I had an interesting conversation with an industry colleague yesterday. He made reference to my “super power”: The ability to shake things up. Others refer to it as being a PITA (pain in the a$$). Or bossy. Or, how’s this: a strategic thought leader unafraid of taking risks to achieve results.

I used to be afraid of my super power. I used to shy away from it, down play it, sit on the sides of the conference room table rather than in the center to not over-power a room.

If I’m going to “lean in” to anything, it’s going to be being change-agent. Continue Reading Time to Shake Things Up

The holidays are officially upon us and the stress of gifting as well. Black Friday, Cyber Monday be damned.

But we’ve all been there. We go out of our way to purchase the “perfect gift,” only to see the recipient nod a little “thanks” in our direction. Or we give a little something, only to see the person’s face light up and joy fills the room.

So before you start sending out gift baskets galore, take a moment to read this post.

Gratitude is a science, and we can measure it

Gift wrapped in measuring tapeWhen it comes to gifting, it turns out there is a science behind it.

Gratitude–which is what gifting is about–actually relieves stress, and can be measured.

Who knew?

Well, apparently Glenn R. Fox, a USC professor who spoke at our firm recently. While Dr. Fox’s talk was on gratitude as a whole, it turns out that they measure gratitude through gift giving. Which, ironically, was perfect timing as my department was getting ready to embark on the our annual “Holiday Gifts” program.
Continue Reading The science behind good gifting

Throughout the 1970s there was a cigarette slogan, “You’ve come a long way baby.” And, according to a recent survey conducted by ALM Intelligence and Calibrate Legal Inc., we’ve got a long, long way to go.

First of all, trying to get a good compensation survey for the legal marketing and business development functions and roles in a law firm have not been easy, nor have they been consistent. The actual tool that comes with this survey allows you the ability to slice and dice a comparison of roles, regions, and titles. With more than 800 respondents, it is a good pool of data, and I look forward to the updates as more people participate.

I actually had a lot of fun comparing my role and salary to other regions, and the tool provided me with a trove of information supporting how I would like my team compensated.

Men v. Women

This survey is the most comprehensive one I have found. And while there is good news in there (download survey summary), one of the most disturbing ones has to do with pay disparity between men and women, especially at the AmLaw 100 and 200 levels.  Continue Reading Survey says: We’ve still got a long way to go, baby

Here I am in Boston to attend the College of Law Practice Management‘s Futures Conference; set to be inducted as a Fellow this evening. Being welcomed as a Fellow in this organization is a reflection of my career, my contributions to the legal industry, and an incredible honor. I look around the room, and read about my fellow Fellows, and I am humbled. I also wonder: “Do they know who they just confirmed?”

Is My Impostor Syndrome Showing?

Cabo 2018
Family posing on vacation – Cabo 2018

It’s not a secret that I am a recovering alcoholic. I’ve been sober for more than 30 years (ugh … that’s a long time).

I’m also married to my high school sweetheart.

I have two great kids.

We take great vacations and have stuff.

From the outside looking in, for all intents and purposes, I have a sweet life. And I do.

And yet, I still compare my insides to your outsides and struggle with insecurities.

I have friends on Facebook who live lives I wish I lived:

  • They are stay-at-home moms who have had the privilege of raising their children (I had a nanny)
  • They have beautiful homes (I am stuck in my condo, FOREVER, because I am priced out of both upgrading and down-sizing in the crazy LA market)
  • They are celebrating 25+ years of marriage (let’s just say I have trust issues that have impacted my relationships through the years)
  • They take the most exotic vacations (we go where the time-share will take us)
  • They have impressive college and post-baccalaureate credentials (If I knew how great my college was I’d never have applied …. and with that GPA, there was no way I was getting into a Tier-1 law school)
  • Their careers seem to be spectacular (legal marketing … how’d that happen??)

Continue Reading My Insides vs. Your Outsides

Summer is over, and that means a rash of conferences will be taking place between now and the week before Thanksgiving. Calls for speakers and sponsors are starting to go out for 2019. And my budget and calendar are busted.

Needless to say, I have attended, participated, and planned numerous conferences over the course of my career, and there’s just no excuse for crap programming.

I’m spending time (days out of the office, away from my family, plus travel), money (usually my firm’s, but for my service provider colleagues, it’s their money). And for my clients (the attorneys in my firm for me, but the paying clients for my firm’s attorneys), they are losing access to their trusted adviser/service provider/attorney for those hours or days.

It’s 2018 and there’s just no excuse for bad programming. So why are you still not taking speaking or moderating at a conference seriously? You said yes for a reason.  Continue Reading An Open Letter to Conference Organizers, Panel Moderators, and Speakers

Earlier this week I started seeing some of my legal marketing friends and colleagues touting their firms’ certification as Mansfield 2.0 and I was so excited. If you don’t know what the Mansfield Rule is, you can read more here. I also blogged on it earlier this year,  Women, diversity, law firms, and why are we still having this conversation?

Nothing, and I mean NOTHING ever changes in the law firm ecosystem naturally. It is by force of the client, or peer pressure/competition that we begrudgingly push ourselves to do what should be done because it is not only the right thing to do, but the best thing for the business’ success.

Cross-selling, anyone??

Why the Mansfield Rule?

Mansfield RuleSimply put, the Mansfield Rule–based on the concept of the NFL’s Rooney Rule–requires that law firms consider at least 30% women, LGBTQ+ and minority lawyers for significant leadership roles (sadly, we can’t even go 50/50 here).

Easy-peasy, right?? Not really. Continue Reading What the h*** is the Mansfield Rule? And how do I get one??? Now!!!

It’s morning in Cabo. Not early morning, but morning enough. Day three of vacation. It hasn’t gone perfectly. We’re changing rooms later today. But so far so good. Everyone is getting along, and a tan has begun.

So why am I blogging? Why am I not down at the spa, or packing a bag for the beach? Or getting ready to swap out our room for a better one?

Because I had the worst dream last night. It was vivid, and probably filled with every dread I have been holding onto since my last vacation.

Back home it feels as if I spend every waking moment wondering about the next moment. On vacation, I am present in this one.

Yesterday felt like a detox. I had the worst headache I’ve ever had, leading to what the Sports Dude told me was about a 4-hour nap, and then another eight hours or so of sleep, with that lovely dream, and then lots of thoughts upon awakening.

Slowing Down 

I like at least one beach vacation each summer. The heat and the humidity slow me down and give me time to catch my breath. It’s like meditating without meditating.

So with that vivid dream and the dread comes opportunity. I am reminded of my passions. I am reminded of my dreams and aspirations. I am reminded of where I see myself. I am reminded that today is just today, and tomorrow can wait.

Leaders need time to reflect and recharge

As a leader, and we are all leaders, we need to take the time for reflection, self-reflection, rejuvenation, and recharging. We need to self-care, meditate, get to the gym, make that spa appointment, take that class, eat healthy, and rest.

I know I can feel it to my core when I am in desperate need of self-care.

It doesn’t have to be huge: picking an apple v. a bag of chips at 3:00 p.m.

It can be huge: packing up the family and heading off to vacation.

Or the hardest of all: staying home and turning off all the in-bound messaging, or taking a technology Sabbath.

Here’s the irony in it all: I appear to rediscover this discovery every year, and seem to write about it frequently, as if it were something new:

The Importance of Recovery Days and Vacations

I think the Hippies were on to something

Intuitive v. Intentional

Moon Rising Over Cabo
Moon Rising Over Cabo – 2018

One of my “truths” is to turn my actions from intuitive into intentions. I “discovered” this during my leadership training.

For the next six days, while we’re in Mexico, my intention is to turn towards my truth. I know what it is, but I have fears surrounding it.

So what’s keeping me from my truth? What is causing my fear? What can I do to find my courage to walk through that fear to my truth?

As a leader, how can I do better? How can I bring this intention home with me, and not forget about it for the next 364 days?

It’s a paradox, really. I am exactly where I need to be, in this heat and humidity, in the sleepy part of Cabo. I know that by stepping away from my questions, I will find my answers.

Take your break

Have a great week. If you are grappling with your own questions or your own nightmares, take a break, whatever that break means to you. A daily meditation. A lunch outside the office alone. A weekend get-away. A vacation. A technology sabbath?

In the meantime, I just heard our new room is ready … ocean view, here we come.

* Cover photo from 2017 vacation.

Cynthia A. McCollough

Guest post from Cynthia McCollough, Digital Marketing Strategist, University of Michigan Law School

Cyndy is senior-level marketing consultant with extensive experience at law firms and global technology organizations. Her achievements are primarily focused on implementing and managing strategic marketing environments that improve efficiencies, measure results, and drive new business. You can follow Cyndy on Twitter, where she tweets on the intersection of law and technology.


Learn how to deliver a persuasive pitch that will help get your project off the ground. Twitter #G019

ILTA Con Pitch Perfect Panel

First off, I LOVED the format of this session – 5 panelists acted as a Shark Tank review board for three different pitches. The pitches included improving conference room technology, bringing on project management as a service (PMaaS), and adding a new document composition tool to Word.

The feedback could be applied to any pitch for any product or service, and is a great reminder about how to tell your story to achieve your goals: Continue Reading Pitch Perfect: Masterful Pitches to Get Buy-in For Your Next Project

My peer and colleague, Leigh Dance, just posted this article in the LME group:

Turf war: Law firm bosses see Big Four as ‘threat’ as they aggressively expand into legal sector.

I’m leaving it in big, bold print because it is one of the most important things you can read today.

This is a pivotal moment in the legal industry, and I can already hear the lawyers doing what they were trained to do and do best: pick away at the argument and why it doesn’t or won’t apply to them:

Why is it important? We don’t have offices in London.

My clients don’t care about AI.

Well, if that’s the future, I’m outta here. 

How’s this for a response:

Cornelius Grossmann, Ernst & Young’s global law leader, said in a press release that the acquisition “underlines the position of EY as a leading disruptor of legal services.” EY says the company will help it cut the costs of routine legal activities.

EY’s global legal leader Cornelius Grossman said: “We have a plan for the next five years where we will aggressively grow the legal business.”

“The Big Four will have a very large impact on the mid market. They have got such a strong client base and they are so good at integrating business services into their offering,” he said.

Continue Reading Can you handle the truth? Are you prepared for the new reality?

I’m not sure about you, but I receive dozens of emails, e-newsletters, links, and posts of items I should be reading, today. I could spend the first two+ hours of my day just sorting through all the things I should know, or at least should be aware of in, and still not make a dent. I keep sorting it, trying to manage it all, and currently I have:

  • a folder dedicated to daily newsletters that I rarely visit, but at least they don’t hit my in-box;
  • a folder filled with webinars I missed, but really need to watch;
  • a host of “saved” posts on LinkedIn that I plan to read, later today, but most likely won’t.

It’s too overwhelming. But I know I need to stay on top of these trends, and news stories, and happenings within my industry that will make me better at what I do.

One a day. But what?

The only solution I can think of right now is that once a day I can find the time to stop and read one thing, and share that with the world.

What’s the one thing that stood out, caught my attention (usually with a great headline), and inspired me in some way?

The best way I have found to find these articles is by having a select group on Twitter (haven’t figured out how to cull that list on Facebook or LinkedIn yet) where I will pause when they post.

They are leaders in the legal industry. Leaders in business. Certain reporters and publications. Personal colleagues and friends. I let them do some of the heavy sorting for me. What are THEY reading today? If they’re sharing it, there might be something there.

Today the “If you read only one thing today, read this” winner is Jordan Furlong and a post of his that caught my eye on LinkedIn:

Why THIS post, and not yours?

Continue Reading What should I read today? I don’t know. My feed is too cluttered.