Cadwalader Lays Off 96 More Lawyers

From Law.com:
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft announced today it is laying off 96 lawyers in a second round of job cuts as the Wall Street firm continues to cope with the ongoing effects of the credit crunch.

W. Christopher White, the firm's chairman, says the cuts will be in its capital markets and global finance groups, which have been hit hard by the reduced appetite on Wall Street for commercial mortgage-backed securities. The cuts are on top of the 35 associates Cadwalader laid off in January, bringing the total to 131.

Of the 96 affected lawyers, White says 90 percent "are being laid off because of the downturn in the real estate finance and securitization market." The job reductions principally affect Cadwalader's New York, Charlotte, and London offices (the majority are in New York); one or two Washington, D.C., lawyers also face cuts, White says. Most are associates, though some special counsel are affected.

Cadwalader also is dismissing administrative staff, White says, though numbers were not immediately available. Cadwalader already had a hiring freeze in place since the fall, which remains in effect. To date, at least 21 staffers have left and not been replaced.

Read the full story here.

Excellence in eLawyering Brings New Clients to Chicago Law Firm

Lauren Daly, law firm marketing, e-marketing

Cowell Taradash of Chicago, Illinois, launched the website www.illinoisdivorce.com five years ago after they realized they were losing clients to low end, discount divorce attorneys. Managing partner Wes Cowell said this was a preventive measure to stop market loss while at the same time to gain market share. The five-lawyer firm’s decision to provide legal services via the internet proved successful:

  • The site alone generates 10 to 15 percent of the firm’s business.
  • The availability of their services over the internet presents convenience for both the attorneys and their clients.
  • The internet empowers clients to seek and obtain information regarding legal services at their own convenience.
  • eLawyering saves time for both lawyers and clients by offering online forms that dramatically reduce the need for travel.

According to an interview by Lauren Daley, of Konicek & Dillon, P.C. in Geneva, IL, not only has the site been great for business development, it won the American Bar Association’s 2008 James I. Keane Memorial Award, which honors law offices that successfully and innovatively deliver legal services over the internet. The exceptional and affordable online legal services provided by the attorneys at Cowell Taradash earned them the award for excellence in eLawyering.

“Melanie R.” of Kane County, Illinois, provided a testimonial on the Illinois Divorce website ....

to read the rest of the story, please visit the LawMarketing Portal at http://tinyurl.com/5jk2aq

Tags: ,

Worst Magazine Cover Ever

law firm marketing, business development, marketing director
Tags:

For Marketers, the Title Doesn't Count

Michael DeCosta, law firm marketing, marketing directorI agree with Russell Lawson's post on his Progressive Marketing blog, concluding that for marketers, it's not important what your title is. What counts is whom you report to.

The coveted title for law firm marketers has been Chief Marketing Officer. But according to Korn/Ferry’s Michael DeCosta: Moving from a director to chief title typically suggests a move, albeit subtle, from a tactical to a more strategic approach to a function -- and almost always, with the title change comes increased responsibilities. In some circumstances, the title is irrelevant in terms of scope of duties. Either way, one can anticipate expectations around your performance and contribution to notch up with the new title.

Yet, the “value” of the title is being weakened by the new trend of presenting C-level titles to tactical, non-strategic employees in law firms, as DeCosta references in his article: chief receptionist officer, chief of business continuity, chief of client excellence and chief ambassador -- as noted by Heather Milligan.
"But I doubt that "Chief" anything actually designates an influencer by the conveyance of the title," Lawson writes.  " In law firm marketing, the more important part of the hiring process is the negotiation that defines the reporting lines in place for these bigwigs. Only by reporting to the managing partner can a marketer achieve real influence and even that requires that a good relationship exist between these two thought leaders."
Tags:

Lowenstein's Rock n' Roll Recruiting Video Wins Award

Lowenstein Sandler PC, an American Lawyer top-200 firm has embraced new media in its marketing efforts and just won the Videographer Award of Excellence, 2008. The hip, fast-paced video is a six-minute whirlwind of interviews with partners, counsel and associates as a 21st century electric guitar plays in the background.  Nothing is on the screen for longer than 5-6 seconds before the viewpoint changes, the camera moves or the scene changes. Yet the timing is good and the changes don't feel abrupt.

The recruitment video is clearly designed for the attention-deficit generation, with spinning graphics, and changes from black-and-white to color.  “Lowenstein is thrilled to get this award,” said Lee Garfinkle, Chief Marketing Officer of the 275-lawyer firm. “It affirms both the substance of our recruitment message and the colorful quality of the production, making it appealing to the audience we are attracting.”

The award-winning video was produced by Voices & Visions Productions, Ltd. a corporate video production firm in NJ/NY and LA. The company was a good fit with the law firm because Producer Ellen Friedland began her career as an attorney clerking in the federal district court in Manhattan. Her experience is integrated with the artistic capabilities of director Curt Fissel, a TV documentary cinematographer and editor for almost 30 years.

Lowenstein has also worked with Voices & Visions to develop short video clips for attorney bio pages as well as other website topics, like the firm’s strengths and its various departments. The clips are a popular feature for website browsers.

Tags:

Mark Beese's Lesson in Business Development

Anybody who's been in law firm marketing listens when Mark Beese speaks.  He's the pioneering "marketing guy" for 415-lawyer Holland and Hart, the 800-pound gorilla law firm in the Rocky Mountain West, for the last  seven years.  He's a well-known speaker, blogger and writer.

As the newest columnist for Originate! -- the business development newsletter -- he offers a parable on building relationship for business development.


Mark Beese, marketing director, law firm marketingHe had a reputation for weird marketing ideas, and my brief experience with him confirmed my initial reservations.  Once, he burst – as far as a middle-aged tax attorney can burst – into my office to pitch a grandiose, high-cost, time-intensive marketing scheme.  It took me a week to talk him out of it.

Either because or in spite of his non-traditional ideas, he was the top rainmaker in the firm, one of the highest compensated lawyers.  He was a tax attorney that specialized in helping individuals get out of sticky state tax situations.  Some of the wealthiest people on the planet called him for help.  But he was not charismatic.  His attention to detail, lock-tight memory and creative approach to marketing and the law set him apart from others.

I was a new marketing director and found myself visiting our Manhattan office along with Mr. Tax Attorney.  We dined together in a small, dark Irish pub down the street from our office.  I asked him his secret to developing new business.  Here is his story:

“When I was a young associate – maybe my second or third year – I made a list of people I thought someday would be successful, and consequently, need legal assistance in some way.  The people on the list came from a variety of sources – college acquaintances, family friends, and friends of friends.  Some people on the list I didn’t know yet, but wanted to meet.  Most of them were within five or ten years of my age.  All were promising in some way, but most had not yet ‘made it big’.  My first list had 40 people on it.

“My goal was to develop a relationship with each person so that when he or she needed a lawyer, I would be the first person they called.  If it was a tax matter, that would be great and I’d have a new client.  If not, I’d be able to refer them to someone in the firm; then I’d develop a reputation as being an internal referral source.  I’d later seek reciprocal referrals and introductions from those I referred to.

“I intentionally built relationships with my group of 40.  I took them out to dinner or lunch, and to sporting or cultural events, depending on their interest.  Sometimes I enlisted my wife or kids if I knew that they had something in common with my guests.  As I got to know these 40 better, I kept track of their interests.  One accountant on the list, who eventually became the State Tax Commissioner, had a penchant for shopping for antique firearms.  I have no such fascination with guns, but he did.  So, every autumn he and his wife and me and mine would meet up for a day’s drive through the country going from one antique store to another shopping for guns.

“Over time, the list grew from 40 to more than a hundred; my notes on their interests, family background and professional accomplishments grew too.  I found I had an uncanny ability to spot potential, because many, not all, of my prospects developed into successful – and wealthy – business leaders, government officials and referral sources.    Many have become good friends along the way, not to mention clients.  Most of my clients today were either on my list of 40, were referred from them, or came from people I met through that initial list.”

At this point he paused to tell me about some of his successful clients.

To read the rest of this article, please visit Originate! at www.pbdi.org/Originate

Tags:

Blogs Bring Lawyers Calls from the Media

law firm marketing, business development, marketing directorSteve Matthews makes a great point on his Stem Blog: lawyers who write blogs will get called and quoted by news reporters.  

According to a new study by eMarketer, 57.7% of reporters use blogs to measure public sentiment; 38% of reporters use blogs to drive new story ideas; and 29.5% use blogs to find industry experts, Steve writes.

Here's how it works.  A reporter gets an assignment from an editor.  In the process of researching the story the reporter calls experts for guidance.  Later, the reporter will call experts again for quick, colorful quotes to brighten the story.  How do the reporters find these experts?

They use Google Blog Search using terms that describe their story and look for bloggers.  As a rule, if you write a blog on a legal topic, you are ipso facto the expert, and reporters will call you.  I know.  It happens to me every week.

This chart from eMarketer shows just how much journalists rely on blogs. If there was ever a compelling business development reason to start a blog, this is it.

Back to Steve:

"Those are good numbers for blogging lawyers; and fit well with the frequent observation that bloggers have a substantially increased profile with the media. "Here’s are some reasons I think blogs deliver such a web-punch!

  • Reporters need to authoritative sources for quotes.
  • Blogs Push Content via Syndication Technologies (ie. RSS).
  • Blogs Drive the Freshest Google Content.
  • Bloggers Get Better Google Rankings - and make it easier for people to find you - both potential clients and reporters.
  • Blog Content is Filterable - Savvy reporters that regularly cover a topic, will set up targeted searches for certain keywords.
  • The Spin-off Effect - Profile drives profile. Having a blog is still the centerpiece of a lawyer’s online marketing strategy.
Tags:

LexisNexis and LinkedIn Announce Agreement to Feature LinkedInĀ® Contacts on martindale.com

As previously noted, LexisNexis today announced an agreement with the online social network LinkedIn – making Martindale-Hubbell® legal network more attractive as a networking destination for attorneys. (LexisNexis owns Martindale.) Additionally abstracts and links to Martindale-Hubbell articles and content will be distributed within the LinkedIn network. 

"When searching martindale.com for attorneys, users will see LinkedIn icons within the profiles of attorneys who are members of that network, and within the law firm profiles when attorneys from that firm are LinkedIn members. If the martindale.com user is also a member of LinkedIn, he or she can access the LinkedIn connection with the designated attorney by clicking on the LinkedIn icon. Doing so presents the user with information about the person, as well as common LinkedIn connections between the user and the attorney.  In future updates to LinkedIn, abstracts and links to Martindale-Hubbell articles and other content will be distributed through the LinkedIn network," Lexis said in a press release.

Toby Brown, head of Knowledge Management for Fulbright & Jaworski, has started a new blog called 3 Geeks and a Law Blog on legal KM, internet marketing and competitive intelligence.  He offers these observations:

1 - It appears that lawyers will need to opt-in to show their LinkedIn profile from Martindale. Otherwise, I am not sure how MH would verify the user's identity. Even then, they may have some authentication issues.

2 - The 'who knows whom' feature could extend the value of both services. It would help current lawyer LinkedIn users broaden their networks. But this will be dependent on #1.

3 - LinkedIn may benefit from the content distribution provided by MH, but it seems more benefit is poised to flow MH's way, given the greater number of lawyers already in LinkedIn.

I suppose I am skeptical that this deal will ultimately bring value. In one sense it could bring two different groups of lawyers together - old technophobes and young tech-savvies. But I'm having trouble seeing how either group will find value in crossing this divide.

It's like putting a Mercedes dealership next to a skateboard park. Each group will look over the fence in curiosity, but won't see a reason to switch their rides.

Tags:

Watch360 Website Monitoring Service For Law Firms

Law firm marketers can now monitor the websites of dozens of competing law firms each day with the Watch360 Website Monitoring Service. The service notifies subscribers when other law firms update their websites with new information about their client wins, deals, media coverage, publications, management changes, and more. 

According to founder Srikanth Chari of Saratoga, CA, it is being used at Morrison Foerster, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati, Latham and Watkins, Shearman Sterling, Ober Kaler, Goodwin Proctor, Freid Frank, Nexsen Pruet, Much Shelist, among others.

Watch360 automatically monitors the websites of law firms you specify, and delivers one consolidated email each morning with the new information it finds.

competitive intelligence, law firm marketing, marketing director

Watch360's Website Monitoring Service is fully customizable and is a hassle-free way to gather competitive intelligence. It costs less than $500 per year to monitor up to 30 companies, and you can have an unlimited number of recipients per account. You can try it now, free for 2 weeks.

Tags:

Good News: Study Predicts Uptick in M&A Work

Gail Long, law firm marketing, marketing directorA new study by  ACG Boston and Thomson Reuters projects an uptick in mergers and acquisitions during the second half of the year. The latest survey of middle market merger professionals reveals cautious optimism for the next six months.

Points of optimism revealed in the survey include an increase in the last year to 67% from 5% of M&A professionals who say the debt markets will improve in the next six months.  Also, dealmakers point to distressed deals (27%), good multiples for acquirers (27%), and cross-border deals (17%) as facilitators of M&A.

The current market stinks, according to the ACG-Thomson Reuters Mid-Year 2008 DealMakers Survey. The percent of middle market mergers and acquisitions professionals who say the current M&A environment is good or excellent has dropped precipitously to 47% from 95% 12 months ago. 

According to Thomson Reuters, the volume of all worldwide mergers and acquisitions totaled $1.6 trillion in announced deals during the first half of 2008, a decrease of 36% over the record-breaking first half of 2007.  Of this total, M&A deals in the mid-market, defined by Thomson Reuters as transactions under $500 million, fared better.  Less reliant on the global credit markets, they declined only 18.2%, with a total value of $368.9 billion.

Despite the decline in deal volume, 66% feel deal volume will either improve or not get any worse in the second half.

Deals in the middle market continue to close,” said Gail Long, CEO of ACG Boston.  “Certainly, they take longer and it is tougher to find financing but they are getting done. This suggests that the financing markets—much like our dealmakers—have increased optimism as they look ahead, with the wild card being the weakening economy more than current expectations.”

A notable finding of the survey is the emergence of a buyer’s market.  Respondents indicated that the balance of power between buyers and sellers of businesses was upended over the last year, with 60% saying it is now a buyer’s market, 7% calling it a seller’s market, and 33% saying they are unsure.  In June 2007, 88% said it was a seller’s market, 9% a buyer’s market, and 3% were unsure.  The shift was evident in December 2007, when 32% said it was a buyer’s market, 38% said it was a seller’s market, and 30% were not sure.

Continue Reading...

Marketing Leaders Flocking to September CMO Forum in New York

Chief Marketing Officer's ForumThe Westin New York at Times Square in New York, NY, will be the place to be on September 16 and 17, 2008, when the annual Chief Marketing Officers Forum takes place.  Sponsored by ALM Events, this promises to be THE conference of the year.

I've been working hand-in-glove with Iris Jones, Chief Business Development and Marketing Officer of Chadbourne & Parke to assure that we have the best and brightest speakers discussing the topics that really matter to law firm Chief Marketing Officers.

Here's a bonus: each attendee gets to send in, in advance, a description of the most difficult challenge facing them, and the closing panel of experts will offer a solution for each. We want to be as responsive to the attendees as possible.

You can download a brochure to see the lineup of just a few of the topics:

  • Charles O’Neill, Managing Partner, Chadbourne & Parke LLP will open the conference with "The CMO’s Evolving Role."
  • Iris Jones and I will present "How CMOs Can Train Partners to be Rainmakers."
  • Monica Bay, Editor of Law Technology News, on "Technology that your clients want you to have."
  • ROI – how to build it into marketing initiatives from the start
  • Technology that your clients want you to have
  • How to jump 10 spots on the AmLaw 100
  • Demonstrating Value to the Management Committee
  • How to Win A Competitive Proposal Process
  • Competitive Intelligence

Plus the networking will be fabulous.  This will be your chance to meet and mingle with the nation's top CMOs -- from the faculty and the audience.  Plus it will be fall in New York -- what's not to like?  Register now and I'll see you there.

Tags:

San Diego Law Firm Hires their First 'Sales Attorney'

Johnny Manriquez, sales associate, law firm marketingSan Diego based construction law firm, Scholefield Associates, P.C. recently hired their first ‘sales attorney’, and possibly created the legal industry’s first associate position whose only job is to bring in new clients. This is the first step in implementing their controversial business development strategy that I reported about earlier this spring

According to firm spokesman Bryan Weaver, when the concept of a ‘sales attorney’ position was announced by Scholefield, there were as many detractors pointing out the flaws as there were supporters applauding their bold move. This novel approach to law firm business development received press nationally and internationally with job candidates coming from as far away as Australia.

The firm hired of Johnny Manriquez to fill this role. Mr. Manriquez, a California attorney, has years of firsthand experience in business development, sales, and client relationship building in the educational services arena, according to Weaver. He is well versed in forming strategic alliances, partnering with local groups, and implementing client management programs. All are skills that can transfer easily to the construction industry.  

Pam Scholefield, law firm sales, law firm marketing, business development“Johnny is a perfect fit for this position and our firm culture” says lead attorney Pam Scholefield. “Since this is an all new position for any law firm, there were no obvious role models or even a known talent pool to choose from.” Scholefield admits that she was concerned about this, but knew the right person existed somewhere in the workforce. 

The approach that Scholefield is taking toward growing the firm’s business is based on successful business development models borrowed heavily from Ms. Scholefield’s past career as a sales engineer with General Electric.

 “A law firm is a business first, and we must never forget this if we want to be successful.” Scholefield said. “There are no ivory towers here.”

The success of the position, claims Scholefield, is the credibility of the person doing the selling.   And she believes a law firm needs to be represented by lawyers. Manriquez is well versed in business negotiations, and he is an experienced patent attorney. He received his law degree from California Western School of Law in 2001 and is admitted to practice in California, District of Columbia, and before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Manriquez earned his Masters in Healthcare Administration and an undergraduate degree in biological studies from Loma Linda University.

Scholefield Associates, P.C. is a construction law litigation and transactional firm that represents developers, contractors and material suppliers in private and public works and handles contract negotiations, contract disputes, delay claims, scope of work, mechanics' liens, and prevailing wage.

Tags:

59% of Lawyers Have Joined Online Social Networks

Online social network, marketing director, law firm marketing

In a significant new trend, almost 2 out of 3 lawyers in private practice are now using online networks for professional and business development purposes.

In-house counsel have joined the trend too, with 48% of in-house counsel becoming a member of an online social network.

The 2008 Networks for Counsel Survey, conducted by Leader Networks – a consultancy that helps businesses foster online social networks – and commissioned by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell – an online directory with law firm marketing features – is the first survey of its scope to examine the social networking practices of legal professionals. 

To get your free copy of the report, click here (registration required).

Predictably, it's the lawyers aged 25-35 who have adapted most quickly.  67 percent of 25-35 year olds, 49 percent of 36-45 year olds, and 36 percent of 46-55+ year olds reported membership in an online social network.

Use of online networking for professional purposes (as opposed personal uses like staying in touch with friends) increase with age.  Interestingly, corporate counsel are more than three times more likely to use their network for professional reasons.

online social networking, law firm marketingBut what lawyers really want is an online social network for lawyers only, like the members of the State Bar of Texas have. 41% of lawyers in private practice, and 48% of in-house lawyers are interested in joining a lawyers-only network.

For the rest of the story, visit the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com .

Tags:

How K&L Gates Reengineered its Business Development Processes

Joe Berardi, law firm marketing, marketing directorWhen Preston Gates & Ellis merged with Kirkpatrtck & Lockhart Nicholson Graham to form K&L Gates, CMO Jeff Berardi had to merge InterAction CRM with web-based Microsoft Sharepoint. Once it did so, it improved the number of RFPs it won by 40%.

"What we really needed to do in January 2007 was to merge those tools into one manageable system," says K&L Gates CMO Jeff Berardi.” The key was to make it a much more formal, rigorous process to track and measure what we were doing well and where we could improve."

Over the next 12 months, K&L Gates was not only able to increase the number of its responses to requests for proposals by 20 percent, but also to improve by 40 percent the number of times it won those contests. The averages come out to a 17 percent increase in the firm's win ratio on proposals.

But it wasn't easy. A variety of lawyers, practice groups, and offices all work on proposals for new business, sometimes with the involvement of the marketing department, sometimes without.

In part because they are always under time pressure, lawyers seem to resist entering information on forms. As a result, those involved are not able to target their proposals as well as they otherwise might. When the documents are out the door, no one knows for sure what is outstanding. Business that comes in rarely gets tied back in a meaningful way to the marketing efforts. In the end, there is no way to really manage the business development process and improve it.

As Berardi saw it, K&L Gates needed three things:

  • The right data
  • Availability of the information to those who needed it
  • Evaluation of all its proposals to see what worked and what didn't.

It started with the proposal tracking programs that each of the two firms had. "A group of us sat down and took a look at all the data being captured, figured out what was most critical, how we could standardize categories and fields, what would make the most sense," says director of client development, David Bowerman.

For the rest of the story, visit the LawMarketing Portal at www.Lawmarketing.com.

Tags:

Nearly 30% of Lawyers Surveyed Fear Firing

law firm marketing, marketing director, business developmentLawyers who are unable to meet their billable hour goals are wondering if their jobs are secure, according to the ABA Journal.  This, however, is not a problem for lawyers who have been trained in business development and know how to get clients and generate revenue.

Two June surveys by the legal recruitment firm Lateral Link found that nearly 30 percent of lawyers are afraid of losing their jobs and 26 percent don’t think they will make their billable hours goals in the coming months. Most of the respondents who identified their workplaces in the surveys worked for Am Law 200 law firms, and most appeared to be associates.

My advice to lawyers is: get out of your office and start meeting clients, referral sources and potential clients.  You are not going to develop any new business sitting in your office or lunching with lawyers in your own firm. You can find the time.  In the morning, meet a referral source for Starbucks, during lunchtime go visit a client, and one evening attend a trade association meeting with a client.

To read the rest of the article, click here or visit http://www.larrybodine.com/articles.asp?Action=GetOneArticle&ArticleID=71

Tags:

New Research on Law Firms Fees and Profitability

How important is business development to law firms? Very – with most law firms getting 11% to 25% of their annual revenue from new clients, according to the new study Fees and Pricing Benchmark Report published by RainToday.com Research. The report is a treasure trove of key data about how much law firms charge and how much they earn.

The new report about law firms and the legal profession contains:

  • 51 pages of commentary and analysis.
  • 51 charts and tables that explicitly detail surprising findings.
  • 7 major pricing recommendations to recharge your marketing and sales outreach.

Median fees and discounts

Universally, the bigger the law firm, the higher its rates, according to the research. For example the median rate for larger law firms earning more than $10 million per year was $525 per hour for the highest-level partners and $200 for entry-level associates. For smaller firms earning less than $10 million per year, the median rate was $300 for the highest-level lawyers and $175 for entry level lawyers.

However, discounting is common practice. While some respondents criticized the practice of discounting in their survey comments, 76% of all firms discount their fees versus published rates, or rates they might have mentioned in an initial client conversation — with the average discount amounting to 9.9%.


Order your own copy of this essential research.  Learn if you can raise your fees today.  Visit the LawMarketing Store for more information.

Standard rates vs. the actual rates differ for top-level lawyers. For those firms that use a standard set of hourly billable rates for their lawyers—either published or for internal use only—the median average realized hourly rate for highest-level lawyers is 6% less than the standard or published rate ($400 vs. $375), and for upper-level lawyers the median actual rate is 9% less. For all other levels of lawyers, there is no difference between the standard and realized rate. (See Figure 3.4 and 3.5)

For the rest of the story and the charts visit the LawMarketing Portal at www.lawmarketing.com

Tags:

Martindale Hooks Up with LinkedIn

Fulbright & Jaworski, law firm marketingMartindale-Hubbell has connected itself to LinkedIn, the popular online social networking site.  Take a look at the Fulbright & Jaworski listing in Martindale.

Notice the little blue icon "in" for LinkedIn?

If you click on the blue icon you get a popup that asks: "Allow LexisNexis to access your LinkedIn account?"  I think most visitors will be too leery to take the next step, but I did.

Martindale, law firm marketing

 

 

 

 

The next screen asked me for my email address and LinkedIn password, which I thought was incredibly intrusive. I have no idea where this information is going, or if I'm going to wind up on some Martindale mailing list.  But being me, I persisted.

The next screen said I have "192 connections work at Fulbright Jaworski."  One was a primary link, and the rest were 2 or 3 degrees away from me.  If I were doing some hunting at Fulbright & Jaworski and didn't know anyone there, this would be very useful.

I perused the 192 connected and invited a few people to join my network.  Let's see if they respond.  Tell me what you think about this new feature of Martindale.

 

Tags:

FastCase Offers Cheaper Option vs. LexisNexis and Westlaw

Fastcase, law firm marketingFrom the 6/30/08 issue of Forbes Magazine:

Philip Rosenthal and Edward Walters were young lawyers at Covington & Burling, a prestigious Washington firm, when they got an unusual request from a large corporate client to start looking up legal case histories on the Internet. The client was fed up with paying the firm's stiff bills for legal research.

At first they were shocked. Rosenthal and Walters were used to racking up hours on the online research services lawyers snidely call Wexis, after Westlaw, a unit of Canada's Thomson Reuters, and LexisNexis, owned by Anglo-Dutch publishing conglomerate Reed Elsevier. Big law firms pay as much as $4 million a year for access to Westlaw and Lexis.

This was in 1999. When the two lawyers started trolling for cases on the Web, they noticed courts around the country were beginning to post filings online. Why pay Westlaw and LexisNexis so much for documents that were already in the public domain?

law firm marketing, business development"The courts produce this stuff at taxpayer expense, it gets shipped to these foreign companies for free and then they charge us to read it," says Rosenthal, a Caltech-educated physicist who graduated from Harvard Law School.

"I thought, 'This is completely stupid. I've got half a mind to start the alternative to Lexis/Westlaw,'" adds Walters, who attended law school at the University of Chicago and was once a speechwriter for George H.W. Bush.

Eight years and $7 million later Rosenthal and Walters have their alternative, an online legal-research service called FastCase. It uses computer algorithms to perform all the case indexing now done by the thousands of human editors at Westlaw and Lexis. Operating out of a slightly seedy Washington office building, FastCase brings in less than $10 million a year in revenue, hardly a threat to the Wexis duopoly, which last year roughly split a combined $1.6 billion in pretax profit on sales of $6.5 billion.

Disruption is in the air, however. FastCase sells bulk memberships to state bar associations for as little as $2 per member per year, a compelling reason for law firms to at least try it out. Outfits like FastCase are attacking Wexis' stranglehold on legal research from the bottom up.

With the help of influential backers like Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar's foundation, Malamud's Public.Resource.Org is filling up a 24-terabyte Sun Microsystems server with case law going back to 1754. (That's a lot of bytes, enough to type out 12 million novels.) Malamud bought some data from FastCase while building his service, which is available for free on the Web. "If we do it and do it right, there are 100 other people who will copy our data and use it in interesting ways," Malamud says.

Bigger law firms will continue to use Westlaw and Lexis for a long time. The established vendors have the most current and comprehensive databases, and, says Thomas Fleming, lawyers know them best. Fleming oversees the research department at 150-attorney Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro in Los Angeles. His firm uses FastCase for quick searches and to cross-check citations, but he says it has a "phenomenal niche" serving smaller firms that can't afford Wexis.

Those who would unseat Wexis have the arduous task ahead of digitizing all of the court records still in books. Optical scanning systems have a 98% accuracy rate, which means an unacceptable 40 errors per page. So FastCase and others are paying Indian data-entry firms 40 to 60 cents per 1,000 characters to "triple-key" the books into digital form, with three typists entering the text and a computer picking the version at least two agree upon. Malamud estimates it will cost $6 million to digitize all 10,000 books covering the entire history of district, appellate, Supreme Court and bankruptcy law. The Indian typists have to leave out the editors' notes in the Westlaw or risk copyright infringement.

The Answer Is Blowin' in the US Supreme Court

law firm marketing, Jusdtice Roberts, US Supreme CourtQuote from a dissent by Chief Justice Roberts in a Supreme Court decision issued June 23:

Bob Dylan, law firm marketing, marketing directorThe absence of any right to the substantive recovery means that respondents cannot benefit from the judgment they seek and thus lack Article III standing. "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose." Bob Dylan, "Like A Rolling Stone," on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records, 1965).

The coolness of quoting Dylan is dissipated when you realize that Roberts -- like an English teach school marm -- tidied up what Dylan actually sang: “When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”

Tags:

Lawyers use of LinkedIn : It's becoming an avalanche

LinkedIn, law firm marketing, marketing directorKevin O'Keefe reports on his blog that the online social networking site LinkedIn is catching on big-time in the legal profession.  Law firm marketers should take note!

The latest comes from Oliver Picher, president of Visible Influence, speaking about LinkedIn and social networking to the Delaware Valley Law Firm Marketing Group.

Jason Lisi and Julie Meyer highlighted Picher's presentation in an article in The Legal Intelligencer.

  • LinkedIn is for business connections much in the same way that Facebook creates personal connections.
  • Philadelphia firms, such as Fox Rothschild and Reed Smith, have as many as 45 percent of their attorneys and staff holding active LinkedIn accounts.
  • Legal professionals should import business contacts to identify those with LinkedIn accounts and invite them to connect.
  • LinkedIn allows you to connect with others with similar interests by connecting with users who are secondarily connected to an original LinkedIn connection.
  • LinkedIn's answer feature provides an additional tool for effective networking and marketing of practice areas. LinkedIn answers provide for LinkedIn members to tap -- or add to -- the knowledge of their professional network by answering questions posed by others or recommending another member as a source of information: a virtual referral.

I know Kevin has 500+ contacts on LinkedIn, and I'm trying to catch up, having only 267 connections, but I'm working on it.

Tags:

Using Accordions as a Law Firm Marketing Technique

Accordions, law firm marketing, Hanson BridgettKudos to Frank Lopez, marketing director of 130-lawyer Hanson Bridgett in San Francisco, the firm put up a delightful video,  "The World Accordion to Hanson Bridgett."

Using music it demonstrate the firm's diversity, showing that people of all sorts of ethnic backgrounds cab play wonderfully together.

(I'm playing the video for the 7th time -- being part German, I love the oom-pah music, the Zydeco beat and the Hispanic enthusiasm.)

The brilliant move is part of a "new look" and new tagline -- "inspired" -- including a video of managing partner Andrew Giacomini  leading an accordion band through the streets of San Francisco.

"Want to see a law-firm managing partner walk down Market Street in Lederhosen and knee-highs, banging a bass drum to accordion music? Check out this YouTube link: http://inspired.hansonbridgett.com/," a firm announcement states.

"The Northern California firm formerly known as Hanson, Bridgett, Vlahos, Marcus & Rudy LLP again employs a progressive campaign to differentiate itself from the competition. This time the firm harnessed the power of the Internet and popularity of social networking to spread its new look and feel by "word of mouse."

"We examined the viral video medium and quickly recognized it was a great way to reach a new generation of people," Giacomini said. He in particular desires pervasive distribution of the video because "I want people all over the world to see me in Lederhosen."

Tags: