Just out: MLF Top 50 Best Law Firm Marketing Programs

The hotly-awaited rankings Marketing The Law Firm top 50 best marketing programs were just released.  You can find them online at
Mlftop10_1 Out of the hundreds of law firms with marketing programs, these 50 firms have attained the status of being considered the best programs in the country.
It is a testament to the fabulous strides that law firm marketing, business development and media programs have achieved over the last year. There is good news here: "Marketing is alive, well and prospering at many of the AmLaw 200 firms. This year, the MLF 50 showcases a wide range of firms and their marketing activities that can best be described by using a sports metaphor -- a full contact sport. The profession has come a long way in terms of sophistication, depth and creativity," said MLF Editor-In-Chief Elizabeth "Betiayn" Tursi.
In the report, each firm is also listed by their AmLaw100 ranking. Interestingly, the firms that were MLF 50 top marketers were not in the top 10 of the AmLaw 100.
The firms were judged on their:
  • Marketing strategy
  • Results
  • Marketing department staffing
  • Communications/PR/media relations
  • Commitment
  • Advertising
  • Web site and blogs
  • Client service programs
  • Outreach

Congratulations to Ed Schechter, CMO at Duane Morris, Anne Malloy Tucker, CMO at Goodwin & Proctor, Theresa Jaffee, CMO at Jenner & Block, Robyn Radomski, CMO at Sonnenschein, Beth Cuzzone, Director of Business Development at Goulston & Storrs, Susan Stone, Director of Marketing at Manatt Phelps, and the marketers and partners at all the other top-ranked firms.


Test Your Networking Expertise

Thom_singer_small_3 Networking is a very good way for a lawyer to get new business. In fact I always include it when I'm working with a lawyer to develop their personal business development plan. So the question arises: "Are you any good at networking"?

The answer can be found in the online "Networking Quotient," invented by Thom Singer of Austin, TX, marketer and networker par excellence. It's a free quiz is designed to help you learn about your social networking skills for business and how your skills compare with those of your peers in several demographics. Bar_chart_1

The 30 question quiz takes about 8 minutes to complete and your results will be presented immediately. You visit www.networkingquotient.com, enter your email address, and a link to the survey is sent to you. Interestingly, the questions will pinpoint the areas that you need to work on. Your score is presented in a bar chart.

The highest possible total is 62 points:

  • 51-62 points: Expert Networker.
  • 40-50 points: Good Networking Skills.
  • 30-39 points: Needs Some Improvement.
  • Below 30 points: Networking Not A Priority.

The survey told me "You are on the right track with your networking, but it would be beneficial to your career if you made your professional network more of a priority." 

Many thanks to Thom for creating this sophisticated and fun test.  Thom writes an excellent blog, Some Assembly Required, and is author of a book by the same name, available in the LawMarketing Store for only $19.95


Lawyers Sound Off in the Pepper Pod

Pepper_podcasts_1 "The Pod Center," launched by 450-lawyer Pepper Hamilton, sets a new standard in podcasting by law firms. The Center itself is set up as a blog so that listeners have the option of subscribing to RSS feeds that feature audio only, or audio plus text (see the right sidebar). Readers can also listen to broadcasts directly from the blog using a convenient "Play" bar.

The podcasts themselves are structured as interviews of attorneys who are experts in the topic covered. Recent topics include:

  • Dividend Recaps (Private Equity)
  • Online Software Purchase Taxes (Tax)
  • Criminal Background Checks (Labor and Employment)
  • Workplace Smoking Policies (Labor and Employment)

"We think the new Podcast Center is an innovative program that positions the firm as cutting edge and tech savvy," said Brian Dolan, Marketing Manager for the firm, which has offices in seven states and the District of Columbia.

The lead podcast is "A Conversation with Spencer Abraham." He is a former Energy Secretary and U.S. Senator, currently heads The Abraham Group, an international consulting firm. Pepper Hamilton and The Abraham Group have recently formed an alliance to offer legal and business consulting services focusing primarily on the energy sector. The main Pepper Podcast Center is at: http://www.pepperpodcasts.com/.


Flash Greeting Cards Wow Clients

Milbank_card With the holiday season upon us, many marketers are fretting over holiday cards.  Some marketing-savvy firms are "wowing" their clients with something innovative and special. One of the coolest new holiday greetings options I've seen recently are Flash holiday cards. (Click the picture to see a larger image.)

These animated productions feature sharp graphics, live music and classic holiday themes, and can be a great supplement to your traditional print card mailing or as a standalone option that brands your firm as tech-savvy and cutting edge.

Take a look at a sample from Milbank (550 lawyers headquartered in New York) produced by eLawMarketing:


(Be patient to allow time for loading).  It features a bright red envelope opening amid swirling snowflakes.  Contact eLawMarketing at 866-833-6245 to produce one of these for your own firm this coming holiday season.


Your Blog May Be Dead

Law_technology_news That's right, your blog may dead online and have no real readership.  It could have fallen vicitim to one of the five most common snafus that can dead end your blog

Wake up, fellow bloggers, it's almost 2007. The halcyon days of blogging are over. There are 55 million blogs, according to Technorati.com (97 percent abandoned), and 1,430 law-related blogs, according to Blawg.org. The novelty has worn off. To truly succeed at blogging, you must avoid making the five most common snafus.

As I point out in an article in the November Law Technology News, the blog killers include:

  1. Being boring.
  2. Blabbiness.
  3. Under-posting or abandoning your blog.
  4. Tardiness.
  5. The blog is not bringing in any new business.

For the full story, see http://www.larrybodine.com/articles.asp?Action=GetOneArticle&ArticleID=8.


GCs say "Learn My Business"

Lma_new_england_1 I kept hearing the same phrase over and over.  I was attending the LMA New England Conference in Boston last week, in the audience at the program "Understanding What Drives Corporate Counsel." Again and again the panel of corporate general counsel delivered the same message:

"Learn my business If you want me to retain you."

I've been hearing GCs saying this for years.  It is not an indication that GCs have nothing new to say.  It's a sign that lawyers and law firms have not been listening for years.  It's basic Marketing 101: know your customer's business, inquire about their business needs, and offer to help them.  But it's not getting through to the legal profession.

"Learn my business before you come to my office to present a dog and pony show.  If you talk to me about your firm but it's not what I need, the conversation is over in 5 minutes," said Emily D. Dickinson, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of Hannaford Bros. Co., a retail supermarket company.

Echoing the point, Eric I. Cohen, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of Terex Corporation, said, "Sometimes a law firm will come to my company and they haven't' even looked at our Web site, learned who my management is, or learned what products we make.  They're sending a message to me that they don't care about my business." Terex makes mining trucks and excavators.

"The better RFP proposals I receive are not boilerplate.  The law firm has made an effort to know my business. The proposal is more than just their resumes right off the Web site; instead, they list similar kinds of work the lawyers have done to match the RFP," said Gregory B. Butler, Senior Vice President & General Counsel of Northeast Utilities, which is New England's largest utility system, providing electricity to more than 1.7 million people.

"I want to have a law firm partner who shares my dreams and expectations, shares my ups and downs, and shares my goal in making my company successful.  We're going to be joined at the hip," Butler continued. "I measure responsiveness, quality of work and knowing my business."

There you have it: this is the key to getting new business from corporations.  Find out what products and services your target offers, inquire into the business needs and then offer to help.  Bingo: you've opened a new file.

The session was moderated by John Lipsey, the new VP of Corporate Counsel Services for LexisNexis.


The Importance of Search Engines in Marketing

Google_1 I've been called as an expert witness on marketing in a court case, and was completing my report when I was struck by a Pew/Internet study, "Search Engine use in November 2005."  Granted it's a year old, but it dramatically shows where law firm marketers should be focusing their strategy: search engine optimization. The report states:

  • 60 million American adults are using search engines on a typical day.
  • The number of those using search engines on an average day jumped from roughly 38 million in June 2004 to about 59 million in September 2005 - an increase of about 55%.

  • The use of search engines ranks second only to email use the most popular activity online.

Suffice it to say that the Web is the predominant source of information about businesses in today's world. The Web has become an important force in the commercial marketplace. Search engines are the first choice for business executives when they research a purchase for their business -- including legal services.

If your firm is not on the first page of search engine results when general counsel and business executives are looking for a law firm, you are invisible. Check yourself out -- Google your own firm.  Don't use your exact firm name, that's not a valid approach.  Instead use search terms that describe your firm, like "Chicago intellectual property law firm" or "insurance policy enforcement law firm."

If you're not on the first page of the search results, you have a big marketing problem.  You must fix it immediately by putting on your Web site the content your clients want to see, eliminating Flash graphics (which are search engine repellent), using your chosen key words throughout the site, and updating the site frequently.  You can also spend money and start a Google ad word campaign; they work.

But you've got to do something to be found by search engines.


A Marketing Lesson from Teddy Roosevelt: The Big Stick

Theordore_rooseveltI'm an admirer of our 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, and have read many books about him.  His most famous quote is, "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far."  This is applies directly to business development in law firms.

The issue arises when a law firm decides how they should hold their partners accountable for generating new business.  In my experience, some law firms are willing to put incentives in place to encourage partners to market or complete a personal business development plan. 

But most firms I've advised is loathe to hold lawyers accountable, by making business development a major issue at the partner's compensation review.  I call this carrying The Big Stick.

To have a business development program, it is absolutely essential that lawyers be held accountable.  See "Increasing Marketing Effectiveness At Professional Firms," a 2006 research study conducted by Suzanne Lowe and me. Accountability makes business development count; without it, biz dev is an optional activity.

Yet many partners are unwilling to include The Big Stick in their business development programs.  They don't want to be the ones to hurt another partner's feelings.  Some want to avoid responsibility and don't want to be measured themselves. But this is not the way to run a business.

If your firm truly wants to earn more revenue and get more business, you must have The Big Stick. My friend and co-blogger Patrick Lamb, a partner of Butler Rubin in Chicago, told us in our study, "We review marketing plans, because it's something measurable. Every partner has a certain number of base points (a guaranteed income) plus discretionary points. We took a certain amount of points of the base points and put them at risk - 4-7 points - and it's proven to be enough of an incentive. If a partner has not done anything, they do not participate in the bonus points; they are losing $30,000 to $40,000. This year, if they don't qualify to get at least half of the credit, the gate to the discretionary bonus is closed, and it becomes a six-figure monetary loss."

And here's the kicker: "If they ultimately don't reform, they won't remain with the firm," Lamb said.  When I hear this, I know that his firm is serious about making money.  The are carrying The Big Stick.  Teddy Roosevelt would be proud.


Drinker Biddle Acquires Gardner Carton

Drinker_biddle_1They're calling it a merger:  Philadelphia-based Drinker Biddle & Reath and Chicago-based Gardner Carton & Douglas have announced their marriage. Details are in the press release. Steve Barrett is the CMO of Drinker Biddle, an AmLaw 100 firm with 450 lawyers. David D. Southern is the Chief Marketing Officer of the smaller Gardner Carton, with 150 lawyers.

But I view it as an acquisition: The new firm will maintain the Drinker Biddle name, except for its offices in Illinois and Wisconsin, where it will be known as Drinker Biddle Gardner Carton until 2008. The Web site URL will be www.drinkerbiddle.com. Drinker Biddle & Reath had $223 million gross revenues in 2005.  In comparison Gardner Carton & Douglas had $127 million gross revenues the same year.

The combination will take effect on Jan. 1, 2007, creating a firm with 650 lawyers and 26 other professionals across 12 offices.

Bass Berry Markets Skillfully with momentum

Bassberry Bass, Berry & Sims has done it again: produced a second issue of a 30-page oversize magazine for clients called momentum that talks about client success stories.  The brilliance of the editorial focus is that when clients and targets receive it, they'll see articles about themselves, not the law firm talking about itself.

The firm, which has 200 attorneys in Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, Tennessee, spent the money to make it look like a newstand magazine: matte paper stock with shiny varnish on the pictures, a table of contents organized by 14 industries, lots of pictures with people (not buildings), a cover with pictures of the chairman and CEO of HCA Inc. hospitals, sidebars with drawings of their clients, and did I mention lots of pictures?

This firm knows what they're doing when it comes to marketing. The first issue of momentum won marketing awards from the Association of Legal Administrators and the Legal Marketing Association.  Managing Partner Keith B. Simmons gives away their marketing strategy on the opening page, saying "Our client relations department and the many other contributors to the magazine deserve a lot of credit for presenting a readable, attractive publication, but the real story of momentum's success lies in the very interesting stories our clients have to tell."

I immediately read the first article about Jack Daniels Whiskey.  The writing is so well done that the law firm name is not even mentioned.  But you know this is a key client of the firm for whom Bass Berry has done a lot of M&A work. In fact I had to read carefully to even find the firm name, for example in the article about HealthSpring managed health care going public -- where I found a passing reference to the long-standing ties between HealthSpring and Bass, Berry & Sims.  Very subtle! Very effective.

Here's why the magazine markets the firm so well:

  • They don't "market their organization" -- that is, talk about their internal, administrative practice group structure until page 29.  Instead they ahve "organized around the market," a smart marketing technique in which the law firm features all it's glamorous brand name clients.
  • It's fun.  Page 27 has a recipe for cornbread dressing from Cracker Barrel restaurants.  It makes you want to eat the picture of the meal.
  • The graphics are superb -- ranging from a photo of a country music band taken at night with a green light, to sidebars entitled "Not Quite 20 Questions" profiling clients concisely with a flattering hand-drawn portrait.  I'll bet every client requested to have the original artwork.
  • It's designed to actually be read -- with short articles, short paragraphs and short sentences.
  • The magazine displays an impressive list of national accolades on page 28, including being ranked by Corporate Board Member magazine as the #1 corporate firm in Nashville for 5 years in a row.

The marketing staff that created this luminous magazine are not identified anywhere in it. They decided to be the fine hand behind the initiative.  Kudos to Jennifer Phillips, the Director of Client Relations, and her talented team.


Who's Who: It is Lame, a Shame and a Waste of Time and Money

WhoswhoBob Weiss makes a great point about the Who's Who guide in the Nov. issue of the ABA's Law Practice Today e-newsletter:

"It used to represent a comprehensive resource of noteworthy individuals. Today that is rarely the case. Every month attorneys are solicited to buy or confirm listings in various editions of Who's Who.

"Don't be tempted. Save your marketing dollars. And, delete any listing from your resume, and do it immediately.

"What was once a respected research tool more than a decade ago joined the gallery of famous lost trademarks. Today, most anyone can get into Who's Who, and there are dozens of versions of the thick books. Few find their way onto library research shelves. Many are seldom referenced as nothing but online lists.

"A recent article in Forbes revealed just who is in Who's Who-- a pipefitter, a drivers' education instructor, even imposters. It also showed how scanty the review and approval process has become http://www.forbes.com/fyi/1999/0308/063.html.

"How did this happen? The title "Who's Who" is now in the public domain. Somebody forgot to protect it. The result is that thousands of "Who's Who" compilations of varying scope and quality have been published by various authors and publishers. Most of these are obvious vanity publications, where the inclusion criterion is the biographee's willingness to buy the book, and the business model consists in selling books directly to the biographees.

"So, next time you are asked to apply for a Who's Who remember-- so was just about everyone else.

Bob Weiss has been a law firm marketing consultant for 25 years representing local, regional and national firms. He is president and founder of Alyn-Weiss and Associates, Inc. in Denver. He can be reached at 303-298-1676.


AttorneyMan -- Sales. Service. Survival!!!

AttorneymanLaw firms worldwide are buying copies of AttorneyMan, a 44-page comic book for lawyers about the business development adventures of Tim Silver, who just made partner at the law firm Cha Chingi Changa LLP, the alter ego of AttorneyMan. (Click the image to see it full-size.)

He is guided in his marketing mission by Dr. Development, a sales training concierge who gradually reveals the 6 Rules of Sales to guide Tim become a superhero.  Joining Attorney Man in his quest for new clients is LiseLaw Gold, a fellow attorney at Cha Chingi Changa.  "Using her smarts, grit and willingness to engage, she discovered her true super hero identity and her ability to supersatisfy clients," the comic says.

The villain is Harry Hoard, the senior partner at the law firm.  "Hoard refuses to share, make introductions on behalf of others or mentor junior attorneys.  His Mantra is "MINE."  Every client and dollar that comes into the firm belongs to him."

The comic, which can be purchased at $10 a copy at http://www.attorneyman.org/, is the brainchild of Karen Katz, a business development consultant and former attorney in Boston. "I was thinking of fun ways to inspire action in my trainees and coachees," she said.  "I am a huge advocate of simulation training because it is learn by doing.  So to I melded the 'sales talk' with the superhero genre -- and AttorneyMan the Client Supersatisfaction Superhero was born."

The book has been purchased by large and small firms, including firm like Fish & Richardson, Greenberg Traurig, Venable, Latham & Watkins, Mintz Levin and Bowditch & Dewey.  Approximately 300 orders have come in so far from the US, Germany and the UK.  Katz said that the comic is not just for associates, but new partners and marketing professionals too.

Issue No. 2 is in the works.  Meanwhile, learn the 6 tenets of successful sales as AttorneyMan learns to become more client service oriented with the help of Dr. Development and The Jealous Mistress of the Law.


LMA Report: CMOs Earn $164K to $293K

Lmachicago The Legal Marketing Association has just published their new "2005 Roles and Compensation Survey," prepared by Schmidt Marketing.

"The annual base salaries for responding law firm marketers go as high as $330,000, with the average for all respondents being $81,368, slightly lower than the 2004 average of $84,560," the report states. Total compensation averages $89,372, down from $93,653 last year, and tops out at $350,000 for these participants.

One of the interesting points is that 19% of new hires received a signing bonus, which ranged from less than $1,000 to $20,000. The average signing bonus was $5,848.

The most interesting info is on page 95 of the 98-page report: Total Monetary Compensation by Title and by Number of Lawyers

Chief Marketing Officer

# Lawyers  Mean        Median     Maximum
101-200     $164,100  $151,500  $200,000
201-350     $244,333  $270,000  $293,000

Marketing Director

# Lawyers  Mean        Median      Maximum
50 or less  $72,256    $67,500      $150,000
51-100      $82,032    $80,000      $137,800
101-200    $122,585   $115,000    $212,750
201-350    $158,140   $140,000    $320,000
351-500    $157,883   $182,500    $200,000
501-700    $194,273   $170,000    $350,000
701-1000  $193,000   $190,000    $275,000
1000+       $229,500   $232,500    $303,000

The survey was conducted electronically, with a letter of invitation including a link to the survey sent to 2,625 individuals in the legal marketing. There were 449 respondents, almost entirely LMA members. The size of the law firms represented in the survey varied from fewer than 50 lawyers to more than 1,000. "The largest percentage of marketers (18%) works in firms between 51 and 100 lawyers," the report states.

There's a lot more information, slicing and dicing the compensation by title, region, education, staff supervised, LMA membership, role, type of firm, metro area and experience. The 98-page PDF is free to "full" members and costs $140 to "limited" members. If you're an LMA member, you can get a copy at http://www.legalmarketing.org/ws_news/nws_public.php?task=view&nws_id=50


Latham Gets New Business from Former Colleagues

LathamLatham & Watkins discovered that nearly half of their business was coming from alumni, that is, lawyers who once practiced at the firm an moved on, according to a new article by David Maister.

The firm has more than 1,800 attorneys in 22 offices. The Alumni Network is a home page link on the firm Web site.  Here's an excerpt from the article:

Turnover among junior (and even senior) people has become a fact of life in all professions. In the 1980s, Latham learned that it made all the difference in the world whether people left feeling, on the one hand, neglected or badly treated or, on the other hand, as proud advocates of the firm.

Up to that point in time, Latham had ferociously concentrated on hiring, training, indoctrinating, and holding on to talent. In that environment, when a lawyer left the firm to do something else, it was regarded as a failure rather than an opportunity. The pejorative term "attrition" was applied to these sad events. As a result, the firm often treated the departing lawyer neglectfully or even badly, as if he or she was a defector. This is an example of a one-firm firm principle run wild.

In retrospect, the firm lost millions of dollars in potential business because it mismanaged relationships with those who left. As Latham matured as an organization, it changed its practices to honor people who leave the firm and to cultivate their friendship.

In the mid-1990s, Latham made a calculation about how much of then current business came directly or indirectly from alums. The figure was approaching 50 percent. And it was great business -- name-brand clients, often premium rates, quicker bill collection, pleasant dealings, and so on. Moreover, the clients benefited because the alums had a special feel for the firm, including knowledge of strengths and weaknesses. In some cases, alternative risk/reward billing arrangements could be worked out because of the built-in trust factor.

At all of the one-firm firms, the loyalty of alumni is a key competitive weapon. A one-firm firm leader told us, "One of the managing partners of a competing firm once told me, 'The thing that strikes fear in our hearts is when one of your alums ends up at one of our clients -- the loyalty is beyond our understanding and usually means it's just a matter of time before you guys have your nose under the tent.'"

For the full article, see http://davidmaister.com/articles/1/101/1/