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.

READ MORE

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.

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

Communication and my leadership crush on Kat Cole

cinnabon-KatCole-web_66944

I have a leadership crush an Kat Cole and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Sure, I’m old enough to be her much older sister, or aunt, but I love following her on Facebook (we’re friends … not that she’s ever commented on any of my witty posts) and first connections on LinkedIn. I use her as an example when I am mentoring young men and women, especially when it comes to just saying yes.  And I love reading anything she writes, and most things that are written about her.

I was first introduced to Kat when she was the keynote speaker at the 2014 LMA annual conference. I wish there was a link to her presentation, needless to say, Catherine and Gina were mesmerized.

Catherine MacDonagh (L) and Gina Rubel (R)
(I have leadership crushes on them too)

I need to find out who Kat’s presentation coach is because this woman can communicate, and communicate well.

Which brings me to the 12 Communication Habits Made This Former Hooters Hostess a Billion Dollar Brand President at 32. Read the article for the full list, examples, and details, but here are the ones I wanted to highlight:

Focus on trust first, then results.

If there is no trust, there is no foundation. NOTHING will ever take place, there will be no movement, there will be no change. Every leadership book I have read emphasizes this fact: There is no leadership without trust.

Go to the front lines!

Leaders cannot hide. They need to walk the halls. They need to meet with all members of the team. They need to know names. They need to build relationships. They need to ask questions, and get honest responses … which they cannot do if there is no trust.

Assume positive intent.

Written on the glass partition between me and my team is written “Assume Right Motives.” If we are coming from a position of trust, then we have to assume positive intents and right motives. That doesn’t mean we live in a Pollyanna state of mind, or we don’t question, but we cannot begin and live our days questioning and peering over our shoulders. Comes back to … you got it. Trust.

Speak the truth.

This is about giving honest performance feedback. Ugh. It’s really tough. I don’t want to criticize anyone, but if we need to talk about something, we need to talk about it. I publicly praise and privately criticize, which is hard sometimes when my office has a HUGE glass window. So those talks take place when someone’s at lunch, or hasn’t arrived yet, or has left for the day. I also found DeborahTannen’s Talking from 9 to 5 Women and Men at Work  a must read communication book for women in the workforce.

I could provide feedback of each of the 12 communication habits Kat talks about in this piece, but then you wouldn’t read it and come to your own conclusions.

So share your thoughts below in the comments. Which communication point’s truth spoke to you and why?

Photo Credit: FOCUS Brands

Leadership Revisited

I have written several times about my participation in the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute last year. The class of 2014 will have a reunion later this week, and yes, I have homework.

One of our assignments is to reflect on our last year’s final homework assignment — how are we going to pay forward what we had learned — and to provide an update on how we’re doing with that. No generalities are allowed. We need to dig deep, and provide details.

As I flipped open to last year’s homework, I realized that I was in a different place. As in jobs. At the time of our last session, my firm had announced, yet had not closed, a merger with an AmLaw 200 firm, and my answers were all based on that scenario.

The three learning elements that I was committed to pay forward were: Continue reading