AVVO Website Rates and Profiles 400,000 Lawyers in 10 Jurisdictions

Avvo attorney rating web siteRed alert: The website www.avvo.com has posted online ratings and profiles of 400,000 practicing attorneys in 10 jurisdictions.  If you represent consumers, be sure to look up your lawyers to see how you're rated. A v v o covers 140 practice areas and rates lawyers on a scale of 1 to 10 (10=best), based on experience, industry recognition and "trustworthiness" (which will be renamed "professional conduct").

“Choosing the right lawyer is difficult and stressful,” said Mark Britton, Avvo CEO and a 15-year attorney who was previously general counsel at Expedia.com. “This is not a decision you want to make based on who bought the biggest Yellow Pages ad. My friends and family automatically come to me for advice and lawyer referrals because I’m an attorney. But even with the resources I have, it’s hard to find all the information I need to make a good decision."

My gut tells me that Avvo will give Martindale-Hubbell, Findlaw and the thousands of pay-for-play directories online some real competition.

The site will also be very controversial.  Early reviews are mixed:

  • Jeffrey Forbes, The Client Doctor said, "The consensus is that the quality of the information currently on this site is very spotty at best. This is based on a number of LMA members who are former lawyers looking up their rating and commenting things like they have such a good rating even though they have not practiced in years. And then they compared this with some well known people in their office with a lesser rating. In other words, stay tuned to see if the content becomes more dependable, but take any current ratings with a bucket of salt."
  • See Bob Ambrogi's blog post where he says, "So can the worth of a lawyer be calculated in a numerical score? Call me a skeptic. The problem is that the qualities that make a great lawyer are intangible."
  • Tim Stanley, the original founder of Findlaw, says in his blog, "Looks good.  The focus is on the attorney, not the law firm, and listings are free. It is just the beginning... but very nice :) Good job Avvo!!!"

Headquartered in Seattle and founded in early 2006, Avvo is dedicated to helping consumers better navigate the complex legal industry. A v v o is short for "Avvocato," which means "lawyer" in Italian.

The Avvo Rating is the website's assessment of how well a lawyer could represent a client. The rating is based on a proprietary mathematical model that searches and analyzes public records, lawyer web sites and bar association sites, ferreting out their experience, disciplinary sanctions and professional achievements.  The Avvo Rating was developed with input from legal experts, hundreds of lawyers -- and thousands of consumers who were questioned in many focus groups and surveyed online by Ipsos.com.

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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 discrettly 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."

For the rest of the article go to http://chicagobusiness.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?id=25157


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 Law.com 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.


A Law Firm Announcement that Clients Will Actually Read

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

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

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

Luce Forward announcement

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

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


Florida Law Damages Criminal Defense Practices

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

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

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

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

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


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How to Get Clients and Make Money with a Blog

New date: June 7. Craig Williams, Esq., author of the May It Please The Court blog, and I will present a live Webinar about how lawyers can use blogs to grow their practices. Attendees will get step-by-step instructions and practical techniques to harness a blog for business development.

There are 1,800 active law firm blogs and lawyers post 117,000 posts on an average day. Done properly, a blog will attract clients, generate fee revenue, spark calls from the news media and establish a national reputation for the author.

J. Craig Williams, who practices in Newport Beach, Calif., began his Web log, MayItPleaseTheCourt.com, in August 2004. His postings focus on legal news and observations and have brought him hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of legal business. Thanks to the blog, his practice has grown in complex business litigation involving environmental, real estate, land-use and computer matters and their respective insurance coverage and related tort issues.

The blog has also generated interviews from news reporters at the New York Times, Business Week and other national publications.

I launched the LawMarketing Blog in April 2004 at http://blog.larrybodine.com. It has become a leading online destination for information on how law firms can get new clients and generate new business. The site attracts hundreds of visitors per day, many of whom call me to retain me for new busindess development projects. Because many visitors are from the news media, I've appeared on national television and been quoted in numerous legal news publications.

Contact Laura Kresich: (312) 217-3895

or email Lkresich@LawMarketing.com 

Registration fee: $300

Sign up online at http://www.pbdi.org/pages/cceventform.asp?EventID=152

Who should attend

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How U.S. Companies Select International Outside Counsel

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

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

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

How US corporations pick international law firms:

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Older Entries

May 23, 2007 — Answer Questions in your Blog, and Risk Your Malpractice Insurance

May 22, 2007 — More Law Firms Charging Fixed Fees

May 21, 2007 — More Firms Opt out of Martindale-Hubbell

May 21, 2007 — Overbeck Named CMO of DLA Piper

May 18, 2007 — Helms Mulliss & Wicker Unveils Branded Vehicle

May 17, 2007 — Don't Call it a "Client Survey," Call it "Client Discovery"

May 16, 2007 — Returning to the Verdant Fields of Illinois

May 11, 2007 — Law Firms Should Sell Reports Online

May 10, 2007 — The HOT new job in Marketing

May 8, 2007 — Using "T&A" to sell Divorce

May 7, 2007 — Getting Motivated to Generate Six Figures in New Business

May 4, 2007 — Internet Scams Don't Work if You are Honest

May 2, 2007 — The Most Effective Forms of Legal Marketing

April 30, 2007 — Fisher & Phillips Advertisement Shows Spirit

April 28, 2007 — Entrepreneurial Partner's Party Gets Boffo Results

April 27, 2007 — MoFo Mojo Workin' on Student Recruits

April 26, 2007 — Take the Juris Economic Survey

April 26, 2007 — How Do You Like This New Blog?

April 19, 2007 — The Best Lateral Partner Announcement, Ever

April 18, 2007 — A Clever Way to Market Estate Planning Services

April 16, 2007 — How Much to Pay a Marketing Director

April 12, 2007 — Four Hot Trends in Marketing

April 11, 2007 — Marketing by Not Being a Dork

April 10, 2007 — 2007 LMA Your Honor Awards

April 8, 2007 — Marketing Lessons from The Sopranos

April 6, 2007 — An Easy Way to Get Referrals

April 5, 2007 — Florida Bar's board favors Web ad regulation

April 4, 2007 — Act on those Client Complaints

April 3, 2007 — Canada's Faskens Sponsors Hockey Team

April 1, 2007 — Entrepreneurial Partner Will Get New Business

March 29, 2007 — Law Marketers on You Tube!

March 29, 2007 — Death of Jenkens & Gilchrist

March 29, 2007 — Larry bodine was a mutant with the ability to manipulate light

March 28, 2007 — How Not to Structure the Marketing Department

March 26, 2007 — Coaching Lawyers to be Rainmakers

March 23, 2007 — Clever Blog about "The Office" Spotlights Real Client Liabilities

March 22, 2007 — Law Firm Web Site Online in 60 Days!

March 21, 2007 — More evidence that 2007 will be an Excellent Year for Law Firms

March 17, 2007 — Oh No! Cold Callings Works

March 16, 2007 — "On the Cover of the ABA (Journal)"

March 14, 2007 — Gordon Gekko Rules Big Law Firms

March 13, 2007 — Profits Per Partner is a Joke

March 12, 2007 — Decimation at Mayer Brown

March 12, 2007 — A Marketer's Take on the Mayer Brown Layoffs

March 9, 2007 — Mediocre AmLaw Ranking Sparked Mayer Brown Layoffs

March 8, 2007 — $1M in Profits Per Partner is Not Enough for Mayer Brown

March 7, 2007 — Toon into Funny, Visual Marketing

March 5, 2007 — "I Want to be a Rainmaker"

February 28, 2007 — Get Business by Getting "On Board"

February 26, 2007 — What Law Firms can Learn from Airlines

February 22, 2007 — Four Markers Identify At-Risk Clients

February 21, 2007 — Gengis Khan Principle: Why 10% Generate 80% of the Business

February 20, 2007 — The Powerful Business Development Implement on Your Desk

February 19, 2007 — What Makes a Good Lawyer?

February 15, 2007 — Don't Build Your Reputation as The Invisible Man

February 14, 2007 — Survey: 49% of Laws Firms will Spend More on Business Development

February 13, 2007 — The Solution for Superlawyers

February 12, 2007 — How Much to Spend on Marketing

February 9, 2007 — Search Engine Expert says "Google Sucks My Chia Pets"

February 7, 2007 — Marketing Opportunity: Megafirms overpay $160,000 for First-year Associates

February 5, 2007 — Articulating Your Firm's Value Proposition

February 2, 2007 — Hold onto your Expensive Marketing Directors

February 1, 2007 — Branding Lessons from Joe Biden and Bill Gates

January 31, 2007 — Can You Beat this 25-question Sales Training Quiz?

January 29, 2007 — Free Call to a Client in Europe

January 25, 2007 — The Dreadful Boeing RFP

January 25, 2007 — Marketing Partner Forum Awards

January 25, 2007 — Marketing Partner Forum

January 25, 2007 — Cancel Your Yellow Pages Ad

January 24, 2007 — Best Performance by a Partner in a Leading Law Firm

January 23, 2007 — How to Find Time to Market

January 21, 2007 — Berrian to Jones to Benson: Marketing Lessons from Da Bears

January 19, 2007 — Why a Seminar is a Great Marketing Technique

January 18, 2007 — Hamilton Brook Smith Reynolds Knows the Elements of a Fun Holiday Message

January 16, 2007 — Favorite tips for building an audience for a blog

January 15, 2007 — Preston Gates becomes K&L Gates

January 15, 2007 — Thanks to BlawgSearch

January 12, 2007 — Here they are: Secrets to Profitability

January 11, 2007 — N.Y. Court System Rules Hit Lawyers' Internet Practices

January 10, 2007 — 17 Important Points To Consider Before You Hire A Law Marketing Consultant

January 8, 2007 — 5 Law Firms make 'Best Places To Work' list

January 8, 2007 — Final NY Advertising Rules are Atrocious

January 5, 2007 — "O" No: Dewey Orrick Dies in Discussions

January 4, 2007 — 20% of Firms have Blogs, 60% have E-Newsletters, Almost None are Podcasting

January 3, 2007 — Sonnenschien Centennial Report Features Client Testimonials

January 1, 2007 — Wolf Greenfield Advent Card Shows Humor & Creativity

December 22, 2006 — West Coast Office Now Open

December 21, 2006 — New Orleans' McGlinchey Stafford Sends Animated Online Card

December 19, 2006 — Most Lawyers Will Fail at Buiness Development in 2007

December 18, 2006 — Cadwalader Runs TV ads on MSNBC

December 15, 2006 — Law Technology News Law Firm & Law Department Awards

December 13, 2006 — Thomas Jefferson Would Have a Blog Today

December 11, 2006 — Leonard, Street's Incentives for New Business

December 11, 2006 — Sign The Damn Holiday Card!

December 7, 2006 — Marketing Ideas Worth Stealing

December 7, 2006 — Using Stories to Sell

December 6, 2006 — NY Times: Spam 2.0 is 90% of All E-mail

December 5, 2006 — Test if Your Leadership Style Attracts Clients

December 1, 2006 — Most Firms Spend 15% on Online Marketing

November 30, 2006 — Just out: MLF Top 50 Best Law Firm Marketing Programs