I need to apologize to the LMA membership. I was being recruited by several senior (all Hall of Fame) members of our beloved association to run for president this year. I even had a member of our PR community working on message points … it was that important to this group to change the leadership course of LMA.

After a long deliberation, and many phone calls, I declined.

I declined because I felt that my voice would be better suited for outside the leadership vacuum of LMA.

And today I was proven so right.

The LMA board, without input from it’s members, has decided to do away with three programs: Your Honor Awards, Hall of Fame, and Rising Stars. I only know this as the information started leaking to me last night. As I type this, I still haven’t received my official notification from LMA.

I am posting everything that is being forwarded to me to the LME Group. If you’re not a member, send me a direct message on Facebook.

Today I am calling for:

TRANSPARENCY from the LMA leadership. Who came up with this? ACI? SmithBucklin? What was the timeline for this? Where is the market research in support of this? Where is this “strategic plan”?

MEMBER SURVEYS to actually find out what the needs of the membership are. Enough already.

AN END TO THE SLATE. We need open elections, or at least the ability to have competition and a diversity of voices. The pathway to leadership is a roadblock. I won’t even share my personal experience.

ACCOUNTABILITY for whomever is making these decisions.

RESTORATION to the MEANING behind our tagline: “The Authority for Legal Marketing.”

Should you have anything you would like to anonymously submit, email me.

“Be curious, not critical,” was the advice of Peter Guber at the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission’s recent board room program on eSports. The impressive panel of industry leaders were speaking to an audience filled with impressive Los Angeles business leaders about the rise of eSports (and a brief education on what eSports is), along with how it will impact the various businesses represented.

Be Curious, Not Critical.

This was Guber’s first piece of advice that I found particularly relevant for lawyers when approaching something new, like eSports, or business development, or the idea of blogging/social media, or insert the last thing your marketing professional suggested. Continue Reading Be curious, not critical. Business advice for lawyers.

Vacation 2017 is in the bag. Nuevo Vallarta was a blast. Everyone got along. While I did not fully “let go,” I did relax and find the relief I was seeking. I had alone time. Time with the Sports Dude. Time with each kid alone, and together. Time as a family.

Bliss.

And then, with 48-hours to go, the dread came back. Work on Monday. Board meeting with the HOA that night. Where was my joy? My enthusiasm? It was gone … a dark cloud on an otherwise sunny day.

Daily Calm BalanceAnd then today, the last day, my morning meditation was on balance.

Ahhhh. That’s it. My balance has been off most of the year. It’s been work, work, work, crazy, crazy, crazy, stress, stress, stress, both in the office, with my family, and as president of my HOA (thank goodness we’re done with Girl Scouts).

I have been thwarted and frustrated, and just not “me.” It showed, and I had no one to blame but myself.

What I came to realize (or remember) is that finding the balance in my life is a 365-day exercise; I can’t wait for my 7-night, 8-day vacation.

I have not been living a balanced life these past couple years, and I felt it. Yes, I’ve been getting to the gym regularly and eating right, but my meditation has been off. I have been feasting and fasting my way through each day.

While on vacation this week, I devoted time each morning for meditation while watching the sun rise over the nature preserve from my balcony, followed by yoga. Perhaps the greatest souvenir from our time in Mexico is the reminder to live that way daily, and to take time for myself between the hours 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday as well.

Working with lawyers is challenging, as is raising two teenagers, and managing an HOA. I’m sure your life is as busy and full as mine. Don’t forget to take the time to breath, create space, and find your personal bliss.

And thank you to all my Facebook friends. I have enjoyed your vacations, your moments. Here are a few of my favorite moments:

 

Under performing law firms are nothing new. Some under perform themselves into a merger, and others under perform themselves out of business. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be the path or the way.

Altman Weil recently released their Law Firms in Transition report for 2017. Yesterday I posted the `first in this series, tackling the ABA Journal’s Law firm leaders report lawyer oversupply and ‘chronically under performing lawyers’ and the survey highlights.

In it’s ninth year, the survey, for the first time, is looking at change efforts in law firms. Having spent 19+ years working inside law firms, my interest is peaked: Continue Reading Under performing law firm? I hope you are disturbed. (Pt. 2)

I’m going to blog my thoughts while reading the 2017 Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition (PDF) (Report). Here are their highlights from the survey (Highlights). I might end up writing a separate article at the end, with these just being my raw notes and first thoughts. We’ll see how this goes.

I can’t even begin to express how riled up I am just from reading the ABA Journal’s article, Law firm leaders report lawyer oversupply and ‘chronically underperforming lawyers’ (ABA Journal) and the executive summary from the Report. Here’s a quick warning, the PDF is locked and encrypted (which is frustrating the hell out of me right now. I’m going to have to retype everything I want to quote. Although people are sending me solutions to this … so fingers crossed).

From the ABA Journal:

  • The continuing erosion of demand for legal services continues to be a threat to traditional law firms, according to a survey of law firm leaders in which 61 percent said overcapacity is diluting profitability.
  • Fifty-two percent of law firm leaders say equity partners are not sufficiently busy. Sixty-two percent said nonequity partners are not busy enough, and 25 percent said associates don’t have enough work.

heads-in-sandAnd from the Report (See, AW, I typed out what I wanted to quote, and gave you attribution. I’m TRYING to help you here):

  • “Law firms are slowly changing—more slowly than we think is wise, but changing nonetheless. Clearly not all change efforts are resulting in overnight success. Some efforts require long-term investments that can be a tough sell with partners. Other initiatives may work quickly, but are one-time fixes that can’t be replicated for year-on-year gains. We see firms making only cursory investments where they should be aiming for broader, deeper transformation. And still many partners resist change in all its forms.”

And from the Highlights:

  • The problem of partner resistance: 65% of law firm leaders say their partners resist most change efforts, and 56% say most partners are unaware of what they might do differently.  This reluctance to change is an intractable problem in many law firms.

But there’s good news.

What those of us in the C-Suite have been pounding our leaders about for YEARS is working:

  • “… pricing, staffing, and efficiency tactics specifically undertaken to improve law firm performance—are actually producing results.” (Report)

And a bit of a road map to get started:

  • “Lawyers are very good at interpreting data that’s set before them, but they also need to ask: What don’t we know that might matter?” said Altman Weil principal and survey co-author Tom Clay. “Adequately educating partners about current market realities is a critical first step in achieving necessary strategic change.” (Highlights)

Above the Law and their recent guest poster in Marketing and the Law (enjoy the comments on the Facebook feed) need to take a deeper look at what legal business executives have been doing (or trying to do) for years. In one sense they get it right, many lawyers do struggle with this “fundamental part of the business.” I would just argue that they are most likely part of those 52% or 62% of under-performing equity and non-equity partners. And that the solutions (LEADERSHIP) are there.

Off to read the Bloomberg Law article now. Then I have to do a Costco run. More later today as I really dig into the Report itself.

Many of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or through the Sports Dude know my love of music and concerts (was at Billy Joel last weekend, and have U2 coming up on Saturday).

I’m unashamedly an ’80s New-Wave/punker, and Eric was a club DJ throughout the ’80s and ’90s (ashamedly for the Red Onion), but we love all things music and I have a special affinity for the ’90s Seattle music scene (no NKOTB for me).

This morning I woke to the news that Chris Cornell, frontman for Soundgarden, collaborator with Eddie Vedder in Temple of the Dog, as well as Audioslave, had died.

I posted my favorite song from Temple of the Dog:

Followed by these two gems that I had never heard before, but found through others sharing on Twitter: Continue Reading Chris Cornell, Suicide, and Legal Marketing

I wrote in part one of The truth behind lawyer jokes: The “business of law” is tough about the challenges facing the business of law. Namely, the people involved.

In this post, I want to turn to the solutions. Or some ideas for solutions as each firm and its challenges are different and unique to them, but not unique as a whole.

For every problem there are many solutions. Continue Reading The truth behind lawyer jokes (Part 2): The glass is leaking

There’s something to be said for self-deprecating humor; those jokes meant to clear the air, or add levity to a stressful situation. We legal professionals have been known to enjoy a good lawyer joke, or game, or two.

http://www.cubiclefugitive.com/

I tell my kids, all the time, you can’t say something mean and throw a “just joking” at the end to make what you said okay.

There’s always truth behind those “jokes” my kids make, and there is truth behind attorney jokes. But this is business, big business, and other businesses and lives are at stake. And that’s no joking matter.

Here’s the truth: the “business of law” is tough.

Working with lawyers can be challenging for legal professionals, the client, and the lawyer.

Lawyers didn’t go to law school to run a business, but that’s what they do whether they are a solo practitioner, or a partner in a firm of any size. With no business training, many lawyers find themselves at the helm of a business generating tens of millions, and in some cases, billions of dollars each year. Their training and innate personalities often times is in conflict with running a business, or counseling a client who is running a business.

Every day corporate clients look to lawyers for business solutions. Specifically, general counsel are charged with how to get their company’s products (or services) to market; to make deals happen; to make litigation go away.

While the GC is looking for certainty, they too often get back from their lawyers anything but that. Lawyers can’t help it. It’s what they learned in law school and is deeply ingrained in who they are.

I was brainstorming with a friend recently about his business and some of the challenges he’s facing in the market place. At one point in his life he was a practicing attorney, and it began to show. Long story short, his inner lawyer kept coming out to challenge my ideas: “We tried that before.” “It won’t work.” “Our competitors …”

Throughout the meeting he kept me on my toes, sharpening my ideas as I circumvented his objections. It was a bit exhausting, yet he reminded me that while working with lawyers is challenging, it is also very rewarding, and makes me a better thinker/idea generator.

I work with very smart people, every day, who don’t realize that by challenging me and trying to poke holes in EVERY idea I have, just makes me better at what I do.
Continue Reading The truth behind lawyer jokes: The “business of law” is tough (Part 1)

elvis pic3
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