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)

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.

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


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

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”:

quotation-wayne-gretzky-a-good-hockey-player-plays-where-the-puck-is-a-11-73-08

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

to do listTo say life has been in session this past year would be an understatement. I’m crazy, stupid busy everywhere. I can’t seem to get to what I want to get to. My mind is constantly swimming with what I need to do next … trying to create the pathway to get done, well, everything.

Nothing has fallen through the cracks, although I have had to let things get perilously close before I had the time to yank it back to get it done.

It’s not organizational. It’s not that I’m seeking “work life balance.” It’s just that my life is very full, and those areas of my life of importance are busy. Work. My relationship with the Sports Dude. My kids. My spiritual life. My friends. My extended family. My professional development.

It’s not that I want to do it all. It’s that I want to be present and active in each of these areas because they are each important to me.

To sit down and write this post means the sacrifice of something equally important: Today it’s my morning meditation and yoga.

I wrote a post many years ago about managing my time, including taking a Sharpie to my calendar, and I have done that and continue to do all of those things. I have taken things off my plate, removed myself from what is not necessary. I have shut down the chatter so it does not distract me, and I filter my intake so I get the most important information. Yet I am still crazy, stupid busy.

More adjustments need to be made. I am not as engaged where I want to be engaged, and the things that will get crossed out in this round will be things that are important to me, to make room for other things that are just slightly more important right now. Continue Reading Is there an app for crazy, stupid busy?

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

chicken and pig quote

In my morning meditation yesterday I read a quote that stuck with me throughout the day:

The only course open to me, if I was to attain a joyous life for myself (and subsequently for those I love), was one in which I imposed on myself an effort of commitment, discipline, and responsibility.

Daily Reflections, p. 55

The first thing that popped into my head was the food program I am on. I’ve not committed to it. I committed 100% the first week, got great results, and have been doing it my way for the past two, and haven’t had positive results (go figure, right?).

I’ve been yo-yoing around with 4 lbs. the past two weeks and I am tired of it. What did I need to do to commit to this program that obviously worked when I wasn’t working it? I paused and became conscious of everything thing I ate and drank during the day. I prepared, and when tempted to do it my way, I made a conscious choice not to. I stopped participating and committed to doing this once and for all, one day at a time. This morning, I will commit to my food plan for today.

Then I rounded the corner and I thought about my job. It will be a year next week that I joined my firm. I haven’t always been joyous, so I paused and asked myself: Am I committed or am I just involved? Continue Reading Am I committed, or just involved?