Stalling Tactic Stymies Spammers

Spammers hate to wait, so Canadian firm MailChannels is capitalizing on their impatience in a new approach toward stemming the tide of unwanted e-mail. By forcing e-mail programs to slow down their digital handshakes – the exchange of information required before Internet servers will handle the recipients’ incoming mail – MailChannels has found that many spammers just decide to give up and move on to more promising pastures.

The program, called Traffic Control, allows e-mail administrators to extend the handshake time – normally around two seconds – to anywhere between 10 seconds to a couple of minutes. MailChannels founder Ken Simpson says that unlike legitimate senders, 90 percent of spammers give up after 10 seconds of being “on hold.”

“Even after eight minutes, 60 percent of legitimate e-mail senders are still hanging on trying to get their messages delivered. This is the technique spammers are really only going to get hurt by, because if we just build a better spam filter, the spammers will respond by increasing the amount of junk mail they’re blasting out. But if you throttle them, there really is nothing they can do except persist like legitimate senders, but if they do that then the economics of spamming goes out the window,” said Simpson.

To get around the prospect of a legitimate e-mail traffic jam, Traffic Control offers an additional feature that helps e-mail servers perform more efficiently. Spam researcher Bill Stearns says the volume of spam that is filtered out by this technique is impressive, and that unlike conventional filters, spammers can’t just circumvent the barricade. “It’s going to take a long time before a technique like this becomes useless.”

The Washington Post, April 10, 2007


BEST Customer Service Ever!

In this bleak world of self-service checkout at grocery stores, indifferent and awful serivce from United and American airlines, and unintelligible, overseas help desks from computer companies -- there is a bright spot: Zappos Shoes.  Everyone, including law firms, should market like

I heard about them by word of mouth -- the best advertising there is.  A friend told my wife that the company had every shoe you could want, and offered overnight shipping for purchases and returns.  It was hard to believe, but I went online and ordered two pairs of shoes.  The next day they arrived and I was impressed.  Law firms should be so good serving their clients.

Over the next 20 days I discovered that one pair of shoes was uncomfortable.  So I called the toll free number, cringing as I asked what their return policy was.  A cheerful man who actually spoke English said he would be delighted to refund or exchange them.  I was floored.  "That's what we're here for," he said.

He happily helped me pick out a replacement pair of shoes.  While we were on the phone he emailed me a free return label for the old shoes. Shipping was free, there was no restocking fee and he credited me $30 for the cheaper replacements.  LIke a man who once was lost but now was found, I told him he was amazing.

"We like to think of ourselves as a service company that sells shoes," he said.

I will always buy shoes from  I will tell everyone I know about how great is.  The company had taken a generic product -- shoes -- and distinguished itself with outstanding customer service.  Smart law firms will  do the same with their clients.


How to Build Relationships that Generate Business

How to Build Relationships that Generate BusinessYou may know dozens of people who belong to groups, clubs, committees and volunteer activities with you -- but they don't send you work. Or you may find that after years of working through lunch, your business network is pretty small.

Join business development expert Michael G. Cummings and me on a live Webinar on July 12, as we explain how to start relationships that lead to new files, and how to transform existing relationships into new business. Click here for details about the program.

As a lawyer, you are trained that "real work" comes firsts and that you must meet your billable hour target. Consequently, your circle of business contacts may be little, and probably limited to the lawyers in your firm and your current clients.  You know that new business comes via personal relationships, but you have a small network.  We'll reveal the secret to building relationships that generate new business.

On the other hand, you may be a lawyer who goes to all the bar association meetings, is active in the community, is a Cubmaster, is a volunteer on a charity, serves as an elected official and belongs to service clubs.  But for some reason, all this activity doesn't turn into new files.  It seems that all the other lawyers get the work. We'll explain how you expand these relationships so that they generate new business.

These relationship situations are easily transformed without taking advantage of people or imposing on relationships.  Instead, we'll recommend you harness your innate desire to help people, develop the ability to ask particular questions, and train yourself to listen for the answers.  Building relationships that generate new business draws on a set of learnable techniques -- not pushy salesmanship or overbearing behavior.

By attending this live Web seminar on Thursday July 12, you'll hear about real-life case histories where lawyers following their approach were able to double their revenue within a year.  Click here to reserve your seat for this live Webinar.


The Number of Marketers Law Firms are Hiring

Does your firm have enough marketers?  Perhaps not.  New research shows that the general ratio of lawyers to marketers in a firm is 25-30 lawyers to a single marketer.  This is not an aspiration -- this is what other law fims are actually doing.

According to Wisnik Career Enterprises, Inc. the average size of a marketing department is:

  • 67 at firms with 1700+ lawyers
  • 61 at firms with 1200-1700 lawyers
  • 38 at firms with 1000-1200 lawyers
  • 34 at firms with 800-1000 lawyers
  • 26 at firms with 600-800 lawyers
  • 16 at firms with 400-600 lawyers
  • 10 at firms with 250-400 lawyers.



Web 2.0 Map of the World

"Web 2.0" is a phrase that is widely used and rarely understood.  The term refers to the advent of online networking, blogs, podcasts, user-generated content, wikis, flash groups, twittering and tagging.  Still confused?  Here's a Web 2.0 Map of the World that explains everything. 

Web 2.0 Map of the World

Thanks to Anne Holland, President of MarketingSherpa for the map.


US Behind the Times as Overseas Law Firms Go Public

When Slater & Gordon in Australia became the first law firm in the world to go public last month, it turned up the heat on lawyers around the world to do the same.

U.K. lawyers may be poised to follow Australia when a bill that would allow British firms to list shares is voted on by lawmakers later this year. American lawyers say they're watching to see if the law gives their rivals an edge.

``If the English firms can sell stakes in their law firms publicly, that will then give them an advantage,'' said Ralph Baxter, the chief executive officer of the 924-attorney San Francisco-based firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. ``If the rules were to change, we would then examine what's in our best interest to do.''

Law firms, which need capital to expand and fund cases, are grappling with public offerings in the same way another industry once dominated by private partnerships, investment banks, did 30 years ago. Financial pressures mounted after Merrill Lynch & Co. listed its shares in 1971 until Goldman Sachs Group Inc. became the last major investment bank to make the change in 1999.

Many U.S. lawyers say it's too early to consider such a move when no major law firm has released plans to sell shares.

``Among the top 10 issues that I worry about, that's not in the top 100,'' said H. Rodgin Cohen, the chairman of New York's Sullivan & Cromwell, the leading legal adviser for mergers and acquisitions the last three years.

Like law firms, investment banks resisted going public, said Charles Geisst, the author of ``100 Years of Wall Street.''

``They were hesitant; it took awhile,'' Geisst, a professor at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York, said of the investment banks.

``Law firms could go public for the same reason that the investment banks had to go public. The number of the transactions were increasing and it required them to have more capital and the partners couldn't provide it.''

Slater & Gordon

The 140-lawyer Melbourne-based personal injury firm Slater & Gordon Ltd. became the first law firm in the world to trade shares on a stock exchange last month to finance new lawyers and offices. It raised $35 million ($29 million) in its May 21 IPO.

British law firms may be able to sell shares by 2010 under the Legal Services Bill that is expected to pass later this year, said Jeremy Black, associate partner in the professional practices group at Deloitte & Touche in London.

``Firms are quite interested in it. There are certain firms that are further down the track,'' Black said, declining to identify clients who have inquired about going public. ``I'd say there is some interest across the spectrum.''

The biggest hurdles to U.S. lawyers even considering selling shares are state laws and legal association ethics rules that prohibit non-lawyers from owning stakes in law firms.

Continue Reading...

The Key to a Long-Term Client Relationship? RRRRRacing!

Ice Miller, a 220-lawyer Indianapolis law firm, knows how to maintain long-term client relationship.  They have handled the logos, licensing and liability for Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League for 70+ years.

Fred Nation, the Speedway's executive vice president of communications, told the Indianapolis Star, "The relationship with Ice Miller is one of our company's oldest sustained relationships, because it reaches back into the 1930s."

Few law firms can rival the relationship: Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs of Louisville, for example, has represented the Churchill Downs horse racetrack for more than 50 years. Bingham McCutchen represented its hometown Boston Red Sox, and the historic ballpark, Fenway Park, from 1933 until the team's sale in 2002.

Ice Miller partners Richards and David M. Mattingly call Speedway CEO Tony George a friend. Mattingly handles the major litigation. Richards does most of the legal work related to sanctioning races and other items.

"There aren't too many leagues or tracks, when you start thinking about 70 years" with a single law firm, said Cary Agajanian, the founder of Motorsports Management International, whose relatives were Indianapolis 500 car owners and promoters for at least five decades. "For me, as a lawyer, to see that a firm has been giving tremendous advice and counsel for that many years is a great thing.  I hope that, after I'm gone, my firm would still continue to function as Ice Miller has."

Call Star reporter Tom Spalding at (317) 444-6202 with your comments. You can read his full story at


Win the Race to the Keyboard

Lex Blog Kevin O'KeefeHow do you make your blog more popular and attract more visitors?  Win the race to the keyboard.

Uberblogger Kevin O'Keefe was kind enough to publish a post on Real Lawyers Have Blogs in which I give away my secrets to building traffic:

  • Provide practical, how-to information.
  • Help your clients make more money.
  • Write several blog posts and schedule them to appear one day at a time.
  • Go to a conference and blog live from it.
  • Talk about what your readers are interested in. No one wants to know about your favorite color.
  • Know your clients’ business.

And my top tip is to get a blog created by LexblogThe programmers, writers, artists and tech support people helped this blog attract 10,000 visitors since it went live in April. It's all in an interview Five Questions.


CRM is Catching On


Despite the pushback at some law firms, CRM software is catching on, with 45 percent of firms now using some form of the software (up from 33 percent in 2005), according to the ABA Legal Technology Survey Report.

The idea behind CRM is to make it possible for a lawyer or secretary in the firm to coordinate sales efforts to find out who else in the firm works with clients or has contact with those clients. T

The problem is that most lawyers are loathe to share their contacts. Therefore, CRM systems try to make that pro­cess easier by automatically pulling information from Microsoft Outlook contact folders.

CRM is designed to win business, in particular to help firms coordinate efforts. With worldwide law firms em­ploying hundreds of lawyers, it’s impossible to know what they are doing and who knows whom. The idea is that CRM will help different practice groups within a firm avoid doubling up efforts trying to win the same clients.

Firms also use CRM to manage marketing and events initiatives, especially to provide mailing and invitation lists. In the past, these functions probably were done with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets or Access databases, which don’t change when contacts change.

CRM has failed to catch on in many firms because it takes time and effort to make the database useful, and law firms must added staff whose job it is to update the data and check it for accuracy.


Best Practices of Personal Marketing for Diverse Attorneys

Let’s look at a diverse attorney whose entrepreneurial instincts, initiative and skills have led him to the pinnacle of the profession. You couldn’t ask for a better role model than Donald S. Prophete, shareholder at Ogletree Deakins in Kansas City, MO.

Donald Prophete is an African-American shareholder who serves on his firm's five-member Board of Directors and as the Chief Diversity Officer. He devotes his practice to representing management in all aspects of employment-related litigation and traditional labor matters.

Hear rainmaker Donald S. Prophete LIVE at an exclusive Webinar “Best Practices of Personal Marketing for Diverse Attorneys” broadcast on Friday, June 22, 2007. Register today at  
You’ll see that Prophete’s success leaves clues for other diverse attorneys to follow.

  • Foremost, he is an entrepreneur who won business based on the value he delivered for his clients.
  • He enabled people to get to know him as an individual through networking and direct contact – where his legal expertise and heritage was apparent.
  • He leveraged his heritage by network-building with business movers and shakers with his same background, as well as targeting clients and prospects where his diversity would be an advantageous complement to his business value.

For the full story, visit the LawMarketing PortalVisit here to register for the Webinar this Friday, June 22.


Metaphors for "He is as dumb as..."

Recently a Chicago lawyer told a judge he was "a few french fries short of a happy meal."  This launched a discussion on the LawMarketing Listerv of ways to say that someone was "dumb as a box of rocks."

Trial lawyer Stephen Babcock of the Babcock Law Firm, LLC, in Baton Rouge, LA, contributed this awesome list of 127 metaphors:

12 shy of a dozen
A bad spot on the disk.
A couple of open splices.
A few beers short of a six-pack.
A few bricks shy of a load.
A few cans short of a six pack.
A loose chip on the micro processor.
A quart low.
About as sharp as a bowl of jello.
About as sharp as a bowling ball.
About as sharp as a sack of wet leather.
About fifteen cents short.
About three cents short of a dollar.
All booster - no payload.
All crown - no filling.
All the lights don't shine in his marquis
As thick as two short planks.
Attic's a little dusty.
Back burners not fully operating.
Been playing with his wand too much.
Body by Fisher - brains by Mattel
CPU not connected to the bus.
Car's only got three wheels, and one's going flat.
Doesn't have all his dogs barking.
Doesn't have all of his groceries in the same bag.
Doesn't have all the dots on his dice.
Doesn't have both oars in the water.
Doesn't know if his biscuits are all done.
Doesn't know which side of the toast the butter is on.
Doesn't have enough sandwiches for a picnic.
Driving with two wheels in the sand.
Echoes between the ears.
Elevator doesn't go to the top floor.
Got a few tiles missing from his Space Shuttle.
Got one boot stuck in the sand.
Got the mental agility of a soap dish.
Had a head crash.
Half a bubble off plumb.
Has a mind like a sieve
Has a room temperature IQ.
Hasn't got all his china in the cupboard.
He ain't wrapped too tight.
He has both oars on the same side of the boat!
He has signs on both ears saying Space for Rent
He is playing hockey with a warped puck
He isn't playing with a full deck.

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Duane Morris Business Development Model

What's the difference between marketing and business development?  One person who knows is Robert D. Greenbaum, Senior Marketing & Business Development Manager at Duane Morris in Boston.  One picture says it all:

Duane Morris Business Development ModelAs Robert put it at the recent Summit on Law Firm Marketing & Business Development (sponsored by the American Conference Institute): "A marketing manager handles all the awareness type of activities, designed to reach a target audience. Where a business development manager takes over is when a suspect becomes a prospect – where we identify a person with  specific legal need.  Business development managers focus on present and future expectations. The two kinds of managers work so closely together that the attorneys don’t know the difference. I just want them to call on us."


Tales from the Front: Getting Business from Corporate Clients

"The hourly fee is going away, because clients are demanding fixed fees," said Ron Barger, VP and General Counsel for Archon Group, LP, speaking at the Legal Sales and Service Organization conference taking place now in Dallas. He and two other general counsel addressed law firm business development from the client's perspective. "Lawyers are in for a change," he continued.  "In 15 years will see a radically different law firm billing structure."

Barger recommended that law firms develop ways to capture their costs so that they are able to write budgets for corporate clients.

Jerry G. Bradford, Associate General Counsel at Alcon Laboratories, Inc., routinely asks law firms for budgets.  He finds, however, that law firms propose outrageous budgets or are unable to produce a budget.  "My mind boggles at how few lawyers call me up to say, 'I'm having difficulty with the budget process, could you talk me through what you are looking for so I can give you what you want?"  He added, "Picking up the phone is the simple way to figure things out." 

Barger related the best experience he had seeking a law firm: "We interviewed 77 law firms after circulating an RFP.  One law firm had a presentation ready based on the fact that they worked on the DuPont Model.  They took the time to think about how they could serve us.  The best sales calls are when a lawyer shows how they'll serve a specific need of my company."

"The worst case was when I got a call from a law firm partner, who requested to get on the "short" list after our RFP process.  Their proposal had been submitted late and it didn't respond well to the RFP.  I told him we had paid his firm $4 million in fees, and this was the first time he called had called me.  That was the worst."

I had a lawyer call me to solicit business a few weeks ago," said Kimberly Elting, VP and General Counsel of Advanced Neuromodulation Systems Inc.  "Three minutes into the conversation he asked me, 'what is it exactly that your company does?'"  She recommended that law firms "get their heads out of legal publications and read trade magazines and the Wall Street Journal, so they can learn about my business before they call me."

Barger added, "Train your lawyers to use news aggregators and subscribe to the RSS feeds of clients.  Clients like it when you've read an article about us, or can send us an article about the industry.  Teach your lawyers how to use it."

Continue Reading...

Jenner & Block Demoting 15-20 partners

Bloomberg News
Published June 13, 2007

Jenner & Block, a Chicago-based law firm that focuses on litigation, is shifting 15 to 20 of its equity partners to non-equity status, the National Law Journal reported Monday, citing anonymous sources.

Some of the partners are being asked to leave and a smaller number are opting for voluntary retirement, the legal newspaper said.

The firm's management last month began to move forward with the plan to cut some of the equity partners during the next year or two, according to anonymous sources cited in the Law Journal.

Though it eliminates the security of partnership -- once as honored as tenure at a university -- de-equitizing partners is a means to boost the average profits earned by equity partners to retain rainmakers and lure new talent. Equity-per-partner rankings have become the industry's measuring stick in the absence of any other accepted method, making demotions from partnership increasingly common.

In March Chicago-based Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP announced its decision to purge 45 partners amid revenue growth of 11 percent in 2006. The conservative firm, one of the nation's 10 largest in 2006, topped $1 billion in revenues for the first time in its 125-year history. Sidley Austin demoted more than 30 partners in an effort to be more competitive more than eight years earlier.

Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune


American Lawyer Editor Teaches the Dark Lessons of Law

I’m at the Legal Sales and Service Conference in Dallas, and Aric Press, who has been editor of American Lawyer magazine for nine years, discussed “What’s Hot, What’s Not: Law Firm & Industry Trends.” Or as he termed it, “Amid the glee, are there any dark lessons worth learning?”

First, the rich are getting richer.   Collectively the 2006 highest-grossing US law firms (the AmLaw 200) generated $72.5 billion in gross revenues, he said. Average revenue per lawyer went up 7%+ in 2006. Among the top 50 mega firms, partners averaged $1.379 million in profits per partner. The top 15 firms had profits per partner of more than $2 million per year.

“These are the ‘good old days,’” he quipped. However:

Partnership has changed irrevocably. The single category that has dropped steadily among law firms is the percentage of equity partners – only 25% of the lawyers have equity status in AmLaw 100. This year 39 of the top 100 firms shrank or held steady in percentage of equity partners. There are only 20 one-tier partnerships left in AmLaw 100, and partners are abandoning name-brand firms to make more money elsewhere. The big firm partners are being wooed by other firms to get “off the lockstep system” of compensation. The new rule of partnership is that tenure is dead. “You don’t have to publish, but if you don’t produce you, you perish,” Press said. These are the good old days.

Talent wars are underway. “They are excruciating; if you win your share, you get to stay exactly where you are.” Law firms know that most associates who are hired will leave, because the firms have a work environment that is inhospitable for young parents. The associates see the mega firms as “ATM machines with legs.” The young lawyers will work only as long as it takes to pay off their student loans. Press said firms need to change the way they recruit. If they send out untrained lawyers to recruit at law schools, they can’t wonder two years later why they hired associates who don’t fit in.

Continue Reading...

Wal-Mart's Legal Chief Talks Diversity

This article was emailed to me by the manging partner of a law firm client:

Wal-MartWal-Mart's chief attorney, Tom Mars, was on a plane with company President and CEO Lee Scott several years ago when Scott sat down across from him and told Mars something that later led to Wal-Mart having a more diverse legal staff.

"Like most of Wal-Mart's success stories, this one started with Lee. Our diversity program began with Scott's vision," Mars said.

He made his remarks at Wal-Mart's second annual Legal Department Diversity Conference held June 5 at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. Attending were attorneys from the top 150 outside law firms that do business with the world's largest retailer.

Wal-Mart began a company-wide diversity program several years ago with goals of hiring and promoting more women and minorities. The Bentonville-based retailer is now spreading that diversity gospel to suppliers and other companies with which it does business.

Mars joined Wal-Mart in 2002 after heading the Arkansas State Police in Little Rock. He has also served as a prosecutor and once worked for the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, where his "mentor" was Sen. Hillary Clinton, D.-N.Y., former first lady of Arkansas and now a presidential candidate.

Scott had told Mars on the plane that day that he would some day find he could use Wal-Mart's considerable influence to change the world. Mars said he discovered that mission when he started promoting a diversity program among the company's own legal department and in its outside law firms.

When Mars joined Wal-Mart, the company had 56 attorneys -- 20 of them women and six minorities, said Susan Klooz, vice president and division general counsel. Today, Wal-Mart has 158 attorneys -- 44 percent of them women and 33 percent minorities, she said.

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Latham Lists Firm Management on Website

The caste system at law firms has long been a sore point at law firms. Typically, there are the lawyers and beneath them are the "non-lawyers."  The lower caste includes professionals with MBAs, law degrees and chief marketing officers who have brought in millions of new revenue to a firm. 

See Monica Bay's article "It's Time to List Executives on Law Firm Web Sites."  She is the editor-in-chief of Law Technology News and famously challenged law firms two years ago to list their executives on their websites.

So it was refreshing to see that Latham & Watkins, with 1,900 lawyers, relaunched its website this spring and included a separate page for Firm Administration. It displays the firm's

  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Chief Real Estate and Facilities Officer
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Chief Marketing Officer
  • Chief Human Resources Officer
  • Chief Attorney Development Officer
  • Chief Library and Records Officer
  • Chief Administrative Officer.

I expect Latham's leadership to start a trend.


Client Profiles Acquires Lynch Marks CRM Consulting

Client Profiles, an Atlanta-based provider of CRM, case management and financial applications for the legal profession, has acquired the CRM Consulting Practice of Lynch Marks, LLC.

Lynch Marks helped law firms get the most out of their CRM systems. Since 1998, Lynch Marks completed over 175 CRM implementation and consulting projects including over 50% of the Am Law 100 firms, and nearly 45% of Am Law 200 firms.  

The deal will incorporate the Lynch Marks Datalyser products and services with the Client Profiles CRM4Legal application.

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Net taxes could arrive by this fall

Here's some news I didn't want to hear:

By Declan McCullagh

The era of tax-free e-mail, Internet shopping and broadband connections could end this fall, if recent proposals in the U.S. Congress prove successful.

State and local governments this week resumed a push to lobby Congress for far-reaching changes on two different fronts: gaining the ability to impose sales taxes on Net shopping, and being able to levy new monthly taxes on DSL and other connections. One senator is even predicting taxes on e-mail.

At the moment, states and municipalities are frequently barred by federal law from collecting both access and sales taxes. But they're hoping that their new lobbying effort, coordinated by groups including the National Governors Association, will pay off by permitting them to collect billions of dollars in new revenue by next year.

If that doesn't happen, other taxes may zoom upward instead, warned Sen. Michael Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. "Are we implicitly blessing a situation where states are forced to raise other taxes, such as income or property taxes, to offset the growing loss of sales tax revenue?" Enzi said. "I want to avoid that."

A flurry of proposals that pro-tax advocates advanced this week push in that direction. On Tuesday, Enzi introduced a bill that would usher in mandatory sales tax collection for Internet purchases. Second, during a House of Representatives hearing the same day, politicians weighed whether to let a temporary ban on Net access taxes lapse when it expires on November 1. A House backer of another pro-sales tax bill said this week to expect a final version by July.

"The independent and sovereign authority of states to develop their own revenue systems is a basic tenet of self government and our federal system," said David Quam, director of federal relations at the National Governors Association, during a Senate Commerce committee hearing on Wednesday.

Internet sales taxes

At the moment, for instance, Seattle-based is not required to collect sales taxes on shipments to millions of its customers in states like California, where Amazon has no offices. (Californians are supposed to voluntarily pay the tax owed when filing annual state tax returns, but few do.)

Ideas to alter this situation hardly represent a new debate: officials from the governors' association have been pressing Congress to enact such a law for at least six years. They invoke arguments--unsuccessful so far--like saying that reduced sales tax revenue threatens budgets for schools and police.

But with Democrats now in control of both chambers of Congress, the political dynamic appears to have shifted in favor of the pro-tax advocates and their allies on Capitol Hill. The NetChoice coalition, which counts as members eBay, Yahoo and the Electronic Retailing Association and opposes the sales tax plan, fears that the partisan shift will spell trouble.

One long-standing objection to mandatory sales tax collection, which the Supreme Court in a 1992 case left up to Congress to decide, is the complexity of more than 7,500 different tax agencies that each have their own (and frequently bizarre) rules. Some legal definitions (PDF) tax Milky Way Midnight candy bars as candy and treat the original Milky Way bar as food. Peanut butter Girl Scout cookies are candy, but Thin Mints or Caramel deLites are classified as food.

The pro-tax forces say that a concept called the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement will straighten out some of the notorious convolutions of state tax laws. Enzi's bill, introduced this week, relies on the agreement when providing "federal authorization" to require out-of-state retailers "to collect and remit the sales and use taxes" due on the purchase. (Small businesses with less than $5 million in out-of-state sales are exempted.)

It's "important to level the playing field for all retailers," Enzi said during Wednesday's hearing.

While it's too early to know how much support Enzi's bill will receive, foes of higher taxation are marshaling their allies. Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, said Wednesday that he'd like "to see an impregnable ban on taxes on the Internet."

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American Lawyer Media Could Be Sold This Month

ALM MediaNEW YORK, May 30 (Reuters) - At least four private equity firms are in the final round of bidding for the publisher of The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel magazines, with a deal expected to exceed $700 million, sources said on Wednesday.

The media company, called ALM, is controlled by legendary Wall Street dealmaker Bruce Wasserstein through a private equity fund he runs. ALM put itself up for sale in March.

Sources close to the deal say James Finkelstein, a partner at buyout firm Avista Capital Partners, is among those pursuing the company. Finkelstein was formerly chief executive of the legal publishing company that Wasserstein bought and turned into ALM.

Elevation Partners, the media-focused buyout firm founded by veteran dealmakers and U2 lead singer Bono, is also bidding for ALM, sources say. The auction is expected to wrap up sometime in the next month or so.

ALM, whose glossy magazines are popular among U.S. lawyers and legal professionals, has annual cash flow of about $50 million, sources say. Any offer above $700 million would value the company at more than 14 times its cash flow, a hefty multiple even in the media industry. The company declined to comment.

Other interested suitors include publicly traded buyout firm Investcorp  and Incisive Media, another media company that Apax Partners bought late last year, sources said. Elevation, Investcorp and Incisive declined to comment. Finkelstein did not return multiple phone calls.

Wasserstein Perella, an advisory boutique formed by Wasserstein and another famed banker, Joseph Perella, bought American Lawyer Media for $200 million through an affiliate in 1997. Finkelstein, as CEO and president of the company, helped broker the deal. Wasserstein Perella was later sold to a bank.

ALM, which in January 2005 changed its name from American Lawyer Media, was formed by U.S. Equity Partners L.P., a private equity fund sponsored by Wasserstein & Co.

Wasserstein also runs merger advisory firm Lazard Ltd. and is chairman of The Deal LLC, a media company focused on the mergers & acquisitions market.

Wasserstein & Co. has hired investment bank Credit Suisse Group to explore ALM's options.

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The Internet: Bringing People Together who are Three Feet Away

The reach of the Internet can be as close as three feet.

I emailed Carolynn MacKinnon, Director of Client Relations and Marketing at Blake, Cassels & Graydon in Toronto.  Presuming she was hundreds of miles away, I asked her to resend me a file.  I sent the email discreetly while I was sitting in a hotel meeting room at a marketing conference in New York.

Then came the answer:

Larry. I am sitting beside you. !!!! Can we talk??

I looked to my left, and there she was, smiling at me from two seats away. 


Lawyer's 'Happy Meal' comment eats at judge

A Chicago lawyer’s comment to a bankruptcy judge in court has gotten him in some hot water, or perhaps more appropriately, hot oil.

“I suggest with respect, Your Honor, that you’re a few french fries short of a Happy Meal in terms of what’s likely to take place,” William Smith, a partner with Chicago-based McDermott Will & Emery LLP, said during a hearing May 7 in Miami in front of Judge Laurel Myerson Isicoff, according to court documents.

Mr. Smith’s comment represents “conduct that appears to be inconsistent with the requirements of professional conduct,” Judge Isicoff wrote in an order for Mr. Smith to appear before her June 25 “to show cause why he should not be suspended from practice before this court.”

Though he's not licensed to practice in Florida, Mr. Smith has been granted permission to appear in this particular case. Judge Isicoff could revoke that permission at the June 25 hearing.

Drew Schadegg of TC Public Relations in Chicago said, "What a legal PR nightmare! This firm needs a better media relations agency."

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Law Firm Billboard: "Life is Short. Get a Divorce."

Verbal chaos exploded when the all-female law firm, Fetman, Garland & Associates, put up a racy billboard in a trendy Chicago neighborhood, reading "Life is Short. Get a Divorce." Recently, the podcast Lawyer 2 Lawyer discussed this controversial ad and questioned whether the firm went too far. The program also discusses the fallout and the advertising campaign's effect on attorney advertising. Join host and blogger, J. Craig Williams as he debated this hot topic with the experts:

  • Yours truly, speaking from the marketing standpoint.
  • Tim O’Brien, President/CEO of The Personal Branding Group, Inc.
  • Jeffery Leving, national litigator and consultant from the Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd. in Chicago. Don’t miss it! 

Listen to the podcast via two media:

Click here for Windows Media File

Right-click to download MP3

Video: Why You Need to Pay Attention to Everyone age 28 or younger

Videos have taken the Web by storm.  The most popular site, YouTube, is the No. 4 most popular Web site on the Internet.  It reaches 10% of all the people online every day.

What is driving this phenomenon? The reason was explicated at a program sponsored by Canright & Paule, a Chicago design firm I recommend and use myself. It's the fact that everyone age 28 or younger has grown up with the Internet present in their lives, according to Stephen Krol, VP for Professional Services for the Lyons Consulting Group.  

This is Generation Y or the Millennials.  Entering the world after 1977, this generation comprises 72 million people, or almost 30 percent of the total population.  This generation is having a huge impact on the economy.  They not only shop using their own money, they influence their parents' buying trends -- the Baby Boomers.

Generation Y has never known a time without TV, radio, satellite broadcasts, microwaves, computers, game systems and the Internet.

These energetic, Web-loving young people have Webcams and know how to put video online.  The lesson for law firm marketers is that the law graduates that law firms recruit are in this age bracket.  To reach them, you need to put video on your Web site recruiting page.  Static pictures and text just won't attract them.

Co-presenter Greg Buhl, VP for Interactive Strategies of Performance communications Group, gave examples of how video increased return-on-investment for several businesses.  Sysco Foods has a video of Chef Pepi using new food products; the video significantly increased the time that visitors spent on the Sysco site.  Disney put video into a banner ad for a game, and the clickthrough rates increased measurably.

Video on law firm Web sites = something worth viewing.