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Alex Schenk, Elvis, Brenda Christmas Marlowe (L-R)

After almost six years in legal marketing, I attended the LMA Annual Conference in Las Vegas as one of two recipients of the Midwest Region’s Presidential Scholarship.

What an experience! So many new legal marketing connections. So many good sessions. So much to think about.

Here are a few reflections as a first-timer and a small-firm marketer:

Networking is key

  • I decided to take advantage of as much as I could at the conference, so I went a day early to attend a few mixers and a pre-conference session. I also participated in a lunch networking session with the Small Firm/Solo Marketers SIG. Through the networking events, I met many people IRL who I previous only knew virtually through LME (Legal Marketers Extraordinaire on Facebook), my lifeline. These include Hall of Fame members, former board members of LMA, and conference presenters. They are approachable and willing to help other legal marketers at any time. Throughout the conference, I ran into them repeatedly and they always chatted with me to see how things were going (and they give hugs).
  • If you’re part of team who are at the conference, connect with people outside of your firm. It’s what we tell our attorneys, right?
  • Look people in the eye. Say hello. Invite others into your “groups” at mixers – don’t just leave it up to others to approach you or ask to join your group.

Continue Reading Thoughts from a First-Time LMA Attendee | Guest Post

In my morning meditation, this line popped up:

“… in our group discussions we should never settle for the “good,” but always strive to attain the “best.”

How perfectly that sums up my LMA conference experience this week in both the sessions, and especially in the hallways, as well as in my Legal Marketers Extraordinaire (LME) Facebook Group.

Mentors | Colleagues | Friends

Continue Reading Final LMA thoughts: Strive to attain the best

Richard Caruso, VP, ALM LLC – MODERATOR

Jeff Franke – Yahoo! Inc

Connie Brenton, Senior Director of Legal Opps, NetApp, Inc.

Steve Harmon, VP and Deputy GC, Cisco

George Milionis – GC, Petersen-Dean, Inc.

[My comments in brackets]


Steve: The legal department is there to make sure that they can build and sell their products. Here’s their model of what stays in and what goes out. They are not price sensitive to mission critical activities, but there’s not a lot of “bet the farm” litigation. And high competition for it.

Cisco

Connie: A lot of the work is coming back in-house, but not mission critical, but mission critical to the operations of the company. Firms need to be creative for the repetitive work.

Jeff: Yahoo! has huge legal opps teams. There is an evolution within legal opps. The model is changing. No longer selling to the person you have the relationship with, as in the “old” days,” but as they get more sophisticated in how they buy legal services. [talking legal procurement, people. LISTEN up]

Talking the lock-step rate increase. Long story short, you are forcing the work in house as the legal budgets are NOT increasing. They are looking to partner on new pricing models [are you LISTENING??].

George: They had a big litigation issue in CA, so they looked at creating a law firm within the company. And, well, yeah, they did. Not just low impact, PI cases, but high-stakes litigation. Brought 90% of the litigation in house. Brought in technology, use contract lawyers, and they cut legal spend by seven figures.

Connie: They are at the tipping point. We will see drastic changes into the function of the GC office within companies.

Jeff: Within the next few years you will see corporations bring pricing people onto their teams. Price is important and critical. For the critical matters where lawyers bring great value, $1000 or more/hour is not a problem. It’s the fat in the system [expensive offices) that is driving up rates. They are not looking for law firms to not make a profit, but, come on already.

Steve: They pay for the outcomes. They don’t want to pay for the input. It doesn’t fit their business models, and doesn’t make sense to them. The firms that win their business have a sense of what they want to achieve, and can define the options available to them [HELLO, this is the JOURNEY MAPPING we worked on in the CMO Summit]. Successful firms have a project management mindset. All of their outside lawyers go through project management training [shout out to Legal Lean Sigma … do it!!]

Connie: Once they understand how much something should cost, they will move to fix fee.

Steve: One of the key things that he and his department are measured on is predictability of the budgets they address.

FIXED FEES. FIXED FEES. FIXED FEES.

Jeff: Disagrees to an extent on the input. He does care. [and he and Steve will have a chat after the panel]

Steve: As they outsource their work on deals, they understand that they sub-contract. They expect their firms to do the same.

Connie: Collaboration is going to move the market. The change management in their roles is extreme, and you will see it accelerate.

Richard: Looking at how technology is affecting their organizations.

Jeff: It’s going to depend on the company. Electronic billing is critical. They are still trying to get their arms around the numbers and the data. Yahoo! is looking at business process automation (getting back to efficiency and cost processes). If they have a process that is broken they look to automate it.

Connie: Dashboards are new to in house. They need to run their departments as a business. #2 tech is “how can they run their departments more efficiently.” IF YOU KNOW ARE BUSINESS YOU ARE FAR MORE VALUABLE (yes, I am shouting). #3 Electronic signature.

Steve: Talking AI, because that’s the buzz. The principle opportunity for AI is to access information without the judgment. They want to make it much easier to get to the information they need. They need to get their hands around the data. #2 – they need to compare the value of a known value v. an unknown value.

Connie

Jeff: Corporate Legal Operations Consortium (CLOC) is a new organization where they are collaborating. [Think LMA for in-house lawyers].

Heather: What about the rate increase letters: the language is dictatorial, no phone call, arrogant, after the time they have set their budgets. To quote Connie, “This will stop.”

George: If it’s an increase for an increase, they will bring the work in house.

Steve: Show him how you are 6% better, have 6% value. If just because someone is moving up in a firm’s hierarchy, not his problem. The minute they can jettison you, they will.

Connie: Doesn’t think the law firms understand the administrative nightmare rate increases brings to them in house.

Matt Fawcett, SVP & GC of NetApp, is pissed off and he made sure we all heard about it. My question is, “could your client have written this letter?” and “Are you listening?”

Matt has a voice and his voice is being heard by other GCs. They are talking about this, and they are collectively done.

I am at the LMA annual conference, and the GC panel is about to begin. I’ll blog about that in a separate post.

When’s the last time you sat before a panel of general counsel and listened? May I suggest you do so quickly. I also suggest you read for understanding Matt’s letter. Did you send a rate increase letter out this year? Could your client have had the same visceral response as Matt?

Lots of questions and food for thought.

March Madness Law Edition V2

 

 

LMA17 has kicked off with Zoe B. Chance (@zoebchance ‏) speaking on how the brain is wired to be influenced. As my buddy Jon Holden said,

Go read the Twitter feed at #LMA17. In short, we need to make it easy to say yes, make it easier to take action, at the moment of “truth.”

Which flowed PERFECTLY in to the kick off of the AI track. I am just in love with this topic, and YES, my 2017-2018 Marketing Plan for the Marketing Department at my firm is to CLEAN UP MY DATA!

My favorite slide is the one that brings it all together:

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Bringing all of our data together to tell the story is the future, and the future is here. AI should be on the minds of all legal professionals. The impacts will drive client relationships, engagement, and the delivery of legal services. It will drive how law firms (and cases) are managed.

For those with their heads in the sand, you have to realize: YOUR CLIENTS ARE DOING THIS. They are automating, and they are in control of the demand. WE are the business professionals. We need to be fluent in this conversation.

BRAVO to the SEXIEST panel at #LMA17. Follow them:

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As 1200 legal marketers start to gather in Las Vegas for the annual LMA Annual Conference, I am reminded WHY I am a member of this community: We have a deep passion for what we do.

But can we care too much?

And when I say “we,” I include all of us on the business side of the law firm from the managing partner, through the C-Suite, and all of the pathways that lead to office services, reception, and hospitality.

Come June, I will celebrate 19 years as a legal marketer. And when I say celebrate, I mean it. I am proud of my career, and love what I do. But I cannot care more than the attorneys I work with, either as individuals or as a collective.

Being a legal professional has its challenges, but the rewards are far greater. Watching a law firm grow and evolve. Seeing the lights go on when an attorney gets it. Having your ideas embraced and implemented.

Yet the turnover in legal marketing continues. Not just turnover from firm to firm, but from firm to firm to out of the industry.

It takes a certain personality to work in-house. I have several close friends and colleagues who could never be successful in-house, yet as consultants they are in the perfect position to balance what it is that we do.

Yes, in many ways we still pay $5000 $10,000 to have a consultant tell the lawyers something we could have told them for free, but as long as we are not personally attached to that $5,000 $10,000, we’re fine.

From my morning meditation earlier this week:
care too much

Simply stated, we need to detach from the results. Over the course of the next few days, we legal marketers will be sponges. We will walk away with new ideas and initiatives we know we have to implement. We will have a new-found energy and sense of ourselves. And then we’ll return to the office where some of these ideas will be well-received, but few implemented. NOW.

That’s the key word: NOW.

Keep talking about what you learn. Keep sharing the new ideas and concepts. Start to implement what you can. Continue to reinforce good business concepts.

Changing culture can take 5-10 years. And that’s without lawyers in the mix.

When I think back on the 19 years of my legal marketing career, I cannot believe how far we’ve come. But it’s been a very, very slow and steady trudge.

Don’t give up. Use the next few days to fill up and energize. Know that you are with your “people,” that we’ve all been there, and have done that.

And never stop caring, just detach from the results.

The Legal Marketing Association‘s annual conference is just around the corner. I’ve got my flight, my hotel, my conference registration, and my custom badge ribbons ready to go. But before we all head out, there are a few things we should all be doing to prepare so that we make the most of the conference, our time, and our opportunities.

From a post last year:

We all attend professional conferences. Some are close-knit groups, such as the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Conference; others will have 10s of thousands in attendance, and take over a whole city (ACC Annual Meeting, CES, NRF’s Big Show).

Sometimes we will know no one attending, other times hundreds due to our level of involvement in the organization.

No matter how many people you know or don’t know, speaker or not, first time attendee or not, you need to prepare to maximize the time you will be there, and out of the office.

I start to prepare for a conference  approximately two weeks or so before my departure. When I say I do these things, I really do them, and I coach others to do so as well for one reason: They work.

YUP, gonna make you click to the original post to read more … 

Don’t be a lurker. 6 Things to Do BEFORE Attending a Conference

What it comes down to is that we’re all really busy trying to get out of the office. Many of us will be distracted at the conference by the office. But your firm is spending good money to send you. Take advantage of the opportunity. However, it’s a big conference, with a lot of people, and a homecoming with old friends. Planning today will make your experience all the better.

If you’re looking for me, here’s my schedule:

Sunday

  • Flying in with the Sports Dude and headed to the pool. Trying to gather some people for dinner and a show (DM me if interested in going).

Monday

  • CMO Summit on Monday. Then I’ll meet up with my First Time Attendee Mentees at the First Timers Reception, then we’ll head over to the full reception, and then I have dinner plans.

Tuesday

  • I’m doing the AI Track. Really looking forward that. All the breakouts for networking in the exhibit hall (looking forward to winning some prizes), and off to the reception. Playing it by ear Tuesday night.

Wednesday

  • After everyone wishes me happy birthday and bestows upon me lots of gifts, I’m headed to a couple more sessions before flying home so my kids can bestow me with gifts as well.

Thursday will be spent getting caught up in the office, sharing great content, and preparing to head out again on Sunday for the ALA Annual Conference where Jonathan Fitzgarrald and I will be presenting on Generational Marketing: Strategies and Tactics for Engaging Different Generations.

It used to be that the worst things that could happen to a premium practice was for it to become commoditized. During the course of my nearly 20 years in legal marketing, I have seen in time and again.

Now the worst thing that can happen is disruptive technology. And when it happens, it happens overnight with the drop of a press release.

First came LegalZoom, now comes COIN.

Financial services attorneys (oh, hell, all attorneys) need to be shaking in their boots from this headline: Continue Reading Another premium legal practice bites the dust

One of the unintended consequences I found when I started blogging is that I become connected to the legal community, and inspired to blog, via the content produced by others.

Reading and experiencing what others share inspires me to want to add my voice to the conversation.

I have not been inspired of late.

It is so ugly out there in content land. My Facebook, Twitter, and news feeds have been taken over by politics. I was hoping it would die down after the election. It didn’t. I was hoping the new year would give way to new hope. It hasn’t. I have some friends who 100% of the time that they post, it’s political, and negative. Even Above the Law is bringing me down.

I want more puppies.

I want to live vicariously through your vacation pictures.

I want to discuss AI in law firms and be inspired to blog my thoughts about it.

In a Facebook group today we were discussing pay-to-play when it comes to speaking at conferences. I find it sad to say, but this was the most robust business-of-law related conversation I’ve participated in in a long time; one that got me thinking and inspired to the point of wanting to write.

Almost.

Your Facebook feed is not reality.

Continue Reading Where has all the good content gone? Is anyone else as depressed as me?

It’s been a horrible weekend at airports across the United States as legal residents with Green Cards, valid visas, and immigrant refugees have been shut out at the point of entry to our county. While I believe we need a better vetting process and stronger border control, pure insanity and violation of our laws should not be part of that process.

Through the insanity, I do see the beauty.

I see lawyers sitting on floors, typing out writs:

slate.com | Kathleen Cullinan

I see average Americans showing up to not just protest, but show that they have learned from history:

First they came for the muslims

And I see liberals agreeing with Dick Cheney:

Perhaps this is the place where liberals and conservatives can meet: in the laws and the constitution of the United States.

As someone who leans center-right and votes third party, I don’t want to see this degrade into finger pointing between the DNC and the GOP. Considering 40% of eligible voters didn’t show up at the polls in November, I’m thinking a good percentage of Americans agree. There’s a reason why we are where we are, and we will have to look at that closely. But not today.

NOW is the time for our lawmakers to find common ground in our constitution. If we truly are a nation of laws, then our two other branches of government need to insert their authority. In case you’ve forgotten how it all works:

For my fellow legal marketers and the lawyers reading this blog, we are amongst the people who are in a position to prove that we are good people, and we will not let evil triumph. We have the ability to go to our management committees and propose how our firms and our attorneys can get into the story of today. We legal marketers have the ability to brainstorm and can help map out what this can look like for our individual firms. The lawyers have the ability to act as pro bono counsel, or support those who are. Or we can do nothing.