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.

Web Marketing Association Honors Chicago's Schiff Hardin

The Chicago law firm law firm marketing, law marketing firm, attorney marketing, marketing for law firms, law practice management, business developmentSchiff Hardin has been awarded the "Legal Standard of Excellence" WebAward from the Web Marketing Association.

This annual competition recognizes the people and organizations responsible for developing some of the most effective and best Web sites on the Internet today.  Among the seven categories judged for the WebAward, Schiff Hardin received high marks in content, interactivity and copywriting, scoring well beyond the industry and WebAward average.

Schiff-Hardin is a general practice law firm with over 400 attorneys in offices located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Lake Forest, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.

The 2007 redesign was the culmination of more than two years of research and development. Immediately after the launch, traffic to the new site increased between 30 to 40 percent and has remained at this level.

law firm marketing, law marketing firm, attorney marketing, marketing for law firms, law practice management, business development"Our goal for the redesign was to develop a more robust, user-friendly Web site that focuses on the experience of our attorneys and the firm," explained Tina Johns, Schiff Hardin's Manager of Marketing Technology. "We put a lot of time and effort into rewriting and reorganizing our content and are extremely pleased to be recognized for that effort."

Johns leads Schiff Hardin's Web team, which includes Meg Stuart, Web Site Specialist, and Nat Panek, Marketing and Communications Web Site Writer. Schiff Hardin's graphic designers, Kristi Fox and Wade Thrall, provided design assistance.

Working with Schiff's in-house team, Web developer Bridgeline of Chicago created a new web application that offers visitors engaging content and intuitive access to practice groups, firm promotions and attorneys..

  • Repeat visitors to the site are remembered and provided quick access to information they have previously visited.
  • Users accessing an attorney profile by drilling through a particular practice area such as Patent Litigation, will see that practice area highlighted in the attorney profile as it is of interest to the site user.

The Web Marketing Association was founded in 1997 to help set a high standard for Internet marketing and development of the best websites on the World Wide Web. It is the producer of the WebAwards Competition. Now in its 12th year, the WebAwards is the premier annual website award competition that names the best Web sites in 96 industries while setting the standard of excellence for all website development. To learn more about the Web Marketing Association, please visit


Law Firm Loses Web Trademark Fight for its Own Name

law firm marketing, law marketing firm, attorney marketing, marketing for law firms, law practice management, business developmentHave you trademarked your law firm name?  If not, it's a big mistake and invites cyber-squatters to buy a domain, hijacking your firm name. Just because you've been using your law firm name on stationery and marketing materials may not be enough to create a common-law trademark for you.  Look what happened to GableGotwals, a 65-lawyer firm in Tulsa, OK.

A National Arbitration Forum decision denied the law firm's demand that the domain name be transferred to them, and refused to take it away from Schlund+Partner Ag, a cyber squatter based in Naples, FL. The ruling was Gable & Gotwals, Inc. d/b/a GableGotwals v. Dave Jackson, Claim Number: FA0806001212305.

The law firm had been using the GABLEGOTWALS mark in commerce since January 1, 2006, by using its name on letterhead and marketing materials.  The firm demanded that the domain name be transferred to it. Yet the law firm lost even thought the cybersquatter failed to respond to the complaint!

The squatter registered the domain name on August 26, 2006 and has a placeholder site online, saying that a real web site is "coming soon."

However, the decision said, '[a]lthough it has been held that there is no requisite showing to establish common law rights, common sense dictates that something beyond mere proof of business establishment is necessary.' In this case, Complainant has produced nothing more than its establishment of a law firm operating under the name GABLEGOTWALS."

"Other than Complainant’s assertions, there is no other evidence indicating that the GABLEGOTWALS mark has acquired secondary meaning or source identity in commerce, and use alone is not sufficient to prove this assertion," the decision states.

The law firm lost its rightful domain name with prejudiceDon't let this happen to you!

Rainmaker Peter J. Bilfield - Taking Control of Career as an Associate

Peter Bilfield, law firm marketing, rainmaker, business develoopmentPeter Bilfield gets it. He embraced business development enthusiastically, found a niche, markets in a disciplined way and is on the fast track to being an accomplished rainmaker.  

And he is delivering results that his firm respects: Peter has originated a significant and impressive level of fees for Withers Bergman in New York in 2008.

As an associate in the firm's commercial group, Peter made a commitment to becoming a rainmaker for the practice group and the firm at large.

The first step was to find a viable market niche to focus on. By targeting portfolio managers at established firms seeking to start their own funds, his goal is to build a funds practice. Getting in on the ground floor of these operations, Peter assists in the structuring of the fund as well as counseling the client on the expected evolution of the fund (i.e., where investors will come from and what their tolerance will be for certain fund characteristics).

As the attorney-client relationship grows, Peter assists clients in their fund investment activities – venture capital investments, PIPEs, asset sales, refinancings, acquisitions and other liquidity events.  He also uses his securities background to advise on securities filing requirements and other regulatory concerns.

Rainmaker award, Originate newsletter

Peter Bilfield is a winner of the Originate! 2008 Rainmaker of the Year Awards, judged by the Legal Sales & Service Organization (LSSO). To find out about all 5 winners, see the latest issue online at Originate! - the business development newsletter.

Throughout his firm, all attorneys are encouraged to offer fully integrated services for fund clients including estate and tax planning for the principals in order to minimize any gift and estate taxes they might incur.  Peter effectively coordinates with partners to cross-sell estate and tax planning for these principals and strongly believes that the firm’s private client services will create additional value to the client and translate into substantial, additional fee income to the firm

Peter splits his time between the New York and Greenwich offices allowing him exposure to a large number of attorneys in the firm, spread across several practice groups.  He also switched practice groups in 2007 which was beneficial to understanding the workings of the firm’s Funds & Tax group and building on those relationships to cross-sell services to their commercial clients.

Outside of the firm, he targeted two organizations for business development purposes: the CT Hedge Fund Association and Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity. 

While Peter’s originations are impressive, the inventory of specific wins shows how he worked hard ...

See the rest the story for free in the Originate! newsletter at

Rainmaker Peter H. Klee - Using Unbeatable Results to Generate New Business

Peter H. Klee is the biggest rainmaker at Luce Forward in San Diego, bringing in between $10 - $15 million each year, and his insurance litigation practice continues to grow at a rate of 10 percent per year.  What sets him apart as a 2008 Rainmaker of the Year, in the category of partners who are litigators, is his unbeatable record:  no client represented in court by Peter has ever been found liable for breach of insurance contract, bad faith or any other tort.

“Your work product is your best source of referrals,” Klee said.  “Most of my referrals come from people in the insurance industry referring other people in the industry.  And they refer other people to us.”

His formidable record includes:

  • He and his group have handled more than 1,500 cases over the last 20 years. They treat every single case as a life or death cause that cannot be lost under any circumstances.
  • Rainmaker award, Originate newsletter

    Peter Klee is a winner of the Originate! 2008 Rainmaker of the Year Awards, judged by the Legal Sales & Service Organization (LSSO). To find out about all 5 winners, see the latest issue online at Originate! - the business development newsletter.

    Klee has obtained defense verdicts in more than 500 cases in, including more than 50 cases in the last year alone.
  • He has eliminated 80% of lawsuits filed against his largest client, a major property and casualty insurance company that had been sued in the past nearly 200 times per year.  “We took an insurance company that had been sued repeatedly in southern California.  But now, no one has successfully sued them for 20 years, nobody’s ever gotten a dime.  The plaintiff’s bar made a decision that it just wasn’t worth it,” he said.
  • One-third of his current clients have been the results of client referrals.
  • He has expanded each client account he has worked on significantly from the original scope of work. His client list includes most of the major insurance carriers, including the Allstate Insurance, State Farm, St. Paul-Travelers Ins. Co., and the Automobile Club of Southern California.  His reputation for no losses is especially attractive to large insurance providers.

Building a winning team

“I tell the associates if they come with me, they’ll be in trial within one to two years and they’ll be running their own cases,” he said.  When he hires an associate he encourages them to develop business on their own, but he provides them with all the work they’ll need. “I don’t want the person who is in the legal profession because they can make a lot of money; I want somebody who is passionate about what they do."

See the rest the story for free in the Originate! newsletter at



Rainmaker Wilton G. McDonald II - Innovating to Build a Practice

Wilton McDonald II had some special challenges in building up a small legal practice. Hired in November 2006 by a small to mid-sized firm in Grand Cayman as a senior associate, he was charged with bringing in his own work and full responsibility for the Investment Funds Department.

He couldn’t rely on a flourishing client base; billable hours for the department in January of 2007 were 43, total. Add to that challenge a clientele which is not local but global, and a daunting set of competing law firms.

Yet he built a successful business for the firm within two years, and positioned himself to surpass his goal of US$ 2 million in annual billings for the Investment Funds Department, winning him the title of Originate! 2008 Rainmaker of the Year in the category for associates. Our judges were impressed by the intelligence and commitment he brought to it, how well he took control of what he did, and how he challenged himself with rigorous goals by which he measured his progress.

Making it Work

Rainmaker award, Originate newsletter, business development, law firm marketing

Wilton McDonald II is a winner of the Originate! 2008 Rainmaker of the Year Awards, judged by the Legal Sales & Service Organization (LSSO). To find out about all 5 winners, see the latest issue online at Originate! - the business development newsletter.

In the face of all this, Mr. McDonald began with the right attitude. He found he had a zest for acting entrepreneurially. When offered the chance to leave a large firm and seize the opportunity to make something big happen, he eagerly did so. He knew he had to work hard at it, but he was open to integrating the getting of business with his practice of law and his daily life.

Even though he had full support from his new partners, and the latitude to set a marketing and work program in place, he knew he had some hard work before him. He admits that most lawyers can find this daunting: “In the profession, a lot of people expect to be given work. That’s like little birds waiting to be fed by the mother bird. But that’s not how it works in a small firm. There especially you have to feed yourself.”

As he set his course, he knew he needed four things to be successful. Let’s look at what he did...

See the rest the story for free in the Originate! newsletter at

Defections & Litigation Dropoff Led to Heller Ehrman Demise

law firm marketing, law marketing firm, attorney marketing, marketing for law firms, law practice management, business development

For an update see the New York Lawyer. (Free registration required).

Heller Ehrman LLP, a 118-year-old San Francisco law firm, is shutting its doors after 118 years. Chairman Matt Larrabee broke the news to the firm's 500-plus employees on Thursday.

The firm's partnership was voting last Friday on dissolving the firm, according to many published reports. The chairman indicated that the vote is likely a formality and that dissolution is imminent.

A vote to halt the business would cap a tumultuous few weeks for the firm. A sharp slowdown in a variety of practice areas led to a recent wave of partner defections and left the firm struggling to find a viable merger partner.

A full dissolution would be a rarity for the world of big law firms, which often stay relatively busy in both up and down markets. Heller, which once employed more than 600 attorneys and ranked as one of the nation's leading litigation firms, has been buffeted in part by the recent market turmoil. It has undertaken costly efforts to build a more robust corporate-transactional practice in New York and other locales. But partly because of a drop in mergers and corporate-finance work because of the credit crunch, it hasn't landed enough deal flow to support those efforts, say lawyers with knowledge of the firm.

As of Sept. 1, the firm had more than 1,200 employees and about 570 lawyers.

Heller's troubles go beyond the current market downturn. The firm had some large litigation matters settle in rapid succession last year, including its defense of two securities-fraud class actions. In total, about one-fourth of its litigation business settled last year -- a huge blow, given that litigation makes up about 60% of the firm's revenue, according to a senior Heller attorney. That revenue, he says, has been hard to make up in what has been a soft litigation market.

Meanwhile, as Heller's profit has sagged, its lawyers increasingly have been poached by competitors with more stable balance sheets. Defections by partners -- called shareholders at Heller -- have led to still more defections, with the majority of lawyers now shopping their résumés, according to attorneys and recruiters with knowledge of the firm. Heller has lost at least 15 shareholders to other firms in the past two weeks, though not all of the attorneys have departed.

Formed in 1890, Heller grew to 14 offices world-wide and developed a reputation for defending big-scale litigation matters on behalf of Microsoft Corp., Visa Inc., and Ernst & Young LLP, among many other companies.

Bruce MacEwen speculates on what went wrong at his Adam Smith blog:

  1. First of all, they should never have absorbed the Venture Law Group. It made no sense. Would it have made sense for VLG to be absorbed by another firm, perhaps Morrison & Foerster or Orrick? Perhaps, and of course we'll never know. But my instinct is that VLG was a sui generis creature that would never really fit within any law firm with a conventional legal industry business model. So Heller may have been ill-advised to take on the VLG group to begin with. Did this kill Heller? Of course not. Was it a strained fit from the beginning? Sure. And strained fits entail costs, economic and intangible.
  2. Second, the Heller story should discredit, if more evidence or argumentation were needed, the notion of term limits for managing partners. Matthew Larrabee is of course the current, and final, managing partner, and Barry Levin was his immediate predecessor. What's wrong with term limits?