Finding Legal Marketing Happiness with a Portable Book of Business

Michael Downey, portable book of business, legal marketing, law firm marketingI found an excellent article in the St. Louis Bar Journal by lawyer Michael Downey, an ethics lawyer and litigation partner at Armstrong Teasdale. He makes a point I've been stressing for a decade: happiness in law practice is found through business development. Here is an excerpt:

"As a litigation partner at a large firm and a law school professor who teaches law firm practice, let me share a secret I’ve found for law firm happiness. Happy lawyers normally have a portable book of good clients or client-referrers who continue to refer legal work.

For most lawyers in private practice, a portable book of good clients or referral sources is crucial to long-term happiness. Lawyers who can generate their own work will have the relationships that allow direct communication with the clients. This will allow the lawyer to learn not only what the client needs but why. It provides an opportunity for the attorney to understand the client as well as their business. These lawyer client relationships give meaning to the lawyer’s practice.

Further, lawyers often work long hours, particularly when the client comes to see the lawyer as an important ally and source of guidance. During those long hours, some good lawyer-client relationships grow into professional and personal friendships that can nourish the lawyer’s soul.

A portable book of good clients also gives lawyers control over their own workplace and career. Although law firms are often compared to pyramids, perhaps a better image would be a Viking longship. Lawyers who have business, and thus their own longships, can decide who crews the ship and where the ship will go. Lawyers without business are usually left to pull an oar on someone else’s ship.

Experience has convinced me that a lawyer with freedom to go – or not – is usually much happier than someone who lacks that freedom. Plus, law firms can more readily dispose of a mere oarsman, an action that the firm believes is necessitated by the economic slowdown and other factors, than for a firm to dispose of a lawyer who will take client work to the new firm.

Further, having a good book of portable business ensures that a lawyer can protect their turf if the lawyer feels he or she isbeing mistreated or slighted. If necessary, that book allows the lawyer to take their clients to more verdant pastures. Law firms are often difficult places to work. Having portable clients who will follow a lawyer helps ensure that a lawyer will be able to command respect. After all, if such respect is not forthcoming with reasonable effort, the lawyer can leave. The portable book of business ensures the lawyer will never be trapped."

News Stories Get it Wrong: Facebook is Indeed #1

If you see the headline “Social Media King: Facebook lost its Social Media crown” or “Data: StumbleUpon Beats Facebook As Top Social Referrer” – they are WRONG!  The news writers referred to data from StatCounter - -- but set they the date parameters incorrectly.

The top social media sites are:

  1. Facebook 63%
  2. Stumbleupon 18%
  3. YouTube 8%
  4. Twitter 5.6%

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According to StatCounter, its data is based on the analysis of four billion page loads per month among StatCounter's two million members.

More Positive Economic Indicators

Legal Services Growth, law firm marketingMore economic indicators for the legal profession show that the recession is ending and that a recovery is beginning.

Law firm marketing professionals point to several positive indicators:

· Fed Views Recession as Near an End. On August 12, 2009, the Federal Reserve said that the recession is ending and that it would take a step back toward normal policy.

· Unemployment rate does NOT increase.  Despite widespread predictions that the unemployment rate would crest over 10%, it held steady at 9.4% as of August 7, according to the federal government.

· U.S. jobless claims fall sharply. The number of U.S. workers submitting new claims for jobless benefits fell sharply in early August, fanning hopes the fragile labor market was on the mend and that the broader economy was stabilizing. Initial claims for state unemployment insurance fell 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 550,000 in the week ended August 1, the Labor Department said on Thursday, beating market expectations for a drop to 580,000.

· Housing prices increase. Houses have finally become cheap enough to lure buyers, according to a new report released on July 28. That, in turn, is stabilizing prices, generating hope that the real estate market is beginning to recover. For the first time since early 2007, a composite index of 20 major cities was virtually flat, instead of down. “We’ve found the bottom,” Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American CoreLogic, told the New York Times.

· Stock Markets are Up. The Dow Jones Industrial has closed above 9,000 by the end of July, its highest point for 2009. The broader Standard & Poor's index is up 11% for the year.

· Pent up consumer demand. The cash-for-clunkers program brought 120,000 new-car buyers into car dealerships from July 1 to early August. According to the New York Times, this reveals pent-up consumer demand, which is a sign of economic recovery.

· 3% growth in 2010. An industry forecast by First Research Inc. (a service of Hoover's Inc. online database) shows that growth in the legal sector stabilizes in 2009 and turns into 3% growth in 2010.  For the full story see the LawMarketing Portal at