I received notice earlier this week that I am now a Class of 2018 Fellow-Elect with the College of Law Practice Management (COLPM). The notice is posted publicly, so I hope I am not breaking any rules or traditions by posting this.

I truly am humbled by this honor. It recognizes my overall contribution to the legal industry … not just the legal marketing slice of the pie.

Friends and Fellows

I had someone ask how/why I was selected. Truly, it has to do with my overall contributions to the business of law, not just my role in legal marketing. Along the way, however, I have met some incredible people. And many of these people have become friends, and now we’re going to be inducted into the COLPM together.

The early years and CRM

The business of law has changed over the course of my career. I was brought on board my first law firm in June 1997 to run a major conference and get out newsletters. Very quickly I ended up rolling out InterAction (which was still an InterFace product).  In fact, our firm was the first to go fully live with this CRM product. I was even featured on the cover of CRM magazine. Ironically, I have come full circle and recently redeployed InterAction at my current firm.

Early adopter and promoter of social media

I began this blog nearly 10 years ago because I had no idea what a blog was, and I wanted to understand the technology better. What I didn’t expect to find was my voice.

I eventually rolled out four blogs for my firm, and helped a practice group establish itself and create a line of business for the partner that is still overwhelming profitable today.

I was part of that group who were out there trying to figure out what Twitter was. I saw a Tweet one day from this guy, Kevin O’Keefe, wanting to know who would like to grab a beer at the hotel near my office. I ran over. I was the only one who showed up. We sat that afternoon getting to know one another and discussing blogging and Twitter. I remember having a very competitive battle with Greg Lambert over who could get the most Twitter followers over the course of a weekend (he far surpasses me today). And meeting this “kid” Adrian Dayton, who had gotten caught up in all those layoffs of associates and was building his own business around social media for lawyers.

If it were not for Twitter, blogging, and social media, I would not have these professional relationships that have all turned to personal ones. To be inducted into the COLPM with these men truly means the world to me. Continue Reading Call me Fellow. I might even buy the plaque.

We’ve all been there. A vote is coming up before the partnership that requires individual partners to vote against their own best interest.

  • It could be the opening or closing of an office, that you reside in
  • The investment in new technology, but you’re about to retire
  • The deequitizing of a partner, but you’ve been buddies since you were summer associates
  • A change in the partnership agreement; it’s equitable, but not for you

It happens all the time. But should it?

Gina Passarella Cipriani wrote about the issue today in The American LawyerThe Death of the Law Firm Partnership Vote? With an eye on efficiency, firms are ditching old methods for a more corporate form of governance.

“There’s increasing recognition that partnership agreements, a lot of them, fundamentally are obsolete, in the sense that they were written for a different time and place,” Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith Esq. says. “Notions that it takes some super-majority … to de-equitize a partner, you can’t run a firm that way.”

It used to be that everything from a lateral hire to new leases to major capital expenditures on new laptops for lawyers would require a vote, says Frank D’Amore of Attorney Career Catalysts, who handles lateral and group moves as well as mergers. But those days are fading.

“You could do it in 1950, but it’s a heck of a lot harder in 2018,” D’Amore says of holding partner votes on most initiatives.

Law firms are big business

Legal is not just a partnership, it can be, and often times is, big business. Our industry just welcomed in our first $3 billion firm (congrats, Latham). But sometimes we’re caught operating no differently than when the doors opened decades (or even a century) ago.

Whether you are operating in 10s or 100s of millions of dollars, or billions, operating as a business should not be held hostage by personal interests.  Continue Reading Should the partnership vote be up for a vote?

I’m back. Did I miss anything? Nothing was going on with me except life, work, college applications (for kid #1), the holidays, and now a bathroom remodel that has to get done before our annual Super Bowl Party.

But really what it came down to is that I haven’t found much to write about these days. Perhaps it’s the noise coming out of Washington and Hollywood, or maybe it’s because I have been too busy to put fingertips to keyboard. But then THIS story caught my eye in the LME:

Male Clients Disfavor Women Partners

When you read a headline like that, do you really need to click through to read it to know the answer? Can’t you just guess? It’s what it’s always about. Relationships.

From the article:

“People give business to friends,” says a former Big Law woman partner. “So, if a client is male—as most clients are—he will often give business to his frat brothers, law school roommates, golf partners, fellow club members, etc.” The only “fix,” she adds, “is to have women rise to more positions of power as clients.” (Women make up about 23 percent of chief legal officers in corporations, reports Acritas.)

I would add that, within the law firm, there is a network of relationships at play that limits the number of women and other diverse attorneys in senior partner positions for a multitude of reasons that have been discussed ad nauseam over the years. We get it.  And we’re still sucking at it.

The study’s author suggests that the solution is quotas, but that goes against my grain, so I have a better solution. And, since we’re in the legal industry, it has already been proposed, and there are THIRTY well-regarded firms on record doing it … so your firm  can do it too.  Continue Reading Women, diversity, law firms, and why are we still having this conversation?

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)