Edward Adams Named ABA Journal's Editor and Publisher

AbajournalereportEdward A. Adams, who has worked as the public information officer for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria since 2002, has been named the new editor and publisher of the ABA Journal and the ABA Journal eReport. 

Adams worked for 13 years at American Lawyer Magazine, the National Law Journal and the New York Law Journal, where he was a reporter, online editor and an executive editor.

He starts Sept. 5 at the ABA Journal, which has a circulation of nearly 400,000, making it the largest legal publication in the world. Adams replaces Danial Kim, who was the Journal's editor and publisher for five years before resigning in January to become vice president for a partnership that operates the city's two largest dailies, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.

Betsy Paret, Adams' former supervisor at the district court, told the eReport, "He's an amazing writer, a visionary in terms of how to best present information to people, and someone with excellent judgment and discretion." Paret is now the deputy circuit executive for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

"Ed is a very intelligent, articulate and experienced journalist who has worked in law-related publications for many years," told the eReport Barbara Howard, a Cincinnati attorney who chaired the search committee for the ABA Journal Board of Editors. "He has a lot of energy and great ideas. He understands the population we serve because he's a lawyer, and he understands the pre-eminence of the Journal."

Adams is expected to use the Web to promote upcoming articles in the magazine, and to redesign the magazine itself.

Adams received his bachelor's degree from Miami University of Ohio in Oxford and his law degree from Columbia University School of Law in New York City. As public information officer in Virginia, Adams created media plans for cases with huge national media interest, including those of Zacarias Moussaoui, Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph, and John Walker Lindh, who was dubbed the "American Taliban." Adams is the only PIO in the country working for a federal trial court, assisting courts to identify logistical problems with high-profile cases, "things like access to court documents, seats in the courtroom, where reporters are going to set up for TV stand-up locations, how we'll move people into the courtroom without disrupting other courtrooms," he told the eReport.

Avoiding RFPs for Suckers

Only 23.3% of corporations issue RFPs, and I advise all my law firm clients to be skeptical of them.  An RFP is an invitation to put your head into a noose and go through the client's procurement system.  Why go to RFP Hell?

Nevertheless, many law firms cannot resist bidding on possible new business, even though they may be rigged or be fishing expeditions.  Here's how to avoid RFPs for suckers.

  • The company won't reveal its legal budget.  An example is the recent RFP from a startup telecom firm near Washington, D.C., that was losing money hand over fist. The company declined to reveal its budget for legal work or the firms it used previously. "They were just out kicking tires and we passed on it," says Stephen Barrett, chief marketing officer for Philadelphia's 450-lawyer Drinker Biddle & Reath.
  • The RFP is online.  Avoid these like the plague, because they are a type of reverse auction, where bidders keep going lower. General Electric has been noted for its online auctions. Every time there is a bid, the auction remains open another 20 or 15 minutes. "You have to prepare the law firm for blood running down the hallways," Barrett says.
  • The company won't answer any questions, such as what they want to see in the bid; information about the company's business, finances and trends affecting it; who else is bidding; who will decide the winner and when that will happen.  If you ask and the client isn't forthcoming, experts say, the RFP is probably wired and you're just window dressing.

For more on this topic, read Terry Carter's article "RFPS Won't R.I.P." reprinted on the LawMarketing Portal at www.LawMarketing.com.


$20,000 of billable time used to maintain a blog

Edwardpoll_1My esteemed colleague Ed Poll of Venice, CA, author of the LawBiz Blog, calculated what may be the true cost of a lawyer writing a blog: $20K a year in time.  Here's his anaylsis from his June 2006 monthly Ezine, reprinted with permission:

Blogging Revisited - A Note of Caution on the Tail Wagging the Dog

"Regular readers know that I am a dedicated blogger, and that blogging has been a highly effective marketing tool for the services I provide. The premise of effective blogging is easily stated: Target your market, be specific in your blog postings, be frequent and your market will learn what your value to them can be and why they need you and your services.

"It's easy, however, to get enamored of blogging's potential and to ignore the practical side of what a blog should do. The real key to marketing is the creation of one-on-one personal relationships in order to increase business. Blogs are best used in a marketing sense when they support the creation of these relationships. If your target audience is more the consumer type, and typically not so sophisticated that they are searching the web on a regular basis, then blogging is not so meaningful to them and may not be a worthwhile marketing strategy for you. Speaking to a local civic group may bring you more potential clients than blogging on the worldwide web.

"Making frequent posts and answering dozens, or hundreds, of email comments, can take time. As I observed in this newsletter a year ago, a minimal amount of necessary time might be 2 hours per work week. If we assume 50 work weeks per year for ease of calculation, and 2 hours per week (a rather low number once you get started) and $200 per hour billable value for an attorney (most lawyers charge more today), the calculation is $20,000 of billable time used to maintain a blog.

"The logical way to control such a major expense is hire someone to manage the physical aspects of maintaining your blog. The cost is far less than the time spent updating (no matter how easy with TypePad or other tools), which will take you away from other marketing activities or even from your practice. Remember, however, that delegating the work does not mean abdicating the responsibility. To be effective, posts must be your personal and frequent input.

"Blogging is certainly not "easy" in the sense that it takes commitment to be consistent and meaningful in the posting. I suspect it's a commitment worth making for many lawyers, but a commitment nevertheless, as is any marketing effort. Measuring the return on investment - ROI - of blogging is difficult. But never forget that there should be a return in order to make your blog work for you, and not the other way around."


Most Law Firms Have No Strategic Plan

My colleague John Remsen, Jr. of Atlanta, conducted a survey of 110 law firms, asking if they had a written firm-wide strategic plan. Over 80% reported that they do not have one. "Yet, several recent surveys have found that the overwhelming majority of law firms that do have a firm-wide strategic plan can attribute improved profitability as a direct result. Naturally, I strongly recommend that every law firm develop and follow a written strategic plan. If implemented, they result in higher profits per partner," Remsen said.  I concur.

Does Your Law Firm Have a Written Strategic Plan?

July06_graphI have discovered the same phenomenon at the law firms that I consult with: there's no overall plan, no strategic plan and sometimes not even a printout of the firm's top clients. These firms tend to have a difficult time getting their lawyers active in bringing in new business.  Often the reason the firm called me in was to help them develop a strategic plan, meet with the lawyers to develop individual marketing plans, and get the business development activity started.

On the other hand, I'm advising a law firm right now that has a 42.5% profit margin and pays their partners an average of $550,000.  Over the last six years overall firm revenue have grown 45% and income per partner has grown 22%. Guess what they have?  That's right: a written strategic plan that is an inch thick and features team analyses of each practice, domestic and overseas growth potential and use of technology.

What a difference a plan makes.


Holland & Hart Broadcasts In-Flight Videos

HollandhartvideoHolland & Hart has partnered with Frontier Airlines to produce "Business Class," a branded in-flight entertainment show spotlighting innovative clients in the Rocky Mountain West. Beginning this month, the series of 5-minute shows are airing in front of millions of Frontier passengers on the Wild Blue Yonder in-flight TV channel.

To see the video on a company called Outlast Technology simply visit http://www.hollandhart.com/wildblueyonder.cfm and click the video format you use.  Outlast Technologies, Inc. -- a client of the firm -- is the worldwide pioneer in developing phase-change materials and applications. See www.outlast.comNext up, starting in September, is Spyder Active Sports Inc., which makes ski apparel and also is based in Boulder.

"As you know, TV advertising for corporate law firms is unusual.  H&H is the first to advertise on TV at 30,000 feet.  We are certainly the first major corporate law firm to create a 'branded entertainment' segment on Wild Blue Yonder TV," said H&H "Marketing Guy" Mark Beese.

Mark_beese_1Holland and Hart has 350 attorneys in 12 offices in six states. They feature clients in the "Business Class" videos, "who are very, very happy to get the publicity in front of 10 million flyers annually, 60% whom are business travelers," Beese said.

Denver-based Frontier, which is a Holland and Hart client, operates a 52-jet fleet and flies to Canada, Mexico and 47 U.S. cities. The airline was so pleased with the program that their Marketing VP came to the firm's launch party on in June, along with more than 100 folks from H&H. "We chose Frontier because it gave us an opportunity to partner and support a valued client, Frontier's footprint is very similar to H&H's network of 12 regional offices, and Frontier's creative, community-oriented, and client-service brand is a good match with Holland & Hart," Beese said.

The law firm is aiming at corporate clients. "It's marketing of substance," said Beese told the Denver Business Journal.  "It's not just five minutes of 'Look how great Holland & Hart is' or 'Look how old Holland & Hart is.'"

This campaign is a double bingo.

  1. Frontier is a client.  All the subjects of the videos are clients.  The in-flight videos are all methods to deepen the firm's relationship with existing clients.  This is classic brilliant marketing.  Most of a firm's revenue comes from current clients.  So the effort to co-market with a client about other clients makes this an example of "the high art of marketing."
  2. It's a brilliant extension of their branding.  Their tagline is "The Law Out West."  Frontier flies primarily to western destinations. Outlast makes clothing for outdoor activities in the west. Their next video subject, Spyder Active Sports, makes ski racing equipment of the kind used in the west. The entire program extends Holland and Hart's niche and reputation as the premier law firm out west.

Of course, it's still important to measure results.  I've always been skeptical of in-flight programs, because the producers can't tell you how many times the programs were actually viewed or provide the contact information of the viewers.  This kind of marketing is very difficult to measure. 

Beese said surveys of frequent flyers on Frontier would be done both early and late in the run of "Business Class" to see if the program has changed people's impressions of the law firm and the companies profiled. Based on the results, Holland & Hart will decide whether to continue the marketing effort next year.

If the firm can prove a return-on-investment -- that's icing on the cake.  Then the double bingo becomes a "hat trick."


I Hate it When They Misspell My Name

Amex_name_misspelling_1Don't you just hate it when you get a direct-mail solicitation, and they spell you name wrong?  So do most people.  I immediately think, "if they can't get my name right, how bad will their service be?"

Whenever I get mail addressed to "L.B. Dvorak" (a blend of my wife's and my name - click the image to see it full-size) or "Lawrence Dorian Dvorak Bodine," I toss it right away.  I don't bother to even look at it.  The worst offender is the Internal Revenue Service, which has my name as "Lalurence Bodine."  Only because the IRS is now a part of the fearsome Department of Homeland Security, I don't even consider messing with them.  I just imagine the dozens of chimpanzees they have working in rows of typewriters, sending out mail to harass honest taxpayers.

Nicor_name_misspelling That's what clients think of when you misspell their names in invitations, newsletters, letters and promotional materials.  Clients are tired of computers mangling their names.  Bad customer data costs U.S. businesses $611 billion per year in postage, printing and staff, according to The Data Warehousing Institute in Seattle.  A misspelled name on an invitation to a firm event does more damage than not inviting the client at all.

I know that cleaning up a CRM database is a godawful chore.  But I've heard about IBM's name data analysis tool called NameInspector that identifies problem records, wrongly parsed names, multiple identities within the same record and potentially erroneous name entries.  It also cleans our random symbols or "test" names.

Think of it the next time a direct mailer misspells your name.


Associates Contribute to Client Development

Rick_davis_1There's a good article on page 26 of the July ABA Journal about how associates can contribute to client development.  "They are the secret weapon--they unlock the market for you," said Rick Davis, the chief marketing officer for 150-lawyer Hughes & Luce.

  • First, associates tend to have a flexible, energetic attitude about learning legal marketing skills, Davis said.
  • Second, associates usually have more contacts among lower-level corporate employees, who are crucial to the way the law firm approaches its marketing efforts, he said.

The firm uses the contacts -- called "coaches" -- to learn about the company's businesses. Then they create a "pursuit path" with a partner to approach the company for business development.  This reflects exactly the advice that Michael Cummings and I have been giving in our regular Webinars about law firm marketing.

Visit the Associate Marketing Mentor for the rest of the story.


What Firms are Doing in Marketing and Sales

I was recently asked if the distinction between marketing and sales really exists among the majority of law firms.  In the "old" days they were synonymous and used interchangeably. 

Right now, things are in the process of changing -- law firms are mushing the two together.

At the recent LSSO conference in Reston, VA, Sue Stock Allison, Managing Director, Brand Research Company and Kate Daisley, Marketing Manager, ALM Research, presented new research entitled "Defining Business Development."  They defined --

Marketing: Communication addressed to groups of legal service buyers.   
Focus: Advertising. This included:

  • *Firm's Web site (33%)
  • *Directory listings (32%)
  • *Firm brochures and related collateral (32%)
  • *Advertising production (31%)
  • *Advertising placement (29%)

Business Development: The selling of services to specific buyers of legal services (not necessarily new clients).  Focus: Face Time. This included:

  • Taking clients or prospects to meals, shows, or sporting events (31%)
  • Doing proposals and presentations (23%)
  • Organizational membership dues (20%)
  • Sales training for firm members (15%)

Regarding budgets, they found that the average for respondents (primarily law firms in the Am Law 200, NLJ 250 and Global 100) was:

Business development:  $100-$499,000
Marketing:  $1-$2.99 million
Combined:  $1-$2.99 million

The firms that combined marketing and business development put the focus on: General Visibility, including:

  • Attendance at conferences and other events (76%)
  • Sponsorships (70%)
  • Public relations (70%)
  • Photography (68%)
  • Advertising production (67%) and placement (67%)
  • Firm brochures and related collateral (66%)
  • Consulting on business development (66%)
  • Holiday cards (66%).

The take-home pay is definitely more for marketers on the "bus dev" side.  A comparison of compensation for senior-most non-lawyer Business Development and Marketing professionals showed:

  • $150-$249,000 = Average BusDev Professional
  • $100-$149,000 = Average Marketing Professional
  • $150-$249,000 = Average Combined Professional

The data was gathered by a Web Survey of Business Development/Marketing Directors & CMOs from the top 1,000 law firms, conducted during November 2005 to January 2006. Click the link to get a copy of 2006 Law Firm Business Development Practices Survey.


RFPS Won't R.I.P.

Steve_barrett75 Responding to RFPs is often ugly. The law firms might end up doing a lot of work for nothing, and firms that survive the RFP process may see their fees bid downward. Yet, according to news reporter Terry Carter, these contests are becoming common for corporations to winnow down outside law firms. For the law firms, this is a zero-sum game.

Read what these smart people have to say about it:

  • Stephen Barrett, (pictured above), Chief Marketing Officer for Philadelphia's 450-lawyer Drinker Biddle & Reath.
  • P.D. Villarreal, lead litigation counsel at Schering-Plough Corp.
  • Michael Roster, general counsel of Golden West Financial Corp.
  • Hanna Hasl-Kelchner, associate general counsel with Greensboro, N.C.-based Lorillard Tobacco Co.

Find it on the LawMarketing Portal at http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=58&ArticleID=530


Deliver Webinar audio slices via podcast.

Aholland2Here's a neat B-to-B marketing tip from Anne Holland, President of MarketingSherpa Inc.:

"From now on, after you present a Webinar, edit the audio file for future use (snipping out the bits only relevant to folks listening in live) and create a series of potential podcasts from it. Each podcast should be no longer than five to 10 minutes, and should address just one of the topics you covered in the entire Webinar.

"You'll also need to add a quick intro soundbite for each slide, assuming that each might be listened to as a sole bit of content instead of as a series from the main Webinar. And, you can put a plug-in to the audio at the end of each clip for listeners to come to your audio and Webinar library online to get more podcasts on similar topics if they liked this one.

"I actually know of one enterprise software marketer who used a tactic like this to plug a white paper. He published a summary of the white paper as a podcast and then urged listeners to come online to download the entire paper. It worked.

"Once you've created this podcast content, offer it up in all the places you would normally post articles or other content, such as:

  • Hotlink from your e-mail newsletter
  • Hotlink on your online Webinar library
  • Hotlink from your company blog
  • Hotlink on your intranet for the sales team to pick up on (remember, reps may not read long documents or have the patience for an hour-long Webinar, but a five-minute podcast could engage them).

Approachability Versus Working a Room

Scott_ginsberg Scott Ginsberg has a great article on the LawMarketing Portal entitled "Approachability Versus Working a Room."  He advises against working a room, because it makes you look like a politician working a crowd.  Approachability is the better alternative:

  • Offer your card when asked for one by a new contact; take the time to actually appreciate and inquire about the cards of others
  • Spend enough time with each person to develop the common point of interest
  • Relax, choose a few key people to talk to; focus on both approaching them and letting them approach you
  • Come early, stay late. Don't sacrifice a great conversation and/or a potential relationship just because "networking time" is over.

Scott is a professional speaker, "The World's Foremost Expert on Nametags" and the author of HELLO my name is Scott and The Power of Approachability. Check out his article at http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=58&ArticleID=523.