Are You a Go-to Lawyer?

Dan_dilucchio135This lawyer has tons of business.  A corporation's "'go to lawyer' knows how to think like a businessperson, and he understands the business side's legal needs.  Most importantly: He's considered a part of the executive team," writes Daniel J. DiLucchio on p. 61 of the June 2006 issue of Corporate Counsel magazine.

A go-to lawyer is a lawyer whom corporate business executives want to work with -- and send a lot of billable work.  An excellent business development technique is to become a go-to lawyer.  Here's the advice of DiLucchio, who is a principal with Altman Weil, Inc. in Newtown Square, PA:

  • Go-to lawyers, over time, can bond with executives in ways that lead to being considered a part of the business team.
  • Go-to lawyers keep up with the law, convey a firm grasp of their legal specialty and can communicate in a practical way.
  • They grasp the company's strategic issues -- by knowing the client's competitors and how they affect the company.
  • Go-to lawyers are business thinkers -- they don't just know the law, they know what to with it.
  • They "put some skin in the game" and share risks with the client. They give clients an idea of what the chances of success are.
  • Go-to lawyers have "a strong work ethic and sense of urgency."

In contrast are the loser lawyers, the "naysayers."  These marketing failures:

  • Find that the easiest and safest answer to a client question is to say "no."
  • Haven't learned much about the company or the business environment
  • Requests go into his firm, but nothing comes back out.
  • Doesn't return phone calls.
  • Let their legal skills go stale.

Which raises the question: What kind of lawyer are you? A go-to lawyer?


Accounting Firm Hires Celebrity Spokesman

Torre Demonstrating how much more advanced accounting firms are in marketing compared with law firms, the J.H. Cohn accounting firm hired New York Yankees manager Joe Torre to be their celebrity spokesman.

"Joe Torre Joins The J.H. Cohn Team," proclaims the firm Web site. "Joe Torre knows all about the art of managing--and how to get results. Which is why he's a perfect fit to partner with J.H. Cohn. Because at the end of the day, it's all about having a winning strategy, an experienced consulting team and outstanding performance."

According to Inside Public Accounting, he is part of a $6 million advertising campaign that will be spread over three years.  The Roseland, N.J.-based firm has annual revenues of $143.4 million, 96 partners, 722 total staff and eight offices.

CEO Tom Marino told IPA, "Torre's name kept coming up time and time again, because he's hard-working, a quiet team player, has excellent technical skills, and takes care of his team and its constituencies.  He also embodies J.H. Cohn's geographic market: the metro New York area."

Firm ads featuring Torre appeared on mass transit displays and public phone kiosks.  Radio spots aired during drive-time shows and print ads ran in the Wall Street Journal, Crain's New York Business and CFO magazine.  they are designed to raise long-term brand awareness, not sales.

Howard_wolosky_1"It would seem that Joe Torre is a pretty safe figure to be associated with J.H. Cohn. But I wonder, as more accounting firms go this route, where will it take the profession?" asked Howard Wolosky, Executive Editor of Practical Accountant magazine. "Will there be multi-million dollar endorsement contacts with morality clauses which college athletes sign before they go pro? Maybe the accounting firms will just sign coaches and managers. But even then, there have been coaches and managers that badmouthed players, threw chairs on a basketball court, and have had terrible losing streaks. There is only one Joe Torre out there, and right now he is on J.H. Cohn's team. Or should I say at least until he declares free agency?"

Internet Service Companies Wrongly Blacklist Law Firms as Spammers

ComcastISPs, particularly Comcast in Baltimore, have been paralyzing law firm e-mail communications by wrongfully blacklisting them as spammers. Getting unblocked by an "overbearing" spam list is no simple matter. 

The Baltimore civil litigation firm Shar Rosen & Warshaw found out a few weeks ago that its e-mails to clients, witnesses and other lawyers who use Comcast as their Internet provider weren't getting through.

Several other Baltimore firms, had found itself on Comcast's list of spammers and therefore unable to get messages to Comcast customers, said Steven S. Stern of consulting firm Legal Technology Solutions. Stern said he has gotten calls from 10 firms in the last month asking him to get them off Comcast's blacklist.

The Internet is full of stories about the "Comcast blacklist" or "AOL blacklist."  The problem is that law firms are using voodoo words and are victims of overaggressive spam filers.  For the full story, visit the LawMarketing Portal.


"Non-marketing Professionals"

Lawyer We know that law firms operate with a caste system: there are the lawyers, and then there is "everybody else," who are often tarred with the term "non-lawyers."

No other profession makes this derogatory distinction.  Accounting firms don't have "non-accountants" -- they call them "team members."  Same goes for consulting, architectural and engineering firms.

I was reading an article by my colleague Suzanne Lowe and ran across the term "non-marketing professional."  She was referring to lawyers.  I think this captures the essence of us lawyers (I'm one too) perfectly.  Lawyers are like scientists in the lab.  They're happy working on projects in their cloistered practices, but are completely lost if you take them out of the lab and tell them to drum up new projects.  They're "non-marketers."

The most common complaint I hear from marketing folks is "how do I get the attorneys to market?"  They don't spend their marketing allowances, they work at their desks instead of meeting prospects for lunch, and many loathe having to press the flesh and develop personal relationships to get new business.

That's because they're "non-marketing professionals."


Search Engine Tips to Attract Visitors

The June issue of Law Office Management & Administration Report (LOMAR) has got some search engine optimization tips:

  • Change all your singular keywords to the plural form and it may significantly increase hits to your site.
  • Hotlink optimized keywords in email correspondence, press releases and other blurbs. The idea is to direct the reader back to selected areas of your law firm site.
  • Buy Google AdWords.  I was skeptical of this tip, because I've never paid for traffic, but LOMAR says it works.

Amy_campbellLOMAR also lifted more tips from Amy Campbell's web site. In her article, "Top Ten Ways To Improve Your Web Site's Search Engine Ranking" she lists:

1. Use keyword-savvy "page titles," and strategic and proper metatagging on all pages.

2. Allow search-engine robots easy access throughout your site via text links, alt-tagged navigation icons, or a site map.

3. Register your URL with major search engines, directories and specialty sites, as well as select paid directories (such as Yahoo!).

4. Use strategic home page content (keywords in context in HTML text).

5. Use hyperlinks to further weight in-text keywords.

6. Encourage in-bound links from other relevant sites to your pages.

7. Add an integrated web log to your web site.

8. Add/update content frequently. (Write dammit!)

9. Avoid Flash-based opening home-page screens, improper metatag code, as well as any schemes meant to "trick" search engines.

10. Get a search-engine optimization audit for your web site.


Thomas Friedman Got It Wrong in "The World Is Flat"

Worldisflat I was reading an article about China in the May issue of Smithsonian, when I realized that Thomas Friedman, author of the book The World Is Flat, didn't get the whole story. The book's hypothesis is that because of the Internet and phone lines, we in the US are competing with cheap labor in Asia, Mexico and everywhere else.  US companies are saving money by open-sourcing, outsourcing and offshoring jobs that used to be done here.

In reality, we are taking cruel advantage of impoverished countries, paying them pennies per hour and eliminating technology, manufacturing and marketing jobs in the US. Some 13% of China's 1.3 billion people survive on a dollar a day. US companies heartlessly ignore China's one-party dictatorship, contempt for human rights and censored Internet. 

"The streets are slick with oil and garbage," Smithsonian reports. "Rows of squat warehouses roofed in corrugated steel or terra-cotta tile front sewage-choked waterways."  Workers in the Wenzhou Rui Xing Shoe Factory earn a pitiful $125 to $374 per year. They work from 8 AM to 11 PM.  It's tough to compete with workers in abject poverty.

But the imbalance won't last forever.  In other places in China, gated communities of opulent villas have mushroomed in the suburbs.  Chinese are driving Toyotas instead of riding bicycles.  Some Chinese people can now afford TVs, refrigerators and personal computers, which were once considered luxury items. Some people are getting rich. 

ChinaMeanwhile, there are nearly 75,000 protest incidents a year in China.  Some Chinese workers are getting angry and some parts of China are politically unstable. One China analyst is quoted, "when it comes to China, a number of things could still go wrong.  The stakes are very high."

Here's where Friedman got it wrong: The flat world is a two-way street.  Over time, the Chinese will want what the US has -- child safety laws, the 8-hour workday and medical benefits paid by employers.  They'll organize unions and put an end to sweatshop factories.  And the key: they'll want higher pay so they can, live a modern apartment and own a plasma TV.

Factories will no longer be able to turn out 1,000 pairs of shoes a day and still generate annual sales of millions a year. Angry mobs will insist that the employees share in the new wealth.  They'll want safe workplaces, pensions, disability care, family and medical leave, sick days and 401(k) plans.  They'll want what we have, and of course, this all costs money.  Chinese labor will no longer be cheap.  It will make more sense to keep the jobs in the US.

Friedman failed to notice that in a flat world, nice lifestyles and decent working conditions will flow into the destitute countries that we are now taking advantage of.  Perhaps US companies will move to new hellholes of poverty and rip off the workers there for a while.  But it can't last forever. Information is flows freely in a flat world, and as soon as the overseas wage slaves realize they could have a US lifestyle, they won't be such a bargain any more.


New ContactNet Reveals Whom You Know BEST at Targets

CnlogoMarketing Directors and CMOs are very good at picking targets for their firms to pursue.  The stumbling block becomes finding a contact at the target company.  If the firm has a CRM system, it may print out a list of professionals who know people at the target. But the question becomes, how well do they know them?

Now, version 5.0 of ContactNet solves that problem. It's firmwide software that mines a variety of databases in a law firm -- Outlook Contacts, email traffic patterns, online calendars, employee work history, the CRM (client relationship management) and marketing databases.  Then it generates a list of professionals at your firm who know contacts at the target, as well as how close the relationship is.

"Much like the results of a GoogleTM search, Contact Network's Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) software lists colleagues who have relationships with a target individual or company according to strength.  ContactNet 5.0 uses 37 distinct variables to rank and score relationship strength. Colleagues with the strongest relationships appear at the top of the results list," said Geoffrey Hyatt, President and CEO of the 4-year old Boston-based company.

What's nice is that users can access the software via existing channels, such as the firm intranet, Outlook, the firm CRM system or even a handheld wireless PDA device.

ContactNet 5.0 includes pinpoint geographic search, which enables users to search for relationships by location within the radius of a target city including multiple states.  For example, users can search for relationships within 20 miles from New York or Baltimore, which is helpful for arranging a full day of meetings and event marketing," said Jakki Glivicky, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications.

Current customers of the firm include 450-lawyer Mintz Levin in Boston, the Boston Consulting Group, Greylock Partners, Kodiak Venture Partners, and Sagent Advisors.  Contact net says it has signed 7 additional law firms, but won't disclose their names at the moment.

"Business development and marketing professionals at larger firms have the advantage of having more employees with more relationships to potentially leverage for business development efforts. On the flip side, the larger the firm, the more difficult it becomes to know all of your colleagues and the valuable relationships they have," said Shawn Samuel, Chief Technology Officer at Contact Networks.  "ContactNet 5.0 incorporates the feedback and features that we've gathered from our customers over the past four years, who have used our solution to transform individual relationships into a firm-wide competitive advantage."


The Art of Making Money Blogging

StevepavlinaBlogger Steve Pavlina writes a 7000+ word post on his blog about how to make money online. Steve has grown his blog from $5 a day to more than $200 a day in the last 12 months, according to the Blog Herald.

He outlines the following as his current choices for blog revenue:

In the end, how one monetizes their blog is really up to them. Steve outlines a fine process of constantly examining what works - and what does work - on his blog and then makes changes appropriately. It's well worth the read.


Sachnoff Annual Report Hits the Mark

Sachnoffreview Chicago's Sachnoff & Weaver just published its always-superb annual review.  Copies of 10 years of reviews are viewable online.  The impressive 48-page, 2005 glossy brochure recounts 22 major client stories, followed by bullet points of other cases in the same practice area. (Click on the picture at the right to see it full-size.) The review by the 145-lawyer Chicago firm hits the mark in several ways:

  • Client testimonials are interspersed with the success stories.  For example, Earl Matzkin, President of Geneva International Corporation, is quoted saying "What I value most about my relationship with Sachnoff's attorneys is the deep interest they've taken in my business." Illustrated with oil-painting pictures, the review also quotes clients Debra Koenig, CEO of VICORP Restaurants, Joel Solomon, GC of Corus Bank, Mark Rogers, Corporate Counsel of Insight Enterprises ("I knew that Sachnoff was a definite keeper"), Jill Murphy, Associate GC of Aegon USA ("Sachnoff has the depth of talent you'd expect from a large, multi-office organization") and Noel Elfant, GC of Zebra Technologies Corp.  Wow -- it doesn't get better than this.
  • "Happy Talk" is kept to a minimum.  The intro page from the CEO and President is restrained to one page and runs an amazingly concise 244 words.  This is a model for law firms everywhere!
  • The headline also summarizes the success story, which is the zenith of succinctness.
  • Color pictures jump off the page, enlivening the stories about battles over wheat beer and copper mining.
  • The annual report can serve as the firm brochure.  There's just no need to say anything else.

Kudos, once again, to Jason Isadore, Senior Client Services Manager, and his boss, marketing wizard Dean Harakas, the firm's Vice President-Client Services and Strategic Planning.


Latham Annual Report Attracts Clients

LwreviewIt's the season for law firms to publish their annual reports, and for the first time, Latham & Watkins has 30-page glossy 2005 Annual Review.  Robert Dell, chairman of the 1,800-lawyer 22-office firm opens the review with a long list of high rankings the firm achieved, and invites readers to find stories about their transactions and court cases.

The success stories include representing Arthur Andersen at the U.S. Supremje Court, a cross-border project finance project for Ras Laffan Liquefied Natural Gas Company, and the merger of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and Silver Lake Partners.  Among the things the review does well:

  • It's cleanly-designed, has plenty of pictures, and brief passages of reader-friendly text.
  • It tells 11 case histories in one-page summaries.  Each is preceded by a concise, one-paragraph synopsis.  The stories are sure to attract big companies with similar business problems in securities, environment, antitrust, mass tort, finanfce and M&A.
  • Each story is illustated with a terse quote of practice highlight call-out.
  • Another 11 stories are captured in one-paragraph summaries.
  • The report includes pages on the firm's commitment to diversity and pro bono, which will be useful for recruiting purposes.

Congratulations to CMO Despina C. Karson.  I recommend she print out this page and ask Mr. Dell for a raise.


Why do a blog? Is it really a good Marketing Tool?

Nathanburke Nathan W. Burke continues his coverage of the recent ALA conference, focusing on a discussion about blogs as an excellent marketing tool for law firms.  Nathan is a Boston-based blogger and writes the blog.  He is also a Web designer and developer, and marketer.  Nathan is the Webmaster for the law firm Gesmer Updegrove LLP in Boston.

In his May 5 post he reports on a breakout session I led with law firm administrators, discussing marketing with technology:

  • Why do a blog?
  • Is a blog a really good marketing tool?
  • Doesn't it take a lot of time to manage a blog? Do you need to update it daily?

  • Won't having a blog take away from my site's content?

  • Do you have to ask clients' permission to list their name on the web site?

  • How do you convert site visitors into clients?

  • How do you measure new business from the internet?

  • Are extranets picking up?

  • We're a small firm. I don't know if we have the resources. Are there services that do extranets?

If you have these questions, you'll find this blog post worthwhile.


Ask the Marketing Experts: At the ALA Annual Conference

For an excellent summary of the "Ask the Marketing Experts" panel session at today's ALA conference in Montreal, see Nathan W. Burke's blog post for May 3.

The following presenters were there:

  • Phyllis Weiss Haserot- On Business Development Coaching
  • Norm Mullock- On Business Intelligence
  • Iris Jones on Client Service Teams and Sales Training
  • Charles Maddock on Branding
  • Jeff Reade on CRM/Databases
  • Sally Schmidt on Client Surveys
  • Larry Bodine on Web sites, blogs and other technology

Nathan is the Webmaster for the law firm Gesmer Updegrove LLP in Boston.  Thanks Nathan for doing a great job!


Breaking Through the Barriers to Build a Sales Culture

Iris_jones135 It's tough to inject a sales culture into a law firm but four panelists speaking at the ALA Conference in Montreal showed that it can be done.  They were:

* Sally Schmidt, President of Schmidt Marketing, St. Paul, MN
* Adam Stock, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Dorsey & Whitney, with 600 lawyers
* Iris J. Jones, Esq., Client Services Advisor of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld with 900 lawyers and 15 offices.
* Alvidas Jasin, Director of Business Development for Thomson Hine, with 370 lawyers in Cleveland and 7 other offices.

Schmidt listed half a dozen barriers to creating a sales culture.

1. Lack of understanding of "legal sales."
2. Lack of commitment.
3. Lack of a model for "legal sales."
4. Busy lawyers with limited time and resources.
5. Skeptical partners and institutional resistance.
6. Untrained attorneys and staff.


Alvidasjasin Exploit a sense of urgency.  Jasin said marketers should use a flat revenue year, getting beat up by competition, or lost multiple RFPs to launch a business development program. "Five years ago our firm had two years of flat revenues, and the partners got nervous.  I told them 'let's launch these business development programs right away,'" he said.  It worked.

If your firm is having a boom year, Jones said, "Akin Gump not exactly hungry.  So what we did was instead of looking at their revenue numbers, we'd ask "what is your market share?" If market share was less than year before, that got their attention.  You may be getting $40 million in revenue but only getting 5% of client's work - the clients will tell you.  This means the lawyer needs to put on their running shoes."

Spend money on sales training.  Akin Gump has spent over $1 million in sales training for more than 70% of its partners since 2003.  As a result the firm now has 65 client teams.

For the rest of the story, visit the LawMarketing Portal, for details on the following:

  • Centralize the Business Development ("BD") function.
  • "Lawyer as fisherman. 
  • Create an internal BD newsletter.
    Focus on the "platinum accounts," where most of the firm's revenue comes from, so they don't walk away. 
  • Focus on practices clients are not using.
    Use the data to make your point. 
  • Put all of your client information is on your intranet.
  • Create an online marketing calendar. 
  • Have an intranet page for each client team.
  • Put the pursuit list on the Intranet. 
  • Delegate low-value work.
  • Automate biography creation. 
  • Create an online store. 
  • Outsource client satisfaction surveys.
  • Don't outsource client satisfaction surveys.
  • Create a Client Team Handbook. 
  • Make BD easy for the lawyers. 
  • Publicize successes.
  • Promote ethnic diversity.
  • Train the associates in business development. 
  • Train the staff in BD.
  • If you do build it, and make it easy, they will come. 

Prominent Librarian Warns Against Using Software

Bshucha Bonnie Shucha, Reference & Electronic Services Librarian at the University of Wisconsin Law Library, warned bloggers to avoid using software. "Blogger is being overrun with spam blogs and readers avoid it," she said at the Association of Legal Administrators conference in Montreal.

It's because of the proliferation of "Splogs," (machine generated spam blogs), which account for 9% of all new blogs created. This is why many bloggers are noticing that their comments and trackbacks are being filled with garbage spam, to create inbound links for the spamming sites.

I was extremely bummed out to hear this. Blogger is considered software for kids, or for personal blogs for family and friends, talking about your vacations and at-home activities. Shucha uses Moveable Type for her blog, and recommends this software or Typepad (which I myself use).

"It's getting harder now to start a new blog and attract an audience. The people who started a blog a year or two ago have an advantage. But there are still niches to be filled it you have quality information to say. Find out if there are any other blogs out there on the topic you're thinking about," she said.

"It might make sense for a law firm to do a 'soft launch,' see if it attracts and audience and whether the attorneys are committed to keeping it up to date. Then later make a big announcement about it.

She also offered several ideas for promoting your blog:

  • Make the name very descriptive of the content -- like "Security Law in California."
  • Link to the blog from the firm's Web site and include its URL on all firm communications, letterhead and business cards -- but make sure it's something the firm is committed to. With PHP technology you can have the most recent topics of your blog appear on your firm Web site. It does put pressure on the attorneys to write posts and it jazzes up the Web site.
  • Tell your clients and everybody about your blog.
  • Register with search engines & directories.
  • Use keywords in the titles of your posts -- make each title descriptive of the post and more people will read it.
  • Link to other blogs. "This is huge in the blogosphere. If another attorney has a related blog, ask to post reciprocal links," she said. It's called a "blogroll," a list of blogs that the blogger readers.
  • Offer your own unique perspective.
  • Encourage reader feedback and solicit comments.  "It's a lot more enjoyable for the blogger when you get a response," she said.

Offshoring Threatens Marketing Jobs

You'd better watch your job, because I discovered at the ALA conference that law firms are now sending marketing work offshore. It's not merely word processing and research work that is going to India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Erica_1I'm here in Montreal and attended the session "Offshoring: Cost Effective Approaches to Increased Services," where Erica Tamblyn of 550-lawyer Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy spoke. She recounted how the firm managing partner, Kenneth J. Baronsky of Los Angeles, had an idea for an advertisement, and the firm turned to their offshoring company Office Tiger to have the ad created. The following day they had 6 prototypes, created with computers and stock photography. "Some varied in style and font," she said. "Some were very different. We selected one that was terrific."

Offshoring is a threat to people who do the following work:

  • Advertising
  • Desktop Publishing
  • Web site design and coding
  • Graphics creation and photo retouching
  • Brochure creation
  • Writing
  • Invitations to events
  • Market research
  • Competitive Intelligence
  • PowerPoint templates and charts

Robert Altschuler, co-founder of OfficeTiger in New York said that the top 200 US law firms are currently spending $850 million in marketing services from offshore providers. They are saving 35% to 50% by not using US employees. "The work is more accurate, we get faster turn around and spend less money," Tamblyn said. "It's a no brainer for us."

The lesson is clear: if the marketing work you do can be done by someone else with a computer -- your job is at risk.  It's not good enough to say that what you do requires creativity.  That's no safety net.  There are English-speaking creative people with MBAs who will be thrilled to do your job for a fraction of your salary.  If there is no reason for you to be at your office in person, there's no reason your job can't be sent overseas to be done by cheap foreign labor.


How to Market a Tax Practice

Dollar135 How do you market a tax practice? The answers came from LawMarketing Listserv members Vickie J. Gray, Larry Bodine, Jaffer Manek, Hale T. Chan, Ross Fishman and Mark Merenda.  Among the ideas raised were:

  • You're dealing with tax-nerds. "Spoon feed them your ideas a little bit at a time. Leave the big picture behind and focus on the steps involved to accomplish what you are proposing. Follow up faithfully. Keep your expectations small - baby steps," said Vickie Gray.
  • Decision makers at Fortune 1000 corporations are usually tax directors or financial officers. The best place to find these folks is through TEI (Tax Executives' Institute). Though lawyers in private practice cannot join TEI they of course have conferences and meetings with numerous social and sponsorship opportunities that give you a chance to get in front of their members.
  • New business for a tax practice is going to come from referrals and cross selling.  The partners in the practice need to develop a network of bankers, financial advisors, insurance agents and other lawyers who can refer tax legal work to them.
  • Firm management must make it mandatory or create an incentive for the internal partners to introduce tax partners to their clients.  The same onus/incentive must be placed on the tax partners.
  • Cross-selling will work only if the firm's culture and compensation system both DIRECTLY AND STRONGLY support it.
  • The firm's culture and compensation must also hold lawyers ACCOUNTABLE for cross selling. First, lawyers need to write out personal marketing plans where they specify exactly what cross-selling activity they propose.   Then the compensation committee must deny them a bonus or cut their income for failure to carry out the plan.

For the full discussion, visit