Wolf Greenfield Holiday Card ROCKS

Wolf_greenfield_2005_card300You just know you're in for a treat when the envelope from Wolf Greenfield from says, "Here we go with another holiday card."  This is the same firm that last year sent out a Mad magazine fold-in card drawn by cartoonist Al Jaffee (see Wolf Greenfield Goes MAD With Holiday Greetings).

For 2004 the firm, with 60 lawyers specializing in intellectual property law, mailed out a tongue-in-cheek card taking off on Sports Illustrated, with a cover story on "The Law of Gravity" -- just what you want a law firm to explain to you...gravity.

The table of contents shows hilarious spoof titles like, "Pucking the Trend -- Lost teeth replaced with Bluetooth, by Y. Earl Ess," "Bye Bye Birdie - The rush behind extreme badminton by Jim Naseum," and a departments including "Bucky Balls."  Credits included "subliminal photo: Rover X. Posed" and "cover flap photo: I. Seymour."  The publisher's statement at the bottom starts out with "This is the place where all of the scary legal words appear. This card is a parody intended for good humor (No, not the ice cream.)"

I just know that Sally* A. Crocker, Director of Client Services, (617.573.7831 and sara.crocker@wolfgreenfield.com) and Marketing Manager Audra Callanan (617.573.7968 and acallanan@wolfgreenfield.com) were laughing themselves silly as they came up with this uproarious and highly-effective direct mail piece.  Whatever the firm pays them in salaries, it isn't nearly enough for their level of skill.

The outside back cover has an ad for PowerNog, which "Replenishes the Nutmeg & Cinnamon Your Body Craves."  But it is inside where the firm shows that it not only has humor, but heart. A pull-quote in a box states: "They say it: May the spirit of this wondrous season be yours now and throughout the New Year."

*only the cops call her Sara.


What will the legal profession look like in 20 years?

I just participated in an interesting survey: What will the legal profession look like in 20 years?  Here are my predictions.  I invite disagreement, comments and applause.

1. What will be most different about the practice of law twenty years from now? Why?

The Federal Trade Commission will assert its authority over all the professions including law. It will find that the Rules of Professional responsibility are a restraint on trade and will use its power under to Commerce Clause to nullify all state ethics rules. The impetus for this change will be a major scandal, like the Enron scandal which brought down the accounting profession. There will be a public outcry that the legal industry is unable to police itself and the profession will lose the privilege of setting its own ethics rules. All limitations on practicing in different states will be struck down as a restraint of trade; there will be a national bar exam that admits attorneys to practice in any jurisdiction. This will be a boon to law firm marketing - as lawyers will be able to use all commercial means available to promote themselves in any jurisdiction.

2. Will the billable hour still be king in twenty years? If not, what will replace it?

No. Law firms will have a "rate card" and offer services as "products" - for example, a set price for a motion to dismiss or a fixed transaction price to acquire a business. All services will be priced on a fixed-fee basis, with the option to charge an extra hourly fee only if a service takes more time than specified in the rate card. This will be the result of a union of corporate counsel that is formed to promulgate the Uniform Legal Services Price Code (ULSPC). Law firms that do not conform to the ULSPC will have to justify the difference in rates.

3. What will law firms look like in twenty years? Mega firms, virtual organizations, or what?

There will be a major consolidation of law firms, with the mega-firms buying up practices in all the financial centers. Most law firms in the AmLaw 100 list will have offices in each of the largest major business markets in the US (including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Detroit, Dallas, Phoenix, Baltimore, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Columbus, Washington, DC and Boston). Smaller law firms will survive, either as regional general practice firms for consumers, specialty boutiques or plaintiff personal injury firms.

4. Will computers replace most of what lawyers do in twenty years? If so, how and what will be left for lawyers?

Most business firms will use decision-making software that helps litigation clients decide if it is worthwhile going to court after all. The Pinsents' and the Wragge law firms in London is already using such systems, called 'Reaching Solutions', that In some cases, the client will decide that the risk is not worthwhile, saving the client money. Similarly, budgeting software will accurately project the legal cost of transactions, such as acquiring a business, licensing trademarks, or making financial transactions. Specialist lawyers will actually carry out the litigation or transaction work. All filing with courts and government agencies will be done electronically. Documents will be exchanged in online portals or extranets. Meetings will be held entirely by video conference.

5. Will the trend toward internationalization of law firms increase over the next twenty years? Will it engulf even the small firms?

With the globalization of the economy, law firms will develop global connections. Research may be done in India, transcript summaries may be done in the Philippines and document preparation will be done in Mexico. Law firms will become virtual operations, with many attorneys working remotely, connected to a central office by fax, email, the Web and phone. When lawyers visit the central office, they will need to reserve an office and secretary for a specified time period. This will put lawyers closer to clients and save law firms the huge expense of office leases. In many ways this will level the playing field between mega-firms and small law firms.

6. What technology change (existing or coming) will most affect law practices? Why?

Existing technology will free lawyers to work like entrepreneurs - they will be able to practice anywhere they have a phone, Internet connection and nearby airport. Changes in the ethics rules will allow them to advise clients and market their practices in any state. Clients will be able to search for lawyers using free online databases, which will show the lawyer's track record (now available in Thomson Legal Record), location (now available via AOL and Yahoo), industry familiarity, list of other clients and rate card.

Firm Laissez le bon Temps Roulez for clients

Kean_miller_holiday_package300_3 Cranes in the bayou. Hot sauce on your gumbo.  Moss hanging from plantation oak trees.  These are images of Louisiana that the good ole boys at the law firm of Kean Miller have cooked up clients and friends for the holidays.

With more than 100 lawyers, Kean Miller Hawthorne D'Armond McCowan & Jarman LLP has offices in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lake Charles and Plaquemine, Louisiana.  Lucky are the clients who get the Taste of Louisiana Legal Services package, which includes:

  • A praline. (Not pictured because I ate it immediately.)
  • Zatarain's crab boil seasoning.
  • Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning.
  • McIlhenny's green jalapeno Tabasco sauce (milder than the red version).
  • Zapp's spicy Cajun crawtators potato chips.
  • Community Coffee Company ground coffee with chicory.
  • Cajun Stuff-it capsule to spice meat dishes.

Woven into the margins of the colorful brochure that comes with the goodies are succulent marketing messages like, "We serve clients in numerous industries including energy, oil & gas, petrochemicals, chemical, information, technology, banking..."

The southern soul behind the holiday mailer is Director of Client Services Steven Boutwell (reachable at 225.389.3736 and steve.boutwell@keanmiller.com). Each tasty page depicts partners of the firm hugging their kids, grilling onions and mixing bloody Mary cocktails.  The package brilliantly brands the firm with the local flavor and markets the lawyers as friendly and approachable.  I'm ready to catch the next flight to join them.

The message is clear: when you think of old houses with wrought-iron balconies, B.B. King making a guitar howl or alligators in the swamps -- and you need a lawyer -- think of Kean Miller.


CPAs Adopt Families for their Holiday Message

Text of the firm's letter:

Dear Clients and Associates:

For the past several years, our firm has chosen to adopt families less fortunate in lieu of sending holiday gifts and cards. This year, we have adopted four families. These particular families face not only economic hardships, but include victims of abuse and severe handicaps.

As we reflect upon 2004 and go into the holiday season, we count among our many blessings our relationship with you. We appreciate the confidence you have shown in us, and we look forward to working with you in 2005.

In the true spirit of this special season, we sincerely thank you for your friendship. Our best wishes to you, and your family, for happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

The Principals and Associates at DiGiovine, Hnilo, Jordan & Johnson, Ltd.

Instead of just giving money to an organization, DiGiovine, Hnilo, Jordan & Johnson, Ltd., a CPA firm in midwestern Naperville, Illinois, has been adopting families for seven years during the holidays.  The firm has a total staff of 47 with approximately 26 who are CPAs.
"Everyone usually contributes and I receive one check from the firm itself," said Annmarie Siwik, Director of Marketing at DHJJ (630.420.1360 X 225 and asiwik@dhjj.com). "I find the families, which can be from nonprofit service clubs, police department social workers, county offices and churches.  I talk to a family member (usually a single Mom) or the social worker and obtain the wish list along with clothing sizes." 
Dhjj_logo_2"I collect the money, do all the shopping.  Everyone helps with wrapping."
She keeps everyone posted as to what she learns about each family.  For example, one family this year was found through a social worker at the police department--a single mom with three children, ages 1, 3 and 6.  They were currently not living in their home because of an abusive situation.  They had no toys and are were in need of winter clothing, because the father has been in jail twice because of the abuse. 
"The more info I give out, the more employees feel part of the program and they increase their giving," she said.  Besides gifts, grocery cards, respite home certificates (for handicapped children), the firm also buys gas or Walmart cards. 
Siwik sends out a letter about the program on holiday paper to firm clients and referral sources.  The response is very positive.  "Some of our clients and referral sources have even offered to pitch in for the gifts because they think it is such a great program," she said. Comments from clients and referral sources include:
"We are impressed with your adopt-a-family program.  We would like to know more so our company can do this."  Siwik said the client has set up its own adopt-a-family program and actually has copied parts of the DHJJ holiday letter.
"Thank you for giving back to our community.  Who needs more candy or fruit cake anyway!"
"Your holiday letter touched our hearts.  How can we contribute?  We would also like to make a difference."

The firm Web site says, "We believe in giving back to our community.  Every member of our team is encouraged to not only support but become actively involved in various organizations."  The site lists 45 charities it supports.  DHJJ has been providing accounting, tax and consulting services to closely-held businesses and entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. See http://www.dhjj.com/.


LexisNexis Acquires Interface CRM Software

Lexisnexis_logoLexisNexis has acquired Oak Brook, IL-based Interface Software, Inc., the leading provider of client relationship management (CRM) products to professional services firms in the US, UK and Australia.

Reed Elsevier, parent company of LexisNexis, will acquire all outstanding shares of the privately held Interface Software.  Current officers, management team and employees of Interface Software will remain at the Oak Brook, Illinois location. Terms of the agreement are not disclosed, but clearly some owners of Interface stock are now millionaires.

"This acquisition reinforces our ongoing commitment to provide law firms and other professional services organizations, with a complete portfolio of products and services that help them manage their businesses for growth and a better return on investment," said Lou Andreozzi, chief executive officer and president, LexisNexis North American Legal Markets.

Interface_logo"Customers will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this deal," said Nathan Fineberg, chief executive officer and president of Interface Software.  "By combining the relationship intelligence capabilities of our market-leading CRM platform, InterAction®, with superb content from LexisNexis, we can deliver the types of client development solutions that firms need to drive revenues, enhance client service and differentiate themselves from the competition."

Combination of major businesses

LexisNexis® does business in 100 countries with 13,000 employees worldwide. In addition to its Web-based Lexis and Nexis research services, the company includes legal publishers such as Martindale-Hubbell, Matthew Bender, Butterworths, Les Editions du JurisClasseur, Abeledo-Perrot and Orac. See www.lexisnexis.com.

Interface Software's InterAction provides the relationship intelligence that law firms use to strengthen and leverage client relationships, manage matters effectively and enhance marketing activities. More than 70 percent of the largest law firms in the U.S. (the "AmLaw 100") and 38 percent of the United Kingdom top 50 law firms rely on InterAction. Interface Software has enjoyed consistent growth since the launch of InterAction in 1996.  The company has been profitable since 2002.

Interface Software has received numerous accolades, including the Inc 500, the Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 50 for Greater Chicagoland, the Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 500 and the Upside Hot 100. For more information please visit Interface Software's Web site at, http://www.interfacesoftware.com.

"The InterAction CRM platform is another important step in the LexisNexis strategy to provide its customers with products that go beyond our comprehensive Total Research System," said Andreozzi. Lexis Nexis has also acquired Time Matters and Billing Matters workflow software and the Applied Discovery ® Web-based electronic discovery services.

The acquisition brings two strong brands together to supply the premium products and services critical to the success of other professional service firms. As a leading global provider of original and aggregated content, LexisNexis delivers a diverse spectrum of corporate intelligence from more than 24,000 news and business sources. Interface Software has achieved significant traction in the consulting, venture capital, private equity, investment banking, accounting and other professional service vertical markets.

Happy Holidays from One Crazy Guy to Another

Stonefield_josephson_cardHere's the holiday card that the CPA firm Stonefield, Josephson sent to clients, along with the business card of firm president Jeff Garrison. 

You gotta love it -- nothing boring about this holiday greeting. You open up the card and it says, "We wish you a prosperous and advernturous New Year" and it depicts a man jogging outdoors with his dog.

"We pay attention" is their tagline, according to Chief Marketing Officer Lyne Noella (tel: 310.566.4327 and lnoella@sjaccounting.com).

They are a California-based certified public accounting and business advisory firm founded in 1975. Their 100-person firm serves public and privately held clients throughout the United States and internationally.  This is the same firm that sends out brochures and runs ads featuring a smiling man astride a huge Harley-Davidson motorcycle, taking a break in front of palm trees on a beach.  And this is a campaign to promote auditing services to corporate auditing committees!

Targeted to public companies, the campaign won Stonefield Josephson the "Outstanding Marketing Initiative Award of 2004" by the Leading Edge Alliance at the association's annual meeting, held in San Francisco in October 2004. Leading Edge Alliance awards recognize excellence in various areas such as leadership, marketing and innovation. The Leading Edge Alliance is composed of 50 independently owned accounting and consulting firms located in major markets in the United States of America and internationally.

For more about this uninhibted accounting firm, see http://www.sjaccounting.com.


Holiday Card Benefits Children's Home

2004_holiday_card_2 The Gunderson, Palmer, Goodsell & Nelson, LLP law firm in Rapid City, South Dakota, teamed up with the Black Hills Children's Home to create a holiday card for clients of the firm.

According to Marketing Director Tracy Manning Egge the 20-lawyer firm held an art contest for residents of the home.  From 28 entries, a design by a 12-year old resident was selected for the firm card.

The firm is also selling sets of note cards with the design at $10 per set, with all proceeds going to the Children's Home.  In addition to doing good deeds during holiday time, the firm got favorable coverage about the cards from the local newspaper.  To buy a set of cards, contact Tracy at 605.342,1078 ext. 182 or TManningEgge@gpgnlaw.com.

Gunderson, Palmer, Goodsell & Nelson, LLP has provided a full range of legal services for over 30 years and is one of the largest and most widely known law firms in Western South Dakota.  The Children's Home provides a home, school and therapy for children, ages 4-13, with emotional and behavioral problems; and emergency shelter services and counseling for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse.


Most Clever Holiday Mailer EVER

The December 27, 2004 Minneapolis Star Tribune covered the story too. See "Law firm pushes gift ideas" by John Reinan, online at http://www.startribune.com/stories/346/5153206.html.

Departing radically from the traditional holiday greeting card, attorneys Parsinen Kaplan Rosberg & Gotlieb in Minneapolis sent a firm holiday catalog to 4,300 clients and friends of the firm. It was an effort to humanize the firm's 30 attorneys, and it succeeds wonderfully.

Pkrg_one_1 The 14-page catalog is a fun and clever piece that displays firm attorneys in hilarious poses recommending their favorite holiday gifts, from $25 to $25,000.

It includes associate Lynn Archer, an ESOP attorney, recommending natural tinted lip balm, litigator Lindsay Beck advocating shoes in pink satin, and partner Sid Kaplan appreciating the bling-bling of a large Harley-Davidson (bring the catalog to the dealer and you'll get 15% off on in-stock Harley clothes and collectibles).  I love it!

The piece arrived in client mailboxes on the Monday before Thanksgiving and is receiving much acclaim. Every attorney at the firm has gotten calls and emails from clients about it. The entire campaign, which includes ads and an event, is expected to be featured in the Star Tribune newspaper.

Pkrg_two PKRG Marketing Director Mary Kay Ziniewicz was the mastermind. Her creative team included the GDB agency for design and layout, photography by Mark Luinenburg of Luinenburg Photography and production by MSP Communications.

The catalog reinforces the firm's branding message "not your average attorneys" and accurately depicts the firm's culture. The attorneys at PKRG are willing to be leaders in the professional services industry and take risks. The catalog serves several branding goals including:

  • Humanizing the attorneys.
  • Building an on-going alliance with clients -- Delano Sports Center, Donahue Harley-Davidson, and NOW! magazine, produced by MSP Communications. The bike (see below) is on display in the firm's lobby as well as in NOW! magazine.
  • Demonstrating how the 40+ generation is influencing the marketplace.
  • Co-branding with local businesses.

Pkrg_threeThe catalog shows that attorneys at PKRG clearly take an interest in their clients and their clients' businesses. The attorneys regularly receive trend updates that affect their clients and they alert them to industry trends.

You can reach Mary Kay Ziniewicz at 612-342-0329 and mziniewicz@parlaw.com.