Look, Ma! No Wifi.
Look, Ma! No WiFi.

For those who are friends with me on Facebook you know that I’m in one of those boot camp/transformation gyms. It’s not quite Cross-fit, but you get the idea. I’m working out four days a week, at 5:00 a.m., and during my upcoming 8-week challenge, I’ll be there five days a week.

Today is a “recovery day” for me. My Tuesday lower body workout is really tough. I am wiped out by Tuesday mid-day. My body needed a little extra sleep today (I was up at 5:15 a.m., rather than my usual 4:00 a.m.). I had a slower pace getting ready for work this morning. All in all, I feel refreshed.

Like many of you, I also took a vacation this summer. I prefer that my vacations include a beach, along with an awesome pool with lounge-chair service, because that’s what I find relaxing. I’ve done the “6 theme parks in 7 days” vacations, and I come back exhausted. I need my summer vacation to rejuvenate me. Sure, we took a couple side trips to visit some local sites, but, all in all, we spent a lot of time at the resort.

And isn’t that what recovery days and vacations are about? Rest. Rejuvenation. Allowing our minds and bodies to heal. Taking a well-needed break. Balancing ourselves. Letting go of what we need to let go of.

So why do we fight it?

When it is apparent we need a “mental health day,” we grit our teeth and get into the office even earlier.

Vacations, if taken at all, are planned around WiFi availability.

Sure I checked my email while on vacation, only to delete all the crap that could be deleted, and to forward along the few things to my team that had to be handled. But I was off the grid many a day, and guess what? They did just fine without me.

To give you my best, in the gym or in the office, I need to be at my best. I need my mind clear. My body rested. My spirit whole.

So why do we fight it? Continue Reading The Importance of Recovery Days and Vacations

I am very excited to announce that the Legal Watercooler joined the Lexblog Network, about 10 minute ago (when I finally figured out how to change my password).

logo-sketch-black
Portrait of Moi, by Piper

Kevin O’Keefe and I have been talking about this for years. Audrea Fink has been nagging me for months to approve this and that. But we (they) finally did it.

They even took the little picture Piper drew of me so many years ago and turned it into a new logo that can now be used for t-shirts and other swag.

What humbly began many years ago with a free blogspot website, has grown into an award-winning labor of joy and love.

Thanks to the team at Lexblog for making this happen. I feel so grown up.

Wow. I cannot believe I’ve now spent a full lifetime as a legal marketer. When I started at my first firm, back in 1998, we were just launching 2nd generation websites, and I was tasked to shepherd through this program called InterAction (by InterFace). There have been many changes over the years, and, sadly, too many things that have stayed the same.

So, what have I learned these past 18 years? A lot, I am certain. But rather than make a list, I’ll sum my experience and my job up to this, from “The Great One”:

quotation-wayne-gretzky-a-good-hockey-player-plays-where-the-puck-is-a-11-73-08

And perhaps that is the difference between good and great legal marketers.

When I arrived at my first legal marketing job (it was a job then, not a career), we did good work. By the time I left, we were doing great work, as defined by Gretzky. We were starting to move ahead from where the business model was to where the industry was headed.

And I just kept moving forward, always playing “where the puck is going to be.”

Eighteen years have gone by. I’ve worked at mega firms, regional law, and boutiques. I have been part of a firm that acquired another, and have been on the acquiring end as well. In these 18 years I have had two kids, two husbands, and survived the Great Recession.

As an industry, we know we’re not returning to the “good ol’ days,” and our law firm leaders (managing partners, CFOs, CTOS, CMOs, CHROs) have all joined forces and are out there leading. But will the firms, and the attorneys in those firms, follow us?

I keep reading depressing story after depressing story of how law firms just aren’t moving in the right direction and the doomsday clock of 2020 has started ticking (Law Firm Leaders Still Aren’t Listening (James Bliwas), or Clients to Law Firms: Most of You Still Stuck in the Past (BTI), or Altman Weil’s 2016 Law Firms In Transition (pdf) survey, or Developing legal talent: Stepping into the future law firm (Deloitte), to link just a few.

Sometimes the depressing stories are so overwhelming that I wonder “What am I doing in this industry?”

And then my inner Pollyanna comes out to play. Continue Reading What I’ve learned in 18 years of legal marketing

political rant

I just had to close my Facebook page. The “debate” and “commentary” of people I actually care for is getting out of hand. Two people are arguing about the George Bush video (I agree with the Atlantic on this one). Others think Ruth Bader Ginsberg is right on, while others think she needs to temper her comments considering her role on the Supreme Court. Some think Trump is the anti-Christ; others thing he is the Messiah. Hillary Rodham Clinton is either the greatest role model EVER, or the most corrupt politician since her husband (or Nixon). And voting for a third party candidate was brought to my attention as being un-American, and will ensure that the person they don’t like might make it into the White House.

Enough already.

I know when you are sitting at home, or in your office, alone, your comments seem pithy and witty. You get lots of likes from those who agree, and some debate from those who don’t, but the majority of us are rolling our eyes and wondering: Continue Reading Do you really care what I think about the elections?

personal_branding
I promise, my personal brand is not, “I’ve been too busy to blog.” I think I’m going through a process. An evolution. A “what’s next in my life” moment that has lasted for months. I have a lot to say, but I’m not sure HOW I want to say it.

You will often hear me say that deep down, at my core, I’m a writer. But that’s not my brand.

As a writer, however, I have a need to write. But the last few months have me questioning who I am at my core. Not that I am not a good communicator and writer; it’s just not my brand, and I’m trying to get to a more authentic place with who I am. And how am I going to write about anything, if I am not grounded in my core, my brand? Continue Reading My own personal branding exercise

to do listTo say life has been in session this past year would be an understatement. I’m crazy, stupid busy everywhere. I can’t seem to get to what I want to get to. My mind is constantly swimming with what I need to do next … trying to create the pathway to get done, well, everything.

Nothing has fallen through the cracks, although I have had to let things get perilously close before I had the time to yank it back to get it done.

It’s not organizational. It’s not that I’m seeking “work life balance.” It’s just that my life is very full, and those areas of my life of importance are busy. Work. My relationship with the Sports Dude. My kids. My spiritual life. My friends. My extended family. My professional development.

It’s not that I want to do it all. It’s that I want to be present and active in each of these areas because they are each important to me.

To sit down and write this post means the sacrifice of something equally important: Today it’s my morning meditation and yoga.

I wrote a post many years ago about managing my time, including taking a Sharpie to my calendar, and I have done that and continue to do all of those things. I have taken things off my plate, removed myself from what is not necessary. I have shut down the chatter so it does not distract me, and I filter my intake so I get the most important information. Yet I am still crazy, stupid busy.

More adjustments need to be made. I am not as engaged where I want to be engaged, and the things that will get crossed out in this round will be things that are important to me, to make room for other things that are just slightly more important right now. Continue Reading Is there an app for crazy, stupid busy?

organizational-process-improvement-resized-600

Confession time. I’m crazed. Crazy busy at work. A thousand moving pieces. Eighty six internal clients today (and two more joining on Monday). Then there is home. My personal life. Spiritual life. Still haven’t made it to the market. It’s crazy. Nothing has fallen through the cracks, but we’ve gotten close a few too many times.

My project list in the office is insane. And, really, there is no set in stone process for what my department does and our deliverables. And I HATE it.

Part of it is the nature of the beast of legal marketing. My department has dozens of large projects, each with numerous tasks, and then there is the day-to-day stuff that just pops up. I’m getting ready to pick a website redesign company and I can only anticipate the amount of work that is going to spin off. My tools are not sufficient.

As many of you know, one of my closes legal marketing friends is Catherine Alman MacDonagh, and I often refer to Timothy Corcoran as my LMA husband. He really is the east coast version of the Sports Dude.

This dynamic duo travel the country speaking on and training legal industry professionals on process improvement and project management. Two skills, apparently, I was not born with and need to learn. I have been nagging them to come to Los Angeles with their white boards and giant Post-It Notes, and I am happy to say that the teachers are coming and this student is ready!

Please join Greenberg Glusker in welcoming the dynamic duo of Legal Lean Sigma to Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 24 for their one-day session and White Belt Certification in Process Improvement and Project Management:

Why Process Improvement and Project Management?
Today’s law firm and legal department professionals are faced with new challenges and opportunities to help their firms and departments maximize efficiencies and develop competitive advantages. PI and PM provide the concepts, frameworks, and tools that allow us to determine the best way to carry out work to consistently and reliably deliver excellent quality of work and service. By developing and employing strategies that are based on the client perspective, we determine how to create a win-win, leverage best practices, and find innovative ways in how we do and deliver our work.

Legal Lean Sigma Institute
We provide education, tools, and expert consulting support to take you, your organization, and your clients to new levels of excellence. Whether we are working with a law firm, legal department, service provider, or legal aid office (or two or more together), each and every engagement is tailored to the unique needs of our clients.

Legal Lean Sigma® programs are the first to be designed exclusively for the legal profession. You don’t have to spend your time and energy bridging concepts from manufacturing because we did it for you. We use relevant case studies, examples, and success stories from law firms and legal departments so that you can learn about Six Sigma, Lean and PM in the context of what is most important to you.

Read more on their website, and join us. I’ll be sitting in the front row!

Special offer for LMA members and your guests: the early bird rate is locked in … so you can still register for the preferred price here.

 

toservelawyers

A theme I heard, or just picked up on, at the 2016 LMA Annual Conference is that our role, as legal marketers, is as a service provider to our clients … the lawyers we serve. Yet, sometimes, the relationship seems much more adversarial than it has to be.

Yes, our “job” is to increase the top line, but very few of us are true sales people heading out to bring in new clients to the firm. And it takes finesse to be successful in our roles.

For the most part, our job is to help identify opportunities both internally and externally. To coach and train lawyers. To prepare for the sale. To provide the infrastructure. Too many lawyers want to abdicate (or blame) marketing if they do not have a steady stream of new business. The rainmakers get it. The service partner (which are becoming a dying breed in law firms) do not.

Kirk_surrounded_by_Tribbles
Directories and submissions multiply faster than Tribbles.

So where am I going here? The disdain for a function of our jobs — submissions — has to stop. And the attitude change has to come from us.

Yes. Directories and submissions seem to breed new directories and submissions faster than Tribbles, but can you not see the value? And I’m not talking about pointing to new revenue. The ROI for each of our functions is not necessarily new revenue, and I will argue that directory and submissions do more for us than they do for the lawyers.

Here’s how I came to appreciate the Chambers and Partners submission process, as well as Best Lawyers, and yes, Super Lawyers:

It’s not about bringing in new business.

It’s about the service provider/client relationship we share with the lawyers.

I believe the Chambers/Super Lawyers panel has surpassed the General Counsel panel as one of my favorites at the LMA Annual Conference. Why? Because my CLIENTS, the lawyers, value these and learn something new each time that allows me to serve my clients better.

I wrote about my change of heart here last year in I’m changing my tune on surveys. Once I stopped thinking about how these submissions are a waste of time and don’t bring in any new business, and started to recognize WHY the attorneys value them, I was then able to see how they allow ME to build a better relationship with my CLIENT. At that moment I began to not only  appreciate the submissions and directories, but look forward to them.

Why? Continue Reading To Serve Lawyers – Thoughts from #LMA16

Leadership chart

I cannot believe that it’s been a week since I attended the CMO Summit at the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference featuring Leonardo Inghilleri. Leadership can’t be taught in five hours, you need five days or more to take a deep dive. That said, what a great program. It’s an unspoken rule to not live-tweet the CMO Summit, so I did not, but I’d like to touch on a few things.

My first take-away, for LMA, is that this is a great opportunity for us to create a new online education program for our current and future leaders. Leadership is lacking in law firms, law firm marketing departments, and everything we touch. There is a void. There is a need. Fill it. (Is that direct enough??)

My second take-away is that leaders cannot lead if they don’t know where they are going. Even if you have an idea of where you are going, how are you going to get there without a guiding, moral compass?

Your compass is your personal mission statement. You have one, right? If not, I cannot underestimate the value of having one. If  you don’t have one, you’re probably wondering, “What the hell is that, and how do you create one?” Continue Reading Leadership isn’t just for CMOs – Thoughts from #LMA16

IMG_0007 (1)The LMA annual conference is kicking off this morning. I’ve been here since Saturday. Why? Because it’s LMA and I wouldn’t miss a minute of connecting with my peers, colleagues, and friends!!

So what is so damn special about LMA that I added more time away from my family (and the cutest puppy anyone could ever love) to attend my professional conference?

Everyone has their own experience, and I’d love to hear about yours. But here are a few reasons why I believe LMA is so special:

  • Legal marketing isn’t something you go off to college to study. You can’t get an MBA is professional services marketing. Over the years, we have defined what legal marketing is, and continue to redefine it every year, raising the bar for ourselves, the attorneys we serve, and our industry. We can’t get that information anywhere other than here.
  • Working with lawyers is hard. Law firm life isn’t easy. In any other professional services firm, the CMO not only has a seat at the table, they have a stake in the game. They are partners along side the CPAs, realtors, and architects they serve. Marketing and business development are seen as important functions of the business. Not so in the legal industry where the bar associations prohibit non-lawyers from not only being owners, but sharing in fees. By not being seen as peers, we are oftentimes not seen as being as important, and our message is not always heard. Having peers to commiserate with, who understand, and who feel our pain allows us to go back to that board room again and again and again until we make headway.
  • While legal marketing is no longer in its infancy, and we have made it through our toddler years, we certainly have not fully grown up and joined the ranks of our professional services peers. There’s still a lot of room for growth, and we’re growing up together. This had allowed us to create deep bonds as we tell our war stories (remember when lawyers didn’t want e-mail? hahaha).
  • Speaking of together, it’s hard not to admit, but simply put, LMA is really about the members. I know of no other industry where the camaraderie and friendships are as deep. Perhaps it has to do with what we do? Perhaps it has to do with the common challenges we face? Perhaps it has to do with the personalities our industry attracts?

Whatever it is, give me more. Over the past 18 years that I have been a member of the legal marketing industry I have developed some of my strongest friendships, found incredible mentors, and continue to be inspired by those I rub shoulders with once a year.

So tell me, why do you find LMA so special? What makes you come back year after year?

IMG_9959.JPG
Gratuitous picture of the Sports Dude and Max