Winning Legal Business from Mid-Cap Companies

Silvia Hodges, law firm marketing, legal marketing, lawmarketingDid you know that advertising, unsolicited newsletters and the legal press are irrelevant in getting legal work from a medium sized business? 

However, there are several sure-fire ways to reach decision-makers at these companies, and we'll discuss them during our Webinar next Thursday June 9, "Winning Legal Business from Mid-Cap Companies."


Our featured guest is Silvia Hodges, Ph.D. Professor of Marketing and Management at Fordham Law School. She spent 4 years studying how mid-sized companies find and select law firms and just published a book on the topic: Winning legal Business from Medium-Sized Companies.

In the webinar, I will interview her on how to communicate, market and sell to these excellent, paying clients. 

But medium-sized companies are different -- they don't have an internal legal department and typically lack legal expertise. They don't issue RFPs and will consider one or two law firms before making a choice. Often the CEO or the HR director will search for and choose the company law firm - not the purchasing or procurement department.

Among the topics Dr. Hodges will cover are:

  • The unique two-stage process that mid-size companies use to find a law firm and then select a lawyer.
  • Why many standard types of marketing - like branding and advertising - are a waste of money to reach mid-size companies.
  • The communications, marketing and selling techniques that are proven to work to reach the CEO or company executive who makes the hiring decision. A tip: they don't have to justify their decision so being a brand-name firm doesn't matter.
  • How to position yourself as a lawyer so that mid-cap companies will find you.
  • How modern Internet applications like blogs, Facebook and Twitter have become important. 85% of executives consider law firm websites important sources of information in their search for lawyers.

winning new business, law firm marketing, webinar, legal marketing, Register Now

Please see the description of Winning Legal Business from Mid-Cap Companies to find out more.
MORE INFO: Program Director Laura Kresich; (Tel) (773) 966-9273 or

Sutherland's Business Development Curriculum Trains 549 attendees in a Year

Felice Wagner, CMO, Sutherland, law firm business developmentA year ago Sutherland CMO Felice Wagner established a firmwide in-house Business Development Curriculum. As a result, the firm was able to:

  • Present 22 business development training courses to 549 attendees in one calendar year. The firm has 425 attorneys so many attorneys attended more than one program.
  • 86% of Sutherland attorneys rated their satisfaction with The Curriculum programs as either “very high” or “high.”
  • Because The Curriculum showcased the Client & Practice Development Department as presenters and experts, it has raised the staff’s level of influence within the firm.

By taking a do-it-yourself approach the firm estimates it saved $150,000 to boot.

Sutherland’s Curriculum is designed to support attorneys in successfully developing, generating, and sustaining client relationships. The scope of Sutherland’s Curriculum includes 27 courses which are divided into four core competencies:

  1. Building relationships to build business
  2. Building your profile
  3. Communicating effectively
  4. Serving clients

In each of the four competencies there are three types of courses:

  • Fundamental Seminars help the attorneys understand the philosophies and guiding principals behind each learning track and give them context for future programs. Course examples include: “Communicating Success” from the Communicating Effectively core competency and “Client Service the Sutherland Way” from the Serving Clients core competency.
  • Skill Building Workshops help the attorneys take the fundamentals from theory and principle into active practice. Course examples include: “Winning Pitches and RFPs” from the Building Relationships to Build Business core competency and “Why You, Why Now? Identifying and Building Your Niche” from the Building Your Profile core competency.
  • Customized Training and Coaching Courses are provided when attorneys need to prepare for specific opportunities. Course examples include “Speech Preparation and Practice” from the Building Your Profile core competency and “Conducting Client Satisfaction Interviews” from the Serving Clients core competency.

To read all the details, visit the LawMarketing Portal at

Law Firm Marketing Tip: How to Make Networking Events Work for You

Lawyer networking, law firm marketingNetworking works best if it is done with “marketing aforethought.”  Here’s your game plan for an effective networking event.

Where to Go

The best meetings for networking are the ones your clients and referral sources go to.  Every person in business belongs to a trade association.  Simply ask your clients what meetings they go to and suggest you join them.  At the meeting, have your client introduce you to others (who are prospective clients).  If anyone asks what you’re doing there, tell them you want to learn the industry better, to meet people and to ask questions. 

Bar association meetings can be a great source for referrals – if you’re a litigator and you attend bar meetings to meet transactional lawyers, or you can meet out-of-state lawyers who may call you when they have a matter in your city. 

Making a Plan of Action

Most lawyers erroneously think networking is shaking as many hands as possible and spreading out as many business cards as possible at an event.  This is incorrect.  You should go to an event with the aim of having one or two meaningful conversations – that’s it. 

A premeditated networker going to an event checks the membership or attendee list ahead of time, and highlights 3-5 people to meet.  That way he’s not walking into a huge room full of people he doesn’t know.  At the event, the networker asks the president to introduce him to a few of these targets.

Additional tips:

  • Come early to meetings and stand by the table where name tags are handed out.  Let everyone at the meeting see you are there. Say hello to everyone you know.
  • Have the staff working the desk identify the people you are looking for.
  • Pick out whom you’re going to sit with and put your purse/jacket across the chairs at the table.
  • Introduce yourself to the speakers and get their business cards; briefly chat them up about the topic they’re speaking on.  Do this at the front of the room so everybody can see you attended the meeting.   
  • If possible, bring a second person from your law firm to the meeting and have them do the same thing; be certain that you split up from the second person and sit at separate tables and talk to different people.

Starting a Conversation

...please click "Continue Reading" in the link below.

Starting a Conversation

People believe it’s hard to start a conversation with a stranger so they decide not to network.  However, it’s easy to start a conversation if you premeditatedly pick out the people you want to talk to and prepare five good questions in advance. For example:

1. What has changed since the last time we met?
2. How has that affected you?
3. How are you dealing with the XXXX issue in your industry?
4. How do you think that will affect you in the future?
5. What are the 2-3 things that absolutely MUST go right for you to have a good year?

If you’ve prepared in advance for specific target contacts, you can develop other intelligent questions, with the aim of inquiring into the target’s business “pain” and plans. 

So don’t talk about the weather or the movies; explore what’s important to the other person. Talk about their favorite topic: themselves. The idea is to get the person talking through good questions; if he’s talking, the networker is selling. If the contact has unmet needs, this creates an opportunity to meet again later.

Ordinarily, you shouldn’t ask a prospective client to handle their legal work on the very first meeting.  There is a courtship process and both parties need to get to know each other.  To use a dating analogy, a guy doesn’t ask a girl to marry him on the first date.


Get the business card of everyone you met and immediately write three things on the back:

1.  The date
2.  The place
3.  What you talked about.

As you leave the meeting, send a text message to the people you met, saying how nice it was to see them. If you write a blog, write a post about the meeting you went to. If you have a Twitter account, tweet about the best thing you got from the meeting. Use your PDA or smartphone to find a link to what you had a conversation about, email the link to the person you just met using your PDA.  All this can be done within the first hour after you met the person.

When you return to your office, immediately input this information into your Outlook Contacts – especially the “notes” box.  This is essential.  You can search Outlook, but you can’t search a wad of business cards with a rubber band around it in your desk drawer.

Follow-up with a “glad to meet you” email, and point them to a link of useful information.  Then add them to your mailing lists and make sure you send them a relevant newsletter, e-alert or research findings on a regular basis.  Make it worthwhile for the other person to stay in touch with you.   If you’ve met someone who has described an unmet need, you should set up a face-to-face meeting or conference call with your contact, have them invite the decision-maker to join you, and focus on their “pain” and how you can solve it.

Use the power of online social networks as you proceed.  For professionals, only one network is really worthy: LinkedIn.  You can safely ignore invitations from people on other networks. Approximately 78% of lawyers have a LinkedIn profile, but don’t do anything with it.  Invite the event speaker and the people you met to connect with you.  Every time you talk to a reporter, invite them into your network.  Every now and then, send a “question” to all your contacts – asking about new research you found, or the organization where you met, or points raised by the speaker.

By planning ahead and picking the people you want to meet in advance, you can develop new, and deepen existing, relationships – which are ultimately the best source of new business.

Seyfarth, Baker & Reed Smith Send Lawyers to Business School

Deborah RhodeArticle from: Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL)

It reads like a typical MBA student class schedule: performance management, the global organization and creating value.

Only the students are not future CEOs or CFOs. They are lawyers wanting to learn to think like business executives.

While today's biggest law firms may resemble multinational corporations with offices worldwide, most lawyers are ill equipped to manage such complex entities. They usually learn management on the fly, and also tend to be poor at working as a team, which increasingly is necessary in today's business world.

"Legal education hasn't adequately adapted to the changing needs of the profession," said Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University and the director of its Center on Ethics. "One of the most critical failures is the whole area of managerial skills."

A few law firms have stepped into the gap and designed mini MBA classes for their lawyers, often in partnership with business schools.

Chicago law firm Seyfarth Shaw, for example, began a management program for partners last year at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. Its lawyers live on campus for three days and learn marketing and strategy at one of the nation's most prestigious business schools.

"This sensitized the partners to some of the critical business issues going forward, such as mergers, bringing on laterals [lawyers from other firms] and opening new offices," said Michael Levinson, a trial lawyer and partner at Seyfarth Shaw.

Such training is expensive. A five-day program at Kellogg costs $7,500 per person, including food and lodging.

Another Chicago firm, Baker & McKenzie, designed something similar with Kellogg for its partners a few years ago, and began to understand their clients better.

"It really helped our partners appreciate how clients are organized, how they manage and how we can serve them better," said Christine Lagarde, chairman of Baker & McKenzie, which has more than 3,000 lawyers worldwide.

Still, executive education for lawyers is rare.

"I don't know that a lot of other firms are doing this," said J. Stephen Poor, Seyfarth Shaw's managing partner. "I discuss this at managing-partner meetings and get a lot of blank looks around the table."

Beyond ongoing legal training, law firms do not have the tradition of other professional services of business development.

As accounting firms expanded internationally, the larger ones established collegelike campuses where recruits were transformed into well-scrubbed accountants and consultants and returned later for management classes. Some, like Ernst & Young, have turned to business schools for education. It has offered a program through Kellogg since 1987.

In contrast, most lawyers have never taken a management course even though corporate clients want knowledgeable business advisers who can provide counsel on everything from marketing to mergers and acquisitions.

And they want advice that is cost-effective or they will take their business elsewhere.

"Although we see ourselves as being excellent lawyers, we don't necessarily think like businessmen," said John Smith, a partner at Pittsburgh firm Reed Smith.
"We don't understand exactly their analysis of a business situation," he said.

Starting in October, Reed Smith hopes to change that by offering courses in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

Offerings will include instruction in managing and developing business relationships as well as leadership training for the firm's future managers.

Perhaps more than any other dean, David Van Zandt of NU's law school has pushed to reshape the law school into more of a business school model to meet the profession's changing needs.

In the first year, in addition to taking typical courses such as contracts, constitutional and criminal law, students attend a three-day program, called "Lawyer as Problem Solver," that teaches negotiation and interviewing techniques, and team-building skills.

Second and third years can apply their legal skills outside the classroom through a team project that takes them abroad.

"The team gets one grade," said Van Zandt, dean since 1995. "The production of the group is what is graded, not the individual contribution. That's the way the world works."

He extends his philosophy to admissions, where the school, much like graduate business programs, favors applicants who are older and have work experience.

Two-thirds of the 240 incoming students this fall have two or more years of work experience. And 10 percent of the class is pursuing a joint JD-MBA degree, a program Van Zandt revitalized by cutting it from four years to three--the same length as for a standard law degree.

The admissions changes were expected to hurt the quality of NU's student body. Yet by at least one widely followed measure, median scores of the law school entrance exam, or LSAT, students are better. The median LSAT score went from 164 in 1996 to 169 this year.

Yet Van Zandt remains an iconoclast in legal education. Teaching practical business skills is viewed as declasse by legal scholars.

Some of the resistance has to do with the fact that scholars are trying to protect their self-interests, said Stanford's Rhode.

"Something needs to change," Rhode said. "Otherwise lawyers continue to learn management by the seat of their pants. Some of it is intuitive, but not all of it."

WSJ: Lawyers Learning the Skills Needed to Draw, Keep Clients

From the Wall Street Journal:

"In the last few months, law firms have become increasingly aware that training lawyers in marketing and business development is a key way to drive business. According to a February survey of 120 marketing directors at large law firms -- conducted by legal market researcher, BTI Consulting Group -- business development is one of the few marketing areas where law firm executives are most willing to increase spending. Nearly 70% said they planned to provide more marketing coaching to lawyers.

"Marketing coaching fills in where law school falls short on training. Firms are enlisting coaches who work one-on-one with their lawyers on how to keep up with existing clients and court new ones. While it's certainly not a new concept to the legal world, this kind of strategic networking becomes critical as business wanes. "As business falls off everywhere, all of us need to have an eye on where the next thing is coming from," says Edward Winslow, partner at Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard LLP, an 85-lawyer firm based in Greensboro, N.C.

"Larry Bodine, an Illinois-based law firm business-development consultant, has been working nights and weekends to accommodate his new influx of clients, which has tripled from 20 to 60 lawyers since January. "Business development is not something taught in law school," he says. "Basically you spend three years reading appellate court opinions and you don't learn anything about building a clientele," he says.

"While many firms are looking outside to hire coaches, others are ramping up internal efforts. At Boston-based Nixon Peabody, where the marketing budget is down 20% this year, chief marketing officer Mark Greene says there has been a distinct shift in how resources are allocated, with more emphasis on coaching individual lawyers. "A year ago the department was more focused on marketing in the traditional sense of brand creation," says Mr. Greene. "We have shifted resources toward one-on-one relationship building."

Apollo Business Development, Larry Bodine, law firm marketingFor more about business development training, visit

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

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

Make Friends, Not Contacts

Ari Kaplan, law firm marketing, networkingLawyers need to meet people to generate business and to retain clients, according to author Ari Kaplan. He suggests lawyers join a sports league, the chamber of commerce, and hook up with law school classmates.

Start with those you have already met and have them introduce you to their friends, recommends Elizabeth “Betiayn” Tursi, the founder of Tursi Law Marketing Management. “I have gotten business from friends with whom I went to elementary school,” she notes.

Ari had a method for making contacts that generate new business:

  • Make Friends For a Reason
  • Participate in non-legal activities
  • Become active in your local chamber of commerce
  • Start with Alumni of Your Alma Maters

To read more about his strategy, which is excerpted from his new book The Opportunity Maker, visit the LawMarketing Portal.

Book Review: Some Assembly Required: A Networking Guide for Women

Get your copy of Some Assembly Required: a Networking Guide for Women in the LawMarketing store for just $22.95

Review by Margaret McCaffery:

This book is a sequel to Thom Singer’s Some Assembly Required: How to Make, Grow, and Keep Your Business Relationships.

It springs from a networking relationship: Thom’s publishers had suggested a book specifically for women and Thom realized he wouldn’t be able to write this one alone. Who should he meet in the airport but Marny Lifshen, someone who had been part of his network for years.

I have to admit, I cringed a bit about reading this pink- covered book in public places like restaurants or the subway. I mean, we should be able to network without needing lessons, right? And why should women need different advice from men? I needn’t have worried: the authors are refreshingly down to earth about the fact that yes, networking comes naturally to some, but even they can benefit from being more strategic with their efforts. And yes, networking is in large part the same for men and women, but women face both challenges and opportunities that differ from those men face.

There is much common sense in this 184-page, simply written book. I particularly liked the focus on the differences between personal and professional friendships. Being someone who likes to keep home and work reasonably separate, I’ve often struggled with the concept that you should develop client relationships into friendships (“make your friends your clients and your clients your friends”).This book looks that issue squarely in the face and defines the difference, recognizing that business decisions will often test friendships, especially if you have to give performance feedback.

Starting with a clear description of the four steps in networking, the authors lay the groundwork for the idea that you will always network, not just when you need a job, or clients. I liked their analogy that networking is like dieting: it doesn’t work if you stop. They list the four steps as Introduce, Educate, Build, and Maintain. I was pleased to see the emphasis on maintaining already strong relationships, having seen many lawyers take their biggest clients for granted (“Oh, they’re just putting out an RFP because the rules say they have to; the work will still come to us, don’t worry”).

For the rest of the review, please visit the LawMarketing Portal.

Portland Law Firm Boosts Website Visitors who became Leads by 400%

John Gilroy, law firm marketingThe law firm Gilroy & Napoli multiplied traffic from target clients to their website nine times by using a combination of search engine optimization and paid search marketing using Google Adwords.

More importantly, the firm received an increase of almost 400% in the total number of visitors who converted into a lead during the five-month campaign.

The firm employed sophisticated online techniques that any law firm could use, to make certain its top 10 most important search terms appeared on the first page of search results on Google. As a result, the firm enjoyed the massive increase in traffic and the higher conversion of visitors into leads.

More law firms are realizing that in the midst of an uncertain economy, it is paramount to focus on marketing efforts that increase results and reduce costs. Therefore, now is the time for your firm to embark on acquiring new clients through the world’s most effective, and most measurable, media channel: online search engines.

Google is No. 1

Google is far and away the most popular search engine: according to statistics from, 69.4% of all online searches as of August 2008 were made on Google, Yahoo trailed far behind with a 20% search share, and the rest were in single digits.

The percentage of users searching on a typical day has risen again, from about 40% to 49%, according to a Pew/Internet research, “Search Engine Use - August 6, 2008.”

“What has changed in the search world that might account for this increase? One likely reason is that users can now expect to find a high-performing, site-specific search engine on just about every content-rich website that is worth its salt,” the report states.

Cost effective means of acquiring new clients read the rest of this story, visit the LawMarketing Portal.