I 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."
Did you know that 68% of marketers did a website redesign in the last 12 months and they spent a median of $10,000 doing so, according to Hubspot's Science of Website Redesign. This belies the myth that a major law firm has to spend north of $50,000 to revamp their website.
What's more, only about half of website redesign projects finish and launch on time, according to the data, and 1/3 of marketers were not happy with their last website redesign. The data came from surveys of 100+ consumers, 100+ marketers and 100+ agencies.
"Most people think you should redesign your website every one to two years," according to Mike Volpe CMO of Hubspot. "Your website should be a living, breathing, chaning being. Edit and improve it constantly."
55% of the time the marketing team initiates the idea for a website redesign, although the CEO starts it 30% of the time. As to who actually undertakes the redesign:
- 44% of website owners hired an outside company for the majority of the project.
- 53% did the maority of the project internally.
- Satisfaction with the results was the same whether the work was outsources or handled in-house.
It generally takes 4 to 5 months to redesign a website. Lightning speed is one month but it can take up to two years, as many law firm marketeres know.
Good and Bad Metrics
How can you tell if the redesign was successful. Here are some better metrics:
- Conversion %
- All of the above, but by source
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
- Page views
- Pages / visit
- Google Pagerank
The key takeaway is that what visitors want most is a website that is easy to use -- not Flash, fancy design or artwork. Find out more about website redesigns that get marketing results.
Follow @LarryBodine "Mass over-distribution of Yellow Pages has degraded our environment and blighted our neighborhoods," said San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, the lead sponsor of a law banning the unsolicited distribution of Yellow Pages.
For years I've been annoyed with the dumping of various yellow pages on my lawn, like so much trash. The delivery people don't even both to hang it on my door knob. I use Google instead as does the rest of the world, and I use the yellow pages only for seat cushions and door stops.
For years I've advised lawyers not to advertise in the money-wasting yellow pages. I think the San Francisco mayor and the Board did lawyers a favor, by demonstrating that the yellow pages are considered to be composting matter. Under the law, which won't go into effect for a year, companies cannot leave the directories at the front doors of residences and businesses without prior permission.
Overall U.S. yellow pages revenue declined 11.8% in 2010. The industry’s revenue slide continued in 2010 as the transition from print to digital products continued, according to Simba Information. This marks another year of continuous, multiyear double-digit losses in revenue from the major publishers.
National yellow pages spending is projected to decline an additional 12% to $1.47 billion in 2011. Simba believes that the current environmental challenges are a “ticking time bomb” threatening the industry with increased government-imposed controls and “do not deliver” lists scattered around the 50 states.
Cancel that #*$%! expensive yellow pages ad. This was the clear advice I gave to attendees at our conference "Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan" in Chicago. I repeated the advice at the Chicago Bar Association technology conference. You now have permission to save yourself a small fortune.
Fewer people are reading the Yellow Pages every day. It's last century's marketing. Instead, they are using the Web to find attorneys. Take the money you save and plow it into your online presence. People now use Google to look up phone numbers, addresses and law firms.
Ask yourself -- when was the last time you personally opened that thick, hard-to-read yellow directory? It's been a long time, hasn't it? There are multiple yellow page directories anyway -- which one did you use?
By advertising in the yellow pages, you are doing what thousands of other lawyers are doing. You are simply making yourself more like the competition, not distinguishing yourself. There's no way to break from the clutter -- there are hundreds of lawyer yellow page listings.
Besides, most yellow pages ads are written by their salesmen. That's why they all look the same. Save your budget while you still can. Get out now.
When I train lawyers in business development, I always recommend they join an organization of clients and get on the the board of directors. The idea is that if there are 300 members, you can shake hands with all of them, or simply get on the board of directors and everyone will know you. Trade associations are excellent sources of new business.
For the third or fourth time, I just got on the Board of a national organization. I use the same method every time because it always works.
First, I got involved with the Chicago chapter. The president wanted a website so I put up the chapter website and organized two events. I also distribute the chapter e-newsletter, at the president's request. Without any lobbying on my part at all, he nominated me for the Board of Directors of the national organization. Today I was accepted, and I'm just thrilled.
Now I'll have a chance to rub elbows with the people who run the organization, and hope to become a known quantity nationally. I've already offered the executive director in New York to help with a new e-newsletter and I'm getting a quote from a web developer for a fellow board member in Portland, OR.
You can copy this proven method and do it yourself. Simply:
- Join one organization composed of your ideal clients. Don't join two, three or more, because you will end up surfing the meetings and not make an impression on anyone.
- Go up to the president and tell him you're new and would like to get active. Ask the president if there is some nagging task or bothersome chore he'd like taken care of. Association presidents always need help with something. Any they'll be dying to find volunteers to help you.
- Do the task and there is only one way the president can reward you: with an appointment to the Board, to Program Director or Newsletter Editor, or head of a committee. The idea is for you to get active in a visible way. Your goal is not to warm a chair and listen to the speaker; your goal is to be known by everyone in the organization.
- Then start building relationships that can lead to new business and be helpful to anyone who asks.