Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hunting for an LPM solution? Make sure you're using the right gun.

Pam Woldow's "Legal Project Management Tools: Let Rube Goldberg Rest in Peace" on her blog At The Intersection. I'm far from an expert on legal project management. But even I know that successful implementation of a meaningful legal project management system isn't only about the software, but also the people, the buy-in, the firm's commitment to change. Nevertheless, writes Woldow, the right software can make or break an LPM initiative. So when you're shopping for LPM software, concentrate on what you need, not what's the fanciest or most expensive or most complicated software solution And if you're not yet sure what you need, read Woldow's post. Because you don't need an elephant gun if you're hunting squirrels.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Law marketing made easy, the stellar service way.

Julian Summerhayes' "Why Law Firm Marketing Is E-A-S-Y" on his blog at I'm not sure that I completely agree with Summerhayes when he declares that law firm marketing is easy. But I get it. Because he doesn't mean that it's simple or that it doesn't require any particular effort or that lawyers can market their firms in their sleep. For Summerhayes, law marketing is easy because it all boils down to one thing: service. And if you get that part right, if you provide your clients with best service you possibly can, the kind of service that leaves them completely amazed, then your marketing will indeed be easy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lose a client? Don't squander the opportunity to learn from it.

Leo Bottary's "How Did You Lose Your Client?" at Executive Street. Everybody loses clients from time to time. So what do you do when a client stops sending you work? When she calls to tell you to send her files to the competition? Do you have a plan in place for analyzing what went wrong, for looking at your strengths and weaknesses and mapping them to the client's needs, for determining if you can save the relationship even if you lose the work? You should. Bottary calls it an autopsy report. Everybody loses clients. The smart firms learn from the experience.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Not getting the answers you want? Maybe you're asking the wrong questions.

Martin Baker's "A Manager’s Primer on Asking Better Questions" on his blog Creativity Central. Want to know what your clients are thinking, what they are worried about, how they measure success and failure and essential client service? Ask them. But don't be surprised if your questions don't elicit the responses you want. Not because your clients aren't telling the truth, or aren't giving complete answers, or perhaps aren't being honest with themselves about a question they really don't want to answer. (That's what people often think when they don't get the answers they expect.) Sometimes it's more simple. Because you need to ask the right questions if you want meaningful answers. Baker's post will help. Read it, and see if you can get the answers you need by modifying the questions you ask.

Hat tip to Matt Homann for pointing me to this post, on his blog the [non]billable hour.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Strategic planning is more than writing a good plan. Much more.

Paramjit Mahli's "Planning Pitfalls for Lawyers and Professionals" on her blog Profiting with Public Relations. We've said it before. Several times in fact. And we'll no doubt say it again. If you don't know where you're going, you'll most likely end up somewhere else. But strategic planning isn't just about the plan, as complex and challenging and comprehensive as it may be. To be successful, you need more than a good road map. Like accountability. And commitment. And leadership, communication, and focused, disciplined execution. Mahli's post will give you useful insight into the pitfalls that derail the best of plans. Read it and take note.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Q: Is blogging useful for law firm business development? A: You are what you blog.

Brian Inkster's "The Elephant in the #LawBlogs Room" on his blog, The Time Blawg. Is blogging useful for law firm business development? In posing this question, Inkster clearly has touched a nerve (63 comments so far!). Of course there's no single right answer, no overarching principle that guides legal blogging, no one-size-fits-all solution that articulates the value, payoff, and validity of any given blawg (how boring would that be?). But that's a good thing, because there's value in the debate, in questioning your motivation for blogging as well as that of your colleagues and peers, in setting your own standards and objectives. Read the post. Join the discussion.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Selling your strengths starts before you ever walk in the door.

Elizabeth Sosnow's "6 Ways to Show You Give a Damn in a Job Interview" on Jay Baer's Convince & Convert. Whether it's for a job interview or a client pitch or a presentation to a room full of general counsel, selling yourself is often the hardest part of your job. But perfecting your talking points shouldn't keep you from doing your homework about the people you're talking to. On the contrary. The more you know know about your audience's business, their objectives, their struggles, their successes and how you can help them meet / overcome / continue them, the more you will stand out. In a good way. Because nobody is looking to hire narcissists. Sosnow's post tells you how to do it right.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stop fishing at the referral stream.

Thom Singer's "How To Refer Thom Singer" on his blog, Some Assembly Required. I've featured Singer's posts before. Thom knows relationships: how to establish them, how to nurture them, how to turn them into revenue. So when he writes that it's your job to give your contacts the tools they need to send potential new business your way, you'd do well to heed his advice. Because you don't need referrals for work you cannot or should not or absolutely will not do. Educating your referral sources is your responsibility. If you want them to help you succeed, that is. Still not convinced? I'll bet Brian Tannebaum can persuade you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The problem with the evolution is that it never stands still.

Tim Corcoran's "Law Firm Leaders: Moving the Needle" on Corcoran's Business of Law Blog. Want some insight into the competition's strategy? How it's adapting to an evolving profession? How it defines client service, innovation, diversity? What it's doing to address the key issues shaping the profession today and in the future? Here's your chance. Corcoran's post recaps a panel discussion featuring the heads of Miles & Stockbridge, Williams Mullen, and McKenna Long & Aldridge (hosted by the Capital Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association) where these topics, and many more, were on the agenda. But it's more than a mere summary of an interesting and insightful discussion from a group of law firm leaders. It's also a thoughtful commentary on those very same issues, from one of the people leading the innovation charge. Read it. You'll learn something.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Branding is no longer just for cattle. But if you're not careful you'll still get burned.

Dan Pallotta's "A Logo Is Not a Brand" in his blog at the Harvard Business Review. If you still think lawyers don't need to worry about "brand," then you need to read this post. Right away. (The rest of you can wait until you've had your morning coffee.) Because, as Pallotta writes, your brand isn't your name, or your logo. Your brand is your strategy, your customer service, your people. It's your facilities, your communication practices, your website and the way it is organized. It's the way you respond to inquiries. Your brand is everything your clients and peers and colleagues and friends think when they think of you, be it "hard-working" or "smart" or "slow to get back to me" or "always looking to run up the bill on work that doesn't seem relevant."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It takes a village to build a law firm.

Ken's "Thoughts After Six Years" at Popehat. A lot can happen in six years. Presidents change, kids grow up, cutting-edge technology becomes obsolete (oh wait, that only takes six months). Law firms are established and lessons learned. In this post Ken shares nine solid pieces of start-up advice that he picked up while building his own firm, but the lessons aren't just for lawyers starting out on their own. Any lawyer, whether she's running a firm, an office, or a practice, or working in a firm, or practicing on her own, will benefit from Ken's advice. Because it reminds us that being a lawyer is all about the people who help you succeed: colleagues, clients, peers, mentors, staff. And that's a valuable lesson for all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sorry Mr Wells: you don't need a potion to be invisible online.

Allison Shields' "Is Your Law Firm Invisible Online? Do Something About It" on her Legal Ease Blog. There's really no good excuse for not having a meaningful online presence. No, I'm not talking about spending 18 hours a day updating your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Or answering 15 law-related questions every day on LinkedIn, Quora, Avvo and other sites, day in and day out. Or even writing a legal blog, though that works for many lawyers. No, an online presence that helps you build your practice doesn't have to be particularly complicated. But it does require a website, one that says what you do and where you are and how potential clients can reach you. And maybe even a LinkedIn page that outlines your employment and educational history and has a photo so people can recognize you at a networking event. But don't take my word for it. Let Shields convince you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's 9:00 pm. Do you know where your lawyer is?

Jordan Furlong's "Be the World’s Most Client-Accessible Lawyer" on the Attorney-at-Work blog. There's been a lot of talk over the past few years about the "virtual law office." What it is, where it is and isn't permitted, how to run one, what are the risks and rewards, etc. But Jordan's post is one of the first I've read that looks at virtual law offices from the client's perspective. Not in the lower-overhead-means-lower-cost-to-clients sense, but rather in the making-yourself-accessible-to-clients-when-the-clients-need-you-to-be-accessible-means-being-a-better-lawyer sense. Sure, Jordan's suggestion is not for everybody. But isn't meeting your clients' needs a core part of your strategy? What's wrong with doing it on their terms once in a while?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Succession planning in your law firm. Crystal ball need not apply.

Tom Grella's "Five Questions to Ask About Your Firm’s Succession Readiness" in the May / June 2011 edition of the ABA's Law Practice Magazine. Is your firm ready for the future? Not the "practicing in the cloud" future or the paperless office future or the Watson advising clients future. The future as in the next generation of leadership, when the current managing partner and practice leaders and office heads have retired, taking the recipe for success with them, leaving new leaders the challenge of practicing law and managing a firm and figuring out how to create value for the partnership. Think you're ready for that future? Shouldn't you be sure before it arrives? Grella's article, along with every other piece in this issue of Law Practice Magazine, is a big step in the right direction.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Think strategic planning's just for the other guys? Think again.

Colin Cameron's "Planning for Success" on the Small Firm Innovation blog. Is strategic planning for every firm? Absolutely, writes Cameron. And it's particularly important for solos and small firms in today's competitive environment. But it doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming. And it doesn't have to be difficult. Just a plan that articulates where you are now, where you want to go, what it's going to take to get there. Cameron's post will help you get started.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What's the management equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot?

Patrick McKenna's "Hurdles to Executing Your Strategic Plan" at "Hope is not a strategy," writes McKenna. Neither are good intentions, good ideas, or even good karma. But even when you have a solid strategic plan, one that articulates realistic, measurable objectives and the steps required to achieve them, the real world is going to throw countless unexpected (and unforeseeable) obstacles into your path. So the last thing you should have to worry about are the internal hurdles to executing your plan. McKenna's post outlines the most common of those barriers, and provides valuable advice on how to work through them.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Are RFPs a valuable tool or a waste of time? What if they were both?

Ken Robbins' "Why we quit participating in RFPs" on his blog, Ken Robbins: thoughts on business strategy, marketing, ideas. Robbins is a marketer, not a lawyer (and not even a legal marketer), but his post on RFPs is no less relevant to the legal profession. It's clear that more and more clients are using RFPs as a tool for hiring lawyers. And it's equally clear that they aren't going to stop anytime soon. You may love RFPs or you may hate them, but sooner or later, you're going to have to decide whether or not a particular RFP -- or RFPs in general -- makes sense for you. Robbins' perspective, and those of his readers (as articulated in the comments), will help you sort through the pros and cons of that decision.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

If you build it, will they come? Only if you do it right.

Adrian Lurssen's "3 Steps to Building Corporate Presence on Facebook" at JD Supra's The Scoop. To Facebook, or not to Facebook? That is indeed the question for many lawyers. Whether you're a solo estates lawyer who wants to market her practice to friends and family, a large firm looking for an additional communications channel to reach clients, potential clients, and recruits, or a mid-size firm seeking a broader footprint, a Facebook page can help you meet your marketing objectives. But deciding you want a page is only the first step. Building it is a different beast altogether. Lurssen's post will help you do that right. Read it, and get started.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hey buddy, can you spare some time? I promise you won't regret it.

Heather Townsend's "9 classic mistakes guest speakers make" on her blog The Thoughts and Ideas Of The Efficiency Coach (now at The Efficiency Coach). Don't let the title fool you. These mistakes aren't limited to guest speakers. And frankly, if you step back and think about them, the nine mistakes Townsend identifies are probably committed in one way or another by virtually every professional at any networking event: "not thinking about your audience," "no prepared introduction," "going on too long," etc. The point is that whether you're speaking to one person or one hundred, they're giving you their time. Townsend's post will help ensure that they don't regret it.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Too busy to market? Or just waiting for someone else to do it for you?

Stacy West Clark's "10 Marketing Tips for Time-Pressed Lawyers" at Marketing isn't a luxury, something you do when all the client work is done and the kids are in bed and you've finally finished War and Peace. But putting it off is easy to do. Today's post will help you break that habit. West Clark has compiled a list of ten practical tips that will help you go from "I'm too busy with client work" to "glad you could join me for lunch" in no time flat. Read it. Stop making excuses. Start marketing. No one else is going to do it for you.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Making your first time count, every time.

Allison Shields' "Elevating the Elevator Speech" at An elevator speech, like a cover letter for job seekers or a slogan for law firms, is most conspicuous when it's bad. Rather than engaging your interlocutor, it makes them want to flee. But a good elevator speech isn't easy: it needs to pique your interlocutor's interest, engage them, articulate what you do in terms they understand and can relate to. Shields' post will help you prepare that speech, the one people like to hear, the one that demonstrates the value you add, the one that just might get you to Step 2. Read it, and start practicing. Because, as the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Language, location, and other lessons from the classics.

Adrian Baron's "Star Wars Taught Me to Be a Better Lawyer" on his blog The Nutmeg Lawyer. You can always count on Baron to spin a good tale, and this one lives up to his reputation. But the post isn't just a clever story. It's a clever story that's full of solid advice on some of the core challenges and opportunities facing freshly minted lawyers. And those who might be considering a move to solo practitioner. And even those with long-established practices who might be looking for new ideas. I'd go on, but you probably get the picture. Read the post. You'll enjoy it, and might even learn something.