I had the opportunity to be interviewed by Gina Rubel for her new podcast On Record. My topic: How to Differentiate Yourself and Your Law Firm.

The program was recorded at the end of March 2020 when we were deep in the COVID-19 pandemic, so we could not not discuss how firms and lawyers not only can differentiate themselves in these times, but break through the noise and be heard.

It’s Wednesday, which looks a lot like Tuesday and Friday and Sunday around here.

I’ll head to work in a few minutes (down the hall from the couch in the living room where I current sit) and never realize I did not step outside once all day. I’ll be on Zoom after Zoom, call after call, write, respond, watch a webinar, miss a webinar, eat too much, not drink enough water, always with an eye on the news in the background, listening to my family in the background, the dogs, the ducks wandering by.

I am privileged to be able to tune out the pandemic while trying to work from home.

As I go about my days, being able to connect to one another, our experiences, fears, doubts, humanity is what will get us through this.

And still, this morning when the reminder to check into my flight to New York, where my husband and I were going to celebrate our anniversary early, I just felt deflated. Our NYC trip is postponed, again. Two years in a row.

Last year our trip was postponed as I was beginning a new job. Ironically, my first day was on a plane to NYC to attend the firm’s Annual Members Meeting with three full suitcases packed as I wasn’t headed home, but to our new life in New Orleans via Atlanta.

This year our trip is postponed because of this pandemic that is devastating our world–physically, economically, spiritually, and emotionally.

And you know what? It’s okay.

It’s okay to lament something that seems so trivial–a missed trip or experience–while feeling grateful that your family is safe, while watching the world fall apart amidst so much suffering.

It’s okay to not really know what day of the week it is. To feel whatever way you are feeling.

What’s not okay is to lose our connection to one another. At this moment in time, the world is having a shared experience. Every single person on this planet has this one thing in common. We are all connected. Forget Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. We are Six Degrees of Coronavirus.

So whoever you are, where ever you are, what’s your day like today? Where’s the first place you’re going to go to eat when the restaurants reopen? Where will you travel to? What are you missing most right now?

Dear General Counsel,

You are not imagining it. Every single law firm you have ever given a dollar to is sending you a Coronavirus client alert, most likely daily. Every single law firm has also set up a COVID-19 Resource Center (<<< that one links to my firm’s).

I agree, I’m seeing a lot of undifferentiated, repetitive, lacking in value, general content. Basically, there’s a lot of crap out there.

Problem is, you need some of that information, and no single law firm is going to give you all that you need for the simple truth that one size fits one, and marketing is about the one to many.

I need your help here. You are going to have to decide which law firms (might not be yours) are providing relevant content and figure out what is the most meaningful way for that content to be delivered to you.

Separate the wheat from the chaff

As a legal marketing professional, I’m going to give you a few tips to manage the information coming your way so you can find what you need and ignore or unsubscribe from the rest: Continue Reading Tips for General Counsels to Manage Coronavirus Client Alerts

Wow. How the hell did we wake up to this reality? Coronavirus? COVID-19? You can call it what you want, but I’m sitting here vacillating between “I should have taken the blue pill” and putting on my Sheriff Rick Grimes hat and getting ready to kick some ass.

We finally know what happened to Rick on Walking Dead

So how are you doing? Personally, I feel like I’m just snapping into my new reality.

For the past two weeks I’ve been so focused on moving my office home and pivoting everything we were doing to meet the needs of our attorneys and firm clients; stocking up on what we needed to stock up on; getting one kid home from her study abroad program in Paris (where she had been to Milan the week before the crisis broke out there), and bringing the other kid in from California (because when shit like this happens, don’t we all want our moms?); helping my siblings as we make sure our parents are set up and stop going out (guess where I get the stubborn from??), that I haven’t really internalized what was happening.

My new reality is sinking in, finally

Continue Reading How are you? Is there anything I can do to help?

I often post articles on LinkedIn with a lead in: “If you only have time to read one thing today, this is it.” I started to post this article, “How knitters got knotted in a purity spiral: A process of moral outbidding is corroding small communities from within” this morning, but realize I have more to say on this topic.

The article was posted by one of my most trusted friends, and former bridesmaids, on her private Facebook feed, along with her concerns and fears. She has her own company, which is growing and exposing her to bigger and bigger communities. Sharing, liking the wrong thing could, in an instant, destroy her and all she has worked for in her life, not to mention the people who have invested their money in her company and her employees.

This post is about the current “purity spiral” that has taken hold not just in the U.S., but around the world.

So take a deep breath and come along with me. You’re going to have to connect the dots between a knitting community and the legal industry. But look around you, we’re seeing this purity test phenomenon, along with the inability to dissent, all around us.

Continue Reading Can you pass a purity test?

I know, I know, I know. It’s January 2020 and I blogged exactly seven (that’s 7) times last year. WTH??

It boils down to two things:

1. I’ve been really busy. 

I started a new job which required a move from Los Angeles to New Orleans. It was my first move in more than 20 years, and wow, that threw me. I’m really good at transitions and multi-task organization, but this one really got me and I actually started to doubt myself, but I knew better than to listen to “that” voice and I pushed through it. That first month I really wondered if it would all settle down or if this would be my new normal. It took a couple months, but it finally did settle down, just in time to buy a house, pack up all the stuff we had unpacked (Sports Dude says he got a head start by not unpacking a dozen or so boxes that just sat around our rental for the 8 months we were there), and move to our new home.

One of the reasons we moved was to get out of the crazy of LA. The congestion. The pace of life. The “culture.” We bought this house to literally stop and enjoy the views. To recharge. To let go and be in the moment. We have yet to be disappointed. Photos above and below are from our back porch of a sunrise and sunset this week.

Image may contain: sky, tree, outdoor, nature and water
Davey House, 2020.#NoFilter. Photo credit: Eric S. Geller

2. I really didn’t have much to say. 

It kinda struck me this year more than other years, but we’re still talking about the same crap we were talking about 20+ years ago: Industry groups. Diversity. Attorneys not wanting to do business development. What to do about the service partners when their rainmakers retire. Succession planning. Client service. Billing rates. CRM.

Sure we’ve had some disruptions: generational shifts, AFAs, AI. But they all come back to the same themes. I keep thinking, “Ah, this is going to really change things,” but it rarely does. We just keep operating in a very small bubble because, well, lawyers.

This avoidance of changes (innovation) in our industry comes from the risk aversion of lawyers; decision are based on precedence, not looking forward. It’s amazing that all these years (decades) later the basic tenants of Dr. Larry Richards article Herding Cats: The Lawyer Personality Revealed still hold true: Lawyers remain more skeptical, less resilient, and more autonomous than the general population. Great for writing a legal brief, not so great when it comes to business innovations and practices.

While I have seen glimmers of change with the entrance of the Millennials into the law firm, on the whole, there has not been too much change, because how we cultivate and educate lawyers hasn’t changed much. Oh, wait, what’s that I’m reading and hearing? Law schools discussing getting rid of the LSAT? Law firms starting to change hiring practices and looking at non-traditional (tier 1) law schools? Oooh, is that the rise of the millennial leader (video) I’m seeing?? Hmmmm.

So what to do?

Continue Reading Seriously? 2020 already?

I know. It’s been a while since I have blogged. For those not paying close attention, I not only changed firms, but I have changed states. The Sports Dude and I have gone from LA to NOLA. We have traded earthquakes for tropical depressions.

But that’s not the only reason I’ve been radio silent. I had a situation happen where my trust was breached, and I was hurt. Nothing “bad” happened, but I was left feeling vulnerable and retreated, and that kicked in some writers block that I haven’t experienced since college.

I tried writing, and it stalled. I just couldn’t go “there” and be free in my thoughts, and open to what it was I wanted to convey. If I can’t be authentic, I just can’t write. For me, writing is cathartic, free-flowing, and insightful. It is as much for me–allowing me to clarify my thoughts and positions–as it is for the reader.

And then I stumbled upon Brené Brown. Or, better yet, every other post in my Facebook feed seemed to be about her.

Apparently she’s been around for a while, but I had never seen the TED Talk, the Oprah Postcasts (parts 1 and 2), or read her books. But she quickly had me with “daring greatly,” and so here I am. Writing.  Continue Reading Can a quote change your life?

I am of the mindset that if I am complain about something I’d better be the first to raise my hand to volunteer. And while I have not complained about access to justice, I do complain about how the business of law just isn’t getting it right, especially where legal professionals are concerned.

As a member of the California State Bar’s Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services, we have been tasked to see how (alternative) legal service providers (technology companies) can ethically operate and provide services in California.

The task, in and of itself, is challenging Rules 5.4 (fee sharing) and 5.5 (unlicensed practice of law) of the code of professional conduct, which will not only impact the delivery of legal services through technology companies, but will impact law firms by opening up fee sharing, and perhaps in time, the actual ability for legal professionals to take an ownership stake in law firms.

You see, no matter how much we legal professionals try, there is only so much we can do without that ownership stake. Our seats at the table are warm, but when push comes to shove, we don’t have the vote. And that is what keeps most law firms from innovating.  Continue Reading I complained. I volunteered. I’m not disappointed.

My apologies for being radio silent on the blog for the past month or so. For those who follow me on LinkedIn or are Facebook friends, you know I’ve had a recent job change, which includes moving from Los Angeles to New Orleans in a very short frame of time.

Say Hello

Earlier this month I joined McGlinchey Stafford as their Chief Business Development Officer. It was one of those things that came together in a way that you have to admit, “This was meant to be.”

It’s a great little story, actually. The opportunity kept presenting itself to me in different ways, and from different people. It wasn’t until the fourth time that I took my own advice (via Kat Cole) and coached myself to “Just Say Yes!”

From the moment I said yes, everything fell into place quickly. And while it all happened faster than I had anticipated, the Sports Dude and I have found an incredible place to live; our condo is in escrow with a full-aspiration, off-market offer; my older child is looking at summer school classes at Loyola, which is walking distance from our new home; and, the firm has an Irvine office that I can work out of when I come out to visit my son and take in a school play.

Wave Goodbye

What’s that song say again? Something about every new beginning starts with some other beginnings end? And that’s really what has happened. For me to say hello to the new opportunities in my life I have to say goodbye to other ones.

Greenberg Glusker was a great opportunity for me, and we did some incredible things in my years there. What I’m most proud of is my team and the ability to leave knowing that they are fully capable of handling things without me.

I’ll stay till the wind changes,” Mary Poppins

As a marketer, it’s important for me to know when it’s time for me to leave, and time for someone else to take over. It’s also important to me in my tenure at any firm that I get my department in a position where it can operate seamlessly in my absence.

I’m sure there will be bumps along the way, but nothing my team can’t handle. Most importantly, the firm itself will benefit from the ideas, energy, and spirit a new CMO will bring. They are ready for someone else’s “hello.”

Sometimes You Get What You Need

My job, boiled down, is about creativity. I need to be able to see the challenges and the opportunities clearly, so that I can prepare the game plan and execute it.

Living in Los Angeles, I wasn’t thinking clearly. Read about all the reasons people are leaving LA, and add me to the list. I was stuck. I couldn’t upgrade, nor could I downgrade our home. The traffic left me feeling claustrophobic and stuck on the Westside. No doubt, I was in a rut.

I cannot convey to you the smile and energy that hit my face as I turned onto St. Charles Street and made my way to our new home just spitting distance from Audubon Park.

“Won’t you miss you LA?” is a common response I’ve been getting from people when I broke the news of our move. To which I quickly reply, “I’ll miss the LA of 20 years ago.”

“But what about the Rams?” I’ve been asked. Well, turns out they’re playing the NFC South this year, so we’ll be road-tripping to Atlanta and Charlotte, amongst other cities, and, yes, coming back to LA for the Saints game.

“Well, you know it’s hot in New Orleans. And humid,” people keep reminding us. Yes. We know that. But living coastal my whole life, it’s pretty darn cold (“May gray” and “June gloom” ring any bells?), and I love hot summer nights. Oh, and there is this new invention they have in the South: central air conditioning. You should try it. I have it in my car, my office, and my house.

“But, but … the Sports Dude???” Yes, the Sports Dude. Turns out, they actually play sports in Louisiana, and he has some leads on some sports dude jobs, so fingers crossed that his “just say yes” comes together as quickly as mine.

“It is a different ‘culture,’ you know.” Hmmmm. Not sure what they mean by that, but if they’re talking about people who are polite, say hello while walking down the street, offer to help when my hands are full, and enjoy eating incredible food while listening to great music, I’m all in.

For the past few decades my mantra has been: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find, you get what you need.” It’s held me in good stead, and kept me in a place of acceptance of my moment in time.

It hit me last weekend as I pulled up to a meeting of my spiritual fellowship in The Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans: My worlds have finally aligned and I’m not only getting what I want, but I’m getting what I need.

Another day and another great article highlighting the issues of law firms and diversity, There’s A Diversity Problem At Law Firms – What Can Be Done?

The issues of diversity and INCLUSION at law firms is not as complex as we want to make it. We’ve been talking and writing about this forever, but talking and writing isn’t action.

We have a pipeline problem that goes back to high school, and probably middle school, yeah, elementary school as well. What are YOU doing about that? What is your FIRM doing about that?

We have a pedigree bias problem. What are you and your firm doing about that?

We have an implicit bias problem. Have you taken the test? Do you understand YOUR implicit bias?

We have an interview process and procedure problem. Has your firm revamped and retrained HOW you interview?

We have an inclusion problem. Look around your firm. Who isn’t getting invited to (fill in the blank). What clusters are clustering together and why?

I’m reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. Throughout the book she talks about her experiences growing up and her education, about getting to Princeton and Harvard Law, and then to an AmLaw 100. And she talks about what it felt like there, in the ivory tower, when she’d go home each night to her home on the south side. Continue Reading Are we over complicating the diversity issues in law firms?