Well, dear readers, today is the day I have been waiting for all year:

  • We hosted our final event this morning, to raves and great success
  • The two tables of ten next week have been filled
  • The final ads have been placed

And now there are no more firm functions scheduled on my calendar until 2017. No breakfast meetings. No seminars. No client events. The holiday gifts have been ordered. The holiday cards were delivered to the attorneys weeks ago. The e-card lists will be uploaded tomorrow, ready to be sent next week. And I can now breath a sign of relief. I survived 2016. One of the busiest work years of my career.

Sure, I still have things to keep me busy until my vacation: process the attorney business plans, submit my budget, and write my departmental business plan–all of which are overdue. Not to mention that little website project we started. In a weird way, I’m looking forward to clearing out my inbox, and all that alone time with my keyboard and monitor as I dig in.

In such a crazy year, I am so grateful for:

  • my team for their dedication and hard work
  • the support I received from my colleagues, and the cross-departmental staff at the firm
  • my marketing partner for clearing my path so I could do what needed to get done
  • the words of thanks and gratitude that kept my team going, especially during these past two months
  • my family for forgiving me for the stress that I brought home from the office night after night

The marketing function in a law firm isn’t easy. My job is to make it look effortless. So thank you to Gerson, Brandi, and Ken for being my team. Thank you to Eric, Katie, Piper, and Max for the love in our home.

It is now 5:30 p.m. … and I am going home.

2016 will be an election studied for decades to come. Professors, politicians, pollsters, statisticians, the media, Main Street, and Wall Street will try and make sense of it all. How did everyone (except the LA Times poll) get it wrong? From Dan Schnur this morning, his tip for us all:

I suggest we bring the lessons of #Election2016 back to the law firm: How often are we ignoring the voice of the client? The voice of the differing generations? The voice of the non-equity partners, or the rising associates? The working mothers (and fathers)? Not to mention the staff?

Rarely does a client fire a law firm. They just stop giving you new matters.

Take a look at your client originations. Are they stagnant? Have the new matters slowed down? When’s the last time you had lunch to see how your client is doing? What’s new in their world? Their industry?

Here’s a freebie for you. Go to lunch and be prepared to ask the following: Continue Reading Lessons for lawyers and legal marketers from #Election2016

I don’t know the point in time when making a mistake became taboo, but we live in a pretty messed up world when perfection is expected 100% of the time.

I have been caught up in this at different times in my life, and my experience is that I retreat into caution, and not wanting to push boundaries. Making a mistake is part of learning. Making a mistake is part of pushing boundaries. Making a mistake is part of creativity.

Last Sunday was probably the worst Sunday Night Football game. Ever.

If you didn’t watch the game, it was lost in overtime when the punters kickers for both teams missed what should have been an easy field goal, giving their team the win.

How the coaches handled it showed what true leadership looks like:

In A Lesson in Leadership: 2 Football Coaches, 2 Players’ Mistakes, and 2 Very Different Reactions we gain insight into the mastery of leadership. Into how “you can you build someone up when it counts the most.” Continue Reading Why you should take the risk and make the mistake: Lessons in Leadership

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

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.