I heard the news yesterday and it shocked me to my core. A dear member of our Legal Marketers Extraordinaire / LMA community had passed away. Tragically, he died from suicide. His was not the first death by suicide of a man in his 50s that I knew this year.

Researchers don’t know why, but suicide rates peak for men in the 50s. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been touched by such a tragic loss. I wrote about suicide and our profession after Chris Cornell, an icon for we GenXers, died: Continue Reading We lost an LMA shining light

With all the talk of sexual harassment in the media these past couple weeks, I’m not sure about your office, but conversations in the hallways and in the kitchens–only between the women–have been taking place in mine.

We’ve been sharing our stories. Some from our college days, some from our early careers. But we all seem to have a story.

Here are mine:

My college professor

Call me naive. I just didn’t get it. I had a professor, much older than me. Old enough to be my dad, maybe even my grandfather. He wasn’t in shape or attractive. He drove a 1960s era VW.

I was a Lit Writing major, and I was taking his poetry classes. He took a special interest in me.

First it was conversations after class. Then in his office. He took me to dinner, which, as a poor college student, I always appreciated. He got me a gift–a Chinese coin as I was a Chinese studies minor. Then another gift–a first edition of one of my favorite books. I was being groomed.

My boyfriend Todd was really sick and I was having a hard time. Having a safe place to go and sit, having a place where I could release my emotions–which was in my writing–was so necessary for my sanity.

Seriously, I really didn’t get that he was hitting on me. Continue Reading #MeToo – My story

The Legal Marketing Association just released the slate of candidates for the 2018 International Board of Directors, and I plan to vote against ratification of the slate.

It has nothing to do with any of the individuals nominated, or any member of the nominations committee, but rather, it’s time for the slate to go. Or to at least be modified to allow for some direct voting of candidates (members-at-large, for instance).

We need diversity of thought and experience on the board. Recent decisions and actions show that there is something not quite right with our current process, and it’s not that the people on the Board are anything but great members of LMA and great people, not to mention good friends. However, together, the diversity of thought and thought process is lacking.

Teamability over individuality

In the spirit of Teamability–an assessment test I took when I was on the board last–we need a variety of personalities to make an effective team.

Teamability is a great assessment because it is not about “Heather, as an individual” but “What does Heather bring to the table as a member of a team?” The diagnostic breaks the personality types down, and actually pairs you with your counterpart: Continue Reading Why I plan to vote against ratifying the LMA slate

A little over a week ago a conversation began about the use of the term “non-lawyer” in the context of referring to business executives in law firms.

It started with the American Lawyer‘s coverage of Husch Blackwell‘s new CEO: Husch Blackwell’s Next Leader is a Newly Employed Non-Lawyer (subs. req).

When Paul Eberle assumes the top leadership role at Husch Blackwell in February 2018, the non-lawyer manager will have spent less than two years working at the firm he presides over.

Sadly, the American Lawyer failed to give credit to Mr. Eberle’s for his 20 years of executive experience as a CEO, and that caught the eyes of the legal marketing community. Continue Reading The use of “non-lawyer” is destructive to the business of law

Dear American Lawyer, the leading trade publication for our profession:

Those of us who have dedicated our careers as legal industry professionals would like you to understand that the term “non-lawyer” is offensive, and does a disservice to all of the firms that are being run as businesses.

Your August 17, 2017, headline: Husch Blackwell’s Next Leader is a Newly Employed Non-Lawyer caught the eye of the LME on Facebook. One of our members wrote the author today: Continue Reading Husch Blackwell’s incoming CEO is a professional, not a “non-lawyer”

“Be curious, not critical,” was the advice of Peter Guber at the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission’s recent board room program on eSports. The impressive panel of industry leaders were speaking to an audience filled with impressive Los Angeles business leaders about the rise of eSports (and a brief education on what eSports is), along with how it will impact the various businesses represented.

Be Curious, Not Critical.

This was Guber’s first piece of advice that I found particularly relevant for lawyers when approaching something new, like eSports, or business development, or the idea of blogging/social media, or insert the last thing your marketing professional suggested. Continue Reading Be curious, not critical. Business advice for lawyers.

Under performing law firms are nothing new. Some under perform themselves into a merger, and others under perform themselves out of business. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be the path or the way.

Altman Weil recently released their Law Firms in Transition report for 2017. Yesterday I posted the `first in this series, tackling the ABA Journal’s Law firm leaders report lawyer oversupply and ‘chronically under performing lawyers’ and the survey highlights.

In it’s ninth year, the survey, for the first time, is looking at change efforts in law firms. Having spent 19+ years working inside law firms, my interest is peaked: Continue Reading Under performing law firm? I hope you are disturbed. (Pt. 2)

I’m going to blog my thoughts while reading the 2017 Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition (PDF) (Report). Here are their highlights from the survey (Highlights). I might end up writing a separate article at the end, with these just being my raw notes and first thoughts. We’ll see how this goes.

I can’t even begin to express how riled up I am just from reading the ABA Journal’s article, Law firm leaders report lawyer oversupply and ‘chronically underperforming lawyers’ (ABA Journal) and the executive summary from the Report. Here’s a quick warning, the PDF is locked and encrypted (which is frustrating the hell out of me right now. I’m going to have to retype everything I want to quote. Although people are sending me solutions to this … so fingers crossed).

From the ABA Journal:

  • The continuing erosion of demand for legal services continues to be a threat to traditional law firms, according to a survey of law firm leaders in which 61 percent said overcapacity is diluting profitability.
  • Fifty-two percent of law firm leaders say equity partners are not sufficiently busy. Sixty-two percent said nonequity partners are not busy enough, and 25 percent said associates don’t have enough work.

heads-in-sandAnd from the Report (See, AW, I typed out what I wanted to quote, and gave you attribution. I’m TRYING to help you here):

  • “Law firms are slowly changing—more slowly than we think is wise, but changing nonetheless. Clearly not all change efforts are resulting in overnight success. Some efforts require long-term investments that can be a tough sell with partners. Other initiatives may work quickly, but are one-time fixes that can’t be replicated for year-on-year gains. We see firms making only cursory investments where they should be aiming for broader, deeper transformation. And still many partners resist change in all its forms.”

And from the Highlights:

  • The problem of partner resistance: 65% of law firm leaders say their partners resist most change efforts, and 56% say most partners are unaware of what they might do differently.  This reluctance to change is an intractable problem in many law firms.

But there’s good news.

What those of us in the C-Suite have been pounding our leaders about for YEARS is working:

  • “… pricing, staffing, and efficiency tactics specifically undertaken to improve law firm performance—are actually producing results.” (Report)

And a bit of a road map to get started:

  • “Lawyers are very good at interpreting data that’s set before them, but they also need to ask: What don’t we know that might matter?” said Altman Weil principal and survey co-author Tom Clay. “Adequately educating partners about current market realities is a critical first step in achieving necessary strategic change.” (Highlights)

Above the Law and their recent guest poster in Marketing and the Law (enjoy the comments on the Facebook feed) need to take a deeper look at what legal business executives have been doing (or trying to do) for years. In one sense they get it right, many lawyers do struggle with this “fundamental part of the business.” I would just argue that they are most likely part of those 52% or 62% of under-performing equity and non-equity partners. And that the solutions (LEADERSHIP) are there.

Off to read the Bloomberg Law article now. Then I have to do a Costco run. More later today as I really dig into the Report itself.

Many of you who follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or through the Sports Dude know my love of music and concerts (was at Billy Joel last weekend, and have U2 coming up on Saturday).

I’m unashamedly an ’80s New-Wave/punker, and Eric was a club DJ throughout the ’80s and ’90s (ashamedly for the Red Onion), but we love all things music and I have a special affinity for the ’90s Seattle music scene (no NKOTB for me).

This morning I woke to the news that Chris Cornell, frontman for Soundgarden, collaborator with Eddie Vedder in Temple of the Dog, as well as Audioslave, had died.

I posted my favorite song from Temple of the Dog:

Followed by these two gems that I had never heard before, but found through others sharing on Twitter: Continue Reading Chris Cornell, Suicide, and Legal Marketing

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