A couple of my heros have passed away

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My favorite picture of Chris Milligan. Lots of joy to remember and cherish. circa 2006

This year has gotten off to a horrible start. First David Bowie. Then Glenn Frye. And now Christine Milligan and Richards Barger

Christine Milligan was my mother-in-law. She passed away on Sunday from complications of living a very grand life. She would have been 96 in a couple weeks, and she leaves behind a family who loved and adored her.

Chris was a true lady. A gritty kind of southern belle who didn’t fit into anybody’s box or stereotype. She shocked her Alabama community by going off to college to Washington, D.C. rather than going to one of the local colleges in Tennessee or Alabama to earn her MRS.

When the war broke out, she went to work for the government. She eventually married a returning soldier, who became a doctor, and settled in Newport Beach, CA. In her late 30s and early 40s she finally had her kids. Chris was the best. She opened her beach house to not only me and my kids, when we would invade her quiet sanctity for many a weekend, but she opened her home to my family, and my sister’s family, and their friends. She was a wonderful and gracious woman, and one of the greatest honors I have is to say I was able to make her a grandmother.

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Dick Barger, founding partner, Barger & Wolen

The other loss this week was Richards Barger. He was the founding partner of Barger & Wolen (now a part of Hinshaw & Culbertson), one of the best law firms I have ever had the pleasure of working in. Mr. Barger was an icon in the insurance regulatory community. Every conference I attended, every event our firm sponsored, the first question everyone had was, “Is Mr. Barger here?” He had such reverence and respect for the community in which he served. Young or old, everyone knew, adored and respected Mr. Barger. Continue reading

If your firm collects ANY data, I need your help

Survey-BannerWithout a doubt, the legal marketer is moving towards a data-centric and strategic role. Whether you are a legal marketing professional in an AmLaw 100, or a department of one serving a regional boutique, talking the numbers needs to become our second language.

One thing every firm has in common, whether you are there, moving there, or wondering how to get from here to there, is that we are ALL collecting data every single day.

The LMA Technology Committee, which I had the opportunity to co-chair for two years, is preparing a report focused on how law firms are capturing and using sales and marketing — and billing and business development and industry and costs and a whole lot more — data, and we want to know what you’re doing with it all (even if the answer is “not enough”).

I would really appreciate if you would take a few minutes to complete the survey on how your firm is maintaining and manipulating big data.  Start the survey here.

Once completed, a paper will be made available for download.

On behalf of the LMA Technology Committee, thank you.

Don’t seek resolutions. Find your adventure.

2016

Happy New Year, everyone. I spent my morning sitting on my couch, watching the Rose Parade and trolling Facebook for healthy eating ideas (should I do the 100 Days of Real Food challenge, or just go with some detox?) and alternatives for the gym (Yogi’s Anonymous is leading my choices). The Sports Dude slept in before heading off to cover the Rose Bowl Game, and the kids slept at friends’ houses.

Basically, this year began like every other year. In other words, it was quiet around here. Just me, a good cup of coffee and my laptop.

I usually take the time between Christmas and New Year’s off from work as it gives me the opportunity to process, reflect, and think about the year that was, and what is to come.

I’ve written before that I do not make New Year’s Resolutions; I make daily resolutions. However, if you ask my kids, I’m a control freak and I have to have a plan. I like to have a theme for the year in order to answer the inevitable, “What’s your New Year’s Resolution?” It’s much easier to live a theme on a daily basis then try and live up to the outlandish and unachievable resolutions people make.

In my struggle to find my theme for the year, I found it staring at me from across the room in HD:

Find your adventureFind Your Adventure. Photo: @RoseParade

Thank you to the 127th Tournament of Rose’s Parade for a great theme and mantra for 2016: Find Your Adventure.

Watching the parade, you can’t help but appreciate how the theme takes on different meaning for each float coming down Colorado Boulevard, just as it will mean something different for each and everyone of us. Continue reading

Generations at Work: Techniques for Leveraging Law Firm Talent at All Levels

generations in workplace

Jonathan Fitzgarrald and I were asked to contribute our thoughts on the generations at work for the Greater Chicago Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrator’s magazine.

While our initial research and conversations in regards to the generational divide in law firms dealt with lawyers and their clients, our focus in this turns internal in regards to how law firms manage the different generations, recruit and retail lawyers, AND continue to build vibrant practices.

For the first time in history, there are four generations in the workforce—Silent, Boomer, GenX and GenY. The different mentalities, preferences, and motivations among the generations has introduced some unchartered opportunities and challenges.

According to a recent Altman Weil study entitled Law Firms in Transitions, “Effectively planning the retirement of Baby Boomer partners is critical and must be resolved in the next 3 to 5 years. The timing is not flexible, and, if unaddressed, the cost in lost revenue and client relationships could be devastating.”

Savvy legal administrators who understand the different generational markers and who customize their responses accordingly will benefit from a harmonious and successful working environment. A lack of generational understanding results in internal strife, increased turnover and loss of business.

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My year of opportunities for growth

small fish bigger bowl

It’s been an interesting year. Law firm merger. Sports dude started doing his thing for a local radio station. My oldest kid began driver’s training. The youngest turned 13. And I changed jobs.

We’re juggling new schedules, new attitudes, and new expectations. I’ve had a new culture, new people, and new personalities to which I’ve had to acclimate.

And now the holidays are in full swing.

This has brought on a lot of stress, and it was a tough few weeks for me on all fronts: work, family, HOA, and those pesky Girl Scouts (and we’re still a month away from the beginning of Girl Scout Cookie season). Thank goodness for good friends and good colleagues. I’m pretty much on the other side, and now I can reflect on it all.

I’ve been doing this legal marketing thing for a long time. It will soon be 18 years since I was hired at JMBM (when the last M stood for Marmaro). I’d already been in the work force for 10 years, and my skill set fit what Frank Moon was looking for in an assistant manager, and I excelled.

I’ve had a “few” legal marketing jobs since then. I have had many opportunities for growth from within these firms, and through my service positions in LMA. Life has also provided me many opportunities to grow.

This has just been one of those growing years.  Continue reading

Calling All In-House Legal Marketers: Survey Says …

Survey-BannerFor the past few years I have been heavily involved in LMA’s Technology Committee, first as the board liaison, and for the past two years as the co-chair. My term comes to an end at the end of this year and I would like to end this round of service (because you know there will be more) by hearing from my fellow in-house legal marketers. You do not need to be an LMA member to take the survey.

The Technology Committee is committed to preparing two reports based on your experiences in order to help our peers across the legal marketing industry. This isn’t about reviewing a product or vendor, but about our experience as we roll out a new marketing technology product, or how we’re starting to make sense of all that data that our firms are capturing. Continue reading

ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 is out. The Legal Watercooler is in.

Blawg100WebBadgeHeidi Klum’s tag on her long-running show is “In fashion, one day you are in, the next you are out.”

For those of us who blog on and about the legal industry and practice of law, the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100 is the list to make.

For the third year running my blog, The Legal Watercooler, has made the list. As a law school never-was, my parents are very thankful to the ABA for this honor. As I renewed my URL for $9.99 this morning, I couldn’t help but chuckle that my blog was certainly a lot less expensive than going to law school, and has brought my parents many more opportunities to brag about me.

I would be remiss if I did not thank all my readers and fans, and to all who inspire me to take fingers to keyboard. I started this blog at the urging and encouragement of my friend Jayne Navarre, and it really brought the purpose of my professional life full circle. She was my first follow on Twitter, and I want to be just like her when I grow up.

I love the legal industry and I am an opinionated person. The Legal Watercooler began as I needed a place to have a conversation. And conversations we have had, and will continue to have.

I don’t need to zone out, I need to zone in.

cropped-11149468_10153176009878926_9114104145154145142_n1.jpgI remember taking my first Myers-Briggs assessment way back when. I was an ENTJ. The “E” completely confused me. I hated people. I preferred to be alone. Ugh. I had to be an introvert. Right? Wrong.

Fast forward 20 years and I have completely come into my extroversion (is that a word?). I get my energy from being around others. And, more than anything, I get my work energy from the LMA Annual Conference.

Transitioning to a new firm this year has really taxed my mental energy. I have so many ideas swirling around my head every day. There are so many things to do, and many more possibilities as well. I have a great support team back in the office to help me process, wade through my ideas, help me to decide what’s a go, and what’s a no-go.

Continue reading

Hold that press release: Are you proofing for defamation?

pauseWell. It’s been a little busy this pre-holiday season as my department is deep in holiday cards, holiday gifts, budgets, business plans, oh my.

But this little diddy of a headline caught my eye in today’s Los Angeles Daily Journal (our local legal rag) and I didn’t want to just add it to my “someday” pile for future blog posts:

Defendants sue law firm over ‘defamatory’ release

I don’t even have to quote the article for you to get the gist.

Continue reading

The First Amendment should apply to everyone, even lawyers in Ohio

Jeremy Hammond

Once again the First Amendment, as it applies to lawyers, is under attack. The First Amendment! The one that says speech is protected from being abridged by the government. That one. Here it is, in case you forgot:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

14th Amendment. Bla bla. Equal protection. Applies to the states.

Yet, here we are again, a government body is telling lawyers that they cannot speak freely. Did anyone in Ohio read Bates v. State Bar of Arizona? We’re not talking about misleading language (which is a violation of any false advertising law), but handing out a brochure or pamphlet with your contact information, or having a Q&A after a CLE. Continue reading