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Preview: Zen and the Art of Legal Network Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Legal Network Maintenance

The ILN is an association of 91 mid-size, full service law firms around the world, serving clients in 66 countries on six continents. I'm responsible for making the legal world a better place for my attorneys - marketing, events planning, and business dev

Updated: 2018-03-06T02:44:47.858-05:00


Zen and the Art of Legal Network Maintenance has Moved!


Zen and the Art of Legal Network Maintenance is now "Zen and the Art of Legal Networking" and we have a new home!  We can be found at on the LexBlog network, so please update your RSS readers! 

We're also sporting a shiny new look, thanks to LexBlog, complete with a list of our member firm blogs in the LexBlog network right on the home page. We couldn't be happier!

Zen and the Art of Legal Networking had its first post in February of 2009 and after 74 posts, I can say that we’re very excited to be joining the LexBlog network family and launching this re-design of our blog. We look forward to engaging further with YOU, our readers, and the legal community through our blog and continuing to have fruitful discussions for the benefit of our readers and our member firm attorneys. A very special thanks to Kevin O’Keefe and LexBlog for all of their help with the design, hosting and launch! Please join us over at today!

ILN-terviews: Henning von Lillienskjold, DAHL Law Firm


Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network. For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Henning von Lillienskjold of DAHL Law Firm in Denmark.In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?Dahl is a full service, business law firm with specialists in all areas of business law.Who would be your typical client?Mid-sized and large companies from Denmark and northern Europe.What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?That I am commercial in my approach to giving advice and deliver on time.What has been your most challenging case? Why?My most challenging case was a large transaction involving 140 entities and where the buyer backed off on the day of signing.What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?Every time a deal is closed and my advice has added value to the client - other than just drafting documents.What do you do when you're not practicing law?I like skiing and sailing (I have competed in many of the major sailboat classes) and otherwise, I relax in my summer cottage with my family.What would surprise people most about you?Probably that I can play the trumpet or that I know how to repair a car engine.What has been your most memorable ILN experience?My most memorable ILN experience is my first meeting in N.Y. and the dinner we had at Ellis Island.What career would you have chosen if you weren't a lawyer?I think it would have been some kind of engineering.If a movie were made out of your life, who would you want to play you?Jim Carrey :) How would you like to be remembered?Honest and trustworthy.[...]

Re-cap of ALM's Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Leadership Forum: The Changing Nature of the In-House and Outside Counsel Relationship


On Wednesday, May 12th, I was fortunate enough to attend a couple of sessions at American Lawyer Media's Law Firm Marketing and Business Development Leadership Forum.  The ILN was a marketing partner for the event, and I spoke on a panel called "Going, Going...Global? The Worldwide Marketing for Legal Services."  Unfortunately, I have not yet mastered the art of tweeting from a panel I'm participating in (and so don't have comprehensive notes for a re-cap), but the first session of the morning on the changing nature of in-house and outside counsel relationships was full of great takeaways for law firms and their marketing departments.On the panel were ILN member, Martin Beirne, founding and managing partner of Beirne Maynard & Parsons LLP in Texas, Anne Chwat, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Burger King Corporation, Kenneth Handal, Former Executive VP and General Counsel and Head of Global Risk and Compliance for CA, Inc (retired), Bob Robertson, Chief Marketing Officer for Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and moderator Anthony Paonita, Editor-in-Chief of Corporate Counsel Magazine. While there was a lot that came out of the panel, the overwhelming sentiment, from Ms. Chwat especially, was the importance of relationships.  She let the audience know that although she does go to well-known large firms for some work, she's not going after name brands anymore. She wants a good relationship with a good lawyer, which broadens the competitive landscape for law firms.  In terms of re-capping the panel, they started with a fictional scenario of a new general counsel coming into a company and being told that she needs to significantly cut her legal budget.  The GC invites in her top 12 law firms of the 100 that the company uses (which the panelists commented was on the low side for most companies), and asks them how they can work with her to reduce fees. Immediately, two of the firms say that they don't do alternative fee arrangements and leave.  The panel then addressed some questions that might come up and how outside counsel can better serve their inside counsel in this situation. Ken Handal said that it's the job of the GC to try to preserve the choice of outside counsel that they make in this new cost-cutting environment, which can be difficult because as Chwat pointed out, non-lawyers at major companies see in-house counsel who are purchasing legal fees as a cost center.  Chwat advised law firms to start thinking of themselves as competing for business, because they are. She suggested that they ask themselves "how can I help my client? How can I be their partner and help them through this?"  Bob Robertson agreed, saying that the attitude should be that firms need to do all that they can to help their clients.  If a firm gets a letter from their client about cutting costs, they should reach out to have a conversation with them.  Chwat confirmed this, saying that outside counsel build loyalty and trust with the attitude of "what can we do to help you," and this keeps in-house counsel coming back.  She said that firms need to make themselves part of the team and show they're willing to work with their clients.  She added that in-house counsel are "not trying to steal from you," they just want value for their dollar and help in dealing with the cost-cutting pressures that their companies are putting on them.Chwat did caution that a need to cut costs doesn't mean she will compromise on quality. She wants her attorneys to think like businesspeople, to be thinking about how they can help their clients to save money.  Practically, this can take the form of more efficient staffing on legal matters.  She used outsourcing to India as another example of how firms can help to cut costs, though she admitted that Burger King has yet to do this.  Marty Beirne agreed, saying that firms are in the service business, and some firms forget that. He said that they need to have a budget that works [...]

Is Anyone Listening?


Last night, I caught the end of Neil Cavuto's show, when he told a story that made me think - he said that he was shopping for a Mother's Day gift and went into a store. Both the store owner and his wife came over to him within the first few minutes to see if they could assist him with finding a gift to purchase. He told them both politely that he preferred to look by himself, that he didn't have anything in mind, but was in a hurry, so he wished to be left alone. They did so, but only for a minute. As soon as he picked something up to look at it, they both immediately came over to him again, giving him information he hadn't asked for, insisting that the gift he was looking at must be what he wanted, and continuing to badger him. He again asked them to let him look for the gift in private, and they continued to ask him what he was looking for and let him know that the gifts in the section he was standing in could all be mailed. As he was getting more and more exasperated, his phone rang. It was his daughter in the store next door, saying that she had found a gift. So he walked out of the first store, leaving the patrons in shock. His message was that "no one is listening."

That message got me thinking - are we guilty of the same thing? Do we bother our clients or potential clients with information that they've asked not to receive? Do we help them when they need it and let them be when they want some solitude? What is our customer service experience really like for them - are we overbearing, like these store owners? Or are we facilitators, business partners, trusted advisors? Do we insist that we know what's best for them, without finding out what it is that they really want and need? Does that ultimately push them away? I think Cavuto's message is a good reminder that part of being great at our jobs, whether as legal marketers, as attorneys, or in any other field, is really listening to our clients, their needs, and even the underlying needs and wants they have that they might not be expressing. Ask yourself today, are you listening?

ILN-terviews: Michael Samuel, Miller Samuel LLP


Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network.

For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Michael Samuel of Miller Samuel LLP in Scotland.

In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?
A bespoke niche practice offering quality and specific services to clients at competitive rates.

Who would be your typical client?
Not easy to categorise, but we like to act for successful business entrepreneurs, medium to high net worth individuals, and for quoted and unquoted companies.

What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?
We would like clients, potential and otherwise, to know that we care primarily about their needs and requirements, and that this is a fundamental part of our philosophy.

What has been your most challenging case? Why?
I deal with private clients. My most challenging case some years ago was when I was able to achieve a result favourable to my clients, in a question of succession to an Estate, contrary to the opinion of the foremost legal authority. Simply put, he said, "you can't do it!" Well, we did it!!!!!

What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?
I was appointed Dean of our local Faculty for three years in 2005 - the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow (its proper Title). It has 2,000 members. What was important is you can't apply for the job - you are asked by your peers. I looked upon this as kind of a legal Oscar.

What do you do when you're not practicing law?
I read as much as I can, play tennis as much as the weather permits, watch soccer, and of course, there are many family commitments.

What would surprise people most about you?
I am as old as I am.

What has been your most memorable ILN experience?
I have wonderful memories, but hosting the European Meeting some years ago at Loch Lomond has to be the best of these. The stunned faces of the delegates and companions that cold grey misty Friday night at Stirling Castle when the pipers and dancers emerged from the swirling mist to put on their display was unforgettable.

What career would you have chosen if you weren't a lawyer?
I think my father earmarked me as a lawyer from birth.  He was a dentist. I qualified at 21, so there wasn't much time to think about anything else. I've not really come across another career in that time which I think I might have preferred.

If a movie were made out of your life, who would you want to play you?
Billy Connolly (joking perhaps, but at least he has a sense of humour).

How would you like to be remembered?
Not for a long time!!!!!

ILN-terviews: Tore Hjelseth, Hjelseth, Kilstad & Borgen DA


Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network. For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Tore Hjelseth of Hjelseth, Kilstad & Borgen DA in Norway.In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?Our law firm, Advokatfirmaet Hjelseth, Kilstad & Borgen DA ("HKB") is a small firm having its specialisation in corporate law, particularly Mergers & Acquisitions (including cross-border transactions), stock exchange/securities law, tax, and general contract law.Who would be your typical client?Our typical client is a Norwegian mid-sized corporation acting in Norway and internationally, being owned either directly or ultimately by a larger foreign company and thus forms part in an international group. Our work will consist both of counselling for the Norwegian entity and for the owner (or ultimate parent), then relating to doing business in Norway through the Norwegian subsidiary.What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?That we, as a small and expedient law firm, are known for providing efficient services with top quality, that the internal communication within HKB leads to quick deliveries not involving a number of lawyers pulverizing the responsibility to respond or enhancing of the legal fees.What has been your most challenging case? Why?Dealing with all legal aspects on behalf of a listed restructured company with an overseas management, carrying with it complicated inherited pre-restructuring issues, particularly related to erroneous accounts (in need of restating) dubious actions taken by the previous board of directors, hidden control mechanisms, loss making contracts and possible disloyalty.  The challenges in respect of clarifying historical facts from a regime under a management no longer in place, were numerous.What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?Every time I can call a client late a night (when the client has gone to bed "knowing" that the deal was off), and say the following "we have solved it - they agreed."What do you do when you're not practicing law?Tennis, long cooking sessions accompanied with great wine, skiing/playing monopoly with my daughters, Wilma (8) and Andrea (6) in the mountains of "Norefjell" where I have a cottage.What would surprise people most about you?That I am an Ayn Rand libertarian, and the compatibility I feel this has with philanthropy and social consciousness (yes, actually!).What has been your most memorable ILN experience?I will never forget the first visit with ILN in San Francisco and the exceptionally friendly way in which we were met, and the positive energy this created.What career would you have chosen if you weren't a lawyer?Teacher - love to teach and the feeling of hitting the right string with pupils/students/audiences.If a movie were made out of your life, who would you want to play you?James Dean (alive!)How would you like to be remembered?Fair, friendly, helpful and with integrity to take on the burden to go against the majority and political correctness.[...]

ILN-terviews: Ricardo Cordero, Cordero & Cordero Abogados


Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network. For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Ricardo Cordero of Cordero & Cordero Abogados in Costa Rica.In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?Our law firm is a general practice law firm specializing in corporate and business law.Who would be your typical client?International corporate clients and individuals doing business or investing in Costa Rica who require general assessment in areas such as corporate law, financial law, and insurance law, as well as real estate and development law.  In addition, our firm also deals with issues related to civil litigation, labor and immigration law, competition and regulation, intellectual property, and telecom law.What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?That our law firm has the sufficient experience and we are professionals with strong legal backgrounds and a set of standards that will help them to achieve their goals in Costa Rica, whether for a particular investment, transaction, or a long-term business.  In addition, we work closely with all of our clients in order to make sure there is a sense of teamwork and co-participation.What has been your most challenging case? Why?Our most challenging cases have been a couple of international project finance facility projects that we have worked on during the past year.  Due to the economic crisis, both lenders and borrowers are more cautious and the sources of funding have been very limited.  Thus, we have had to go the extra mile and use a lot of legal creativity, long work hours, and careful strategy to be able to secure such transactions.What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?I think I am living my proudest moment as a lawyer. Together with my firm's partners, we have managed to continue the expansion of our firm's practices, international clientele and exposure as one of the most renowned law firms in Costa Rica. I have also been able to achieve my personal goals as a professional and as co-managing partner of the firm.What do you do when you're not practicing law?During my spare time, I try to have a balance between my family, traveling and playing golf.What would surprise people most about you?My age.What has been your most memorable ILN experience?Since we recently joined the ILN, I would have to say that the most memorable ILN experience has been the Annual ILN Meeting held in San Francisco this past June. On a personal level, I was surprised by the good environment, which seems to be the common denominator for all ILN meetings.  We were greeted very kindly by existing members. On a professional level, I was very impressed by the professionalism and reputation held by all ILN members.What career would you have chosen if you weren't a lawyer?I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer. However, if I had to choose another career, I probably would have chosen Business Administration/Entrepreneurship.  I have always enjoyed the business side associated with the practice of law.If a movie were made out of your life, who would you want to play you?Tom Hanks. I think he is a great actor who has always chosen the parts he plays very well.  In addition, he seems to be a down to earth, personable guy who lives his life working hard and close to his family.How would you like to be remembered?I would like to be remembered as someone who enjoyed life, his family and work; as someone who always tried to do things the right way in the pursuit of excellence. I would like to be remembered as someone affable, who passed on good moral values and the sense of hard work to my next generations.[...]

How Important is Customer Service?


In the legal industry, we know how important it is to keep our clients happy, to find ways to work with them that show them we understand their business and their pains.  But how good is your firm's customer service, really?  Generally, you're not the only one interacting with your clients, so do the other people at your firm who work with your clients give them the same level of attention and service that you do?You may ask, how important is that, when I already work so hard on my relationship with my clients? Well aside from comments from general counsel like we heard at the LMA conference, when they said that surprises in their bills made them wonder if their relationship-partner was reviewing them at all, I have two non-legal stories that I think illustrate why good, and bad, customer service can really affect your relationship with clients.A couple of weeks ago, I was returning from Social Fresh in Portland. For some reason, I'd chosen to take the red-eye flight, which meant that because I'd been there for less than 24 hours, I felt like it was 2:30am when we were supposed to board.  The incoming flight was delayed because of weather on the east coast, and when they got there, it turned out that they were having some difficulty with the de-icing light on the plane. The Jet Blue agents at the gate made an announcement, told us what the problem was and that they didn't know how long we would be delayed. They continued to update us at regular intervals until we finally were able to board and take off (on the same plane).  I slept for a bit on the plane, and woke up when they turned the cabin lights on. That was also when they announced that the de-icing light had come back on, and because of the weather in New York, we had to land somewhere that wasn't experiencing icing conditions - Buffalo.  The Jet Blue agents in Buffalo boarded the plane when it landed, explained that we were going to disembark and to stay close to the gate so that they could keep us updated.  The gate agent kept telling us when he planned to update us (in 15 minutes, etc), and then he would update us at that time. Despite the possibility that we could re-board the same plane, he started immediately checking after we'd disembarked to make sure that if the plane needed parts, we would all be able to get on the next available Jet Blue flight to Kennedy.  And he announced, at the time he said he would, that the plane was, in fact, grounded, and we would have to go to another gate to get the next plane.Though I was really frustrated about the delays, I was impressed with Jet Blue. They not only kept us honestly updated, they gave us regular updates, told us when they would update us again, and then actually met those deadlines. I always knew where I stood, and very quickly, I knew what the lastest time was that I'd be departing Buffalo's airport. That service, plus having more legroom on the actual flights, will make me not only use Jet Blue again, but recommend them to friends and family.  Going above and beyond to keep your clients informed, up-to-date, and well cared for not only keeps them happy and bringing their business to you, it makes them your advocates.But then today, I had an unfortunate customer service issue.  Every year, Ocean City, NJ is host to the Doo Dah Parade, a large part of which is the Boardwaddle - a parade of 500+ basset hounds.  I heard about this parade a few months ago, and having a basset hound, was hoping to participate. I contacted the Doo Dah parade organizers and was referred to the Boardwaddle organizers, who I emailed back and forth with to express my interest in registering on March 18th.  They promised to send me a packet, then....nothing.  No packet. The parade is this Saturday, so last week, I emailed them again to find out the status of my packet. I didn'[...]

Recap of Social Fresh Portland: Branding within Social Media


I finished my Twitter coverage of Social Fresh Portland (because I was locked out by too many tweets!) with the Branding within Social Media Panel, with Kim Brater of Ant Hill Marketing, Steve Parker of Levelwing Media, Matt Singley of M80im, Kristy Bolsinger of RealNetworks, and Andrew Sinkov of Evernote.  Fortunately, although Singley threatened to liven up the panel by making it "pants optional," the whole panel staye fully clothed as they gave the audience some great advice.The first question was about how branding is defined in each of the panelists' organizations and translated to social media. Sinkov said at Evernote, they ask themselves, "what is the impression we want to give people?"  Their answer is that they want to be a company that people trust and believe in.  In Brater's mind, your brand is your business.  Bolsinger said that she considers social media channels to be a way to strengthen their brand and make it something "living."  She encourages using the same brand and message across all channels in marketing, including social media.  Social media can also help to define your brand, because through engagement, you can learn what your customers think your brand is.  Singley said that while he promised not to use these buzzwords for the remainder of the panel, it's true that branding is about consistency and engagement.  To make sure everyone was listening, he suggesting using liquor to transition the Old Guard to this new media.  More seriously, he said that one of the main questions he gets about using social media is how you can effectively measure it.  He said that he responds by asking how you can measure the effectiveness of a conversation or a relationship - you can't.  Social media requires a leap of faith.  For bigger brands, this can be a little bit easier because they're used to being sued for being transparent.  For smaller brands, this might be more difficult.  But Singley pointed out that it's more about opportunities lost because of not being a part of a conversation, and those brands that ignore social media will lose.  He did agree that at some point, it's necessary to show the value of social media and Bolsinger said that ROI can be more about what you save the company than what you bring in.  Singley added that persistence and education is how you get people on board.  An audience member asked if there was value in trying to measure the effectiveness of social media. Singley said yes, but he has yet to figure out how.  "Metrics are a necessary evil of agency life," he commented.  Bolsinger commented that if there isn't a lot of differentiation between your company and your competitors, social media can be a way to differentiate.  Depending on your brant/product, you can show how social media has a better return on investment than traditional channels.  For showing how pervasive social media channels are, the panel recommended Do You Know 4.0.  Brater also recommended looking at Olivier Blanchard's presentation on ROI in social media.The panelists agreed that they're jobs are becoming more like customer service because of social media.  While some people are voicing concern over this, Bolsinger said if your marketing isn't looking at customer service as a benefit of social media, they're missing out.  If you promote great customer service through social media, sales will follow.  Inversely, this isn't as true.  It used to be that great customer service was the key product differentiator, but now it's customer service through social media. Someone in the audience asked about translating a company's online voice throughout the whole company.  Sinkov said that for them, they can do it as they grow, but for larger companies, [...]

Re-Cap From Social Fresh Portland: Corporate Blogging Panel


Another great session at Social Fresh Portland was the afternoon panel on Corporate Blogging with Mike Volpe of Hubspot, Kristy Bolsinger of RealNetworks, and Andrew Sinkov from Evernote.  Starting the panel off with a bang, their first question was "should you, as a business, be blogging?"  The short answer was "yes."  The long answer was "you're an idiot if you don't."  Sinkov said that blogging is an incredibly important part of getting your company's voice out there.  The panel discussed whether blogging should be considered a part of social media, or in its own category, and Sinkov commented that it's a "long form of social media."  Volpe agreed, saying that a blog should be the first step in social media, before Twitter or Facebook, because you're not that interesting without it - it's your social media home base.  They took an informal poll of the room showing that pretty much everyone in the audience had a corporate blog.  Volpe pointed out that blogging is not about you or your company, it's about your customers.  And if they segregate, you should similarly have separate blogs.  Bolsinger cautioned that from an SEO perspective though, they should all be on the same site.  Sinkov added that the more content you put on the blog, the more you see spikes of people coming to it.  So as soon as you have good content, put it out there, don't wait for it to stack up. Bolsinger said that in her case, she does have a calendar of certain types of posts, which helps to get people coming back and set audience expectations.  She suggested as a great blog to be reading to help audience members learn how to blog better.  An audience member asked how people find blog posts and Sinkov said through Twitter, Facebook links to the post, and media outlets who come there for news.  He added that it's important to find out where your audience is and engage with them there.   He went on to say that Evernote's blog has become a way for the media to get information from them because they don't do press releases.  Bolsinger said that 16% of the visitors to their website also visit their blog, saying that they track everything that happens on their blog.  Sinkov said that blogs have more content, but if someone acts because of a tweet that they've seen, then that's great.  He doesn't think blogs are "better" than Twitter or Facebook - he's happy with any engagement with Evernote users.  Bolsinger keyed in on the word "engagement," saying that 100,000 visitors to your website doesn't do you any good unless they're being converted (or your website sells advertisements).  Sinkov said that the people who are reading your blog and following your tweets are the people who want to buy from you.  He also mentioned that "blogging is the gateway drug."  Some of those tweeting from the session disagreed with that metaphor, saying that it implied there was something bigger out there, but it seemed that Sinkov was suggesting that once you get started with blogging, engaging through Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels is quickly the next step. Volpe cautioned not to wait too long to get into social media, because those who do are not always as successful. If you wait for a case study in your particular industry, you're too late.  One of the fears that established companies have that keep them from jumping in is the idea of "getting it right." But Sinkov pointed out that there is no "right" when it comes to social media.  He said companies have to try, and they will probably make some mistakes.  Bolsinger added that companies should never let the fear of failure prevent them from trying to get it right in the meantime, but they s[...]

Re-Cap from Social Fresh: Keynote: It's Not Social Media - It's Simply Life with Peter Shankman


One of the sessions I was most excited about at Social Fresh Portland was the keynote speech by Peter Shankman of HARO - "It's Not Social Media - It's Simply Life."  Shankman's speech had a lot of great takeaways, and focused on the four rules he follows in business and in his life: 1) Transparency 2) Relevance 3) Brevity 4) Top of Mind.  He started by saying that the smart ones are all saying the same thing - social media isn't going away; it's entering the lexicon.  Shankman learned some valuable lessons at the start of his career, which he shared with the audience.  In 1995, when AOL was "the internet," Shankman was working with them and helped to found the AOL newsroom by asking "is there a better way to solve this problem?"  He said that they would go into work every day and try something new - if it worked, they did it again. If it didn't work, they didn't do it again - a lesson that's applicable now in social media. Shankman commented that learning to constantly ask - "is there a better way to solve this?" - has served him well. He said that one of the best things you can ever do is to find a better solution to a problem, because if the solutions that everyone already had already worked, it wouldn't be a problem anymore.  These lessons have obviously served Shankman well, because in two years, he has created a social media company that's actually profitable, with 110,000-115,000 members and $1.2 million in ad revenue.  He made the interesting point although people always tell you to make a back-up plan in case you fail, they never tell you to make a plan for when you succeed.  Would you be prepared?Shankman then got into his four rules - number 1 is "Transparency."  He said that your audience, clients, and buyers are the ones that really control your company and all you can do is react to what they want, citing Amazon's move from being a bookseller to selling a variety of products.  Information wants to be free, to get out, so we no longer have true control over it, or as Shankman said "Social media is a laxative. You can no longer hold in what you want to keep inside."  He added "Tweet that," for the legion of tweeters in the room.  Because information is so available, it's necessary to be transparent, which he joked "is the new black...or opaque." Someone will always find out about an issue, so you need to get in front of it before someone else does.  Shankman's second rule is "Relevancy" - how do you become relevant to an audience who gets their information a million different ways? Ask them how they want their information.  He used himself as an example, saying that if you call his phone, his voicemail will pick up and tell you to text him.  If you send people information the way that they want to receive it, you empower them to be "finders."  A "finder" is a person you trust, who you want to receive email from.  Those people get access and approval to be in people's inboxes immediately.  People love to be finders - they're social media's version of the "cool kid," because they get access.  Shankman illustrated his point by showing a video for Pedigree dog food - the people who "find" this will think it's cool, and will send it along, therefore, doing Pedigree's public relations for them.  If you give your audience permission to forward your items because they're relevant and cool, they'll similarly end up doing your public relations.Shankman touched on Twitter to illustrate his third rule, "Brevity", saying that 140-characters did not originate with Tweets, but with text messaging.  He observed that 9/11 and American Idol were the two things that got Americans to understand text messaging.    Because Twitter[...]

Recap of Social Fresh Portland: Social Media for Small Business - A Fresh Conversation


The third session of the day for me was "Social Media for Small Business - A Fresh Conversation" moderated by Ryan Lewis of Bonfire Social Media.  He took an informal poll of the room, which was made up of mostly small businesses, with some agencies.  Since the format of the session was a roundtable, we went right into questions from the room.  An audience member asked, for a small business strapped for time, how do you find a balance between hiring an outside consultant to handle social media versus doing it in-house.  Another audience member responded with a success story of how doing social media in-house has really worked for them, with their preferred medium being Twitter.  There has been a lot of debate recently about this very issue, and I also fall on the side of doing social media in-house - when people engage with someone on Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels, even when they are engaging with a brand, they want to be talking to someone who represents the voice of that company, and knows the company well.  There's an implied sense of trust that comes along with following or becoming a "fan" of something, and if those clients/customers find out that they're dealing with a consultant and not someone from the company, that trust can be broken with serious consequences.  I talked about this issue in a little more depth with respect to ghostblogging. Another audience member asked about who is using Facebook applications, adding that there's huge success there for those who are.  Someone commented that Facebook adds a layer of demographic targeting that can be extremely useful, though it's sometimes necessary to test different advertisements to find success.  Another audience member wanted to know if there was an average price point for the products that are selling, using tools like Facebook. He's found that social media tools are better for branding, because he sells an expensive product.  He wanted to know if a company would be throwing money away if their product is expensive and so they're only using social media for branding.  The room seemed to agree that the answer was no - even if the sales process is not happening through these tools, developing a reputation for a certain expertise is useful in leading to an offline sales process.  (*Applicable to law firms)The group then talked a bit about whether Facebook or Twitter was a more useful tool for companies.  Someone commented that Twitter is a great tool for communications, but for indexing and critical mass, Facebook will become a much bigger player.  It was suggested that companies incentivize their fans to join their Facebook pages, which we'd heard in the previous panel.  Incentivizing them to become a "fan" of your company and product is one step, but leveraging this group to build a database is what's really important.  HubSpot was mentioned again as a company who does this very well.  To get "fans" to sign up their email addresses and information with a company, an audience member suggested reserving some content for release when they give you this data.  Another audience member cautioned that some small businesses think you go right from getting someone to become a "fan" to getting a sale, and said that it's important to remember to build the relationships further first.  (*Great lesson for law firms)Another audience member commented that his company wants their employees to develop personal blogs that will be used to express the corporate voice.  He was concerned about blurring the line between a personal and professional voice.  I voiced my thoughts that I think the line is already pretty blurred and that there's utility in giving your br[...]

Recap of Social Fresh Portland: Social Media B2B Panel


The second session that I attended while at Social Fresh Portland was the "Social Media B2B Panel," with Greg Cangialosi of Blue Sky Factory, Jason Peck of eWayDirect, Adam Holden-Bache of Mass Transmit, and Schneider Mike of Allen and Gerristen.  A lot of great information came out of the panel, starting with the first comment that "social media doesn't just happen."  The panelists agreed that companies need to put a smart person behind the tools, and get buy-in from everyone in the company, not just the executives. For B2B companies, their goal is to make their customers more successful than their competitor's customers.  To identify what they want from a specific social media strategy, they need to start with the bottom line in mind.  Cangialosi commented that social media is just an extension of every other area of the company, but that it's largely happening out of marketing departments.  The panel advised that the marketing department should lead with their messages, but customer service should be involved as well, and whoever is responsible for CRM, for a more complete strategy.  Peck added that B2B companies need to have communication skills and subject matter expertise to effectively deploy a social media strategy. Cangialosi said that the true promise of social media is when you can engage with people, which the legal marketers I know in social media would agree with.  When engaging, it's important to be transparent in social media channels about why you're there. If you're not planning to use it for customer service, let them know, but expect people to ask questions anyway.  The panel also suggested working with a public relations team in advance to forecast out what prickly issues could come up. Someone in the audience asked how social media can help companies get to B2B decision makers. Peck said that it connects people who can connect you to them.  But it's important to be there before the sale. The key to getting to decision makers is to provide good content. As was mentioned during the last panel, many companies measure their success in social media by the number of followers that they have. But the key is in engagement.  One of the benefits of social media is that when it comes to lead generation, you can now see very clearly who you're dealing with because of social data.  Schneider pointed out that while everyone is talking about engaging with their audience, they shouldn't forget that they want to sell something.  They still need to ask people to buy. Another audience member asked what tools, from a content standpoint, work best for companies and Holden-Bache said "Blogging, far and away."  This seems to hold true in the legal market as well, with many lawyers able to build their reputation for having a certain area of expertise through their blogs.  The panel used HubSpot as an example of effective blogging because they use their posts to invite further engagement in webinars, white papers, etc.  Cangialosi suggested other companies should similarly use a call to action at the end of every post.  The best way to improve awareness is by generating dialogue and interaction from the blog content and then getting others to spread it.  An audience member pointed out that just because someone writes content doesn't mean that anyone will necessarily read it.  Schneider also cautioned that it's still important to take the online relationships offline.  Instead of running "campaigns," companies should think about building relationships.  That way, even when the platforms change, the relationships live beyond the tool.  Cangialosi added that the database is still king though - social m[...]

ILN-terviews: Sebastian Laboga, Kübler GbR


Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network.

For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Sebastian Laboga of Kübler GbR in Germany.

In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?
With more than 230 employees and 27 locations, KÜBLER is one of the leading German law firms concerning insolvency and reorganization law.

Who would be your typical client?
Our typical clients are companies of all sizes or private individuals that are either insolvent, afraid of becoming insolvent or have business with any of these groups.

What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?
That we are one of the largest and most effectively organized law firms in Germany dealing with financial crises, restructuring and insolvency. We have the staff and know-how to literally run even very large companies in times of trouble or insolvency. In addition we are very hands on – good at producing words and paper of course, but even better at actually providing help and taking action.

What has been your most challenging case? Why?
Running a mine sweeping company as insolvency administrator. Etiquette was very military and the management scheduled their meetings at 6 o clock in the morning. Attending on time was a true challenge.

What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?
I guess helping companies to a successful restart after a crisis or insolvency makes me a little proud every time. My proudest moment though was definitely managing to attend the mine-sweepers’ meetings at 6 o’ clock a.m. AND understanding what they were talking about!

What do you do when you're not practicing law?
I have five kids – what do you think?

What would surprise people most about you?
My broad knowledge regarding movies and TV shows.

What has been your most memorable ILN experience?
Standing in Rome on the top of the Castel St` Angelo, looking at the illuminated Vatican by night with a glass of Champagne in my hand.

What career would you have chosen if you weren't a lawyer?
 I would almost have ended up as a Tax Adviser. But I am very happy that I didn’t.

If a movie were made out of your life, who would you want to play you?
Jeff Bridges, aka “the Dude.”

How would you like to be remembered?
Too early to think about it, really – the Dude still abides, doesn’t he. But people shouldn’t think they could get away with peeing on my rug easily…

Recap of Social Fresh Portland: Real Facebook and Twitter Results Panel


The first session of Social Fresh, Portland that I attended was "Real Facebook and Twitter Results Panel."  Since I know many law firms are hesitant to get involved with Facebook and Twitter, the comments from this panel might be especially useful for you in evaluating whether these platforms will work for your firm.  The panel featured Justin Kistner of Webtrends, Carri Bugbee of Big Deal PR, Kevin Tate of StepChange, and moderator and panelist Shauna Causey from Comcast.  After each of the panelists introduced themselves, they focused on their experiences using Facebook and Twitter for themselves and their clients.  Tate said, about starting a Facebook page, that a company can often learn as much from its failures as its successes.  Kistner agreed with this, saying that his company had thought about starting a new blog, separate from their original one, and quickly realized that it would make more sense to leverage their existing web presence and audience, because they already have put their trust in you.  But in addition to thinking about the external audience, when deploying a social media strategy, it's just as important to bring your internal audience in and show them the value.  Tate used the Travelocity gnome campaign on Facebook as an example of a successful use of social media to engage the audience (the panelists agreed that audience engagement should be a key goal when using a social media tool like Facebook or Twitter).  Facebook users could become a "Fan" of the Travelocity gnome, and were able to interact by voting on where he would go next.  This was very successful and continues to see fan engagement.  Tate pointed out that once people feel that they have ownership of something, you have to be careful about taking it away - an example of this from my own experience was when a Facebook user created a Fan page for the Norwegian curling team's pants.  The page was not endorsed or created by the team, but during the Olympics, it suddenly grew very popular and attracted a lot of fans and activity.  Facebook realized that the page wasn't created by the team (even though they had contacted the user who started it and invited him to their next match) and they took it down, citing their fan page rules.  But because so many fans were attached to the page, they launched a campaign to get Facebook to bring it back.  After a few hours, Facebook relented because of the outcry. So even though the Norwegian curling team didn't start the page, the fans were invested in it and didn't want to lose it.  Tate also pointed out that even when a brand creates the Facebook page, the fans really own it and define the content and interaction.  Although there have been clear successes like these in Facebook fan pages, Tate mentioned that there is a dark side to fan engagement, like the Nestle scandal. Bugbee cited this as a clear example of the need for crisis management.  She said that when a company has an issue such as Nestle did, it needs to be sent up to the C-suite immediately and not handled by the community relations manager or whoever is responsible for the page.  Not all fan engagement will be positive, so it's important to have a plan in place for dealing with any negative comments or coordinated attacks, like Greenpeace's.  However, this kind of interaction can also be an opportunity.  Causey talked about how crisis management has been effective for Comcast in terms of their customer service - she said they have been working to be proactive by notifying customers through Twitter when they have an outage.  She said that they took an opportuni[...]

ILN-terviews: John Verrall, Verralls Barristers and Solicitors


Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network.

For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, John Verrall of Verralls Barristers and Solicitors in Gibraltar.

In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?
I would describe my practice as progressive, motivated, contemporary and inspired.

Who would be your typical client?
Typical client - probably either a young married couple purchasing a property or a commercial client.

What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?
That I am the fresh face of a new generation of talented lawyers who are responsive to client's needs and committed to the timely delivery of the highest standards of legal work based on ethical principles.

What has been your most challenging case? Why?
My most challenging case involved a widow and a trust fund left by her husband.  It was challenging because of the legal principles and issues it threw up, mixed with the vulnerability of her position as a mere potential beneficiary under the trust along with other beneficiaries from the husband's first marriage.

What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?
Opening my own law firm 10 years ago.

What do you do when you're not practicing law?
Sail, snow ski, gardening, gym, read, travel and dine out with friends.

What would surprise people most about you?
Not sure. You'd probably have to ask them!

What has been your most memorable ILN experience?
Meeting the members. I particularly enjoyed the ILN conference in Prague.

What career would you have chosen if you weren't a lawyer?
Something to do with geography and environment.

If a movie were made out of your life, who would you want to play you?
George Clooney!

How would you like to be remembered?
As a fun, relaxed and easygoing, but caring person, who prided himself on the quality of his work and his problem-solving skills.

Social Fresh - What Did I Learn About Social Media?


Today, I attended one of the Social Fresh conferences, which took place here in Portland, Oregon - for those of you wondering what Social Fresh is, it's a conference about social media, focused around case studies, and it takes place in some "underserved cities," as the conference website describes them.  Although it's not a conference focused around the legal field, I felt that broadening my social media education to find out what other companies are doing and what works for them would be useful in my own professional social media efforts, as well as for the law firms we work with.  Like LMA 2010, I'll be posting re-caps of the valuable sessions that I attended today over the next few days, but I wanted to get a quick post up about my thoughts and the key takeaways from today's conference.  The theme that I took away from today's panels and presentations was two-fold - 1) know your social media objectives and 2) know your audience.  In terms of the former - it's not just enough to jump into social media, to create a Twitter profile or a Facebook fan page (in terms of your company or firm's brand - I still think there's utility in experimenting for yourself to learn about the tools).  You have to ask yourself why you're on there, what you want to get out of it, and what you're prepared to do with it - have a strategy.  There were a lot of comments that although marketers may be handling a company or firm's social media efforts, customer service is still a large part of the job.  So even if you enter into social media for the purpose of getting content out there, you must be prepared to answer questions and deal with customer service-type issues.  This is true even in the legal industry - for law firms getting involved in social media, you have to be prepared to deal with questions coming up that border on a client-attorney privileged relationship, possible issues with complaints against the firm, etc.  The overwhelming answer on how to deal with these issues today was "have a plan."  Before entering into social media, decide who will be behind the efforts, what happens if a person or group starts flaming your Facebook page, what steps are taken if a crisis arises - think about the possible issues that may arise before they happen.  Everyone agrees that social media is just another channel for the same types of marketing that companies and firms have always been doing, so some of this will just be an extension of an existing crisis communications plan your firms have, but it's essential to discuss strategy and possible roadblocks before releasing a corporate social media strategy.In terms of audience, this was another topic that was mentioned again and again today.  Speakers emphasized finding out about your audience to determine what social media channels make the most sense for your firm to participate in.  The way to find this out is by asking them.  One speaker used the example of an animal rescue organization that he had donated to - following his donation, they sent him a lovely coffee table book.  Unfortunately, he had no use for this, since he doesn't own a coffee table.  He commented to them that it would be useful for them to follow up with their donors and ask how they would prefer to receive future communications.  They initially said that they already knew their audience, and because of their age and make-up, they knew that they preferred to receive things like the coffee table book.  But they took his advice and started to follow up with donors - an overwhelming number said they preferred em[...]

Social Media in Asia: Where are the Emerging Opportunities?


Last night, I had the opportunity to attend a socialmediatoday webinar on "Social Media in Asia: Where are the Emerging Opportunities?" (For the webcast and slides, visit: What follows is a re-cap of the highlights, but the key takeaways that came out of the webinar are the following:- Culture is hugely important - In order to succeed in Asia, you must have people on the ground who understand the social meda ecosystem for that country and can help you to navigate it.- Mobile devices will be the primary source of access for a lot of people because broadband access is not always available.  So compatibility with mobile devices is hugely important.- Face-to-face interactions are still paramount.The speakers for the webinar were Thomas Crampton, Asia Pacific Director of 360 Digital Influence for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, Peter Auditore, head of SAP's Business Influencer Program and a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research, and Robin Carey, CEO of socialmediatoday.  They began with comments from Crampton on scale - he said there are 338 million "netizens" (citizens of the net) in China versus only 62 million in France (as of a report from 2009) and also greater than the population of the United States.  However, the top social networks in China are not the familiar ones in the West - Qzone has 183 million users, Xiaonei has 40 million, kaixin001 has 30 million, while Facebook only has 0.4 million.  Crampton observed that the government is very savvy in China - Twitter is blocked, but Google Wave is not.  He also noted that Friendster used to rule Asia, but now Facebook is "romping across the nation."Even within Asia though, the digital ecosystems are very diverse.  The US may be seen as the home of Web 2.0, but Asians are more involved in using social media in their daily lives in a way that we're not, with Korea leading Asia in terms of actual social media engagement/involvement. Crampton has found that there's no useful distinction anymore between the online and offline worlds in many of these markets.  He added that Chinese people have been using the online space for a long time now, mostly on blackboards.  Carey handed the floor over to Auditore, who talked about some research he recently conducted in terms of the purchasing process in China.  He said that they found that customers will have the most influence over the next 12 months, with vendors having the second highest jump in influence.  The research also indicated that boards and public relations/media people are losing influence.  People will look online in a big way when doing their research on purchases.  However, Michael Pranikoff commented via Twitter that the chart indicated that blogs and microblogs seem to have a low influence in China in regards to channels for purchasing decisions.  Auditore added that the things that are hot in China right now are online events and colleagues/peer networking online.  Carey asked the panel whether China becomes isolated because they ban sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Crampton said that as more sites are blocked in China, domestic replicas of these Western tools are being created.  China is creating its own ecosystem of social media tools.  Crampton added that despite the ban, there are people in China who are still using Twitter, citing a tweetup he had hosted the night before that was only publicized through Twitter and was well-attended.  The dis[...]

ILN-terviews: Lorna Patajo-Kapunan, Kapunan Lotilla Garcia & Castillo Law Offices


Welcome to ILN-terviews, a series of profiles of ILN member firm attorneys, designed to give a unique insight into the lawyers who make up our Network. For our latest interview, we chose ILN member, Lorna Patajo-Kapunan of Kapunan Lotilla Garcia & Castillo Law Offices in Manila, the Philippines.In one sentence, how would you describe your practice?Our firm is a medium-sized law firm with 17 lawyers and support staff totaling 20, all committed to our vision of "quality legal service with competence, integrity and courage." Who would be your typical client?Our typical client would be the good guys -- good corporate citizens who aspire for a level playing field, aggrieved individuals who still have faith in the justice system.What would you like clients and potential clients to know about you?I want my clients/potential clients to know that I eat my enemies for breakfast, that I will fight even against overwhelming odds, that I can and do walk the extra mile.What has been your most challenging case? Why?As an advocate for women's rights, my most challenging and high profile case was defending a male against a female for allegedly taping a sex video of the sex act and purportedly distributing it to the public. My legal position (to the horror of the women NGOs) was that the male was the victim.What has been your proudest moment as a lawyer?My proudest moment as a lawyer was when our firm was judged by the Bishop/Businessmen's Council of the Philippines as the only law firm in the country deserving of the ISQ (Institutional Spirituality Quotient) award - this is equivalent to a "good housekeeping seal" at the workplace.What do you do when you're not practicing law?I have many "hats" -- dedicated father/mother (I was widowed 9 years ago) to my 5 boys, 2 grandsons, 9 dogs; volunteer Trustee on the Boards of several foundations/socio/civic groups, such as the Philippine National Red Cross, World Wildlife Fund, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Rotary International, Zonta Foundation, UNIFEM, National Heritage Society; devoted daughter to my father (94-year-old retired justice of the Supreme Court) and mother (87-year-old retired dean of one of the biggest nursing schools in the country); confessed shopaholic -- my "cure-all" remedy for my stress is shopping.What would surprise people most about you?People are surprised that I can be a softie -- that despite the Dracula fangs, I have a heart that beats/bleeds.What has been your most memorable ILN experience?My most memorable ILN experience was when our former Firm hosted the ILN Regional Conference in Cebu in a distant past.  It gave us the opportunity to showcase the typical Filipino hospitality.  Looking forward to hosting another soon.What career would you have chosen if you weren't a lawyer?If I weren't a lawyer, I'd like to be a CNN/BBC Anchorperson -- reporting news when and where it happens, or a professional tennis player, earning some 6-7 digit figures while having FUN.If a movie were made out of your life, who would you want to play you?My favorite movie is Casablanca -- but I identified more with Humphrey Bogart rather than Ingrid Bergman. I need to sort out my fantasies first.How would you like to be remembered?I'd like my epitaph to read "She lived, laughed and loved!"[...]

Law Firms: Change or Die?


As I mentioned yesterday, I've been following along as attendees of Georgetown's Law Firm Evolution Symposium have been tweeting the conference highlights.  Rachel M. Zahorsky of the ABA Journal was in attendance, and wrote a great article that summed up a theme of the conference - BigLaw must change or die.  She quotes several speakers, who make ominous statements:

- Patricia Gillette, Orrick partner: "It is a mistake to think of change in terms of silos...Change must be sweeping. If you do not change, you will die."

- Susan Hackett, Association of Corporate Counsel vice president & general counsel: "The window is open for another year to year and a half for firms before clients start walking and looking at firms they've never looked at before...Whenever a firm says [it] can't hold to a budget number because of unpredictability, the GC still has a busted budget. It's not unpredictable. It's unforgivable that they don't know and unforgivable that we haven't held them to that."

- Robert Ruyak, managing partner and CEO of Howrey: "Partners must be willing to sacrifice some short-term profitability for greater success and profit in the long-term.  That's something many partners don't want to do, but we have to.  There is no choice because some firms will, and they're the ones that will be eating our lunches tomorrow." 

But some are saying that there are firms that think that the legal industry will soon be back to the way it was, and so they don't have to worry about changing. 

Mid-sized law firms, like those in the ILN, often find it easier to adapt than BigLaw because their size makes them more nimble.  But even though this is the case, clients are asking all of their firms to more strongly consider their needs, focus on strengthening their relationships.  As was said at the LMA Conference this year, clients have always had the power, but now they know it.

So what are your firms doing to adapt to the siren call of change?  How are you providing your clients with better service, more value, strengthened relationships?  And how are legal marketers supporting their attorneys to make these changes possible? 

Or, on the flip side, are you one of those who believes that the legal industry will rebound, and so there isn't any need for change?

The Future of Law Firms


Last week, I wrote a re-cap on a panel I attended at the Legal Marketing Association's Annual Conference on Alternative Fee Arrangements.  The panelists said that the law firms that are "pyramid-shaped," with the larger part of their firms being made up by associates, would have difficulty adapting to the make-up needed to accommodate alternative fees.  They said that those firms that are "diamond-shaped," with the majority of the firm being made up of experienced partners would be more successful, implying that firms may be heading in this direction in the future.

However, during Georgetown's Law Firm Evolution Symposium (whose Twitter stream can be followed here), Jeff Haidet of McKenna Long says that "the pyramid will be replaced with the rocketship, associates hired to perpetuate partnership, more efficiency."  Firms will need to redesign entry level assessment and paths to partnership and leverage different resources, not just high-cost lawyers. 

Howrey's Managing Partner, Bob Ruyak said (also at Georgetown's LFES), that firms need to change almost everything about how they do business, including bringing in non-lawyer professionals, lowering costs, and lowering prices.  He said "The risk of uncertainty has to be shared," and that firms have to change how success and productivity are measures, from revenue per partner to productivity of every resource.  But later, Mari Sako of Oxford said that lawyers mistrust of non-lawyers means that partnerships are reluctant to cede control of work decisions to clients.  Professionals distrust non-professionals' competence and ethics.  So what does this mean for the changing law firm and what future law firms will look like?

What do you see the law firm of the future looking like?

Ghostblogging - The Death of Social Media?


One of the important messages in terms of social media that came out of this year's LMA Annual Conference is that "you cannot be a proxy for someone else's relationship - the lawyers have to do it themselves."  But in the busy world of attorneys, where time is quite literally money, what about ghostblogging? 

For the uninitiated, ghostblogging is much like ghostwriting, where someone else is paid to blog posing as you or your company.  Aside from the usual concerns about liability, which I would say are magnified when discussing the idea of having someone else pose as an attorney, it seems to go against the very idea behind social media, which is to use these new technologies to form personal relationships with people, sometimes for business and sometimes not.

Reading "The Death of Social Media" this morning, I had to agree with Mitch Joel when he asked "Can we stop the madness?"  He says:
"I'm being naive (I know), people will say, 'someone writes the speech for the President' or 'if people like it and connect to the content, who cares who writes it?' I dunno, I do. People have lost faith in marketing (just like they have lost faith in those who serve the public office and celebrities). We allow things that shouldn't be... to be. Saying that ghostwriters have been around for years doesn't make it right or authentic. Times have changed, and these platforms are (or should be) celebrated for the human and real side. Can you imagine that some Blogs, Twitter and Facebook feeds that you follow are not the real person, but the musings of someone else who simply interviewed the person you thought that you were following? Sure, there's a place for ghostwriters, but maybe Social Media isn't one of them? If we keep heading down this road, doesn't Social Media become nothing more than a boring, traditional mass media channel?"
I'm curious to hear what those in the legal community think about ghost blogging, and how lawyers can manage the balance between their valuable time and pursusing social media (Disclaimer: I'm a strong believer that lawyers spending time creating relationships through social media and then taking these offline is a valuable use of their time.)

LMA 2010 - The Digital Firm 2015 - The Changing Face of Professional Services Marketing Communications


For my last session of the conference, I attended "The Digial Firm 2015 - The Changing Face of Professional Services Marketing Communications," with opening remarks from Anthony Green, President of Concep, moderated by Dwain Thomas, Managing Director of Concep, and panelists Susan M. Snyder, Senior Consultant at Hay Group, Jodie Kaminsky, Vice President of J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and Royal Simpkins, Firmwide Communications Manager at Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP.  The panel looked at new marketing channels and how they impact marketing professionals in a fee earning environment.  When the room was polled, we learned that a lot of the audience is using social media in their communications mix.  Jeannette McGarr wondered on Twitter what her attorneys would say about social media becoming the norm in firms.  The panelists went into three case studies of firms using digital strategy with Concep, starting with J.P. Morgan.  They needed a reduction in cost, which for them, meant getting away from paper. They were looking for both strategic and tactical recommendations to help them to migrate their current contact strategies to digital, and used their competition to convince naysayers to get into social/digital communication tools.  It took 2-3 years for them  to switch entirely to digital communications, and now their marketing plans are much more integrated with digital media and have the same messages across platforms.  At the start of this process, they had 15 different databases, and have since merged all of them.  When all data repositories begin to communicate, the power is exponential for intelligence and relationship management.  The next case study was Hay Group, who wanted to use the web as more of a lead generator/sales device.  Concep helped Hay Group conduct an audit of their website and came up with a new one which introduced registration to collect information.  Additional goals for their website included SEO and tactics like streaming video and engaging the customer.  They worked to really make it about their audience, which prompted Stephanie Thum to comment via Twitter "Tie feedback into the things clients require of you. How accurate are we at [meeting] workflow requirements?"  From Hay Group's website, they link to social media and make sure their bloggers are sending out consistent messages.  Their social media campaigns include those on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and their blogs, and they've gotten solid work from their web inquiries.  Gina Rubel commented via Twitter that "Lawyers need to understand that websites are the front door to their businesses - this message has been validated 100xs over." Hay Group builds their business off of thought leadership and uses client feedback to change the way they interact with their clients.  Their Twitter account is very active using key messages around the globe, with a centralized message approach and management.  The rhetorical question was posed to the audience "Are you proud of sending people to your website? A bad site is like showing up to a meeting wearing an ugly suit. It's all part of your brand."  Green commented that internal audiences are just as important as external ones, which we've always considered to be true at the ILN.  For the Hay Group, most of their internal people were using Blackberries, so they stages a mobile campaign to talk [...]

LMA 2010 - General Session: What We Love Most About Our Lawyers - A Client Panel


The client panels held during the LMA conferences always provide a wealth of useful information for legal marketers to bring back to their firms.  This year's panel was no different - moderated by Michael B. Rynowecer, President and Founder of The BTI Consulting Group, the panel featured Eric Hilty, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of Apartment Investment and Management Company (AIMCO), Carmel Gill, Corporate Counsel, Legal Department of Level 3 Communications, Jeffrey K. Reeser, Vice President and Secretary of Newmont Mining Corporation, and Julie DeCecco, Associate General Counsel and Director of Litigation at Sun Microsystems, Inc.  The session was titled "What we love most about our lawyers," and the panel started by saying that in order to stand above the competition and become a prefered provider, firms need to step up partner engagement and have a proactive knowledge of their clients' business.  The clients listed a few of the law firms that they consider top of their lists, and one included ILN member, Holland & Hart.So what gets a firm "on the list?"  One of the panelists counseled that lawyers shouldn't make them jump through legal hoops, but should do as much for them as they can, so that they don't have to do it themselves.  Another said that lawyers should identify the obstacles for their clients, think two steps ahead to the solution and articulate it.  Their impressions of firms come from their experiences with the attorneys of that firm, reinforcing the theme that it's all about relationships.  The panelist admitted that she thought saying service was the most important thing to her might offend the audience, but as Kate Haueisen said via Twitter "we influence service too!"  The panelists suggested that firms have a dialogue with their clients about their expectations for communication, workflow, and sharing the work burden and they agreed that they are trying to isolate the firms that they have good relationships with and save some money.  The panel moved on to talk about alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), and a few of them admitted that they were skeptical of them at first.  One panelist said that she wondered who would end up with the short end of the stick, but after using AFAs for a while, she can now see the value.  Another panelists said that she also feels more satisfied with the value after using AFAs for a few years.  DeCecco commented that almost all work being handled for Sun Microsystems is now done on an alternative fee basis.  A panelist added that firms proposing alternative fees are automatically seen by clients as trying to bring value from the start of their relationship.  They appreciate the predictability and proactive nature of these proposals.  When alternative fees haven't worked, it's because the client can't tell what the firm's motivation is, and trust is not there.  The panelists felt that alternative fee arrangements work best with firms they do a lot of business with, and therefore have established relationships where there is trust and a "safer" risk.  The panelists said that when they're reviewing whether to use a firm or not for a piece of work, they first get referrals and then go to the firm websites.  Because of this, they warned that if an attorney doesn't list all of their areas of expertise in their bio, they assume t[...]

LMA 2010 - Creating and Implementing a Sales and Business Development Culture in Your Firm


The first session on Friday was another session that delegates were excited for, and the big room was packed.  Moderated by Patrick Fuller, the Managing Account Director at Hubbard One, the presenters included Twitter favorites like Melanie Green, Director of Business Development and Marketing at Baker & Daniels LLP and Tim Corcoran, Senior Consultant at Altman Weil, as well as Robert D. Randolph, Jr., Director of Marketing and Business Development at Bryan Cave LLP and Steven B. Bell, Chief Client Development Officer at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC.  Tim started the session by saying that the difference between business development and marketing is that marketing is the tactics to build awareness and identity, while business development is what you're doing to further that relationship.  Steve wondered why there should be a distinction between marketing, business development and sales, saying that "we all want to ring the cash register."  He said that everyone in the room is engaged in the buying process every day, and it's marketing's role to create awareness.  Anyone can take their own lessons from the things that they buy - buying legal services is no different.  Buying is emotional and justifying a purchase is logical, though he clarified that an emotional purchase doesn't mean it's illogical.  He emphasized that companies don't make purchases, individuals do.  So you have to understand the individual.  As we all know, clients buy services from peope they trust, like, are capable, and understand their business.  This isn't an illogical process, but they have to trust you.  Lawyers sometimes think that they can't do this business development "stuff," but it doesn't have to be a close relationship.  They just need to build a relationship of trust.  Lawyers also think that they need to explain their capabilities in the buying process, but most clients are not even considering you if you don't already have the skill set they need.  The panel cautioned that it's important for marketers to understand the difference between sales and business development, so that we understand what we're asking lawyers to do in growing their relationships.  The data says that the key attributes for clients in hiring firms are client focus, value for money, a willingness to help, and understanding the client's business.  Relationships matter.  The panel asked the audience what their lawyers know about their clients and their budget reductions in the current economy.  They encouraged the attendees to tell their lawyers to ask their clients how their budgets have been affected and to learn what they're going through up front.  Tim said that he asks lawyers whether they know their clients' budget changes from the previous year, and they generally don't.  Since clients live and die by their budgets, it's a key factor in the relationship.  The panel said that we have a new buying equation, and so legal marketers should be leading lawyers and firms to the discovery of this equations.  Find out if your clients are experiencing these budget cuts across their company and look for ways to help them.  Tim added that as law firm providers, we can look for other ways to please our clients that doesn't involve doing their legal work.  Melanie talked about a sales pro[...]