Lawyer Kills Himself After Being Told He Was Being Laid Off

Mark I. LevyIn a horrendous tragedy resulting from the recession in the legal profession, a 59-year-old lawyer with Kilpatrick Stockton who was due to lose his job for economic reasons was found dead in his Washington office this morning.  He shot himself in the head, according to police.

Mark I. Levy  was discovered by a co-worker about 8 a.m. in his 11th-floor office at Kilpatrick Stockton, in the 600 block of 14th Street NW, police said. They said evidence indicates that Levy shot himself in the head with a .38-caliber handgun.

 

The firm, headquartered in Atlanta, had no comment on his death today beyond a statement calling him a "highly respected" colleague and offering condolences to his family. He was a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration.

 

Kilpatrick Stockton, which employs scores of people in offices in the United States, Europe and the United Arab Emirates, announced Tuesday that 24 lawyers would be laid off.

 

According to the Washington Post, police learned that Levy had been told that he was among those being let go, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case. Stockton Kilpatrick's Web site says Levy was head of the firm's Supreme Court and Appellate Advocacy Practice.

 

The Post said Levy's layoff was effective today and he was given four months of severance pay.

 

Diane Prucino, a co-managing partner of the century-old firm in Atlanta, confirmed the layoffs Tuesday in a statement quoted by the Fulton County Daily Report.

 

"These actions are driven by the economic downturn," she said, adding that the belt-tightening at Kilpatrick Stockton was "structured to further the long-term success of the firm and to enhance the achievement of our strategic goals."

 

The Post reported that Levy left a note in his home, saying he loved his family and instructing his wife on how to handle finances and other matters. He apparently had spent some time recently getting his affairs in order. Levy's teenage son found the note this morning and called Montgomery County police. An officer was at the home when someone called from the law firm. The officer spoke with the caller, and learned of the suicide. The Montgomery officer then broke the news to the family, according to the source.

 

Computer records show that Levy swiped his entrance card to get into the building at 607 14th Street from a parking garage about 5:30 a.m., the source said, adding that Levy was the registered owner of the handgun.

 

According to his biography on the firm's Web site, Levy, a Yale Law School graduate, joined the Justice Department in 1993 as deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Division, overseeing 60 lawyers handling appellate litigation. He argued 16 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court during his career, the Web site says.

Boo Hoo for the Partners in the Am Law 100

I'm weeping to read that for the first time since 1991, both average profits per partner and revenue per lawyer dipped last year among the Am Law 100 firms. And, I'm choked up that given the weakness in the market thus far in 2009, another decline seems likely this year.

This proves the maxim, “what goes down must go down further.”

I'm crying crocodile tears for the Wachtell lawyers whose profits per partner plummeted 18.9% to $4,000,000 each. What a tragedy. I don’t know how those Wachtell guys can survive in New York on only 4 mil a year.

The Cravath partners got a similar haircut. Their profits per partner dropped 23.6% -- just shocking for America’s silkiest stocking firm – to $2,500,000 per partner. They must be scrimping by, firing their chauffeurs and driving their cars themselves, dropping country club memberships and sweeping their own driveways in their second homes in the Hamptons.

Then there's the poor schlubs at Simpson Thacher, where profits per partner crashed down 13.9% to a mere $2,475,000.  I guess that means 13.9% less caviar, back rubs and Mephisto shoes for them.  What a terrible shame.

These are indeed harsh times.

For the entire story you have got to read “Lessons from the AmLaw 100 Nothing Grows Forever”: http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202430284287

Lawyer Offers to Give $25K to Charity if He Gets 25K Twitter Followers

Events on Twitter are really getting pathetic.  First we had a movie actor who won a competition with an entire TV broadcasting network to get the most followers.  Celebrity won over news, which shows the decline of the intelligence of the American Public.  Now a lawyer wants to "buy" followers on Twitter.  Twitter is becoming a circus.  Few paid attention to it before December 2009 and now people are falling over themselves to get into the center ring.

Bill Marler, TwitterFrom the ABA Journal:

Seattle personal injury lawyer Bill Marler wants 25,000 additional Twitter followers by the end of the month, and will donate $25,000 to a charity if he achieves the goal.

This follows movie actor Ashton Kutcher's competition with CNN in a race to be the first to have 1 million Twitter followers. Kucher made an agreement to donate 10,000 malaria nets to charity as a result of winning, and that's what inspired attorney Marler.

Marler, who represents victims of food-borne illnesses, made the offer in a post at his Marler Blog on April 17, when he had about 1,650 followers. Three days later, Marler tells the ABA Journal, he has an additional 275 or so followers.

Many blogging lawyers are now posting on Twitter as well.  Marler has been using Twitter for a couple months, posting news of what he is doing and what he is blogging. His followers include “foodie-type people,” government health workers, journalists and other lawyers. He doesn’t view the service as a way of generating clients, but he does see it as a way of communicating with government and media representatives interested in food-safety issues. He also uses Twitter to follow food-safety news, but is finding that it can be “another one of those Internet time drains.”

Marler reports some critics claim he made the offer for ego gratification. “Any criticism leveled against a lawyer for their ego, I suppose, is pretty much on the mark,” he muses. “The reason I did it, I was just so fascinated by the whole Ashton Kucher CNN thing. I thought it would be interesting to see if people would respond to an offer like a dollar for each follower.”

Marler says he’s a little surprised that the post hasn’t generated more followers, but he has generated some great suggestions for worthy charities. “It’s run the gamut,” he says, from Parkinson’s disease to sustainable farming to “a reply from somebody in Africa who wants to put in a permanent well in the village.”

Marler says he already donates money and helps raise cash for good causes, but the recipients have been traditional charities such as the Red Cross or education. Even if he doesn’t meet his goal of 25,000 followers, Marler says, he’ll probably donate the money anyway.

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How To Choose Very Strong Passwords That Are Easy To Remember

Dewald Pretorius, marketing technologyWhat makes a password strong is the combination of different alphanumeric, special characters, and capitalization that you use, and of course the length of the password.

"I don't know about you, but I don't want to remember and type an epistle when I fill out a password field," says Dewald Pretorius of New Brunswick, Canada, who created the TweetLater service.  "And, ideally, I don't want to use the same password on many sites, because if one is compromised then my entire life is unlocked."

Pretorious shows us how to choose very strong passwords for every website that you use, that are different for each website, and are each only 9 characters in length max.

A study found that an 8-character password that's constructed in the following manner has 7.2 quadrillion different combinations, and will take 83.5 days to crack if the hacker can try 1 billion different passwords per second.

Step 1: Pick 2 Starting Characters

To make it easy to remember, all your passwords are going to start with the same characters. But these are not just any characters. Pick 2 characters from the list of special characters that you see above the numbers on your keyboard and to the left of the Enter key.

These characters are: ~ ` ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ - + = { } [ ] : ; " ' < > ? / | \

Pick any two of them as your password starting characters. To show you an example as you read through the steps, let's pick $ and % (pick your own two).
 

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

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AZ State Bar Webcast: "Surviving the Recession"

Arizona State Bar, surviving the recession, law firm marketingPlease join me for this 90-minute webinar and live presentation sponsored by the State Bar of Arizona on May 6 in Phoenix and online too.  Visit WEBCAST- Surviving the Recession for all the details. Any lawyer in any state can attend. The course has been approved for 1.5 total CLE Units, all of which may be applied toward  Ethics.

I gave the program last year and here's what attendees had to say:

  • "The program is one of the most interesting that I have viewed online. Thank you." (Phoenix, AZ)
  • "This is absolutely amazingly well done. Critical thinking, clear language, practical: an excellent resource." (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • "This guy''s terrific. Can I buy a video?" (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • "Very interesting and I believe it will be helpful to my business." (Mesa, AZ)
  • "Excellent presentation! I like the fact that it was available online, especially since I needed 3 more credits by today!" (Scottsdale, AZ)

"Partners, law firm owners, solo and small firm practitioners who wish to avoid being victims of the worst economic downturn in our lifetimes should attend this special seminar. Hear from a 16-year veteran business developer on how to increase your clientele and revenue," the bar brochure states.

Program highlights: http://tinyurl.com/d5kdn9

  • The four hot practice areas for general practitioners.
  • How to keep the good clients you have.
  • In-person marketing and business development techniques to find new clients.
  • Marketing with technology tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Webinars and blogs.
  • Writing your Personal Business Development Plan.

How can you go wrong with a $69 registration fee?  If you want to get more cleints and generate more revenue, I hope to see you there.

Emerson College Offers Course in Law Firm Marketing

Professor Silvia Hodges, professional services marketing

For the second year in a row, Emerson College in Boston, MA, is offering a for-credit post-graduate course in professional services marketing beginning May 11, 2009.  Professor Silvia Hodges believes it is unique in the USA -- which she feels is a shame, because all law schools should teach their students how to get clients and generate new business.

Prof. Hodges of the college's Department of Marketing Communication invented the course last year, and its graduates have gone on to marketing positions in accounting architectural, engineering, executive search and law firms worldwide. In fact one of her students, Idan Nishlis is now the first legal marketer in Israel, working for Shiboleth law firm in Tel Aviv.

The course includes guest lecturers who are well-known names in professional services marketing like Anne Malloy Tucker of Goodwin Procter, Joshua Peck of Duane Morris, Larry Smith of Levick Communications, Donna Shaft of Mason & Perry LP, and Catherine MacDonagh, founder and head of LSSO.

For more information about the graduate course, contact Prof. Silvia Hodges at Emerson College, Department of Marketing communication, 617.824.3498 and silvia_hodges@emerson.edu

Keeping things lively, Prof. Hodges will include workshops, role playing and other break-out sessions. Each student must make a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation on the profession he or she picked. It must give an insight into the state of marketing in the profession what triggered the firms in the field to embrace marketing, and what are the typical marketing tools used.

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

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How to Use Blogs for Effective Public Relations

Roger Johnson, public relations, blogs, law firm marketing, marketing directorFrom the LawMarketing Portal:

Blogs are a pervasive part of your client's lives, according to PR expert Rodger Johnson. They are an essential element of public relations, because 80% of bloggers post reviews of products and brands -- including yours.

Social media is changing how we do public relations. And at the heart of it all -- blogs. In the Technorati: State of the Blogosphere report for 2008, we find blogs are a pervasive part of our daily lives. Technorati cites several studies to illustrate the scope of the blogosphere and its impact. Take a look:

  • comScore MediaMetrix (August 2008)
    • Blogs: 77.7 million unique visitors in the US
  • eMarketer (May 2008)
    • 94.1 million US blog readers in 2007 (50% of Internet users)

Technorati found "brands make up a major part of bloggers' online conversations. More than four in five bloggers post product or brand reviews, and blog about brands they love or hate." Researchers found bloggers -- 22.6 million group of people (12 percent of the US population) --  are being taken more seriously as information sources. "One in five bloggers don't think that newspapers will survive the next ten years," according to Technorati's report. "Half believe that blogs will be a primary source for news and entertainment in the next five years."

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

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5 Low Cost Ways to Attract More Clients for Your Small Law Firm

Excerpted from the Build Your Own Business blog by Dave Lorenzo of Aventura, FL:

1. Differentiate Yourself

As times get tougher, many other lawyers will "dabble" in your area of expertise. Make your prospective clients aware that this is happening. Remind your clients that you handle issues in your specialty full-time, not on a part-time basis. If you are a criminal defense attorney, explain to them that you are not a real estate attorney who takes a few criminal defense cases each year to "fill out his calendar."

The reason people chose you in a good economy is more important in a down economy. There is more competition out there. Focus on your unique value proposition and hammer it home. You must be able to articulate clearly why you are the best choice for this client in this situation.

2. Help Clients Understand the Consequences of Bargain Shopping

A client receives no bargain from cut-rate parachute manufacturers, heart surgeons, or legal practitioners. Paying less often means not getting the best work. Your prospective clients must understand this, and you are the best person who can bring it to their attention.

Help prospective clients focus on their own personal economy.

  • What consequences are they likely to face if this work is botched?
  • What is their exposure?
  • If this situation is not handled, how much will they suffer?
  • Do they want to face this possibility armed with the best possible representation?
  • Or do they want to take a big, big chance with someone else?

3. Work Your Contact Lists

Every lunch you eat by yourself is costing you money. You need to stay in front of the people who know you so they remember to refer clients to you. While many people may not come into daily contact with friends or relatives who need your services you never know when they may hear of someone who needs legal assistance. If you are on top of mind they can offer to connect them with you. This happens more often than you realize.

The best way to get these referrals is to sit down with people and get to know them. Breakfast, lunch or dinner provide the perfect opportunities to breathe new life into a potential referral relationship.

Invite long-time clients to lunch. Find out how you can help them by providing some referrals to their business. They will almost always want to reciprocate if possible. The more you give to them, the more they will want to help you.

4. Keep Your Name in Front of Everyone You Know Every Month

Greeting cards are cheap, easy and effective way to attract more legal clients. Every month has a holiday that will serve as an excuse for mailing your entire contact list. The more creative and memorable your message the more likely your contacts will refer you.

If this seems goofy (after all, who gets a greeting card from an attorney?), remember that being different is the point. For example, one side of your card can say something like: "All of us at XYZ Law Firm wish you a safe and happy Halloween. Thanks for thinking of us." On the opposite side it could say: "We help people who are being chased by real goblins, monsters, and other scary creatures waiting to attack your business (or your bank account)." Below this message, you print your contact information.

The key is not to be overtly solicitous. You want to remind people what you do and thank them for thinking of you.

5. Media Exposure Can Make a Difference

Getting your name and face in the local media can make a difference in attracting new legal clients for your small law firm. You may not get clients from actually appearing on television or being quoted in an article, but media outreach can help enhance your credibility.

Prospective clients often view media exposure as a surrogate for expertise. Giving a few interviews or commenting on a few out-of-town cases for a local reporter will help keep your name in front of clients and it will position you as an expert.

There is no reason your law firm should suffer in an economic downturn. People still need assistance handling legal matters. Develop these good habits now and you will attract more legal clients for your small law firm during a recession. 

Maggie Watkins takes top law firm marketing job at Best Best & Krieger

My longtime friend Maggie Watkins has joined Best Best & Krieger as Chief Marketing And Business Development Officer. Headquartered in Riverside, CA, the firm has 200 lawyers in 8 offices.

I've known her since the early days of her career as President/CEO of the Meritas legal network in Minneapolis, then Marketing Director of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego, and most recently as Director of Marketing and Communications  at LECG Consulting.

Now she will will focus her efforts on client outreach, sales training, internal and external communications, branding, advertising and market research for the firm. You can reach Maggie at (619) 525-1365 and maggie.watkins@bbklaw.com 

Welcome back to legal marketing, Maggie, and best of luck in your new job!

Great Lawyer Gift -- Personalized Cartoon

I just found the website of artist Richard Stergulz, who will create funny custom drawings featuring lawyers at www.yournameherecartoons.com.  You choose the person’s name (or law firm name) to be inserted into the cartoon caption.

A small cartoon unframed is $75, and the largest cartoon framed is $350. (Note: I get no compensation out of this, I just think it's a fun website).

My personal favorite is the "Mt. Rushmore" cartoon.  There are also cartoons with giant bulldogs, enormous cats and a jury holding up cards that say "10" in front of the smiling lawyer in the courtroom.  Take a look at the site and let me know which cartoon is your favorite.

www.yournameherecartoons.com

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Law Firm Marketing for an ADR Practice

Diana MercerMost lawyers who get into mediation or other ADR services don’t do it because they love to market their services, according to Diana Mercer, Esq. of Peace Talks Mediation Services, Inc. in Playa del Rey, CA. For many lawyers, marketing has a pejorative feel to it; marketing feels unprofessional for a professional service industry.  Yet, because so much of the public is unfamiliar with the types of services that ADR practitioners offer, lawyer-mediators need to find an authentic, comfortable way to market their services and mediation programs.

For most of lawyers, it’s been a long journey since they resolved to become peacemakers. Once you open your office it doesn’t take long to learn that clients don’t magically appear.  The question is how to make your commitment to peacemaking feel as authentic for your prospective clients as it is for yourselves.  How can you design marketing plans that convey the benefits of mediation and your own sincerity in a way that is also designed to sell your services? 

Developing your signature style and discovering your own identity as a mediator are the key elements to begin your marketing.  After that, marketing falls into two categories, one of which works and one of which doesn’t: 

  • Spending lots of money (doesn’t work) and
  • Spending lots of time (works really well). 

Chronologically, you also divide your time into two categories: 

  • Finding new prospective clients and
  • Making sure they become actual clients. 

The trick is to be yourself while marketing and how to choose marketing techniques that will work for you and your practice. For your marketing to work...

To see the rest of the story, visit the LawMarketing Portal at www.LawMarketing.com

What Do I Say To A Prospective Client To Win Their Business?

How to ask for the business is the most common business development problem lawyers have.

Yet, rainmakers have learned how to engage a prospective client in a structured dialogue, listen for a problem point of business “pain” and ask the client how they might help solve this problem. After years of doing this, rainmakers seem to convert business effortlessly.

On the other hand, many attorneys don’t know how to handle business development opportunities or selling situations. Too often, they end up over-promoting themselves and their firm. Or they feel uncomfortable or pushy when trying to attract the interest of a client, prospect or referral source. Before now, nobody has ever taught them how to perform in a business development or selling situation.

You’ll find that business development is simply a skill that you can learn. You don’t have to change your personality or style and suddenly transform yourself into a glib, glad-handing extrovert.

Join two of the top business development trainers and coaches in the profession, Michael Cummings of SAGE PDI, Inc. and myself, as we present this Web seminar, “What Do I Say To A Prospective Client To Win Their Business?” on Thursday, April 23.


Click here -- or http://tinyurl.com/cpcuhl -- to register for this LIVE program on April 23. Registration fee is $300 per connection. Any number can attend in the room where you connect to the site and the call - at the same low price.


Topics Include:

• Common Business Development Mistakes That Attorneys Make
• What Clients Care About When Meeting You
• Why Selfish Self Promotion Doesn’t Work
• How to Ask The Right Questions and Listen Effectively
• How to Excel in a Networking Situation
• Diagnosing a Clients' Need For Service
• How to Sell Ideas For Next Steps
• Using a Proven, Step-by-Step Business Development Process

For details or to register, Click Here.

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Why Blogs are Good for Law Firm Marketing

Excerpted from the New York Times:

It's clear that blogs are excellent business development tools, because they establish the author as an expert to clients and attract calls from the news media. The power of blogs to influence what people buy -- and which law firms to retain -- is now established.  This face is underscored by a recent study reveals, that power is significant — so much that a majority of blog readers say blogs are useful when they make purchases.

The study, which polled 2,210 people found that the increase in blog readership from 2004 to 2008 was 300 percent; 47 percent of online consumers now read blogs.

Half of blog readers said blogs were useful when they were considering what purchases to make, and more than half of that group said they looked at a blog just when they were about to buy something.

“This is what people are trusting more and more,” said Valerie Combs, vice president for communications at BuzzLogic, a company that analyzes social media and operates an Internet advertising network and that commissioned the study from Jupiter Research. “What we’re seeing online, increasingly, is that people are relying on peer opinion.”

Blog readers are also more likely to trust advertising on a blog than on a social network like Facebook, the study found; 25 percent said they trust blog ads, with 19 percent trusting social network ads.

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Law Firm Marketing for Rainmakers

Law firm marketing, marketing for rainmakers, business developmentFrom the LawMarketing Portal:

Rainmaker Marketing -- 52 Rules of Engagement to Attract and Retain Customers for Life by Phil Fragasso is a must-read for professional service marketers, rainmakers and rainmaker wannabes -- according to book reviewer Cecelia Alerts.

By organizing his points into 52 Rules of Engagement (ROE), Fragasso provides a road map of principles for becoming a better rainmaker.  Alers recommends that you read this book from front to back and then keep it for reference.  Each month, you should take the book from your reference shelf, close your eyes and open it to a random page.  Try incorporating whichever ROE you land on into your professional journey.  If you do this, you will become a better service provider as well as better rainmaker. 

Big picture invisible dot connectors

The author reminds us what many before him have said:  Today’s clients are looking for more than technical expertise.  They are looking for collaborators.  The best rainmakers, Fragasso says, focus on proving how valuable they are instead of how smart.  On the other hand, the author talks about the important role knowledge plays in keeping your business from becoming a commodity.  Whether it is through technical expertise or strategic knowledge, the author believes that rainmakers are “big picture invisible dot connectors.” The ability to find and connect invisible dots is a truly unique ability.  However, unlike the author, Alers is not sure learning how to connect invisible dots can be learned.  She believes some traits of rainmaking are either inherent or learned so early in life that they appear to be inherent.  Being driven is one example.  By the time you are in your 20s, you are either driven to success or not.  If you are, you will make good use of this book.  If you are not, you will wonder with detached emotion why some of your colleagues and friends stress so much.   

Throughout the book, the author talks about the important role of passion in rainmaking.  He tells us passionate enthusiasm is the most engaging and persuasive force to making rain.  Choosing a career that you believe contributes to “the greater good” moves you from a worker to an evangelist.  When you are evangelical about your work, making money becomes the byproduct of your core mission.  The author tells us to learn to describe what we do in simple, heartfelt terms. 

He offers this description of what attorneys do as an example.  “I protect clients from the enemies they don’t even see.”  "I love that!" Alers writes.

For the rest of the review by Cecelia Alers, visit Marketing for Rainmakers at http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=58&ArticleID=866

Big Corporations Hiring Smaller Law Firms

David and GoliathAccording to Bloomberg.com, U.S. companies are adding firms with 300 or fewer lawyers to their outside-counsel roster and saving as much as half compared with fees of Wall Street firms more than triple that size.

I wrote about this trend in Pendulum Swings in Favor of Mid-size Law Firms on the LawMarketing Portal.

Corporations hit by the recession are adopting a model used by DuPont Co., which are pressing firms for fixed fees or 10 to 25 percent discounts, accordingto Bloomberg.com. Lower overhead of smaller firms, such as 210-lawyer Hiscock & Barclay LLP, permit them to charge less than DLA Piper LLP or Latham & Watkins LLP, which have thousands of lawyers. Partners at smaller firms charge $500 to $600 an hour as top fees compared with as much as $1,000 at large New York firms.

“At a time when general counsel are looking for alternative billing arrangements, the playing field has been leveled, so smaller firms can make pitches to big clients that would have fallen on deaf ears before,” Thomas Sager, DuPont’s general counsel, said in an interview.

Starting in 1992, Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont, the third-biggest U.S. chemical maker, set out to reduce its stable of law firms, applying rigorous criteria to cut costs and increase the value of legal services. The company’s current roster includes eight of the 100 biggest U.S. law firms and four times as many smaller firms, which Sager said he prizes for their “flexibility and creativity” in billing.

High Overhead

Small firms offer quality work at a discount because they are more conservatively managed, with fewer offices, fewer junior attorneys and less debt, said Todd Phillips, managing partner at Wick Phillips LLP, a 12-lawyer Dallas law firm.

“At many big law firms, the overhead is so high it pushes the rates through the roofs,” Phillips said. “They are less able, or willing, to negotiate a different fee structure for fear of cutting their own throats.”

‘You Get Me’

While companies will continue to use big firms for some high-stakes work, smaller firms can handle routine deals and lawsuits as well as patents, real estate, employment and immigration work, said Rachel Hayes, a consultant with Framingham, Massachusetts-based Wellesley Hills Group.

“At many of the big firms, clients end up dealing with a fourth-year associate,” J. Joseph Bainton, a litigator in the New York office of Atlanta-based Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP, said in an interview. “When you hire me, you get me.”

Smith Gambrell partners bill 10 to 20 percent less than big firms and give the client more attention than they get elsewhere, Bainton said.

Bainton previously ran a nine-lawyer New York firm. He joined 189-attorney Smith Gambrell with five of his colleagues in December.

Boutique Firms

A firm with fewer than 50 lawyers that specializes in a few areas of law is commonly known as a boutique. Smith Gambrell and others in the headcount range of 50 to 300 lawyers are traditionally considered midsize. The 10 biggest firms in the U.S., with offices around the world, have more than 1,500 attorneys.

The economic slowdown has hit big firms hard. Law firms such as 3,785 lawyer, Chicago-based DLA Piper and Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, based in New York, have cut the annual payments to some of their partners. More than half of the 50 largest firms have fired associates and staff, anticipating revenue declines.

“These aren’t great economic times for anybody, but there are lots of opportunities for a firm like ours,” James Yates, managing partner of Raleigh, North Carolina-based Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP, said in an interview.

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Womble Carlyle Website Named Best in the Carolinas

Womble Carlyle, WCSR, Winston, bulldog, website, awardOnce again, Womble Carlyle's Web site, www.WCSR.com, has been named the best law firm Web Site in both North Carolina and South Carolina.  Who doesn't love a site with Winston the Bulldog walking across the page?

Womble Carlyle and WCSR.com won "Best in Contest," the top overall honor, in the Lawyer's Weekly annual "Best Law Firm Web Site 2008" competition. This is the third consecutive overall win for WCSR.com.

With 550 attorneys in eleven offices, Womble Carlyle is ranked among the AmLaw 100. The firm also won "First Place, Large Law Firm Category" for both North Carolina and South Carolina. The particular category is for firms with more than 26 attorneys. Womble Carlyle has won First Place for large law firms each of the past four years in the North Carolina competition and three of the last four years in South Carolina. The winners are featured in this week's issue of both the North Carolina and South Carolina editions of the newspaper.

The Web site recently underwent an extensive redesign intended to make it even more user-friendly.

"A good Web site is never static; it is constantly evolving," said Aden Dauchess, Womble Carlyle's Internet Marketing Manager. "That is both its greatest strength as a marketing tool and its toughest challenge to administer. But over the years, we've added many new features, including video, podcasts, RSS feeds and blogs."

The judges said, "Womble Carlyle stands out from the pack for its volume of original content, its innovative online techniques and technologies, and its clean, professional and inviting design."

The Lawyer's Weekly award is just the latest in a series of honors WCSR.com has received in recent years. In September 2007, WCSR.com was named the winner of the "Best Legal Website WebAward" in a national contest sponsored by the Web Marketing Association (WMA). In 2005, the WMA awarded the firm its "Outstanding Website WebAward" for Web site design and development.

The Outstanding Website award is given to those companies whose websites are exemplary in design, innovation, content, technology, interactivity, copywriting and ease of use. The WebAward competition's judges include members of the media, advertising executives, site designers, content providers and webmasters. Other organizations receiving an Outstanding WebAward include: GlaxoSmithKline, SAS Institute, American Airlines, Boy Scouts of America and Sherwin Williams.

Lawyer Participation on LinkedIn Skyrocketing

From Steve Matthew's Stem Blog:

Stem has been conducting ongoing tracking of the “law practice industry” category on LinkedIn.  The chart below displays the number of profile pages indexed by Google on four different dates over the course of the last year. Those were:

  • April 2008: 118,000
  • June 2008: 216,000
  • December 2008: 406,000
  • March 2009: 563,000

Steve says, "The point, of course, is that the adoption rate is skyrocketing. It’s also important to recognize that each of these profile pages was created by, and actively managed by, the participant’s effort.  Not a massive updating process by firms to keep their records current in a directory - but based upon actual participation."

So if you are a lawyer and don't have a bio on LinkedIn, today is the day to create one.

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Getting New Business from Online Social Networks

business development, online social networkToday’s post on getting new business out of online social networking is part of a series coordinated by Martindale-Hubbell Connected.

So far we've heard from bloggers Bob Ambrogi of LawSites, Monica Bay of The Common Scold, Sean Doherty, Rees Morrison, and Kathleen Delaney. Despite the Twitter about it, we are not receiving payment or any other gratuity for participating in this series. Today it's my turn. 

Whenever I train or coach lawyers to become rainmakers, I remind them to polish their online profiles, invite every client and lawyer they know to connect with them, list their blogs, and use the app to answer "What are you working on now?"  59% of lawyers have joined an online social network and 48% of in-house counsel have also joined, according to Leader Networks.

I've been a fan of LinkedIn and have just started using M-H Connected. I don't bother with Naymz, Spoke, or Plaxo because they have too little traffic. I skip Myspace because it has 90,000 registered sex offenders on it. I don't use Facebook, but law firms like Curtis Mallet-Prevost have created nice recruiting and alumni sites there.

One trick to getting new business is to join groups. For example, I moderate the Chief Marketing Officers Forum on LinkedIn. It's a great way to meet new connections and comment on topics like legal fees, the recession and hot practice areas.  To be viewed as a thought-leader, however, a lawyer should start a discussion.

Another trick is to send questions to your connections.  Oddly enough, you must click on the Answers link to find the "Ask A Question" box. Then you pose your query and follow the pages until you get to selecting to whom to send your question.  Lawyers can distinguish themselves by the quality of their questions.  It also works as a nice promotional device, because there's no rule against sending a news alert or announcement to your own contacts.

Finally, lawyers need to weed out irrelevant connections they've made along the way. I'm not impressed with people who have 500+ connections, because they accept invitations from anyone. I'm over my limit with 293 connections, so I'll need to click on the Remove Connections and trim down my network.

Here's wishing you "happy hunting" in the quest for new business.  See tomorrow’s post on the Martindale-Hubbell blog

Dykema Wins LMA Law Firm Marketing Award for $6 Million Business Development Program

The Legal Marketing Association today gave out Your Honor awards to 77 law firms in 23 categories. Following are the highlights of winners, some of which made money for their firms.


Visit  the LawMarketing Portal at www.LawMarketing.com to see more details and pictures.

Dykema business development, law firm marketingFirst place: Business Development:

Dykema, a 381-lawyer firm in Detroit, targeted 4 industries for new business: automotive, financial, transportation and pharmaceuticals. The firm identified specific company targets, developed action plans and made pitches throughout a year.   The firm than doubled its established goals of $1.85 million in cross-selling new business, and $1 million in new client revenue. Final results yielded more than $6 million in identified revenue, 210% of the target.

 

First place: Business Development Training

O’Melveny & Myers held a full-day business development training program for nearly 150 lawyers – and staged it as a beauty contest for a business in South Korea. Partners, called “cast members,” represented executives from the fictional company, and 128 associates and counsel formed 16 pitch teams, each of which got briefing books. Members of the team that made the winning pitch were recognized at an awards ceremony, and have earned unofficial “rising star” status at the firm and are often invited to participate in actual pitch meetings.

 

BEST IN SHOW: Highest Honor

To Akin Gump for its web-based financial crisis resource center. Using a blog and email announcements to create a hub of information about the credit crisis, the firm got publicity in major newspapers, positioned themselves as the “go-to” firm regarding the crisis, and Top 10 Google rankings using multiple search terms for the blog.

 

First Place: Multimedia Campaign

To Novack and Macey, a 20-lawyer Chicago firm that launched a “Small but Mighty” campaign featuring a Rhino beetle, Tepin pepper and Poison Dart frog as symbols. As a result, firm revenue increased more than 10% in new business because of the campaign.

 

First Place: Website

WeirFoulds of Toronto, which created 4 portals on the home page to their litigation, property, corporate and government law practices.  The site was launched simultaneously with a redesigned brand announcement that boosted traffic to the site. See http://www.weirfoulds.com

 

First Place: Blog

Stikeman Elliott, a 500-lawyer firm with 5 offices in Canada plus three elsewhere. The Canadian Securities Law Online blog distributes market-leading news at http://www.canadiansecuritieslaw.com/. The blog is hosted by Lexblog of Seattle. In three months more than 70 articles were posted on the blog and traffic increased to more than 24,000 “hits.”

 

First Place: Electronic Media

Schottenstein Zox & Dunn in Columbus, OH won for its viral holiday greeting cards. Following the YouTube model at www.szdlive.com featured two videos of lawyers doing trick-skateboarding and playing Nintendo Wii. The site got good publicity and the firm made a substantial donation to a local charity.

 

There were 255 entries and 77 winners. The LMA also gave awards for brochures, advertising, PR, announcements, promo materials, research, recruiting and internal communications.

 

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE WINNERS! 

Social Networks Now More Popular than Email

Brian Solis, online social networks, law firm marketingFrom the LawMarketing Portal:

Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit social networking or blogging sites, accounting for almost 10% of all internet time, reports public relations expert Brian Solis. What's more, Facebook has surpassed MySpace!

You heard that right...no matter how much time we sink into our inbox trying to keep up with all that barrage of never-ending mail, a new report by The Nielsen Company reports that Social networks and blogs are now the fourth most popular online activity today.

 

The report, "Global Faces and Networked Places," features data captured from December 2007 through December 2008 and reveals some very interesting statistics worth noting.

 

Here are the highlights:

  • Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit social networking or blogging sites, accounting for almost 10% of all internet time.
  • Time spent on social network sites is also expanding. Across the globe in 2008 activity in "Member Communities" accounted for one in every 15 online minutes -- and now it accounts for one in every 11.
  • While social networks started out among the younger audience, they’ve become more mainstream with the passage of time.
  • This shift has primarily been driven by Facebook whose greatest growth has come from people aged 35-49 years of age (+24.1 million). From December 2007 through December 2008, Facebook added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than it has added under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million).

For the rest of the report, visit the LawMarketing Portal at http://www.lawmarketing.com/pages/articles.asp?Action=Article&ArticleCategoryID=13&ArticleID=870

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"Ghost" Twitterers Bash Holland & Knight Online

online stalker, hklaw, holland and knight"Ghost" Twitterers -- that is some who impersonates a real person or company -- by the handle "hklaw" and "hklawtwits" have been bashing the international law firm of Holland and Knight (whose web address is hklaw.com).

You can find @hklaw at http://twitter.com/hklaw, an account that has 2,537 followers and has sent out 208 updates or "tweets" about the firm since December 27, 2008 -- all of them very negative. The online attackers hide behind his screen name of "Case Investigation" based in Chicago.  The account says it is devoted to "Bio Information, Articles and Complaints involving Holland & Knight Attorneys."  Sample tweets include:

@hklawtwits is at http://twitter.com/hklawtwits based in "Everywhere," and focusing on "Breaking News and Twits of information." @hklawtiwts has 2,359 followers and has posted 356 times. 

@hklaw links to various blogs and news accounts.  Many lead to the blog HKLaw Investigation at http://hklaw.posterous.com/.

Blogger Kara Smith’s (http://blog.karasmamedia.com/2009/01/legal-firms-dont-allow-outside-parties.html) wrote, “Since the end of December, @hklaw has been sending out Twitter Tweets at the rate of approximately 20 per day. The tweets contain links that lead readers back to (HKLaw Investigator) whose profile lists six other sites, each describing its contents as ‘Information, Articles and Complaints involving Holland & Knight Attorneys.’… The problem is, none of the blogs or the @hklaw Twitter page belong to the Holland & Knight law firm, whose URL is http://www.hklaw.com/.”

Journalist Dan Hicks, who writes the Communicating Through a Crisis blog, speculates in detail who the anonymous attackers could be.

Larry Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management, said, “I have been following the internal crisis upon crisis at Holland & Knight for a couple of years and they keep shooting themselves in the feet...and now there is an 'enemy' that has ties inside the giant law firm and knows how to use digital media to launch almost daily attacks that even the Taliban would envy.”

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