The Chambers and Partners USA rankings were released last week and I had a great talk with one of the deputy editors to really go over our results, especially the why and where we could improve on our end. This is a call I make every year, and I always glean new information that helps me to better understand not just our Chambers rankings, but our attorneys and the work that they do.

1. Follow the damn template.

Several times we were praised on following the template, and making it easy for the researchers to get an understanding of what happened in the practice that year. Lots of bullet points. No marketing speak. They are reviewing thousands of submissions, so make it easy for them to find the information they are looking for.

Tip: Start now. The templates are available, so why wait? Pull your case and matter lists for the year. Start updating the general information at the beginning of the submission. Chambers isn’t something you can phone in, and if it’s important to the attorney’s practice, they will appreciate the extra time and assistance you can provide.

2. It’s all about the referees.

Continue Reading 3 takeaways from this year’s Chambers rankings

Good morning LMA. The General Counsel Panel has now begun. Yes, this is important. These are the clients. Talking about what’s important to them. If there is only one panel you can attend, this would be it. (plus all the others, but, this is the information you need to bring back to your firms.

Who are the Decision Makers?

This is not a one answer fits all question. Smaller companies, GCs are usually the decision makers. Preferred vendor lists. Teams. Chambers to verify (no find).

Question to ask your clients:

  • How do you make the decision on how you hire outside counsel

Tip: Show your subject matter expertise. 

  • CLE
  • e-alerts that are succinct
  • Websites
    • Deeper dive into the subject matter (articles)

Where do you go to research potential clients?

Continue Reading #LMA18 – The General Counsel Panel

Enough happiness, time for some reality from our friends at Peer Monitor (data based on billable information):

Sucks to be in the AmLaw 200 right now. But WTH with productivity v. lawyer growth. Sorry, 1Ls, there are too many lawyers out there.

And who is engaged?

And the hours …

And the expenses

Yeah, this does not make sense. There’s a lot of bloat a few pix up (AH, HEM, unproductive attorneys) … but, hey, let’s tie the hands of people who are out there trying to bring in new business.

(((sigh))) not a lot of information coming out in how to find the opportunities, but I do like the Peer Monitor information.

One of the unintended consequences I found when I started blogging is that I become connected to the legal community, and inspired to blog, via the content produced by others.

Reading and experiencing what others share inspires me to want to add my voice to the conversation.

I have not been inspired of late.

It is so ugly out there in content land. My Facebook, Twitter, and news feeds have been taken over by politics. I was hoping it would die down after the election. It didn’t. I was hoping the new year would give way to new hope. It hasn’t. I have some friends who 100% of the time that they post, it’s political, and negative. Even Above the Law is bringing me down.

I want more puppies.

I want to live vicariously through your vacation pictures.

I want to discuss AI in law firms and be inspired to blog my thoughts about it.

In a Facebook group today we were discussing pay-to-play when it comes to speaking at conferences. I find it sad to say, but this was the most robust business-of-law related conversation I’ve participated in in a long time; one that got me thinking and inspired to the point of wanting to write.

Almost.

Your Facebook feed is not reality.

Continue Reading Where has all the good content gone? Is anyone else as depressed as me?

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Confession time. I’m crazed. Crazy busy at work. A thousand moving pieces. Eighty six internal clients today (and two more joining on Monday). Then there is home. My personal life. Spiritual life. Still haven’t made it to the market. It’s crazy. Nothing has fallen through the cracks, but we’ve gotten close a few too many times.

My project list in the office is insane. And, really, there is no set in stone process for what my department does and our deliverables. And I HATE it.

Part of it is the nature of the beast of legal marketing. My department has dozens of large projects, each with numerous tasks, and then there is the day-to-day stuff that just pops up. I’m getting ready to pick a website redesign company and I can only anticipate the amount of work that is going to spin off. My tools are not sufficient.

As many of you know, one of my closes legal marketing friends is Catherine Alman MacDonagh, and I often refer to Timothy Corcoran as my LMA husband. He really is the east coast version of the Sports Dude.

This dynamic duo travel the country speaking on and training legal industry professionals on process improvement and project management. Two skills, apparently, I was not born with and need to learn. I have been nagging them to come to Los Angeles with their white boards and giant Post-It Notes, and I am happy to say that the teachers are coming and this student is ready!

Please join Greenberg Glusker in welcoming the dynamic duo of Legal Lean Sigma to Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 24 for their one-day session and White Belt Certification in Process Improvement and Project Management:

Why Process Improvement and Project Management?
Today’s law firm and legal department professionals are faced with new challenges and opportunities to help their firms and departments maximize efficiencies and develop competitive advantages. PI and PM provide the concepts, frameworks, and tools that allow us to determine the best way to carry out work to consistently and reliably deliver excellent quality of work and service. By developing and employing strategies that are based on the client perspective, we determine how to create a win-win, leverage best practices, and find innovative ways in how we do and deliver our work.

Legal Lean Sigma Institute
We provide education, tools, and expert consulting support to take you, your organization, and your clients to new levels of excellence. Whether we are working with a law firm, legal department, service provider, or legal aid office (or two or more together), each and every engagement is tailored to the unique needs of our clients.

Legal Lean Sigma® programs are the first to be designed exclusively for the legal profession. You don’t have to spend your time and energy bridging concepts from manufacturing because we did it for you. We use relevant case studies, examples, and success stories from law firms and legal departments so that you can learn about Six Sigma, Lean and PM in the context of what is most important to you.

Read more on their website, and join us. I’ll be sitting in the front row!

Special offer for LMA members and your guests: the early bird rate is locked in … so you can still register for the preferred price here.

 

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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

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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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.

small fish bigger bowl It’s been an interesting year. Law firm merger. Sports dude started doing his thing for a local radio station. My oldest kid began driver’s training. The youngest turned 13. And I changed jobs. We’re juggling new schedules, new attitudes, and new expectations. I’ve had a new culture, new people, and new personalities to which I’ve had to acclimate. And now the holidays are in full swing. This has brought on a lot of stress, and it was a tough few weeks for me on all fronts: work, family, HOA, and those pesky Girl Scouts (and we’re still a month away from the beginning of Girl Scout Cookie season). Thank goodness for good friends and good colleagues. I’m pretty much on the other side, and now I can reflect on it all. I’ve been doing this legal marketing thing for a long time. It will soon be 18 years since I was hired at JMBM (when the last M stood for Marmaro). I’d already been in the work force for 10 years, and my skill set fit what Frank Moon was looking for in an assistant manager, and I excelled. I’ve had a “few” legal marketing jobs since then. I have had many opportunities for growth from within these firms, and through my service positions in LMA. Life has also provided me many opportunities to grow. This has just been one of those growing years.  Continue Reading My year of opportunities for growth