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)

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