Thursday, December 10, 2015

Your Clients Don't Need You To Explain The Law

Your clients don't need you to explain the law to them. They need you to explain how the law affects their ability to do business. Anything else, writes Olga Mack, Head of Legal at ClearSlide, in The Art and Science of Being Useful to In-House Counsel,doesn't do much good:
Summarizing the news without any commentary is not helpful. By the time I see the alerts I’ve already read most popular newspapers and likely at least browsed the underlying decision. 
Writing about the legal implications of business and political issues is a great way to show clients and potential clients that you understand what they do, the challenges they face, the solutions they need. But you have to tell them what they need to hear. Read the post. And start helping your clients.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Lawyers: Would Your Own Mother Read Your Content?

Is your writing so filled with jargon, so dry, so "cure-for-insomnia boring" that your own mother wouldn't read it? You wouldn't be alone if it were, writes John Byrne in Lawyers: Want Your Content Read? Follow These 7 Tips! Fortunately, you can get your mom sharing your content in no time if you take Byrne's advice. Like this:
Don’t bury your leads or write like you’re getting paid by the word. Get to your points quickly and try your hardest to keep things moving. Oh, and try as hard as humanly possible to leave out the legal jargon, esoteric legal principles and the Latin. Carpe cut it out!
Read the post. Start writing to be read. And while you're at it, would it kill you to send your mother a note?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Do You Know If Your Client Is Changing Lawyers?

It's true that a client can fire her lawyer for any number of reasons. But most of the time, writes Pam Woldow in How You’ll Know When Your Firm’s Been Fired. you won't see it coming. That's because she probably won't ever come out and say that you're going to lose her work:
The fired firm was just quietly going to be choked off, using a tactic the GC called “the long tail,” meaning don’t jerk ‘em around or humiliate ‘em, just gradually turn down the wick until the light goes out.
Read the post. Pay special attention to Woldow's five signals that the work is drying up. Ask yourself which of your clients might be sending them. Then convince them to stop.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Client Focus" Is In The Eye Of The ... Client

There's only one way to give your client she expects, writes Gina Rubel in How In House Counsel Defines Client Focus. You ask her:
The phrase “client focus” can take on many meanings for lawyers. [...] One thing is certain, it is important for every attorney to ask his or her client what their expectations are as they relate to providing client-focused service and then do everything it takes to meet those expectations.
Read the post for Rubel's take - and that of a handful of in-house lawyers - on what it really means to "focus on the client." Then start doing it.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Do You Hear What Your Client Isn't Saying?

It's important to listen to everything your client tells you. But, writes Michael Rynowecer in 13 Unspoken Rules of Client Relationships, it's probably more important that you hear what she isn't saying. Because you need to follow the same unspoken rules that your clients have made "part of their core personality, behavior and decision making." Like these:
1. Clients always find a way to hire the people they want when they want to.
2. Clients don't fire their law firms, they just stop giving them work.
3. “Your rates are too high” is a euphemism for “I want to give the work to someone else”.
Read the post. Let these unspoken rules guide your behavior. You may not master all 13, but you just might start hearing more of what your client wants. And isn't that the goal?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The First Step in Marketing: Identify Your Ideal Client

Writing your marketing plan? Identify who you want to work for before you decide what you want to say and where you want to say it, writes Sam Glover in Let Your Ideal Client Guide Your Marketing Strategy. And he's right: if you're marketing your practice without a clear idea of the person you want to represent and the problems you want to solve, you're doing it wrong.
Many lawyers ask whether they ought to use Twitter or write a blog or join a networking group. This is like asking whether you should use Word or Photoshop for your next project before you know what it is. [...] But if you already have a clear picture of your ideal client — your laser-targeted demographic — your marketing strategy will probably be pretty obvious.
Read the post. Figure who your ideal client is (Glover's questions will help). Then start connecting.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Want To Add Value? Stop Talking About The Law

"I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail," wrote Abraham Maslow in The Psychology of Science. For lawyers, that often translates into talking about the law, about legal issues, about rules and regulations and requirements. And that's precisely where they go wrong when they're trying to develop and enhance professional relationships, explains Josh Beser in Lawyers: How to Be Valuable ... Aside from Practicing Law:
Lawyers have a problem. We’re consistently perceived as experts on one thing: law. This not only dominates how others view us, but also dominates how we view ourselves. If we start talking about law, especially early on in a conversation, we will only be viewed as lawyers. This dramatically limits how others perceive what we can do to help.
Read the post. Then find ways to implement Beser's three strategies to help others without practicing law. You - and they - will be glad you did.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Are You Cross-Selling? Or Just Sharing Space?

It's not all that surprising that more lawyers don't cross-sell (just ask Dan Hull). But it's good for you. And not coincidentally, it's good for your clients too, when you do it right.

But knowing that doesn't fix the problem. You need to make time to get to know your colleagues, writes Tim Corcoran in Law Firm Cross Selling Basics:
Work from another office periodically. Pick two or three colleagues you don’t know, even if your clients have never had a need in this area, and take them to lunch this year. When traveling to a client site, if there’s a satellite office nearby, drop in and walk the halls. Your colleagues will refer business to you when they trust you, and they won’t generally trust you until they know you.
Read the post. Then get up out of your chair and onto your partners' schedule. You'll both be better off.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Good Writing Is Good For Business

While readers may forgive a grammatical error, a run-on sentence, or even a typo, they're likely to find your work less professional, less organized, and most importantly less valuable when they do. That's what journalism professor Fred Vultee found when he asked students to read both edited and unedited versions of news articles, writes Natalie Jomini Stroud in Study shows the value of copy editing. Vultee's conclusion? It pays to spend on an editor:
Copy editing affects audiences' perceptions about the news and their willingness to pay for it.
The lesson for lawyers and law firms is no less powerful, particularly when you substitute "your legal advice" for "the news" in the above sentence. That doesn't necessarily mean you need to hire a full-time copy editor to review your weekly blog post. But it almost certainly means that you should be relentless when editing your work to correct mistakes, avoid jargon, and make sure your intended audience will understand your message. 

Don't let a typo damage your credibility. Read the post, then get out your red pencil and start editing.

Monday, March 2, 2015

3 Reasons People Will Read Your Post: The Title, The Title, & The Title

But don't take my word for it. Hear what Adrian Lurssen, co-founder of JD Supra, journalist, and content marketing strategist, has to say:

Watch the clip. Then start writing titles that tell people why they need to read your work.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Collaboration Is The Future of Growth

Want to grow revenues, make your clients happier, and gain a competitive edge? Collaborate more with your partners, writes Heidi Gardner in When Senior Managers Won't Collaborate
Firms that are landing the highest-value work are focusing more on integrating than on acquiring specialized expertise. They’re developing and communicating a strategy that explicitly emphasizes collaboration so that partners understand that their investment in learning to combine forces is part of a broader initiative that the firm will support. [...] These firms understand that if they can serve the most complex needs of their clients, they will earn their loyalty and the lion’s share of the most valuable revenue streams, and leave their competitors to scramble after the increasingly lower-value, commodity work.
Of course it isn't easy. Of course it takes time. Of course it requires additional resources and increased communication and more non-billable hours to pull it off. But finding a way to bring your colleagues together in the name of client service can pay off handsomely.

Read the post. Pick up the phone. Start collaborating. You'll be happier, and so will your partners and your clients.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The First Rule of Innovation: Identify Your Client's Problem. Then Solve It

Looking for innovation in the legal profession? Look no further than Mark Harris, founder of Axiom Law: 
“The incumbent model is largely artisanal,” said Harris. “It’s perfect for novel challenges that are irreducibly complex, but it’s not necessary for the bulk of commerce.” 
Harris just inked a multi-year, multi-million dollar deal with a "major financial institution" to process the bank's standardized contracts governing swaps and other complicated, lengthy, and arcane agreements that generate significant regulatory and financial risk. Read Legal-Services Firm's $73 Million Deal Strips The Mystery From Derivatives Trading for details on the deal and how it could change the way the financial industry responds to increasing regulation without, well, breaking the bank. 
Then think about how a non-traditional provider of legal services is shaking things up in ways that should make every other lawyer and firm worried. About why a former SEC Chair joined Axiom's board of directors after she learned about the deal. About what you can do to identify your client's problems, and then solve them. Before somebody else does.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sorry Mr. Lennon - Lawyers Need To Imagine There's No Billable Hour, Too

Hourly rates are starting to look a little dated, says Maria Polczynski, head of legal at Australia's Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. That's why the bank is no longer working with law firms that don't offer value-based pricing.

But there's good news for the firms able to make the switch, Ms Polczynski recently told Lawyers Weekly (Resistance to value-based pricing: a failure of imagination): not only do they get to keep an important client, they can ratchet up profitability when they get the formula right:
“If what you are delivering is worth a whole lot more [than the cost of your time] then we accept that [and] will pay considerably more than … [the] standard hourly rate. That’s where we think the opportunities are for the firms to up their profitability even while they are reducing their billable hours."
Read the post. Ask yourself which clients are likely to follow Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. Then figure out a way to help them.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Your "To-Do" List Is Not A Strategy

"Strategy is an exercise in problem solving," writes Peter Winick in Strategy Is Not the Same as Goal Setting, not the list of things you have to do to get where you're going. Of course you need to define your objectives, identify the tactics that will support your efforts, and execute, execute, execute. But if you're looking for a strategy, you must remember that "activity is [just] activity:"
When a potential client tells me what their current strategy is, what I often hear is a list of activities, a description of various tactics, and a summary of how they are progressing against their goals. My response is typically something along the lines of, “What problems in the marketplace are you and your work uniquely qualified to solve and why do you believe that to be so?”
Read the post. Identify your problems and the strategies that allow you to solve them. Then get to work.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It Takes More Than Good Work To Stand Out

If you still believe that working hard and pleasing your clients is the only business development a lawyer needs to do, writes Cordell Parvin in In 2015, Will You Still Doing Good Work and Waiting for the Phone to Ring?, you may be stuck in the past. That's not enough anymore. Today, you must stand out:
I believe that ... lawyers and law firms have to either be remarkable or create content and value that clients find remarkable. 
Read the post. Because 2015 is a good time for a change,

Friday, February 6, 2015

Are You Writing for a 4th Grader?

Is your work written for 10-year-olds? Maybe it should be: that's the reading-level calculation of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. And it turns out, explains Shane Snow in Why History’s Best Writers Wrote for Middle Schoolers, that writing at a lower reading level gives your content a higher likelihood of reaching more people.

That doesn't mean that you should be writing for children, of course. Instead, you should strive to make the complicated legal and business issues you cover accessible to a broader range of readers:
The other lesson from this study is that we should aim to reduce complexity in our writing as much as possible. We won’t lose credibility by doing so. Our readers will comprehend and retain our ideas more reliably. And we’ll have a higher likelihood of reaching more people.
Read the post. Make your work easier to read. Your readers will thank you.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

"2 Parts Vague and 1 Part Potential" Is Not A Recipe For BD Success

A business development plan full of vague opportunities and potential connections isn't going to get you anywhere, writes Eric Fletcher in Targeted Business Development, Or Pursuit Of The Broad Side Of An Empty Barn? To turn opportunities into work, you must identify specifics: people to call, lunches to host, introductions to make. Like "take Jane Smith to lunch on May 17" and "invite Bob and new head of HR to February board meeting." Otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels:
... successfully building a practice begins and ends with the nuts-and-bolts-work of strategic pursuits — action items calculated to put you face-to-face with the individual or team empowered to hire you or your firm.
Read the post. Then dust off your BD plan, pull out your red pencil, and get to work.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Social Media Is For Listening, Too

Law firms have a lot to gain from social media, writes James Mulvey in The 5 Ways Law Firms Are Using Social Media for Listening, because they are "innately social organizations," built on social interactions. But better relationships aren't the only benefit of online activity;
[B]road social media listening, using software to analyze millions of bits of data to find the conversations impacting their clients, cases, and firm’s reputation ... offers your firm immediate returns, even if these results fall outside of your typical marketing uses of social media.
Read the post. Start listening - and learning - on social media.

(Hat-tip to Nancy Myrland, one of Mulvey's sources, for alerting me to the post.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

If Social Media Isn't Working, What Are You Doing About It?

The editors at Attorney At Work have pulled together some insightful facts and figures about social media in the legal profession in How Do You Use Social Media? Among them: according to the 340 lawyers who responded to a recent AAW survey, the #2 most effective online platform for bringing in new business is "none." That's right, 31% of respondents said that the absence of social media was more effective than marketing on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or YouTube.

Why is that? And more importantly, what are you doing about it? Read the post. Then start making social media work for you (the Lawyer's Guide to Social Media will help).

Monday, February 2, 2015

Is There A Brand In This Law Firm?

Clients don't hire law firms, explains Mark Cohen in Law Firms, Condominiums, and A New Model Law Firm. They hire lawyers:
The reality is that except for those few lawyers who enjoy “trusted adviser” status with a client, other lawyers in the firm seldom figure into the retention process. Put another way—and many GC’s have told me this—they “put up” with certain law firms because they want to work with a particular lawyer. 
For Cohen, that means the law firm model is broken. But there's a more fundamental lesson here, too, even if Cohen doesn't say it: your firm's brand is no more than the brand of every single individual lawyer. Market - and practice - accordingly.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Relationships, Not Screen Time, Are The Key To Business Development

You might think that Sam Glover is an anti-social media Luddite when you read the title of his latest post, 4 Things to Do Before You Spend a Dollar on Online Marketing. But he's not: his piece is less a critique of online marketing than a reminder to leverage your existing relationships - with friends, current and former clients, referral sources, and the like - before you plop down any hard-earned cash on the newest, coolest, shiniest digital tool. Because relationships, not screen time, will get you more work:
Stay in touch with your former clients. And no, adding them to your email list and sending a holiday care do not constitute staying in touch (although they are better than nothing, if only a little). Take some time to consider what you could do for former clients that would keep them connected to you and your firm. [...] Be familiar enough that when they need more legal work or when someone asks them for a referral, you are the first person they think of.
Read the post. Step away from the computer. And start spending your money wisely.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tweeting and Blogging and Posting, Oh My! Let The Master Guide You

Whether you're taking tentative first steps on Twitter, or looking for ways to drive readers to your established law blog, you'll find practical pointers for creating and maintaining a valuable online presence in Guy Kawasaki's How to Integrate Social Media and Blogging from The Art of Social Media. Kawasaki's one of the masters of social media marketing, so his post on "us[ing] a blog to enrich your social media ... and ... social media to promote your blog," is full of valuable - and effective - tips for connecting your written work with the people you need to reach:
  • If I had a choice between someone following us on a social-media platform or subscribing to our emails, I would pick the an email subscription any day.
  • [O]f all content, you should share your own blog posts. If a blog post is not worth sharing, it’s not worth writing.
  • Include links to your social-media accounts on your blog so that people can easily follow you. If your blog is interesting, people will follow you on social media, and if your social media is interesting, people will read your blog.
 Read the post. Then get tweeting. And blogging. And posting. Oh my.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When The Best Way To Stay Focused Is Saying "No"

It's hard to say "no," explains Tim Harford in "The power of saying no." Nevertheless, it's important to get better at saying it. Not just because you cannot possible accomplish everything you're asked to do - that much you know. But there's a significant opportunity cost that accompanies every "sure, I can help:" all the other things you'll have to give up to fulfill the new request.

What does this have to do with business development? Just this: every time you decide to chase down a new target, develop a new plan, pursue a new objective without exhausting your efforts on the clients, industries, and targets you've already determined to be valuable to your practice, you've just thrown away all the time and effort you've spent on those initiatives. Of course you need to be opportunistic. But not at the cost of your long-term goals. Here's how Harford recommends you keep on track:
Adopt a rule that no new task can be deferred: if accepted, it must be the new priority. Last come, first served. The immediate consequence is that no project may be taken on unless it’s worth dropping everything to work on it.
Read the post. Start saying "no" to random acts of business development.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jimmy Fallon + Content Marketing = Watch and Learn

Lawyers can learn a lot about content marketing from Jimmy Fallon, writes Adrian Lurssen in Is Jimmy Fallon the King of Content Marketing?. For starters, Fallon's distribution of his material on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other channels - and the millions of subscribers he's attracted - clearly demonstrates why lawyers must share their work in the places where their clients and potential clients hang out. Another lesson? Give the people what they want (to share):
What do you have to offer that addresses what people really need? Build a content plan around the answer to that question. Again, this is as true for a celebrity comedian as it is for a technology lawyer who solves the problems of, say, startup entrepreneurs, or an accountant who makes sense of financial matters for people who are busy raising families, planning vacations, saving for retirement.
Read the post. Then get to work on your content.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Do You Know How Your Clients Define "Value"?

Like every business, writes Bruce MacEwen in What's Value? Answer One Question, in law there is room for the "sell it for more" firms (the equivalent of Ritz-Carlton and BMW), just like there is room for the "make it for less" ones (think Ikea and Motel 6). But it only works if you're defining "value" in exactly the same terms as your clients, something very few firms are able to do successfully. And that means that everybody else is fighting for the same clients in the middle:
... the middle market is an extremely tough place to survive and thrive, precisely because it is so densely populated with law firms which, to many clients, are indistinguishable from yours.
For MacEwen, the key to success in this "awkward in-between space" is giving your client a different kind of value than "best" or "cheapest," precisely because that value is so hard to define. Read the post. Then call your clients.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Be a Jerk, and Other Tips for Promoting Yourself

There's a fine line between ensuring that your skills and experience are recognized, and coming across as an arrogant braggart, writes Dorie Clark in How to Promote Yourself Without Looking Like a Jerk. One way to avoid crossing it? Be humble:
... even when you’re promoting yourself, it’s essential to express humility. That doesn’t in any way mean hiding your abilities. However, it does require being sensitive to the fact that some accomplishments may make others feel jealous or inadequate, and you don’t want to appear glib or self-congratulatory.
Read the post. Take Clark's advice. Because nobody likes to talk to a jerk...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fill In The Blank: In 2015, I Resolve To __________

Still struggling with your resolutions for the coming year? Matt Homann's latest post on the [non]billable hour has for all the "resolution inspiration" you'll ever need.

Homann has compiled ten of his favorite posts (from the more than 100 he has written) for lawyers and firms on setting - and achieving - the right kind of goals, those that will make you and your clients happier and calmer and better. And they're all worth reading. Our favorite? "Resolve to get less business:"
If too much income comes from clients you hate serving, find a different practice area or a different job.
Read the post. Resolve to change for the better this year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What Do You Call a 20-Year Relationship With Your Clients? A Good Start

When you're building your practice, stay away from the "fire and forget" work, writes Keith Lee, founder of Associate's Mind, in How To Build A 20 Year Relationship With Your Clients. Instead, focus on building a long-lasting relationship with your clients, providing customized, high-quality products and services that they'll brag about. Like apparel companies Gramicci and American Giant:
Gramicci built a relationship with me by providing a product that has lasted decades. American Giant wants to build that same sort of relationship. They’ve told me – everyone – that when you buy their products you buy them for life. These relationships are built on a high degree of quality that encourage me to place my trust in their products.
Read the post. Turn your clients into advocates and ambassadors for your work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Secret of Client Development?

The secret of client development really isn't a secret. It's straight-up, hard-working, honest to goodness client service. Service that would make your mother proud, that makes your best clients pick up the phone to tell their friends about they great lawyer they've hired.

That's why you need to read Dan Hull's "world-famous and annoying but highly correct, inspirational and soulful" 12 Rules of Client Service:
The client is the main event.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Does Your Online Marketing Strike Like Lightning?

Will 2015 be the year you start using social media to build relationships? Yes, if you read Jayne Navarre's Six Can’t-Miss Plays to Supercharge Your Online Marketing in 2015. It's full of practical pointers on why you need to be online and how to do it right. Like this:
To establish meaningful connections, try humanizing your presence and stop speaking at your audience, rather speak with them.
Read the post. Supercharge your online marketing. And make 2015 the year your social media efforts pay off.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

In This Future of the Legal Profession, The Only Constant Is Change

One thing is certain: evolution in the legal profession is true whether you believe in it or not. Because it is truly happening, write the authors of the 2015 Citibank Hildebrandt Client Advisory (pdf), who note:
Demand for law firm services appears to be growing at a more modest pace than the demand for legal services.
Such a statement would have been unthinkable in a not-too-distant past. Today, it just sets up a valuable discussion on the future of the legal profession, or as it's called in the report: "What It Takes To Be a Successful Firm:"

  1. An Increasing Focus on Margin Growth vs. Just Revenue Growth
  2. Growing Sophistication on How to Price and Manage the Delivery of Legal Services
  3. A Different Leverage Model
  4. Leveraging Technology
  5. An Increased Focus on Partner Performance and Skillset
  6. A strategic approach to practice and client succession
  7. Differentiating the Brand
  8. Client Centricity
  9. Leveraging the Platform
  10. Management of the Talent Pipeline
  11. Leadership in a Volatile Market

Read the report. Prepare for your future.

(Hat-tip to Ron Friedmann)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Read This To Become A Better Writer

Writing is hard work, but Gregory Ciotti's 10 Quick Tips for Better Business Writing just might make it a little easier. And easier to read. Ciotti has assembled ten practical points for anyone who writes - to demonstrate expertise, to communicate ideas, to tell stories. And everyone else, too. It's solid advice you'd do well to take:
Writing is not flaunting your vocabulary... [It] is not meant to prove ownership of a thesaurus.
Read the post. Then get writing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's Time for A Marketing Checkup. Here's What You Need To Do

The new year is a perfect time to assess your business development efforts, writes Sally Schmidt in Take Stock of Your Marketing and Business Development Activities. You know she's right.

But you may not know what to do, or or even how to evaluate what you're doing. That's why you need to read Schmidt's post. Schmidt serves up a series of questions, about the people you frequent, the organizations you join, the speaking and writing you do, that will send you down the path of intentional marketing and business development:
There will always be people who ask you to lunch, and there will always be folks who like to be wined and dined. The question is, are you finding benefit from these encounters? . . . The benefit can’t always be measured in terms of business generated, but there should be some mutual advantage to the relationship. For example:
  • Are you learning new things when you get together?
  • Is the person a potential source of work or other opportunities (e.g., visibility or introductions)?
  • Can this contact be helpful to your clients in some capacity?
Read the post. Decide what's working, what isn't, and what you need to change. The get to it, before the new year gets away from you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Don't Let Exceptionalism Keep You From Improving Your Revenue Stream

Lawyers tend to get stuck on law practice exceptionalism, "the belief that nearly every aspect of the practice of law is unique and must be considered in isolation from what we see elsewhere," writes Dennis Kennedy in The Productization of Legal Services. And that can keep them from adopting new strategics and techniques that will raise the bottom line. But it doesn't have to be that way:
Consider these examples:
  • Ernst & Young creates and publishes a popular (as I write this, in the top 100 among taxation books on Amazon) and affordable ($24.95) annual tax guide for the public.
  • Attorney Larry Katzenstein creates and sells a widely used software program called Tiger Tables that computes actuarial factors for tax calculations and planning.
  • A prominent technology company sought out a law firm to create a document assembly application for standard agreements that the company would license on an annual subscription basis.
  • A law firm produces training videos on legal topics for sale to the public.
  • A law firm packages research information updated on an annual basis as a subscription offering.
At the heart of each example is adapting a service or set of services traditionally done by time-based billing for a single or limited number of clients into an “information product” that can be licensed or sold to a much larger audience than the client base. The result is a new revenue stream that can be added on to the traditional services model. In other professions, this approach is often referred to as “making money while you sleep.”
Kennedy outlines a nine-step process for "productizing" legal services that can help you supplement and even enhance traditional services. Read the post. Try something new.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Got What It Takes to Join the Client Service A-Team?

What makes the 30 law firms that deliver "the absolute best client service" different from the 650 competitors they outperformed? For starters, they have established formal, systematic client feedback programs. And they've incorporated client service metrics directly into their strategic plans. And, writes BTI Consulting's Mad Clientist in 7 Lessons from the Client Service A-Team, they've adopted five other service practices to make sure their clients keep coming back. And so can you:
The good news—no law firm engages in all 7 lessons. You will benefit from focusing on even a single one. Jump in, pick one, start today.
Take a lesson from the A-Team. Better yet: take seven lessons from them. Read the post, and start changing the way you think about and manage client service. Your clients - and your partners - will thank you.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Do Your Marketing Efforts Need a Shot of Courage?

Lawyers are extremely good at giving advice, writes Deborah McMurray in What Courage Looks Like In A Law Firm, because that's what clients want and need. Not analysis, not waffling, not the middle-of-the-road, safe, low-stakes position. But for many, that clear-headed, sharp-witted, pragmatic approach gets lost when they turn to marketing and business development:
The daring lawyer who is a zealous and outspoken advocate for his client's position becomes afraid to stand out or be memorable when it comes to positioning strategy, branding design, messaging, even a business development approach that could help him win a new client. 
For McMurray, it's about courage, about infusing the courage and heart and passion that lawyers have - for their work, for their clients, for their personal brand and everything they stand for - into their marketing strategy. Read the post. Then take McMurray's advice:
Be as committed, pragmatic and driven in your marketing choices as you are in representing your clients. I promise, it will be rewarded. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Maybe The Reason Your CMO Is Struggling Is You...

Looking to hire a chief marketing officer in your firm? Or maybe you'd like to make better use of the one already on the payroll? Either way, you'll want to read Tim Corcoran's Seven Reasons Why You Have Not Yet Found the Right CMO in The Legal Intelligencer (registration required). It's a useful look at why law firm leaders might be dissatisfied with CMOs and CMO candidates. And the answers may surprise you (spoiler alert: it's probably not the marketer):
"It's certainly plausible that some candidates who rose to senior-level law firm positions during times of plenty now face a daunting task of adapting to a much more competitive market. But it's also clear that many law firm leaders have a poor understanding of the kind of marketing support they need."
The good news? Corcoran provides practical advice for improving the process of identifying, training, and leading marketing directors. Read the post.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Is Your Website a Waste of Time and Money?

Sure, you've got a website. But that isn't enough, writes Cari Twitchell in 8 Best Practices for Law Firm Website Content at
"If your website content does not engage and convert, then your website is a waste of time and money."
What to do? Read Twitchell's post, for starters. Her best practices (Stop using legalese. Tell your readers what to do. Write for a mobile audience.) will put you on the road to an engaging - and readable - website. One that's both easy to read AND focused on the very information your prospective clients seek.

Stop wasting your money - and your reader's time. Read the post. Then fix your website.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sometimes The Best Thing You Can Say To A Client Is "This Won't Cost You A Dime"

Looking for a way to stand out? Try giving your client something for nothing. Pam Woldow and Doug Richardson call it "strategic altruism" in their post The Powerful Value of Providing Something for Nothing on Woldow's blog At The Intersection. I call it good business sense. Whatever you call it, you'd do well to heed their advice:
“Not everything in life has to be a billable event. There are times when you’ll help your cause most by providing value and not charging the client.”
Read the post. Give something away. Build a reputation as a "uniquely helpful and client-focused lawyer." Sure sounds like smart idea, doesn't it?