Jonathan Fitzgarrald and i started speaking about the generational divide several years ago. Our primary focus was on how the law firms, by not passing on leadership rolls to the younger generations, were putting themselves at risk, as their clients had already made the generational shift.

As time passed, and we began speaking at other conferences beyond legal marketing, we began to discuss the shifts within our firms.

So. Millennials. What are we going to do about  the Millennials? Aren’t we all asking the same question?

I had my own recent experience that I want to raise to the level of a warning to us all. My marketing manager left us to work for the do-good-work start-up where she had been volunteering. She felt she could balance her corporate life by doing good outside of work. Until they offered her “enough” money to join them full-time. Continue Reading A new Millennial conundrum

As you know, I run a secret Facebook group of legal marketers with nearly 1000 members. Every few months a post pops up about this vanity directory or that submission. We snicker. We bitch. We moan. We agree this one you have to do, that one you can ignore. But we’re never happy about having to do these, because they are time consuming, and they don’t directly bring in any new business.

We can now throw all of our snickering out the window now–we’ve got our own ranking.

May I introduce you to the Top 100 Legal Consultants Strategists from our friends at Law Dragon? But let’s keep it real.

This latest list of vanity results are just that: Vanity. There are dubious persons on the list. Glaring exclusions. And a gaggle of retired or no longer focused on this sector members.

But kudos to Law Dragon for tapping into “our” vanity, and I mean that. I’m just hoping that when they come out with their Top 100 in-house legal marketers I make the list (and I really do mean that). Since I control the ad-buying budget for our firm, that would make sense, right? I have an ego. I know who is good in our industry, and who isn’t. If I see “that” person on the list, and I’m not there, well, that just can’t happen. Continue Reading Game On: Law Dragon’s 100 Leading Legal Consultants

My brain hurts. There is so much swirling around in there that I’m starting to wonder if I’m suffering from a communication concussion.

I hosted a program yesterday in our firm with Lee Broekman and Judith Gordon from Organic Communication. They were here to discuss communication blockers–I’ll blog about that later on because it’s good stuff–and one of them threw out this gem during our discussion on multitasking:

When we are multi-tasking MRIs show that our brains shrink; we actually lose 15 IQ points, reducing our cognitive levels to that of an 8-year old child.

No wonder my brain hurts.

Not only am I multitasking in the office, my brain is multitasking at all times.

Here I am writing this blog post and wondering about the industry event we’re hosting in the other room; how that new partner is on-boarding, and trying to remind myself to not forget to post that article to her bio; did I send the kid the note about her tags being expired on the car?; don’t forget to text the sports dude that I forgot to pick up lemons and limes at Trader Joe’s last night; and don’t forget to send Catherine and Ben the interview questions about the Coalition of Professional Service Providers.

Okay. I’ve identified the problem. Through experimentation I have concluded that sleep, caffeine, Advil, and eating well are not the solutions to my brain hurt.

Forbes is recommending a Power Hour that looks interesting <<<<<seriously, I expect to see lots of clicks on the link<<<<< and I’m going to take on the challenge to see how this works for me.

But the bigger problem is that I am not writing enough.

Writing, especially for this blog, is what clears my head and allows me to process ideas and concepts. So, good news for the readers of The Legal Watercooler, more blog posts from me.

All I have to do is find the time. So I am headed back to the program that has always boded well for me: David Allen’s Getting Things Done.

There are approximately 1.4 million licensed lawyers in the United States versus 250 million adults. As a legal marketer I am often called upon to edit lawyered-authored materials for a non-lawyer audience and mediums other than legal briefs. In other words, for the other 248.6 million adults. Needless to say, the editing process can become a very sensitive conversations between lawyer and marketer.

At a prior firm, I got into a very heated conversation with a partner as to why his 50 to 100-word paragraphs did not translate well into a blog post. I tried to explain that online “walls of text” were difficult to read, and he needed to limit himself to one to two sentences per “paragraph.” He refused to budge and it really impacted our relationship.

Another partner and I got into the whole “period-space” versus “period-space-space” controversy a couple years ago. After some heated debate (yelling) in the hallway, I went and sourced it for him. While he didn’t like it, he agreed and period-space became the rule of grammar in our firm’s marketing materials (see Oh, Brother. The Period Space v. Space Space debate. Again.). Continue Reading A Tale of Three Style-Guides

I love when someone asks, “What does the Marketing Department in a law firm do?”

We do everything under the five (or are we up to six or seven yet) P’s of Marketing umbrella.

In short, we’re the “Make it Work” department.

My department maintains a task list that we update every couple weeks. It’s amazing how many items are on that list, and how many items get done in the course of a two week period, and all the things we do that never make the list. It’s overwhelming, really, and sometimes I just want to wave that list around and shout, “See??? This is why …,” and you can fill in the blank with just about anything.

During one day recently we were: Continue Reading Marketing: The “Make it Work” Department

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).

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”:


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?

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