Archives: business of law

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).

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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”:

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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

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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

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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.

 

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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.

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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?

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Gratuitous picture of the Sports Dude and Max

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I just watched the short (< 2 minutes) video from the National Director of Brand, Creative & Content Marketing for Deloitte Digital talking about the future of the CMO (that’s the Chief Marketing Officer if you’re wondering). He summed up the current role of the CMO as:

“Mad Men collaborating with the Math Men.”

Perfectly sums up what I do for a living right there.

I am excited to be a CMO/Director of Marketing/First Chair Marketer in a law firm in 2016. The industry continues to change and evolve. I’ve been doing this for 18 years, and in the beginning, we were about newsletters, collateral, events, and this funky thing called a website.

Today we’re collaborating with IT, finance, library and other departments on marketing data hubs, pricing and performance, CI have found their ways under our umbrella and into the board room.

We’re forward thinkers, business thinkers, change-agent thinkers.

We’re leaders. We’re collaborators. We’re colleagues.

When I look to the future of legal marketing, I don’t look to Latham, but to our colleagues in other professional services organizations. CMO.Deloitte is in my “First Read” folder for a good reason.

To me, one of the greatest attributes I can have is to be a collector of information. I go out, seek new and exciting information, return to my firm, reinterpret for my industry, and implement as best I can.

It’s not always pretty, and it is never quick, but I can also say, it is never boring.

My goal for 2016 is to get myself nominated to attend the CMO.Deloitte 2nd annual Next Generation CMO Academy.

Survey-BannerWithout a doubt, the legal marketer is moving towards a data-centric and strategic role. Whether you are a legal marketing professional in an AmLaw 100, or a department of one serving a regional boutique, talking the numbers needs to become our second language. One thing every firm has in common, whether you are there, moving there, or wondering how to get from here to there, is that we are ALL collecting data every single day. The LMA Technology Committee, which I had the opportunity to co-chair for two years, is preparing a report focused on how law firms are capturing and using sales and marketing — and billing and business development and industry and costs and a whole lot more — data, and we want to know what you’re doing with it all (even if the answer is “not enough”). I would really appreciate if you would take a few minutes to complete the survey on how your firm is maintaining and manipulating big data.  Start the survey here. Once completed, a paper will be made available for download. On behalf of the LMA Technology Committee, thank you.

2016 Happy New Year, everyone. I spent my morning sitting on my couch, watching the Rose Parade and trolling Facebook for healthy eating ideas (should I do the 100 Days of Real Food challenge, or just go with some detox?) and alternatives for the gym (Yogi’s Anonymous is leading my choices). The Sports Dude slept in before heading off to cover the Rose Bowl Game, and the kids slept at friends’ houses. Basically, this year began like every other year. In other words, it was quiet around here. Just me, a good cup of coffee and my laptop. I usually take the time between Christmas and New Year’s off from work as it gives me the opportunity to process, reflect, and think about the year that was, and what is to come. I’ve written before that I do not make New Year’s Resolutions; I make daily resolutions. However, if you ask my kids, I’m a control freak and I have to have a plan. I like to have a theme for the year in order to answer the inevitable, “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” It’s much easier to live a theme on a daily basis then try and live up to the outlandish and unachievable resolutions people make. In my struggle to find my theme for the year, I found it staring at me from across the room in HD:

Find your adventureFind Your Adventure. Photo: @RoseParade

Thank you to the 127th Tournament of Rose’s Parade for a great theme and mantra for 2016: Find Your Adventure. Watching the parade, you can’t help but appreciate how the theme takes on different meaning for each float coming down Colorado Boulevard, just as it will mean something different for each and everyone of us. Continue Reading Don’t seek resolutions. Find your adventure.