Creating a Firm Policy for Social Networking?

As interest in social networking continues to grow, firms are recognizing many of the benefits, and then asking how can we control what our employees do with these viral tools? I know several firms personally that are working to adopt “social media policies” or social networking policies that include guidelines for employee use of collaborative web sites such as Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and blogs — both for personal and professional use.

The best resource I’ve found to help tackle the drafting of a firm policy is from Jaffe Associates. They offer a Social Media Policy Template that will provide you with a giant step in the right direction. You can download the template for your own use.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

Thinking Seriously About Social Media

Before this blog settled in on law firm marketing topics, it was more of a new media blog. Whether you love Twitter or hate it, here are a couple recent posts that take a bigger view of social media and explain why we should pay attention to these tools and how they are shaping our lives and events. Check them out.

Clay Shirky: How Twitter Can Make History

Q&A with Clay Shirky on Twitter and Iran

Posted in New Media / Internet

Am Law 200 Is Out for 2009

The American Lawyer has published its annual listing of the top 200 law firms. They slice and dice it a few ways — by gross revenue, revenue per lawyer, profits per partner…

You’ll need to be a registered user to read much of the information, however, the lead article below is accessible to all. It reveals that conventional legal marketing wisdom hasn’t necessarily been the road to success during this economic downturn.

Where the Work Was
It wasn’t in New York — or at Am Law 100 firms. Think middle markets and out-of-favor practice areas.
The American Lawyer
By Amy Kolz
June 01, 2009

Reports of their demise, it turns out, were premature. For years, the regional firms that constitute much of the Second Hundred were told that they were exactly the wrong size: too big to compete with the narrow focus of boutiques and too small to match The Am Law 100’s national footprints and marquee names. But last year, as the financial sector began its meltdown, the Second Hundred’s slow-growth strategies were vindicated.

Read full article here: Where the work was.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

Ten Easy Ways to Improve Your Law Firm Web Site — On The Cheap

webFor many law firms, a full web site redesign is a luxury not currently possible. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on every effort to improve your web site. Below is a list of 10 ways to make your current site work better for your firm. See how many of these you can accomplish. And, if you have additional tips — specific ways you’ve improved your current web site — please use the comment feature on this post to add yours. Thanks!

1. Update Attorney Bios. Make sure your attorney bios are up to date. Highlight recent significant experience, link to recent articles and seminars, and update any memberships, board positions, and attorney accolades. Attorney bios are the most read pages on any law firm site, so make sure they are up to date and that they effectively position your attorneys for the types of work that they are currently pursuing.

2. Update Attorney Photos. Are your attorney bios an asset or a liability? Using a good professional photographer who can retouch photos to present attorneys at their best is a worthwhile investment.

3. Rewrite Practice Area Descriptions. Chances are your practices and the type of work you emphasize has changed since your web site went live. Also, make sure you highlight some of your most recent, relevant experience in the types of work that you most covet — even if in a quick list of bullets. Be sure list the services you offer in the vernacular of your clients and their needs, not in lawyer speak. Remember that people come to your web site, often on a recommendation, to see if you are indeed a good fit for their needs. Make sure your web pages give them what they are looking for.

4. Clean Out The Closets. Eliminate information that is out of date, such as news releases about attorneys who are no longer with the firm, and fix or eliminate broken links. Mine the archives and take old articles out of circulation, and/or update and recycle them by republishing the updated version. Don’t let your web visitors find skeletons in your closet. Show that your house is in order.

5. Rewrite the Directions Page. Add better directions to your offices and create a page (or pages) that can be easily printed out for driving directions that includes all important information such as address, phone numbers, etc. Provide links to popular mapping sites such as Google Maps so visitors can get additional location information. For many, using the directions to your offices from your web site will be their very first interaction with your firm — make sure it is a good one!

6. Add Metadata. Add meaningful and unique “metadata” to each page of the web site, especially page titles and page descriptions to better position your site’s information for search engines.

7. Update Images. You can easily change the look of your site without redesigning it, simply by replacing the images used in your current design. If your site’s images have grown stale or don’t represent the look you want, you may be able to create new images at the same size and proportion as the old ones, and simply replace them for a brand new look.

8. Edit for Clarity and Conciseness. Take a look at all the language on your web site. Can you say it better? Shorter? Use more specific examples? Break up long blocks of text into smaller paragraphs, and use subheads to break up information and make it easier to scan. And, while you’re at it, edit to make sure the messaging on the web site is up to date with the messaging your lawyers are using in pitching their services.

9. Add an Informational Offer. Give away some free information that will help establish or confirm your expertise in a given area. For instance, a booklet on “Questions and Answers on Trademarks,” an online quiz on “Licensing for Video Game Developers,” or a PDF pamphlet on “What You Need To Know About Medical Malpractice Law in Vermont.” Doing so engages the visitor, and brings them one step closer to doing business with you. And once you have developed an informational product you can then leverage it in your print advertising and other integrated marketing programs.

10. Add More News. Show what your attorneys are up to by adding more news to your web site. Articles about attorney awards, speaking engagements, recent articles and press coverage will help to demonstrate the specific expertise of your attorneys and keep your site looking fresh in the eyes of both visitors and search engines.

See more articles on improving your web site on my Infoworks! site.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

Martindale Hubbell Blown to Bits?

I can’t offer my own opinion on Martindale-Hubbell Connected — the Lexis Nexis venture into bringing its traditional directory product into the world of social networking and Web 2.0 and regain some relevance in the realm of lawyer shopping — because it is a closed system and I haven’t been able to see how it works. (Isn’t a non-open system breaking rule #1 of Web 2.0?) But Doug Cornelius and Kevin O’Keefe, two web savvy lawyers, bloggers, Linkedin guys, Tweeters (you get the idea) have a few things to say about their experiences with Martindale’s Connected product over on Kevin’s blog. Read:

Martindale – Hubbell Connected : Will it go anywhere?

And here’s the direct link to Cornelius’ thoughtful post:

Martindale-Hubbell Connected – My Thoughts

In fairness to Martindale Hubbell, the system is still in Beta. But it has been making very slow progress. It reminds me of the saga of the Encyclopedia Britannica ($2,200, 20-volume set) and how it was paradigm shafted by Microsoft’s Encarta CD-ROM (ultimately a free bundled product) as told by Philip Evans and Thomas S. Wurster in Blown to Bits: How the New Economy of Information Transforms Strategy.

Posted in Books, Law Firm Marketing, New Media / Internet

Twitter Explained (1 funny, 1 serious)

Thanks to the Wired GC for finding this one.

That pretty much says it all. My own experience with Twitter is that I’ve been on it for a few months and haven’t really figured out a good way to use it. The only benefit I have found so far is to drive some “uninterested traffic” to some of my web projects. So, then, what’s the benefit? Exactly. However, I do believe that sometimes you just have to jump into/onto these platforms and figure them out as you go. After being on for a while now, this week I feel I am reaching a threshold of sorts, a critical mass thing, or a tipping point… Each time I tweet this week, I’m getting more and more followers. Or maybe it’s just the hysteria.

All this being said… follow me on Twitter!

Updated March 7: Carolyn Elefant does a much more thoughtful job describing Twitter in her post: To Twitter or Not To Twitter? That Is the Question for Lawyers

See also: An older funny Jon Stewart bit about Blogs on TV.

Posted in Marketing, New Media / Internet

Must Read: Trust-based Business Development in a Recession

Below, I’ve indexed 5 day’s worth of excellent blog tracks left by the seminar last week on Trust-based Business Development in a Recession from Trusted Advisor Associates a.k.a. Charles H. Green et al. I found it a little difficult to access the full 5 days in order, so I am linking to each day’s post here to ensure that more people get to read this great stuff — make yourself one of them! : )

Day 1 – Trust-based Business Development in a Recession

Day 2 – Principle 1, Client Focus

Day 3 – Principle 2, Collaboration

Day 4 – Principle 3, Long-Term and Relationship Focus

Day 5 – Principle 4, Transparency

Wrap-up: 62 Sales Tips for a Recession – Based on Trust

Posted in Law Firm Marketing, Marketing

12 Tips on Contrarian Consulting

I enjoyed finding these 12 tips from “contrarian consultant” Alan Weiss. Just another list of how to be the kind of advisor that clients gladly pay to work with, but with an off-beat resonance that’s memorable. Some of his contrarian concepts”

  • “never focus on a sale”
  • “there’s no such thing as an elevator pitch”
  • “ignore unsolicited feedback”

Link here to view these ideas in context.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing, Marketing

What A Successful Marketing/Business Development Team Looks Like

The latest article on my pet project Legal Marketing Reader is now live. Getting Marketing and Business Development on the Same Page, authored by Robert Buday, Bernie Thiel, Susan Buddenbaum, and Tim Parker (from the Bloom Group and the Alterra Group), maps out how business development and marketing folks can be more effective through collaboration and distinct roles.

The issue, they say, boils down to this:

“Regardless of their marketing and business development models, most professional firms are not playing the same game on the same team, using the same game plan, or keeping the same scorecard. By game plan, we mean they aren’t pitching the same services and bringing the same “point of view” to market at the same time.”

Clearly, collaboration is critical to marketing and business development effectiveness. But how?

Solving the problem, they say, begins with creating a multidisciplinary team that is organized around a specific campaign that brings to market one point of view at a time.

The team for the most successful firms looks something like this:

  • A marketing generalist skilled in managing large-scale programs and events who can act as the overall project manager of the campaign
  • Editors and writers who are experienced in communicating management concepts and writing about them in a compelling way
  • A public relations professional who can communicate the point of view to appropriate media and analysts
  • Digital media experts who can leverage Internet-oriented channels
  • Business developers who sell services covered by the campaign or who can act as a liaison to the broader business development community
  • Fee-earning professionals who are knowledgeable about the content on which the campaign is based

For a wonderfully in depth explanation of this approach, based on their own research, please check out the full article here: Law Firms: Getting Marketing and Business Development on the Same Page.

In tough times, it is the firms that invest in integrated marketing systems that will benefit in the long run.

As the editor of Legal Marketing Reader, I send the authors at big “Thank You!” for contributing this article.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing Tagged with: ,

More on What Other Firms Are Doing

From Tom Fishburne’s This One Time, At Brand Camp – TomFishburne.com
Published with permission.

See also, previous post: Marketing Budgets in 2009: What Other Firms Are Doing

Posted in Law Firm Marketing, Marketing

Marketing Budgets in 2009: What Other Firms Are Doing

One thing I’ve noticed having traveled in legal marketing circles for several years is that lawyers LOVE to know the answer to this question: “What are other firms doing?” So to help answer that burning inquiry, I am posting this quick article pointer to:

As firms cut marketing, others see opportunity
By Karen Sloan, Staff Reporter
National Law Journal

In the article Sloan states that while some firms will be cutting marketing department budgets, other firms “plan to maintain or increase the amount they spend on marketing in 2009 in an attempt to add clients and bolster their brand while their competitors pull back.”

To read the article, click on: law firm marketing budgets 2009.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

Large Law Firms Getting Serious About Value? An Introduction to The ACC Value Challenge

There is a move afoot in the legal industry to get serious about a topic that’s been batted around again and again with no real change in behavior. The topic? Alternative billing, moving away from the billable hour, flat-fee services — whatever you want to call it, it is the move to reconnect value to legal services fees. The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is leading the movement, called the ACC Value Challenge. And its best friend has been the growing economic crisis. Susan Hackett, ACC senior vice president and general counsel, introduced attendees to the concept at the New England Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association‘s annual conference last week in Boston. Here’s my report.

The ACC Challenge started taking shape over the last year or so, said Hackett and the economy has certainly created the “perfect storm” effect. “It’s not that we are operating out of fear because of what the marketplace brings us,” said Hackett, “but it is certainly an opportunity — a perfect time to meet the value challenge head on.”

“There has been a disconnect between firms and clients for years,” said Hackett. “What we are trying to do is reconnect value and cost.”

In-house departments have had significant success lowering their costs, while outside costs continue to rise 6- to 7-percent per year, sometimes more.” With all the talk about alternative billing arrangements,” said Hackett, “the amount of work billed not on an hourly basis is less than 5 percent.”

The work of the ACC Value Challenge is bringing together the two sides in very structured environments to work out a solution that serves both sides. She shared some of the comments from sessions to date that help to illustrate the disconnect.

An in-house opinion:

“As a manager of my client’s legal spend, I can no longer authorize work from $350/hour associates who are stunningly inexperienced and unsupervised, and who are looking to meet their firm’s unrealistic billing targets by rotating in and out of our work. If you gave me an associate who’d stay with my work, become expert in my matters, and develop into a leading lawyer for us, I’d gladly authorize that; but I’m not paying a legion of associates whose primary contributions are to other clients’ work and the firm’s outrageous profits per partner ratings.”

A outside counsel opinion:

“In-house counsel talk a big game about wanting alternative fees and arrangements when they bid out work, but whenever we propose an innovative way to staff or bill their project, they either select the legacy firm that proposed the same old hourly rate any way, or they come back to us and say they like the idea, but how about we just give them a 10% fee cut instead.”

One of the big sticking points is the cost of associates. As an aside, Hackett explained that a first-year associate can cost a firm $450,000 before they start their first day of work. The ACC Value Challenge concentrates a lot on the associate class. Hackett has been working on getting the word out about The ACC Challenge which she sees as a 10-year project. She sees it playing out practice group by practice group, where certain commodity-type legal services, such as single-matter employment litigation matters, can be subjected to closer historical cost analysis by the firm and the client to determine the actual costs of the average job — and then those in the market can move to charge that price (fixed fee) or better it.

Clients generally express no problems with a $1,000-an-hour partner who is worth it and who can answer the question in 20 minutes, but they do have a problem with a $350-an-hour associate who has no experience and spends hour after hour reinventing work that’s been done countless times in the firm or elsewhere.

“The in-house community is electrified on this issue,” said Hackett who has been working with corporate counsel for 20 years. She also made it clear that in-house can blame only themselves. “The client owns this problem,” said Hackett, “the billable hour was created by the client.” She further declared, “Clients are now ready to fix the problem…” and asked the Boston legal marketers, “where is your firm going to be?”

For more information on the ACC Value Challenge, how to participate, and tools for your firm, see the web site.

Small firm reaction

It is interesting to note that after the presentation at the cocktail reception, I spoke with several colleagues who are marketing directors from small and mid-sized firms who said (roughly paraphrased),

“We are already doing these things (respective to alternative billing and value billing, and eliminating entry-level associates), but clients continue to hire the legacy firms and opt for the familiar.”

Just more evidence of the disconnect.

UPDATED 1/13/09: Here’s a related podcast from the LegalTalkNetwork where Paul D. Boynton Esq., interviews the ACC’s Susan Hackett about the Value Challenge… click to listen. listen to the mp3

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

Attention Boston-area Nonprofits: Win a Free Web Site Makeover!

If you know of a good nonprofit organization in Boston with a bad web site, then please tell them about Extreme Markover, an effort to give away one free web site redesign to a Boston-area nonprofit.

Extreme Markover is a partnership of the World Organization of Webmasters (WOW), a not-for-profit professional association that provides education and support for web professionals; Web Design World, a web-design conference that takes place at the Westin Copley on December 8-10; and Bizland, a website-hosting company.

I attend Web Design World each year and can vouch for the quality of their presenters and experts and the leadership they provide in the web design world (hey, no pun intended!).

Here’s more information on the free redesign from the official press release.

“We’re calling it the Extreme Markover,” said Bill Cullifer, executive director of WOW, “and our goal is to provide a deserving non-profit organization with a website that showcases today’s best design practices, which is exactly what WOW and the Web Design World conference strive to teach.”

Boston-area nonprofit organizations are invited to submit their existing site for consideration by going to the Extreme Markover site (www.extrememarkover.org). A panel including some of the world’s top web designers will review the sites and choose one for the makeover. Selected WOW members will then implement the design, and designers everywhere can follow along through frequent podcast interviews, tutorial articles, and more.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, November 24.

Posted in Communication Tips, Marketing

Law Firms Feel Strain of Layoffs and Cutbacks

Just a quick article pointer to NYTimes story… wanted to add it to the mix.

Law Firms Feel Strain of Layoffs and Cutbacks

By JONATHAN D. GLATER
Published: November 12, 2008
Some established firms have collapsed outright, others are laying off by the hundreds, and others still are seeking mergers with larger firms to try and weather the storm.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

Listen to Lawyers Talk about Experiences with Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook

It seems that social networking is reaching a tipping point — everybody’s doing it. And yet, lawyers are still wary as a group. To learn more about what lawyers are thinking about and doing with these online networking tools, listen to Legal Talk Network’s Lawyer2Lawyer podcast: Social media, Twitter and law firms, with co-hosts J. Craig Williams and Robert Ambrogi. I’m still listening to it as I write this… some good concerns being discussed such as maintaining professional brand on personal networking sites, indirect vs. direct marketing benefits, will Twitter replace blogs? and more… Listen up! Listen up

UPDATE Sept. 12, 2008: Thanks to my Linkedin profile: Amy Campbell, and my weekly e-mail from the Legal Blogging Group, I came across this useful post by Darren Rowse from TwiTip: Defining Twitter Goals: A Tip for Successful Use of Twitter. Check out TwiTip for more great Twitter tips.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing, New Media / Internet

Free Chapter on Business Development for Lawyers

A free chapter from the book, Legal Business Development – A Step by Step Guide by Jim Hassett, Ph.D., is now available on Legal Marketing Reader. The chapter is Six Facts About New Business and it boils down some fundamentals about selling and relationships that they didn’t teach you in law school. I could list the 6 facts here as a shortcut to your learning… but I’m afraid that would instead be a short sell.

I encourage any attorney or law marketing professional to give it a read as it is a great example of the simple and practical advice that is evident throughout Jim’s book. The chapter comes with lots of examples and a couple of exercises to boot.

Check it out at Six Facts About New Business — What Every Lawyer Needs To Know.

Related post: Business Development Pipeline Is “The Missing Link” of Law Firm Marketing

Buy the book here.

Posted in Books, Law Firm Marketing

Women Lawyers – Take This Survey

I received an e-mail from Catherine MacDonagh of the Legal Sales and Service Organization about its 2008 Women Lawyers Study, which attempts to assess the professional experiences and working lives of female attorneys with specific focus on business development practices and performance. So I’m posting about it here to help get the word out.

Take the Women Lawyers Survey

The survey findings will be unveiled at the ABA Women Rainmakers Workshop in October. Take the survey at this zoomerang link. And then send the link to as many women lawyers you know.

LSSO’s previous study conducted in 2003, was the first to explore sales and business development issues for women lawyers and identified keys to business development success. For more information on the study, go to www.legalsales.org.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

ABA Survey Says: Lawyers Still Slow to Adopt Technology

A nice article in the ABA Journal Law News Now, summarizes some interesting findings of the ABA’s annual Legal Technology Survey Report. With some nifty graphics (like the one below) the article states,

“The survey, based on responses from approximately 850 lawyers nationwide, shows that websites and e-mail newsletters are still the digital way that most at­torneys stay current with the news.”

… and that only a small minority read or publish blogs. To see the full article, go to: Web 2.0 Still a No-go. To learn more about the report, go to: 2008 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report.

Related post from last year: Lawyers Slow To Embrace Blogs ABA Tech Survey Says

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

You Had Me at Hello: Shortcuts to Trust

On a somewhat similar theme to my previous post (Was It Good for You?) — Charles H. Green (the guru of trust and co-author of the The Trusted Advisor) published this article on RainToday.com, You Had Me at Hello: 9 Ways to Quickly Gain Trust During the Sales Process, that provides some shortcuts to trust. While Green admits that trust takes time, he also offers some advice for using the sales process itself to establish trust from the get go in 3 of the 4 important foundations that add up to long-term trust.

He offers this formula for creating trust:

  • “Trustworthiness = (Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy) / Self-Orientation”

For three of these variables, says Green, you can start creating trust from the first meeting. Only reliability is totally reliant on time. While time enhances all variables, Green offers specific advice on how to get off to a good start in creating credibility, initmacy and self-orientation. Highly recommended reading! Check it out here.

In addition to reading the original article, also be sure to check out Green’s comment to this post.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing, Marketing

Was It Good for You?

Are you pleasing your client? Asking them directly may not be the best way to get a straight answer. Rather, deepening the relationship by learning what their needs and expectations are is a better way to go. Much has been written on this topic by legal marketers, but when it comes from the mouth of GCs it’s better advice.

In GC’s Pet Peeves, Michael C. Ross of GC California Magazine, canvassed some current and former GCs, and comes up with these peeves that continue to bother in-house counsel:

  • quality,
  • service,
  • cost, and
  • relationship issues.

Wow. Those are real basics. The article findings suggest that attorneys who think they are satisfying their clients, had better think again.

If outside counsel still aren’t pleasing their clients, that’s a hopeful situation for those who want to make an impression. How to accomplish it? One way, writes Ed Poll in Law Practice Today, is client status reports. According to Poll, client communication is synonymous with client satisfaction. Read Status Symbol: Status Reports Illustrate the Collaboration that Builds Client Loyalty for a quick guide on how to define and structure the conversation that builds trust, loyalty and satisfaction.

Posted in Law Firm Marketing