Hilariously Awful Law Firm Marketing Video: Get Out of the "Hellhole you call a marriage"

A lot of regular folks are in dire need of competent legal representation because they have suffered a personal injury, been accused of drunk driving or need to get a divorce and fast. "Unfortunately, after watching some lawyers' local television ads, we're afraid those seeking competence might be out of luck," says the Asylum blog.  This video made their top 10 "worst" list for law firm marketing.

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

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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.

Doctor Silvia Hodges Calls on Law Schools to Teach Reality

Silvia Hodges, law firm marketing, "We are painfully familiar with client complaints that large law firms charge too much for new associates who know too little about the practice of law to be worth it," said Prof. Silvia Hodges, who is a full-time faculty member at Emerson College in Boston, where she teaches professional/legal services marketing. She is also an adjunct associate professor of law at Fordham University in New York.

"The clients may have a broader complaint. For all their glittering academic records, these young lawyers not only don't know much about the realities of the practice, they know even less about the business world.

The new LexisNexis survey reveals that law school students are feeling the impact of the current turmoil within the legal industry. More than half of law school students surveyed (54%) say that the current state of the legal industry has made them consider career alternatives, while almost two-thirds (65%) believe law school does not teach the practical business skills needed to practice law.

As a former litigator, I remember that law school was several years of reading statutes and appellate court opinions. Absolutely nothing was taught about running a law firm and getting clients. It makes sense that the survey found that one fifth (21%) of students say that based on the changing legal marketplace, they regret attending law school.

"Law schools have also started down this road. Some have long offered joint J.D. and MBA programs but as a practical matter that effort is too long and too expensive to attract all but the most obsessed. Instead, by my count, at least 17 schools have created courses that purport to teach basic practice management concepts," Hodges says.

She makes sense when she says a model "law business" survey course should include:

  • A taste of business concepts and strategy
  • Finance and economic indicators
  • Firm governance and organization to firm ownership
  • Law firm economics
  • Client relationship management
  • Marketing and business development
  • Human resources

"The financial collapse of 2008 has given this discussion new urgency, and a do-or-die burden on legal practitioners. The young generation is called to take a fresh look at their profession and how they approach client needs, because, to vary the cliché, it's the business model, stupid. And no one wants a stupid lawyer," she says.

The Lawyers' Definitive Guide to Video Marketing

Gerry Oginski, lawyer videoGerry Oginski, Esq., has written a tip-packed article on markeing yourself online with video.  A New York medical malpractice and personal injury trial lawyer in practice for more than 21 years, he has produced and created more than 200 to market his law practice where he explains to consumers how lawsuits work in New York.

You've made the choice to jump right into video to market your legal services. The move is a good one. It will help you distinguish yourself from everyone else. Here now, never before released, is Gerry's definitive guide to video marketing for lawyers.

Nine Benefits to Using Video:

  1. Viewers get to see you.
  2. Viewers get to hear you.
  3. Viewers get to know you.
  4. Viewers begin to trust you before they ever walk in your door.
  5. You become the wise man at the top of the mountain.
  6. You are viewed as the legal expert.
  7. You are giving away information in order to gain an audience.
  8. Viewers see that you are a real human being.
  9. The image of a grumpy unapproachable stuffy lawyer dissipates when a viewer sees you on video.

“What should I talk about in my video? Create an educational message.  What do I mean?

Do not use online video the same way lawyers have used TV commercials since 1973. A 30-60 second commercial on YouTube does nothing to help you get new clients in your door. Take advantage of the web’s unlimited capacity for video.


 For the rest of the article visit the LawMarketing Portal at http://bit.ly/8IbGE 

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."

How To Sell Legal Services




In this snippet from my presentation at the Get A Life Conference in Chicago, you'll hear how you can:

  • The three places where new business comes from for law firms.
  • Why effective legal selling is not "selling."
  • Questions to ask in a new-business call.
  • Why you should not make cold calls.
  • The No. 1 way for a lawyer to establish their credibility.
  • How to find the time to do marketing and business development.
  • Why you should join a trade association - not a bar association.
  • Why doing business development activities will generate results.
  • How to get new files by visiting clients.
  • Learn who the lawyers are that clients will buy services from.

It's on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl8G3LYCMoM

Interview: Collaboration is the Key to Finding New Business

Ari Kaplan, law firm marketing, business developmentWant to find out the most efficient hunting organization in the world? Or how to find a counterpart to go to market with?  Check out Ari Kaplan's interview with me about business development, Twitter and the bright side of the down economy. 

Listen to the 4-minute excerpt of our conversation here.

We cover:

  • "Double-teaming" an association for new business.
  • What should you say at a new business meeting?
  • What is the ultimate collaborative network?
  • How to find new business in a down market and what to look for.
  • How to use technology to get new files and clients.

A Marketer's Guide to Alternative Billing Methods

Susan Van Dyke, alternative fees, billing methodAccording to Susan Van Dyke, American lawyers and firms are now undeniably called upon to introduce more creative approaches to billing by in-house legal departments. A few firms have jumped aboard and, further yet, some will be paid bonuses on positive outcomes, rewarding the creative and efficient.

"After many years of mumbling by lawyers and clients alike, one must wonder: will we look beyond the billable hour in light of the current economic bellyaching and slashed budgets of virtually every U.S. corporate legal department and many Canadian clients?" Van Dyke asks.

Ironically, the biggest push for alternatives must come from clients who  want increased value for fees,  although clients want their lawyers to initiate this conversation. But law firms require incentive to offer creative solutions that place them at greater risk.

Visit the LawMarketing Portal to read her description of billing models such as blended rates, capped fees, contingency fees, fixed fees, retainers and success fees.

August 2009 Issue of Originate! is Online

Prepare for better business development with the talking points from this month's featured articles in Originate!, the business development newsletter.

Lead Article: Making His Mark – 8 Things an IP Lawyer Wished He Had Known Sooner about Making Business Development Work

Attorney Nicholas Weston knew he had to do something different at his boutique IP firm. If he wanted to improve the kinds of work he was doing plus stop wasting time and money, he had to overhaul his approach to business development. Here he shares eight marketing errors he used to make and how, mainly by trial and error, he changed his ways. By his good example, you might avoid these errors yourself.

Turning Seminars Into Billable Work: Getting the Right People To Attend

Getting the right people to your seminar demands attention to marketing and selling. Otherwise, warns Michael Cummings, you’ll fail to reap the reward for all your efforts. Here are the steps you can take to promote the value of your program and to seal the deal so the people whom you want walk in the door.

The Best Beginning: What to Do When the Matter Ends

Eighth Stage of the 12 Step Pipeline: In this stage of managing your sales pipeline, you’ve just finished the first matter with a client. How can you set the stage for future work? Andy Havens reveals how a simple question can help you build that future and your service quality, and advises what not to do as well.

Side-by-Side: Comparing a Business Development Winner and Loser
How differently can two partners at the same law firm respond to a tough economy?  As night and day, observes Larry Bodine, Esq. Here he itemizes the pair's winning and losing approaches to business development and career success. Where do you fit and what can you do about it?

Who Are You?: Winning New Business By Being Visible
No law firm wants to be viewed in their business community as having run-of-the-mill attorneys. The practice of law is too competitive for that. Instead, observes Thom Singer, you and your firm must actively commit to making yourself visible experts in your field, and seven good ways to get the word out.

Untouchables: Removing The Third Rails of Business Development at Your Law Firm
At so many law firms, there seem to be three main areas that are constantly discussed, hotly debated…but too hot to touch, observes Darryl Cross. These third rails (compensation, allocating marketing dollars and short-term focus) are often cowardly left to another day or a time of crisis. In the mean time, your business development potential is derailed. Here's how to get on track.