Thursday, March 31, 2011

Signing the checks means clients get to determine value.

Fred Wilson's "A Challenge to Startup Lawyers" at his blog AVC. Here we go again with the client perspective.... Regardless of what lawyers tell themselves, fees are generally a pretty big deal for most clients. Whether you charge $5,000 or $17,000 for a specific transaction (in this post, it's an incorporation and seed round), your clients are probably looking at the work done and the fees paid to determine value received. Does that mean you should lowball fees on every representation? Of course not. It means that you should know your clients and their expectations, their challenges, their pressure points. It means that you should take a long-term perspective in evaluating the relationship and its value to you. It means that you should be open to change. Read the post. And read the comments. Are you ready to accept Wilson's challenge?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stop selling yourself short. Own your achievements.

J. Kelly Hoey's "I Am….Narrate Your Career Story" on Kelly's Blog. I've said it before: lawyers should tell stories more often. Stories that convey their passions, their successes, their personalities. Stories that contextualize their work, their experience, their expertise. But most of all, stories that give clients and potential clients a reason to like them, to want to connect with them, to want to hire them. Marketing isn't just about facts and figures, numbers of deals, cases won, dollars recovered. It's mostly about people, and articulating what you do in a way that causes others to sit up and listen. Hoey's post challenges you to turn your bio into a "career story," to inject some personality, to own your achievements. Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sending an email? It's probably too long already.

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 provinciales

Monday, March 28, 2011

The value of the client's perspective.

Toby Brown's "The Value of Law Firm Experience Lists and Other Musings from an AGC" at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog. Like Brown, I geek out on this kind of stuff. The Associate General Counsel for Litigation at the 37th largest US corporation? Sharing his perspective on how law firms sell themselves, what they do right and what they do wrong? It rarely gets any better than this. I've said it before, when clients talk, law firms need to sit up and listen. Because more often than not, they tell you exactly what they are looking for. Paul Beach, AGC at United Technologies, is no different. Up to 95% of experience not worth mentioning? Proposals in hard copy only? Proclaiming how much time you are writing off because they client is so important to you? Read the post. Change the way you sell. Your clients will appreciate it. And when your clients appreciate you, you're light years ahead of the competition.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The future of law? You fill in the blank.

"'Bet the Farm' Versus 'Law Factory': Which One Works?" from Toby Brown and Ron Friedmann on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog (it's also posted at Friedmann's blog, Strategic Legal Technology). How will law firms adapt to change? Will there be a new business model? More than one? How can firms respond to market and client pressures for lower prices and greater efficiency and increasing specialization? What will the new firm look like? Are firms facing a "transform or die" decision? Friedmann and Brown explore these questions, possible futures for BigLaw, and what it all means for lawyers and firms, for clients, and for the practice of law. This is stuff you need to know. And while you're at it, read these posts too (list compiled by Jordan Furlong - thanks, Jordan!). More stuff you should know.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Got a brand? Um, maybe not.

Rees Morrison's "Brands of law firms – doubtful thoughts after a Georgetown Law Center conference" on his Law Department Management blog. Morrison writes for law departments, not the lawyers who serve them. As such, his blog is full of valuable and often unique insight into the ways that lawyers can improve the delivery of the services they provide and the value they add. This post is a good example. Think your branding efforts are working, that they are resonating with your clients, that they are articulating your "promise to clients"? Morrison doesn't. Read the post. Should you change the way you communicate the value of your firm? How?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's a crowded marketplace. Being the same doesn't help.

Intelli Challenge's "Dude, your collateral sucks!" at The Intelligent Challenge. When I saw the title of today's post, I knew I had to read it. Once I did, I knew you had to read it too. Lawyers, from solos to small firm lawyers to BigLaw, generate a massive amount of marketing collateral. Lawyer biographies. Practice brochures. Firm descriptions. Newsletters, white papers, client alerts. Does yours stand out? Does it engage your readers? Does it sell your firm and your practices and your lawyers? It's a crowded marketplace. Being the same isn't going to help you get more clients. Read this post, then take pen to paper. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How many times do you have to hear this?

Ron Friedmann's "Empirical Overview: The Life Cycle of the 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?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The future of law? Different.

Patrick Lamb's "What Does the Future of Law Hold? Three Predictions" from his The New Normal column at the ABA Journal Online. For the first time in three years, I wasn't able to attend Georgetown University Law Center’s Future of Law Conference. Fortunately, Lamb was (as were others whose posts we will be featuring this week). This post contains Lamb's takeaways from the sessions, three changes in the legal profession that he sees happening in the relatively near future. They're not particularly revolutionary, at least not at the start, but as they take hold, they could certainly help revolutionize the way law is practiced, the way clients obtain legal services, the nature of those services and the value the that clients receive. Sound over the top? Maybe. Read the post (and comments) and decide for yourself.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Plan. Pitch. Think. Talk. Network. Repeat.

P.J. McGuire's "Don’t Let Networking Work You" on the Shy to Social Butterfly Blog. Networking isn't easy for everyone. But it can be easier. McGuire's steps for making the most of your networking activities are simple, practical, and best of all, easy to implement. There's no guarantee they will take you from shy to social butterfly, but they will certainly help you articulate what you do, engage with others, and build relationships with the people who can help you meet your objectives. What's so hard about that?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

See the world. Learn a new language. Make your own luck.

Michael Chang's "Luck - It Depends on How You Look at It" 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.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mind the gap.

John Wallbillich's "Howrey 3: When is a Law Firm Brand Too Good?" on Wired GC. Day Three of Wallbillich's Howrey retrospective is about brands, branding, and slogans. But underneath all that, it's about the same thing we talked about yesterday: perception. Perception of value, of client service, of skills and expertise. The gap between the message you think you are sending and the message the rest of the world receives can be huge. Sometimes unbridgeable. Don't get caught out. Talk to your clients. Talk to your friends. Talk to your competition. If they message they're getting isn't the one you're sending, don't expect them to change. Adjust your message. Then talk to them again. And repeat the process until you know they're hearing what you want to say. Mind the gap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sometimes picking up the phone is the first step.

Debra Baker's "Value Perceptions: Real or Illusory?" on her blog, Law Firm Transitions. Think you're adding value? Meaningful value? The kind of value that goes beyond providing legal advice and helps your clients run their businesses better, sleep better at night, make more money? The kind that gives you a distinct competitive advantage over all the other law firms that provide the same services? Maybe you should ask your clients. The gulf between what you believe and what your clients perceive can be significant. Talk to them. Figure out what you're doing right (and what you're doing wrong). Make it better. This post is a good place to start.

We've recommended a lot of posts on value. Baker's post is a good addition to the list.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I calls 'em like I sees 'em: blah, blah, blah.

Aric Press' "A Cleansing Look at Law Firm Marketing and Messaging" in the AmLaw Daily. Think your marketing materials are the cat's meow? Your PowerPoint presentation a cut above the rest? Your proposal letter an on-target, informative, meaningful analysis of how your firm will help the potential client solve its problem and meet its business objectives? Then you might want to read this article. Ken Grady, an actual general counsel at an actual corporation (Wolverine World Wide) calls 'em like he sees 'em. All you have to do is listen. So if you weren't at Georgetown Law School last week for its annual conference on the state of law firms, read this post. Then take another look at your marketing materials, from the client's perspective. Will they read: "Blah, blah, blah Law Firm name. Blah, blah, blah, Law Firm name"?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wanna increase profitability? Take my advice.

Colin Cameron's "The Top 5 Things Law Firms Need To Do Now To Increase Profitability" at Cameron's Profits for Partners Blog. This post, like all of the ones Cameron writes, is short, to the point, and full of solid advice. No-nonsense advice. Practical advice. The kind you need when you're thinking about your firm's future and its profitability, its management, its strategy, people, and clients. So take my advice: read this post, and add this blog to your feed. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sorry, Einstein: E = mc² just might apply to law firms, too.

Stephen Mayson's "Law firms and the formula for success." What makes some firms more successful than others? What exactly is "success"? Is there a formula? Today's announcement of Howrey's dissolution makes it painfully clear just how important these questions are to you, to your partners, and to your clients. Mayson's article doesn't have all the answers, but his exploration of key factors that contribute to success -- market, commitment, and contribution -- provides valuable insight to firms of all sizes in this era of "fundamental change and restructuring."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How do you spell transformation? L-P-M.

Jim Hassett's "Case study: Legal project management at Williams Mullen" on his blog Legal Business Development. If you're trying to figure out legal project management -- what it means, what's different about it, what's the right way to do it, what benefits it offers you and your clients and how to capture them -- then today's post is for you. Hassett's case study provides a rare perspective on how one firm is implementing LPM to improve efficiency and client service. Already past that point? Read it anyway. Don't you owe it to yourself and to your clients to see how others are transforming the practice of law?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sorry, Edison: for lawyers, it's 99% preparation.

Janet Ellen Raasch's "How to 'pitch' your legal services: The preparation factor" on her blog Constant Content. Winning new work isn't always about being cheaper or being in more cities or having a bigger team. Most of the time, winning comes from just being prepared, from knowing what the client needs, from knowing what your own firm can do, from articulating -- in terms the client understands -- how you can help them achieve their business objectives. This post (and parts one and two in the same series) provide good, practical, advice on doing just that.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Does this passion make my practice fit right?

Monick Halm's "You Have a J.D., But are You Passionate about the Law?" from Gen Y J.D. Unless this is your first visit to my blog, you know that in my book, practical beats theoretical any day of the week. Hands down. Posts that lay out specific steps for marketing your practice, building your business, and providing your clients with ever-increasing value are the ones that most often appear on this blog. So why is today's post about "passion"? Because passion counts. A lot. Ask your clients. Ask your family and friends. And most importantly, ask yourself. Are you passionate about the law?

Friday, March 4, 2011

There's no built-in GPS for clients.

"Give Your Clients a Roadmap" from David Bilinsky and Laura Calloway on's SlawTips. For most non-lawyers, the law is uncharted territory. It's typically confusing, occasionally frightening and more often than not simply unknowable. So why not make it better? Why not give your clients a roadmap at the start of your representation? Tell them what needs to be done, when you are going to do it, and what they can expect as a result. Because good client service is all about good communication, and this is a great place to start.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Flipping burgers for your clients.

The Legal Bizzle's "How flipping burgers can make you a better lawyer" at his blog, The Bizzle. What did you do before you became a lawyer? According to this post, even it was working in a burger joint, that experience can make you a better lawyer, as in better advisor, better negotiator, better provider of client value. And it just might give you an edge over the competition, too. But don't despair if you went to law school directly, without a stop in the workaday world. You probably have some life experience that you can draw upon for the benefit of your clients. Like this lawyer. And this one. And this one and this one too. Find it and use it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Smiles, handshakes and helping others.

James Clear's "24 networking tips that actually work" from the Passive Panda blog. Networking isn't just smiles and handshakes, says Clear. But we already knew that, like we knew that networking success doesn't just happen on its own, it requires planning and focus and effort. Then why read this post? Because it's full of practical tips on doing it right, on setting expectations, on building relationships, on making networking a habit, and on much more. And even if you don't agree with everything that Clear says, the happy baby picture in this post is hands down a great way to start your day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sooner or later, you're gonna need to talk to people.

Kevin O'Keefe's "What's the role of PR in promoting your law blog to traditional media?" at Real Lawyers Have Blogs. Web 2.0 is great. You can publish your work on a blog, push it out to the world via Twitter, share it with your friends and connections on Facebook and LinkedIn and JD Supra. But sooner or later, you're going to have to develop real relationships with people if you want all those efforts to lead to something, like reputation or revenue. O'Keefe's post about PR in a Web 2.0 world reminds us that the real value of social media isn't the push of media, but the engagement of social.