A Law Firm Announcement that Clients Will Actually Read

We've all seen the unreadable law firm announcements: letters in all-caps in Copperplate Gothic font saying, "We are pleased to announce..." Usually that's the point where everyone stops reading.

That's because they are self-congratulatory announcements about an internal personnel decision that means nothing to anyone outside the law firm

Finally the folks at Greenfield/Belser Ltd. created an ad/announcement for Luce Forward's San Francisco office that is creative and also actually speaks to clients:

Luce Forward announcement

"Unlike most law firm announcements where the firm is really congratulating themselves on attracting a top attorney to their firm, this one speaks to the client and highlights the benefit the addition of these new real estate attorneys will bring to Luce Forward's clients," said Jeffrey Morgan, Principal at Greenfield/Belser. "After all, isn't that who should know and care about the addition of new talent -- your buyers?"

Kudos for a great job. The ad is running exactly like this in the legal trades and the real estate trades.


Florida Law Damages Criminal Defense Practices

For decades, private defense attorneys have represented all the people who couldn't afford a lawyer but had a conflict of interest with the public defender's office. Not any more.

Against private attorneys' wishes, Gov. Charlie Crist approved funding for a revised model that will send most of those cases to a new cadre of government lawyers housed in five regional offices around Florida.

The aim is to save the state money. But "Creating a new bureaucracy never saves money," said Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger.

Starting Oct. 1, the regional offices will handle criminal conflicts, guardianship and child dependency cases.  This assumes that all indigent people have cars or a way to get to the regional offices.

Private attorneys will lose cash flow from conflict cases, some of which brought them $950 and took less than a day to resolve. Senate staff estimated that 80 percent of the criminal conflicts and child dependency now handled by private attorneys will be assigned to the regional offices.


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How U.S. Companies Select International Outside Counsel

The best sources for international legal work from US corporate clients are referrals from other law firms and a good website presence, according to new research. Conversely, little work can be obtained by participating in RFP competitions.

More than ever, U.S. businesses have to find and select law firms in the countries in which they operate. To shed light on the buying behavior of U.S. corporate legal counsel, ALM (American Lawyer Media) conducted in-depth research among over 200 key corporate decision-makers involved in the purchasing of overseas legal services.

Despite the economic attraction of Asia’s rapid growth, the surveyed U.S. companies and divisions sought outside counsel most frequently in Europe, led by the UK (59 percent). Canada (50 percent) and the rising economic power China (46 percent) followed closely as the most requested individual countries. Other important legal markets and regions include Germany (40 percent) and Latin America (South America at 41 percent and Central America/Mexico at 36 percent).

How US corporations pick international law firms:

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Answer Questions in your Blog, and Risk Your Malpractice Insurance

No law firm has been sued for malpractice because of bad advice given on a blog.  There are at least 1,829 "blawgs" in 54 Categories, according to Blawgsearch.com.  Law blogs have been a wonderful source of information for the profession and for clients.

So leave it to Chubb Group of Insurance Companies to throw some poison into a good thing.  Chubb actually denied professional liability insurance for a 35-lawyer Freehold, N.J. firm, Lomurro Davison Eastman & Munoz to cover a blog the firm was planning. 

Partner James Paone was told "this is not a risk they are interested in undertaking." He took the no-go message to mean the insurer anticipated that their blog postings could be construed as legal advice.

Following an online furor over this preposterous decision, Chubb backed off.   James Rhyner, the worldwide lawyers professional manager for Chubb said in a statement, "Chubb does insure this new form of communication--and will continue to do so within select parameters."

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More Law Firms Charging Fixed Fees

Butler RubinFirms large (Morgan Lewis) and small (Butler Rubin) are starting to abandon the billable hour method in order to land major new clients, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Most corporations pay lawyers by the hour. But critics say that approach encourages lawyers to be inefficient, leading to large, unpredictable bills. Now, law firms are offering flat rate or fixed-fee agreements to win new legal work.

While a growing trend, alternative billing has yet to catch on in a big way, especially with the nation's top law firms, which are generally hugely profitable using the billable-hours system for most of their work. According to an upcoming study by the General Counsel Roundtable, 62% of about 150 general counsel at large companies said they have used fixed fees "once in a while," up from 54% in a study done in 2002.

Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd, a 35-lawyer litigation boutique in Chicago, was a traditional hourly rate firm until about four years ago, says partner Patrick Lamb. Instead of raising its rates, the firm decided to pitch an alternative approach to clients.

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Overbeck Named CMO of DLA Piper

Jolene OverbeckAfter a few months working as a consultant at 3,400-lawyer DLA Piper, Jolene M. Overbeck has been hired into the newly created position of Chief Marketing Officer. In her new role, Overbeck will oversee all aspects of DLA Piper's marketing and business development efforts in 24 countries.

Jolene, formerly of the Zeughauser Group, is the former CMO of Latham & Watkins and Shearman & Sterling. Her career spans 25 years in law firm marketing.

Nigel Knowles, Joint CEO of DLA Piper, commented: "Jolene led marketing efforts at two of the most successful international firms, and has the extremely rare skills and experience to position DLA Piper as the leading provider of global legal services."

Helms Mulliss & Wicker Unveils Branded Vehicle

Helms Mullis Honda ElementHelms Mulliss & Wicker, a 130-lawyer firm in North Carolina, rolled out its new branded delivery vehicle. It is believed to be the first law firm in the country to utilize the latest technology in vehicle branding.

Commuter marketing is a cost-effective way to reinforce the firm’s name in the marketplace. According to the Transportation Advertising Council, commuter marketing can generate between 50,000 to 70,000 impressions per day.

The Helms Mulliss & Wicker dispatch center coordinates an estimated 6,800 courier trips each year including deliveries between their offices locations in Charlotte, Raleigh and Wilmington.

The firm selected the Honda Element for its cargo space, safety, fuel economy and low emissions. The end result is a highly functional delivery vehicle which tastefully places the Helms Mulliss & Wicker identity in front of commuters.

Cancel Your Yellow Pages Ad

In an article entitled "Google Trends: Yellow Pages Will Be Toast In Four Years," the blog search engine land, says "marketing industry savants have long been predicting the demise of print Yellow Pages books, going the way of the buggy whip due to overwhelming competition from Internet alternatives. Further, the aggressive invasion of search engines into the local space during the past few years has inspired some analysts to wonder if Internet Yellow Pages directories might also be headed for extinction along with the printed books. Readily available stats from Google show trends and provide a good sense of what's actually going on across the local space on the Internet. Ironically, we can also use these stats to predict the demise of traditional Yellow Pages sites."

Yellowpages Cancel that #*$%! expensive yellow pages ad.  This was the clear advice I gave to attendees at our conference "Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan" in Chicago.  I repeated the advice at the Chicago Bar Association technology conference.  You now have permission to save yourself a small fortune.

Fewer people are reading the Yellow Pages every day. It's last century's marketing. Instead, they are using the Web to find attorneys. Take the money you save and plow it into your online presence.  People now use Google to look up phone numbers, addresses and law firms.

Ask yourself -- when was the last time you personally opened that thick, hard-to-read yellow directory?  It's been a long time, hasn't it? There are multiple yellow page directories anyway -- which one did you use?

According to Pew/Internet, Yahoo beats all yellow pages.  Verizon yellow pages are No. 2.

By advertising in the yellow pages, you are doing what thousands of other lawyers are doing.  You are simply making yourself more like the competition, not distinguishing yourself. There's no way to break from the clutter -- there are hundreds of lawyer yellow page listings.

Besides, most yellow pages ads are written by their salesmen.  That's why they all look the same. Save your budget while you still can. Get out now.

Don't Call it a "Client Survey," Call it "Client Discovery"

Patrick Fuller Business of Law blogThe right words you use can make all the difference in getting a law firm's management to try a new marketing initiative.  This is certainly true in the case of client feedback surveys, which 60% of law firms don't do -- despite the fact that they are a great marketing technique.  So why not call them "client discovery" or an "external deposition" to give the lawyers some terms they can relate to, says blogger Patrick Fuller.

As a Business Development Executive with Thomson West, Patrick writes the Business of Law blog. "It may increase the internal adoption of marketing and business development concepts if marketers and business development professionals begin mapping their strategic initiatives to traditional attorney functions," he argues.

"For example, a colleague once described discovery to me as the most important function of trial preparation.  Discovery is defined as “The act of finding or learning something that was previously unknown”. All of the definitions and examples provided centered on a common theme – becoming enlightened to the facts and utilizing this newfound knowledge in a strategic matter.

I can understand why law firms spend so much time in discovery, as effective discovery techniques tend to make or break cases and separate the average attorneys from the great.

What I cannot understand is, if discovery is so important to every case, why is it not applied with equal intensity to business development?   Ineffective trial discovery can damage a case, which can ultimately lead to the loss of a client. Ineffective client discovery can ultimately cripple a law firm.

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Law Firms Should Sell Reports Online

Investment firms do it, consulting firms do it.  Why shouldn't law firms take their articles, speeches and white papers and sell them online?  If they're giving them away as marketing propaganda, the Web site visitor has to wonder if it's worth anything.

Littler Mendelson sells The Employer package of conferences, books and CDS at http://www.littler.com/compliancetools/index.cfm?event=detail&childViewID=219. Admission to The Executive Employer® Conference is $1,795. For more than two decades Littler has written and published The Employer books. This series of national and state reference books provide practical advice to management concerning employment and labor relations.

If a partner at your firm has given a speech entitled, "The Top 10 Ways Business Get Into Legal Trouble," I recommend the firm reduce it into writing, save it as a PDF file, and sell it on the firm Web site.  Putting a price on it conveys that the information is really worth something.  Plus it creates scarcity -- the document isn't some promotional piece potential can get anywhere -- it's available only on the law firm Web site.

The same goes for white papers that lawyers must write when they give CLE courses.  Sure, the state bar or conference sponsor put the white paper in the handout materials for attendees, but they're the only ones who will ever see it.  For everyone else, the firm should put a price on it and sell it.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal sell their archived articles online.  Hoovers, Lexis and Thompson sell their information for a subscription fee. The one message that came through loud and clear at the Marketing Sherpa online marketing conference in New York is that too many businesses are giving their best stuff away.  They are making it free when they could be charging for it.

Of course, selling partner white papers, articles and speeches will not be a significant revenue source for the law firm.  That's not the point.  By selling its intellectual content online, the firm is conveying that its in-person legal services are special, have value and are worth paying a high hourly fee for.


The HOT new job in Marketing

If you want a job that will get you hired tomorrow and let you name your salary, become a Blog and Viral Marketing Manager.  Corporations are already looking for these people and law firms will start soon.

Speaking at the Marketing Sherpa online marketing conference in New York, Scott Butler, the VP of Marketing for Blockbuster Video, said he is looking for a Blog and Viral Marketing Manager now, but can't find one. (You can contact him in Dallas at 214-854-3000).

This job involves contacting bloggers and getting them interested in writing about your firm.  The marketer emails or phones up the blogger and says, "to make blogging easier for you, here is some information you can use."  Often it helps to give them free access or a free copy of what you're selling.  This approach netted Blockbuster 500 blog posts, primarily favorable, about their Total Access service.

The Blog and Viral Marketing Manager also looks for ways to bundle the firm's services with online vehicles.  For Blockbuster, this involved getting Web site owners to put a banner or link online, offering their visitors a free trial of the Blockbuster service.  For law firms this might involve bundling a marketing message with a news site, listserv or online forum.  The idea is to create buzz about your firm's services.

Blog and viral marketing (along with many traditional marketing techniques) netted 3.5 million subscribers to Blockbuster's Total Access program in six months.


Using "T&A" to sell Divorce

Tell me what you think -- what do you make of this law firm ad on a downtown Chicago billboard?
The billboard promotes Fetman, Garland & Associates, Ltd., an all woman-lawyer firm specializing in divorce, and it has the city in a twitter.  I just appeared on MSNBC TV at Noon to comment on the ad (my 15 minutes of fame).
I I said that as a happily married guy (holding up the ring on my left hand) I thought it was funny, and my wife would probably think so too.
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Getting Motivated to Generate Six Figures in New Business

Join business development Michael G. Cummings and me at our Webinar this Thursday, May 10, as we reveal case histories of lawyers who have doubled and their income, how to avoid the 5 biggest attorney selling mistakes, the three areas to focus your energy, listening your way to new business and finding leads and new business targets.

Here are the details:

DATE:May 10, 2007; 1PM - 2PM Eastern
LOCATION: On the Web, On your computer
MORE INFO:CONTACT Laura Kresich, Program Director; (Tel) (773) 966-9273, (Fax) (630) 282-0472 or  Lkresich@LawMarketing.com

Click here to sign up for this event

Is this you?

  • I am ready, willing and able to generate new business, but just can't get started.
  • I have made business development plans repeatedly, met with colleagues and collected volumes of information -- but haven't taken any action.
  • My intentions are good, but I can't find the time to pursue business development.
  • I find myself freezing up the moment it comes to pick up the telephone to call a new business contact.

Take heart -- most other lawyers are just like you. Business development experts Larry Bodine, Esq., a 15-year veteran of law firm business development, and Michael G. Cummings, who has 20 years' experience with professional services sales, will show you how to get started in this 60-minute live Web seminar.

Contact Laura Kresich: (312) 217-3895 or email Lkresich@LawMarketing.com 

Registration fee: $300

You'll hear about real-world case studies where lawyers at first had trouble with business development, but afterwards:

  • A commercial real estate parnter was able to double his billings and take part in a firmwide effort that brought in $1,000,000 in new business for the firm.  Even though he was a talented networker, but he had trouble asking for business.  With training, he became a skilled closer.
  • A successful litigator was able to boost her revenue from $200,000 per year to $2.5 million in one year.  She had learned how to turn her contacts on boards of directors into clients and introductions.

You too can be one of these fabulously successful attorneys.  The advice we've given to lawyers really works.  Business development is simply a set of learnable techniques, and you already have the intelligence and skills required for it.

The curriculum:

  • Business development is not "selling," and there's no downside to it.
  • You don't have to make cold calls.
  • Building a business development plan based on what you're good at and activities you enjoy doing.
  • The secret to business development.
  • The 5 biggest mistakes attorneys make.
  • "Selling" is not making a pitch, it's conducting an interview.
  • How to sell like a doctor.
  • How to find new business leads.
  • Three business development priorities, and the order in which you should pursue them.
  • Misconceptions about networking.
  • Composing your 30-second commercial.
  • The two kinds of companies that make the best targets.
  • A dozen ways to get in front of a target buyer.
  • What words to say at a business development meeting, and how to make your target like you.
  • What makes a client buy.

If you check "yes" to any of the following, you should attend this webinar:

 I have been in practice five years or more and have few clients of my own.

 My best source of new business is a senior partner who gives me files to work on.

 I've tried several times to get started with business development, but just canft find the time.

 I am an income partner but don't generate enough revenue to qualify for equity partnership.

 I keep waiting for the firm to help me with business development, but they haven't done anything.

 I don't have a personal business development plan. 

Contact Laura Kresich: (312) 217-3895 or email Lkresich@LawMarketing.com 

Registration fee: $300

You can change your destiny by taking charge of your practice.  It's not difficult and it's not uncomfortable.  We know you went to law school so you wouldn't have to "sell," and you won't have to act like a used-car salesman.  We'll show you how to be a rainmaker and remove the barriers to your success.

About the faculty

Mike Cummings and Larry Bodine have trained hundreds of lawyers to generate new business and make more money.  All of their trainees are more prosperous, and most of them became rainmakers.  They pick the clients they work with, do the work they enjoy, and enjoy the rewards and recognition that come with success.

Larry BodineLarry Bodine is a business development advisor who helps law firms generate revenue and get new business by:

  • Training lawyers at firm retreats.  At one-day or half-day programs, lawyers learn all the business development techniques that work, and are steered away from those that don’t. A retreat is an ideal kick-off event to launch a business development initiative.
  • Coaching lawyers to develop their personal marketing plans.  Lawyers will meet with Larry to create a plan to pursue clients, referral sources, cross-selling opportunities and organizations of clients.  Typically, lawyers will multiply their revenues once a plan is in place.
  • Developing business development strategies. As a result, firms can identify their most lucrative, ideal clients; develop pursuit teams to acquire them; identify target industries where they have strength; have a five-year vision for the firm; and use a series of tactics to succeed.
  • Using technology to market a practice.  Blogs, podcasts, Webinars, e-Newsletters and Web sites extend a lawyer’s marketing reach, and work for a lawyer around the clock.

Larry has advised firms as large as a 3,000 lawyer global law firm to a 25-lawyer trial boutique in Chicago.  For more information, see www.LarryBodine.com.

He was the Director of Communications of Sidley, Austin Brown & Wood for eight years.  He has 15 years' experience as a journalist, serving as Editor and Publisher of the American Bar Association Journal and other news publications.

He practiced law in Madison, Wisconsin and is a cum laude graduate of both Seton Hall University and Amherst College.


Michael CummingsMichael G. Cummings is the managing principal of SAGE PDI, Inc. He has been a marketing strategy and business development consultant for over 20 years.

Early in his career, Michael was an instrumental member of the team that established the headquarters strategy and marketing function at Andersen Worldwide (Arthur Andersen & Accenture).

In this role, he defined information technology needs for key industries and functional areas; worked with senior partners to devise marketing plans and implement integrated marketing campaigns and developed strategy and marketing processes such as account management and market planning. He also helped to develop the initial large account management planning process and relationship management training programs.

Over the years, Michael has collaborated with Allan Boress to build the sales, marketing and relationship management skills of professionals. Based on their collective experience in working with the top business generators in the consulting, systems integration and accounting professions -- they have translated proven best practices into practical, reality based skill building systems and training programs. And he co-authored a new book with Allan in 2002 – Mastering the Art of Marketing Professional Services: A Step-by-step Best Practices Guide (AICPA).

Prior to establishing SAGE, Michael was partner at Mercer Management Consulting -- a leading business design consulting firm. At Mercer, he was responsible for new business development, managing client relationships and delivering business design engagements in the communications, information and industrial industries

In this role, he was a leader of Mercer's top North American account over the past 6 years: IBM. Using his account planning, relationship management and selling skills developed over the years, Michael helped Mercer to create over 300 senior executive relationships and sustained base of business. He also led account teams aimed at expanding relationships with Motorola, Siemens and NCR.



Internet Scams Don't Work if You are Honest

Fake CheckThere's a new Internet scam invented every day, but you are immune if you are honest.  The scams succeed by preying on people's greed.  But if you know there's no such thing as free money, they can't get to you.

I was lured by an elaborate scam that began when I listed a bedroom set for sale for $500 in the local paper, which also ran its want ads online. One day "Carol Campbell" emailed me from camp999@gmail.com, saying she was in the furniture consignment business and offered me $450.  I emailed back that she had a deal.

She called to confirm, using Sprint's relay service designed for deaf people, where Carol typed a message and an operator read it to me.  She said she had health problems including being hard of hearing.

Then Carol said that a shipping agent would pick up the bedroom set, and that she would send me money to pay for the service.  I was to deduct the $450 and send the rest to her shipping agent in London, England via moneygram or Western Union money transfer.

I didn't hear from her for two weeks so I sold the set to someone else and told Carol the deal of was off. Then a UPS envelope arrived with four $1,000 money orders made out to me.  I smelled a rat.

There are suckers who would have deposited the checks, deducted $450 and wired the rest of the money to London.  However I noticed:

  • The email address looked phony.
  • The phone call was untraceable because of the relay service.
  • The UPS sender was "David Cole" in Tampa, FL, who had no phone number.
  • The money orders were signed by "Valerie Mosic."
  • The ink smudged on the money order numbers.  They were probably printed with an inkjet printer using check paper from an office store.

I emailed Carol, asking where to return the checks.  She emailed that she had cancer and I should send the check to her doctor Steven E. Murillo, 111 Sutter Street, San Francisco.  No phone listing existed for "Dr. Murillo" either.

At this point, I had no doubt is was a scam.  "Carol" was hoping I would deposit the money orders and wire cash to London.  She expected I would discover that the money orders were fake after it was too late -- and there was no way to trace her.

The scam failed because Carol was an incompetent con artist -- the scam was too elaborate. Also the essential element was missing -- the feeling of greed by the mark.  I'm no angel, but this scam just left me confused.  I've seen $4,000 before and it didn't inspire avarice.

Like the former Boy Scout that I am,  I held onto the money orders, which quickly faded and turned yellow, waiting to return the money to the rightful owner.  You can't cheat an honest man.


The Most Effective Forms of Legal Marketing

Recently I was interviewed by LawyersandSettlements.com. We covered blogs, how much to spend on marketing, the marketing cost per new case, TV advertising, yellow pages, and what makes lawyers call for business development help.

What are the most effective forms of legal marketing?
We are currently at the tipping point of using technology to market law firms.
Law firms are just beginning to use blogs and many are beginning to understand how to use web sites effectively for marketing. The key indicator is that firms are starting to list industries that they serve on their websites. In other words, instead of creating a website all about their credentials, they are focusing on their visitors. It is a classic marketing technique to focus on customers, and not what you are selling.

Until recently, law firm websites were all about themselves. Instead, they should focus on what their visitors want to buy. For example, clients don't see themselves as customers of practice groups. Instead, they see themselves as members of an industry. Therefore law firms are doing smart marketing by listing industries they serve.

Can you give an example?

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