the “have a positive impact on others” kind of influence. And influence is a key component of leadership. So asking good questions can improve your leadership skills. But don’t just take my word for it. Read this post too.

  • The ABC's of Public Speaking - S is for Stage Time” from Some Assembly Required. You get better at doing by doing. There’s no other way. Want to be a better public speaker? Speak in public. But this logic extends far beyond public speaking, doesn’t it? Want to be a better runner? Run every day. Want to be a better lawyer? Make providing greater value to your clients your goal, not just a good contract or a great argument, but legal work that helps them be more successful in their businesses and life. And do it again and again, every day. You’ll get better at it. And your clients will be happier. What’s not to like?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Have you read these?

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

  • Scitable – Velvet Rope and a Stethoscope” from Chris Brogan’s Community and Social Media blog. Our last post featured a piece by Kevin O’Keefe on gated online legal communitites, so when I saw this post from Chris Brogan, a review of what he calls a “velvet rope social network,” I had to include it. Read it to find out Brogan’s take these communities. The bonus? Scitable – check it out.

  • Change or Die: Reflections on Richard Susskind's ‘The End of Lawyers?’” from The AmLaw Daily. Yes, Richard Susskind’s vision of the future, The End of Lawyers? has been written about more times over the past few months than just about any other subject involving the legal profession (save, of course, layoffs and related news). That doesn’t mean you should skip this post from Michael Stern, newspaper reporter turned BigLaw partner. Why? Precisely because Stern is a BigLaw partner, who sees the world changing around him as he searches for new paths to success. But don’t take my word for it. Take Bill Henderson’s (yes, that Bill Henderson): “Michael… your review and additional insights are excellent.”

  • Who are you looking at?” from Enlightened Tradition. “Why do law firms find it so hard to ignore their competitors?” asks Mark Gould, who has put together a thoughtful analysis of how this attitude (obsession?) influences the decisions and decision-making process of lawyers and law firms. Virtually every lawyer will have similar stories to those Gould cites, but few will have drawn the same conclusions (and even fewer will have acted on those conclusions). Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Spend wisely” from Another great post from Jordan Furlong (are there any other kinds?), which looks at the current state of the legal profession from the perspective of the consumers of legal services, both corporations and individuals. How do the wants and needs and fears and misconceptions of the buyers influence the menus of the sellers? And what does that mean for the profession and its future?

  • Breakdown: The Five Ways Companies Let Employees Participate in the Social Web” from Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang. Companies need social media policies. More importantly, they need to be aware of what their employees are doing / could do / might do on Web 2.0 sites, and develop some guidelines for that activity that may help avoid unpleasant surprises in the future. Law firms are no different. If you haven’t given a lot of thought to your policy, you’ll find this post useful. (PS: you’ll find it useful even if you already have social media guidelines for your employees. Really.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Have you read these?

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

  • Law and Surgery” from Adam Smith, Esq. Because its focus is the economics of law firms, this blog is on my short list of must-reads. Whether he’s dissecting law firm layoffs or market economics or the GM bankruptcy, Bruce MacEwen always provides an invaluable perspective on the business of law. That said, this post rises to the top precisely because it is NOT about law firm economics. Why? Because it is about passion. Read it and see why this Adam Smith, Esq. should be on your short list, too.

  • Welcome to the Future: Morgan Lewis Signals Armageddon” from AmLaw Daily. Like everyone else in the legal profession, you’re probably following the growing trend of summer program cancellations at the AmLaw 200 with the same abject horror as you did the layoffs of the past 18 months. This stuff is big. Really really big. Paul Lippe calls it “Armageddon” in this piece, and I see no reason to disagree. Read it and you will agree. Pay special attention to the comments, where readers appear more interested in Lippe’s use of “syllogism” than the fact that the profession as we know it will never be the same.

  • More problems with gated online legal communities: Cannot link to profiles” from Real Lawyers have Blogs. More and more lawyers are exploring and adopting Web 2.0 tools to market their practices, share knowledge and experience, and develop relationships, sparking more and more debate on the right way to do it. Kevin O’Keefe is often at the center of those conversations, and this post is no exception. Read it to see what your peers think about closed online communities. And while you’re at it, read “The State of Legal Social Networking” from Compliance Building, in which Doug Cornelius gives his take on a handful of social networking sites for lawyers.

  • Winning on the uphills” from Seth Godin’s Blog. I’m a cyclist, so I know from personal experience that the payoff for my work in the saddle is in the climb, not the descent. But you probably know that too, if only because it is July, and Lance Armstrong is back in the Tour de France, and the riders are currently in the Alps. The Tour is won on the uphills, when the challenges are greatest, when the conditions are dismal, when the risks are highest. Kind of like the economic environment today, isn’t it? Well, get over it, get out there, and get climbing. And read this post for inspiration on your way out the door.

  • Strategic Marketing in Five Easy Leaps” from Virtual Marketing Officer. Lawyers and legal marketers: read this post, and ask yourself where your firm lands on the strategic marketing continuum. Then ask where you think it should be. If yours is like most firms, those two places are not the same. How can you close the gap? By reading this post, and applying some of its useful ideas to your business development and marketing efforts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Have you read these?

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

  • "50 Web Resources for the Suddenly Solo Lawyer” from ABA Law Practice Today. Whether you’re suddenly solo, facing the possibility of becoming solo, or just looking for resources that will help you improve your practice, you need to read this piece. Jim Calloway and Allison Shields have put together a valuable list that has something for everybody. You used to have to pay to get access to this information. The bonus? This article is part of an entire issue devoted to the “Suddenly Solo” lawyer, where each and every article is chock-full of invaluable advice from the likes of Ed Poll, Jay Shepherd, Grant Griffiths, Dennis Kennedy, and others. Find it here.

  • The Answer to How is Yes” from Conversation Agent. I try to avoid recommending the same blog in subsequent posts, but when I saw this post from Valeria Maltoni, I couldn’t help myself. Perhaps it has something to do with the advice for out-of-work lawyers @JeenaBelil provided when I interviewed her on 22 Tweets this week: “Stop saying I can’t….” Whatever the reason, you need to read this post. And read it again. And then print it out and tape it to the wall next to your monitor so you can read it every day.

  • Prove Your Worth (and Profit) as a Results-Oriented Agency” from PR New Online. This post isn’t about public relations, it’s about value, about service providers finding ways to provide greater value to their clients, about changing the way things have always been done to meet the demands of the new marketplace. While the suggestions in this piece do not apply across the board to the legal profession, the message does: it’s time for a new business model.

  • 10 Reasons Why PR People Need to be on Twitter” from Social Media Today. I’m a firm believer in Twitter as a communications tool. It is changing the nature of business relationships, for good, and whether or not it is around in 10 years, the changes it brings about will be. For this reason, I am convinced that lawyers need to be on Twitter: to know it, to be able to communicate via the tool, to meet others doing the same thing, and to gain exposure to people and ideas that will add value. This post is written for PR pros, but a number of the ten points raised apply directly to lawyers. Read it and you’ll agree.

  • Seller's Remorse in the Marketing Business” from Trust Matters. This is a story about how an advertising agency reacted to being eliminated from consideration in an RFP process by Zappo’s. But it’s much more than that. One reason is that it reminds us of a valuable lesson: “One of the biggest fallacies sellers make is that buyers buy based on their own stated rational criteria.” Another? It has sparked some very interesting and insightful comments (including one from David Maister!) about the RFP game.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Have you read these?

A smattering of relevant and interesting posts from the blawgosphere and beyond.

  • What’s Holding Organizations Back?” from Conversation Agent. This is an interesting post that explores the reasons for which companies are not engaging more actively in Web 2.0 and, when they do, why they might not be able to realize the full potential of the new tools. How does it apply to lawyers and legal marketing? Because it explains why “joining the conversation is the tip of the iceberg.” Read it and think about how it could apply to you.

  • 10 Tips for Kicking Ass as a Freelance Writer” from copyblogger. I know that lawyers aren’t freelance writers. But they write, don’t they? And they give presentations, don’t they? And they pitch work, don’t they, sometimes in elaborate dog-and-pony shows, with PowerPoint slides and handouts and everyone on the team playing a specific role? So they might learn something from this post, which is really about communicating with your audience.

  • State of the AmLaw 200 Blogosphere, June 2009” from Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Want to know which of the AmLaw 200 firms are blogging, which aren’t, what they are writing about? Read this impressive compilation. The bonus: learning that number of blogging firms has more than doubled over the past two years. Still not convinced it’s a valuable use of time and resources? Nearly half of the AmLaw 200 is....

  • BigLaw Partner Compensation Systems Hurt Clients” from In Search of Perfect Client Service. Anybody else not a big fan of the expression “eat what you kill”? Clients aren’t prey, and lawyers shouldn’t build a business model out of feasting on them. Patrick Lamb, founder of Valorem Law Group, doesn’t like this business model either, and explains in this post why lawyers who eat what they kill shouldn’t be handling your legal work.

  • "Blow Up Your PR Program” from PR Squared. Though written about PR, this post applies to lawyers (and accountants and consultants and just about any service provider who has clients). Don’t get stuck in “maintenance mode.” Challenge yourself – and your clients – to generating greater value from the relationship. You probably won’t do it the way this post describes, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Have you read these?

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

  • Five Things Lawyers Should Know About Social Media” from Practicing Law in the 21st Century. Lawyers: whether you’re just starting out in social media, a social media pro, or somewhere in-between, you need to read this post. I read a lot of posts about lawyers and social media, and this one sums up quite nicely the key themes that should guide you in your Web 2.0 activities. Don’t let the title fool you, though: you don’t have to be a lawyer to learn from it.

  • Overcoming Procrastination” from Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog. Rather than crack “put off until tomorrow” jokes, I’ll go straight to the punchline. Everyone procrastinates. Some are better at it than others, and some of us have elevated it to an art form. But the cost of procrastination is high no matter how you slice it: added stress, missed deadlines, dissatisfied clients, etc. This post can help you, so read it. Today. Without delay.

  • Practice the 10/20/30 Rule for Presentations” from I’ve seen Guy Kawasaki make a presentation. I liked it. Whether you make presentations six times a day or six times a decade, yours will be significantly better if you follow his 10/20/30 rule. The bonus? Being able to quote a professional fisherman the next time you’re giving someone advice on their presentation.

  • Will alternative fee arrangements be profitable for lawyers?” from Legal Ease Blog. This post is a valuable addition to the ongoing “alternative fees v. hourly billing” debate, one of the key issues shaping the legal profession today. In it, Allison Shields takes a thoughtful look at some of the hurdles – perceived and real – that may be keeping lawyers from embracing alternative billing methods.

  • Dragons' Den” from The Adventure of Strategy. I really enjoy seeking out new blogs and posts that add to the legal business development and marketing conversation. Why? Because I find blogs like this one, and get to add them to my RSS feed. This post is about a possible future for selling in the legal profession. What if you had only three minutes to convince your clients to hire you? How would you articulate your difference? What would you have to do differently to show clients that you are indeed better than the competition? And what would the impact be on the way you run your firm?