toservelawyers

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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LMA Annual Conference – 2015

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

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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.

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Photo credit: Kelly Mackinnon

I caught Kevin O’Keefe‘s recent piece challenging law school leaders in an Above the Law piece, Law Schools Are Not Exposing Students To Real World Business Development

If you’re a law school leader, ask yourself if you truly understand what students need for the road ahead. Have you spoken with the business development people in law firms who are charged with helping lawyers become a lawyer with a book of business? Are you helping law students who want to work in small and medium-size firms distinguish themselves? And for those grads wanting to go solo, are you exposing them as to how to get business today?

It’s amazing to me that law schools produce a product (law students) without understanding how the business of law operates. The leaders might understand how the ultimate end user uses the service, but not how the factory works.

Kevin is challenging the law school leaders in his piece, I’m challenging my peers who work in the business of law in mine.

Perhaps it’s time that we take a lesson from our general counsel peers: Continue Reading Legal marketers need to take a lesson from general counsel

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I’m having a fan-girl moment. Someone very high up in my industry caught wind that I will soon be visiting his city. Mr. Big sent me a LinkedIn message saying he’d love to buy me a cup of coffee so we can finally meet in person. He wants to meet me. OMG. I didn’t know he knew I existed. We’re 1st degree LinkedIn connections and all, but what does that really mean?

I haven’t said much about this upcoming trip. It’s personal to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and check out some colleges. Mr. Big could only know about the trip via a Facebook comment I made in a private group, and he then contacted me via LinkedIn messaging.

Seriously. This never would have happened before social media. I would never have been on his radar, and he certainly would never know that I was planning a trip to his fair city.

I was at lunch earlier today discussing how important our connections are in respect to an entirely different topic … my employment. Who I know is important to my job so that I can bring the right resources on any given project. Who I know is important so that I can make the right introductions to bring the right business opportunity. Who I know is important to save you money, and to make you money.Who I know is important. Period.

I manage all of my relationships these days through LinkedIn and Facebook (sorry Twitter). I provide value. I share to the point where people know me. I make connections. And it is all natural and organic to me.  In this past week I have identified, through status updates, new research and topics that will be perfect for my internal education program.

Social media is the most important and powerful business development tool I have ever come across. It does not discriminate. It works for introverts and extroverts, thinkers and feelers equally. It quickly allows you to separate the BSers from the value-adders. It saves time, and it allows me, with very minimal effort, to identify, connect, and develop new and deeper relationships.

My question to you is this: What are you missing out on by not harnessing your social media footprint? Most likely, you’ll never know.

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?

giving up for lent

Earlier this week I began to see proclamations by my friends that they were giving up social media, namely Facebook, for Lent. I don’t get it.

A social media channel is about engaging with people, news streams, and some really cheesy quizzes to figure out your favorite Girl Scout cookie based on your Zodiac sign. At this time, it’s also filled with political rants that are nothing less than offensive, from both sides of the aisle.

Sounds like a family get together to me.

Maybe I’m missing the point of Lent (which, as a culinary Jew, is quite understandable). Aren’t you supposed to give up something that is sinful? Can you explain to me how engaging with others is a sin? If you are engaging with others online to the point of excluding your family and commitments in real life,  I suppose it could be.  Continue Reading For Lent I will engage more in social media

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My favorite picture of Chris Milligan. Lots of joy to remember and cherish. circa 2006

This year has gotten off to a horrible start. First David Bowie. Then Glenn Frye. And now Christine Milligan and Richards Barger Christine Milligan was my mother-in-law. She passed away on Sunday from complications of living a very grand life. She would have been 96 in a couple weeks, and she leaves behind a family who loved and adored her. Chris was a true lady. A gritty kind of southern belle who didn’t fit into anybody’s box or stereotype. She shocked her Alabama community by going off to college to Washington, D.C. rather than going to one of the local colleges in Tennessee or Alabama to earn her MRS. When the war broke out, she went to work for the government. She eventually married a returning soldier, who became a doctor, and settled in Newport Beach, CA. In her late 30s and early 40s she finally had her kids. Chris was the best. She opened her beach house to not only me and my kids, when we would invade her quiet sanctity for many a weekend, but she opened her home to my family, and my sister’s family, and their friends. She was a wonderful and gracious woman, and one of the greatest honors I have is to say I was able to make her a grandmother.

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Dick Barger, founding partner, Barger & Wolen

The other loss this week was Richards Barger. He was the founding partner of Barger & Wolen (now a part of Hinshaw & Culbertson), one of the best law firms I have ever had the pleasure of working in. Mr. Barger was an icon in the insurance regulatory community. Every conference I attended, every event our firm sponsored, the first question everyone had was, “Is Mr. Barger here?” He had such reverence and respect for the community in which he served. Young or old, everyone knew, adored and respected Mr. Barger. Continue Reading A couple of my heros have passed away