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My favorite picture of Chris Milligan. Lots of joy to remember and cherish. circa 2006

This year has gotten off to a horrible start. First David Bowie. Then Glenn Frye. And now Christine Milligan and Richards Barger Christine Milligan was my mother-in-law. She passed away on Sunday from complications of living a very grand life. She would have been 96 in a couple weeks, and she leaves behind a family who loved and adored her. Chris was a true lady. A gritty kind of southern belle who didn’t fit into anybody’s box or stereotype. She shocked her Alabama community by going off to college to Washington, D.C. rather than going to one of the local colleges in Tennessee or Alabama to earn her MRS. When the war broke out, she went to work for the government. She eventually married a returning soldier, who became a doctor, and settled in Newport Beach, CA. In her late 30s and early 40s she finally had her kids. Chris was the best. She opened her beach house to not only me and my kids, when we would invade her quiet sanctity for many a weekend, but she opened her home to my family, and my sister’s family, and their friends. She was a wonderful and gracious woman, and one of the greatest honors I have is to say I was able to make her a grandmother.

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Dick Barger, founding partner, Barger & Wolen

The other loss this week was Richards Barger. He was the founding partner of Barger & Wolen (now a part of Hinshaw & Culbertson), one of the best law firms I have ever had the pleasure of working in. Mr. Barger was an icon in the insurance regulatory community. Every conference I attended, every event our firm sponsored, the first question everyone had was, “Is Mr. Barger here?” He had such reverence and respect for the community in which he served. Young or old, everyone knew, adored and respected Mr. Barger.
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CA16901I know I have been a bit radio silent these past couple months, but for good reason. I’ve been busy. Really busy. As in my California insurance regulatory law and litigation boutique, Barger & Wolen, announced this morning that we are merging with Chicago-based, national law firm, Hinshaw & Culbertson, (press release). Hello, AmLaw 200 (I’m thinking somewhere around 125-130). It’s been a crazy, whirlwind romance, and vetting process. Of course, just a couple weeks ago, I got the brilliant idea of just jotting down my notes on what I was working on that day, sort of a “merger diary.” As my work up until today has been focused on either due diligence, pulling together the partner books, and prepping the press releases and announcements, the real work is about to begin, so hopefully this will turn out to be an interesting series. My diary entries will be short and possibly pithy. But will hopefully give you an idea of what we’re working on behind the scenes that week as we move towards our October 1, 2014, launch date, and beyond. We have a lot to integrate, from our blogs and social media, to our culture, and then there’s the technology, billing systems, etc. where marketing doesn’t have a direct touch. Oh, and did I mention anywhere that Girl Scouts is back in session (meeting tonight), and I am the new president of our HOA (after recalling the former board) where we are having to address our decaying infrastructure (the pipes) that the former board decided to just ignore (hence the recall). We’ll just weave that into the story line as well. So, let’s begin with today as we countdown to the “going live” date of October 1, 2014. Merger Diary – M(erger) minus 29 Days (September 2, 2014) Of course last night (well, this morning … early) is the night that I am hit with insomnia. I’ll be running on Adrenalin and caffeine today. Had the Sports Dude take the kids to school so I can get in extra early. Walked in the doors by 7:15 a.m. and I was not the first one here.

  • Press releases are out and Reuters has called to set up interviews already. Followed by Law360 and American Lawyer.
  • Press release posted to our website first thing, and sent off to JDSupra for blasting; now for the blogs.
  • Update signature blocks with hyperlink to the press release.
  • Added to all our social media channels. Sent links to All B&W with hyperlinks for them to gain easy access to share.
  • e-Newsletter is out. 20% open rate so far. Not bad.
  • Collecting articles as they come in. Reposting to our social media sites.

Tip: Have on hand list of recent case wins for reporters. They’ll ask for it. On the home front: Girl Scouts tonight. Luckily they’re mid-pottery/jewelry patch and I don’t have to do a thing other than open the doors. Got the contract for the replacement of the irrigation pipes, only to find out that more and different pipes are decaying and on the verge of collapse. The good news is we have the money to cover this. But it’s going to eat into a hefty chunk of it.
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As I mentioned here, I was invited to participate on a panel at the Legal Marketing Association-Bay Area Chapter’s 12th Annual Technology Program on a panel, Beyond Print: Moving Marketing Communications into the Audio and Video Realms.

The panel was moderated by Jen Klein from Blattel, and included Joe Calve, CMO, MoFo; Brian Colucci, Director of Marketing, Townsend; and Dave Pistoni, Principal and Creative Director, doubledave (great company name, by the way).

First of all, kudos for Jen leading a great session. We had our notes, our questions, who was going to take the lead when and where. But we collectively agreed to let the audience drive the content. Come on. We can talk AT you and tell you what WE think you want to hear as an audience member, or we can actually discern what YOU want to hear and respond accordingly.

Jen asked the first questions, then we, as a panel, began interacting with the audience.

Sometimes the questions came from Jen, sometimes the audience, sometimes the audience were talking amongst themselves, sharing their experiences. It allowed for a lot of energy, and as we (the panel), discussed afterward that we all LEARNED something too. I got some great ideas, and left the room more energized than I was when I arrived.

Obviously, I couldn’t take notes while on the panel, so Lydia Bednerik rocked it by tweeting the program via #lmatech.

After the jump, I’m going to pull a few of her comments out, and elaborate.
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A couple people have asked me my thoughts on the “Best Law Firms” Survey by U.S.News and Best Lawyers® which were just published. Normally, I don’t take great stock in rankings and surveys. For the most part, they are vanity propositions designed to sell advertising. Very few hiring decisions are made on rankings and surveys.