Advice to a friend: It’s time to let go and break up

I have been listening to two friends for a while now with relationships ending. It’s sad. The attempts to keep a dying relationship alive. The things they are doing to deny that it’s really over. The last attempts they make to try and recapture what was there in the beginning. The knowing it’s time to let go and move on, but then they don’t. How they both bounced back into the relationship with a shallow promise or self-imposed idea that things would be different, only to be disappointed when that didn’t last long.

One friend is breaking up with a girlfriend. The other with their law firm.

So here’s my advice to them both: Continue reading

What do Martindale-Hubbell, Debbie Harry and Legal Marketing have in common?

Blondie_-_Parallel_Lines

Yesterday was Debbie Harry’s 70th birthday. I’m not sure if this made me feel really old (I had Parallel Lines on 8-track, you can now listen to the whole album on YouTube), or feeling young, as I am still 20 years younger than her. Either way, I was sitting at lunch yesterday chatting about Ms. Harry’s birthday, and I noticed that an associate (and a senior associate at that) had a blank look on his face and then he said: “I have no idea who Debbie Harry is.”

GASP.

Debbie Harry. Lead singer for Blondie. Former Playboy Playmate. Queen of CBGB and Studio 54. Debbie Harry, come on! What next? The Sex Pistols selling out to Visa??

To answer my question, “What do Debbie Harry and Martindale-Hubbell have in common?” easy peasy: People under a certain age have no idea who or what they are. And, if they do have a slight impression of who or what they are, they don’t understand or appreciate the relevance. Continue reading

Levels of Hell for This ENTJ

test patternIt’s me. You do not need adjust your settings. My posts haven’t fallen through the cracks. You have not inadvertently unsubscribed yourself from this blog and all my wit and insights. I’ve been busy. The kind of busy where my laundry doesn’t get done, and quality time with the Sports Dude is listening to the radio show he produces.

I am starting to come out of it … perhaps it’s the summer lull that comes with everyone else taking a vacation. It could be that I’m just burning out waiting for my vacation and have returned to my old and faithful keyboard for comfort and inspiration. Either way, hi there. It’s been too long.

I was inspired this morning to write a brilliant post after reading Tim Corcoran’s What’s your RSTLNE? I was starting to research different ways legal marketers can help lawyers think about differentiating themselves, and …

squirrel

However, in my case it was the The Definition Of Hell For Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type. I’m an ENTJ and this fits me perfectly:

ENTJ – Somebody is wrong, and they’re directing a large group of people! You can’t do anything about it and will have to obey whatever inefficient policies they decide to implement.

Continue reading

What’s it like to fill Jonathan Fitzgarrald’s shoes? Lessons from my first 90 days.

Shoes

Jonathan Fitzgarrald and me headed to Phoenix LMA

I get asked this question a lot these days, “What’s it like to fill Jonathan Fitzgarrald’s shoes?”

I just reply back honestly, “I don’t know. I brought my own.”

“Filling the shoes,” so to speak, of another person is challenging. Filling the shoes of half your dog & pony show can be daunting.

Like myself prior to joining this firm, Jonathan was in his position for nearly eight years. He had seen through a culture change and shift. He saw through the passing of the baton from one generation of law firm leaders to the next. He was witness as the old guard of rainmakers retired, and the new guard took root. The firm Jonathan left is much different than the firm he joined.

And I am now having my own unique experience. I will get to witness the firm I joined on February 23, 2015, evolve into something different. I will hopefully have the ability to influence and help shape things where I can. But that’s not what this blog post is about.

So what is this post about? I suppose my first 90 days (yes, it’s been 90 days), the things that I have noticed, and things that I would share with anyone walking into a new position. Continue reading

I’m changing my tune on surveys

It’s no secret that I (along with most legal marketing professionals) have never been a fan of surveys, and have always done the minimal I need to do, push off the rest, and ignore even more of the survey requests, and subsequent requests to purchase an ad or a plaque.

Somewhere at LMA’s annual conference last week I heard someone say something that changed my mind, attitude, and thought on strategy surrounding these surveys:

It’s the only time I am recognized.

– anonymous lawyer

Sure, attorneys get paid well. Extremely well. But, when you think about it, lawyers really aren’t thanked too often. And that is what they personally get from these accolades. Recognition.

It turns out that getting a “head’s up” from Chambers, a “that-a-boy/girl” from Best or Super Lawyers, or a “you deserve it” from ALM is appreciated.

The attorneys in my firm are my clients. As their strategic partner in all things business development, marketing, and visibility, I have to take into account what motivates them when I am making strategic decisions; visceral reactions won’t cut it.

As legal marketers we are all so focused on the bottom line as a measurement, that sometimes we can lose sight of some of those softer measurements.

Attorneys know (or should know) that these surveys and awards will not bring in a new client. Legal marketers absolutely know that being ranked will not add anything to the bottom line, and will most likely cause chaos and disruption in a department around the deadlines.

But I am changing my tune here. Rather than do the bare minimal, I will set up a strategic plan with each practice group on which surveys we will participate in the following year. We will calendar, plan, and partner together to complete these. We might even buy some ads around the more industry-specific and prestigious awards.

This isn’t an all-out surrender to the lists and surveys, but an openness to see where they do provide value, and sometimes that value is soft.

UPDATE: The mystery storyteller was Cheryl Bame.

My father became a solo practitioner 50 years ago. I asked him what had changed in the years since he became a lawyer and why now so many lawyers want to get on the rankings/awards lists. He said lawyers are in a thankless job and do not get many accolades for their work, so the awards give them that recognition.

LMA – Let the Conference Begin in 1-3-5

us at LMAYes, I’ve been in San Diego since Saturday for the “pre-prom” get togethers. In LMA I have met some of my dearest friends, mentors, colleagues, bosses, inspirations. LMA has allowed me to grow and develop my craft, while maintaining my sanity.

I know the Twitter hashtag (@LMA15) has been blowing up for days, the pictures in the LME Facebook groups are flowing, but the conference actually just kicked off with a great timeline video (Happy 30th Conference Anniversary, LMA).

Dan Pink is our keynote. Were going to learn a 1-3-5 … so let us begin: Continue reading

You want to interview with me? Here’s my best advice.

Time is certainly flying over at the new firm. Busy meeting people. Busy getting things done. Busy looking for a new legal marketing manager (e-mail/pm me for the job description).

If you are interested in the position, or are reading this because you are trying to learn more about me for our interview, let me share with you some advice.

One of my philosophies that I have borrowed along my legal marketing career is that what we do is all about getting to know, like and trust one another. Without these three things, true relationships cannot be formed, built, nor sustained.

KNOW

If you are interviewing with me, know that I have already Googled you. If you do not know what your Google results look like, you better figure it out fast and ask yourself: “Is this how I want to be known?”

What does your open Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram accounts say about you? Will I learn what I need to know about you, or, worse yet, will what I learn about you lead me to pass on even calling you in for an interview?

LIKE Continue reading

Now it’s time to say goodbye

On September 4, 2007, I got off the elevator on the 47th floor of this ivory tower and set about creating a marketing and business development program for Barger & Wolen LLP as their first marketing director. It has been quite a journey. We survived a recession; changes to our clients’ industry; the advent of social media; the passing of the torch from one generation to the next; and a merger with an AmLaw 200 firm.

It’s been seven years, five months, 16 days, and in a couple hours I will leave behind my keycard and a lot of memories as I head to Century City and take the helm of the marketing operations for another firm (details on Monday).

Today is about reflecting on my experiences and what working for this firm has meant to me, and a few of the life and business lessons that I am taking with me.

When I first started out in legal marketing, the average tenure of a legal marketer was about 2.5 years, and my resume affirms that this was true for me as well.

A couple years ago, while serving on the Legal Marketing Association’s board of directors, we ran the numbers: Approximately 3/4 of LMA membership turns over every four years. With a membership of more than 3000, that’s a lot of people. Some stay in the industry, not renewing their memberships, but many more leave.

I have come to learn that it takes a certain type of personality to stay and work in-house as a senior legal marketer year in and year out. Most senior legal marketers jump out to consult at some point. More just jump out to other industries along the way.

Having been at my firm for almost 7.5 years I have a new perspective on the advantages afforded both the law firm and the legal marketer that comes with longevity in the role.

Deeper and personal relationships = honest conversations

I was speaking with a partner last week and he remarked that I spoke to him like his wife does. Smiling I replied we worked together longer than most marriages last.

My longevity at my firm has allowed me to build true and personal relationships with many of the lawyers that extend beyond nine to five and Facebook. I have the ability to walk into a partner’s office and tell him or her the truth, or ask the difficult questions, sometimes in a not too subtle way.

Deeper and personal relationships allow us to speak candidly with one another. While we might not always agree, we are honest with one another.

Culture changes take time

In Leading Change, the author suggests that it takes three to 10 years to shift culture. Without longevity in a position the legal marketer will either never affect a culture change, or will never see the fruits of their labor. For me, seeing those changes has been the most rewarding aspect of my job and tenure at the firm.

I often tell the story of a senior partner who raised his voice at me during my first few weeks at the firm. He had no interest in this “marketing mumbo-jumbo” and didn’t understand why we had to do it. Fast forward seven years and our conversation turned to how I had to “come along” in the merger because of my importance and value to him, his practice, and the firm.

I could have missed it all.

A true team allows you to get things done

In law firms the lawyer default in regards to business development always circles back to “cross-selling.” Truth be told, cross-selling rarely works. Why? Because there is no team. You cannot throw a group of people in a room and expect them to give away something they have in hopes of getting something that really isn’t guaranteed from someone they do not really know, perhaps they do not like, and who they definitely do not trust.

It’s the same with the administrative departments. We compete against one another for resources (time, money, people). But for a well-run firm, you need these departments to work collaboratively to create a functioning business, and time affords you the opportunity to develop these teams, and there is nothing like a challenge to bring everyone together.

I don’t know any firm that over the course of 7.5 years did not have a challenge or 10 to over come. Revenues down. Recession. Boom times in the wrong area. Scandals. Partner departures. Layoffs. Market crashes. Office moves. A merger. All of these provide opportunity for the administrative leaders to band together and solidify themselves as a team working on common goals.

Opportunities abound

Last year my firm supported my participation in the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute. It was a lot of time out of the office: five trips to Chicago over the course of six months. Prior to that the firm supported my leadership role on LMA’s board of directors, with four in-person board meetings per year and lots of office hours devoted to my projects.

My eye has now turned towards George Washington University’s Masters in Law Firm Management program. It’s going to be impossible to convince a group of strangers that they should welcome and support sending me away for what constitutes a couple weeks of additional paid time off to do something that may or may not provide a direct benefit to the firm.

For me to do this I will need the support of my new firm. But I have to earn the that support, and that will take time. I won’t make it there for 2016, but I’ll get there.

It’s a truly bittersweet day today. I have packed up my boxes, cleaned out my paper and digital files, tranfered my documents from the older Barger & Wolen server to the new firm’s system, and transitioned my active projects amongst the team back east.

One thing I do know is that my shoes will be filled, and that’s a good and healthy thing. They might not be filled by someone who appreciates Stuart Weitzman as much as I do, or by someone who sees things the way that I see them, but that person will bring their own personality, traits, ideas, and energy to the team here.

And that is perhaps the last things I have learned through staying in my position as long as I have:

Sometimes it’s the right time to go

Marketing is a creative position. You have to grow as a legal marketer, or you will be of no benefit to your firm or your attorneys. But sometimes you have moved the ball as far as you can and it’s going to take someone else to pick it up and take the lead. Stay too long and you become a liability.

I leave here today having done the best job that I could every day for seven years, five months, and 16 days.

Why supporting LMA education is about the firm, not the legal marketer

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While working at a certain AmLaw 50 firm I submitted to attend the Legal Marketing Association’s annual conference. It was denied.

In speaking with the firm’s managing partner I asked her a few simple questions:

  1. So I’m as good as you need me to be?
  2. I know everything I need do know to do my job not only today, but tomorrow?
  3. You don’t need me to grow past where I am today?

There was an uncomfortable amount of silence, followed by her reply: “Have a great time at the conference.”

Since that conversation, yes, I have left that firm. There was also a tumultuous recession. Blogs were introduced, followed by social media. Firms started to focus on pricing, because clients insisted upon it. Project management is taking root. A generational shift in leadership has begun. The profession of law grew up and became a business

If I do not learn, I do not grow, and I become a liability to my firm, not an asset.

Yes. I will leave a firm at some point. But hopefully I will leave the firm in a different place, headed down a different path, because of the things I have learned at LMA and introduced to the marketing team, the attorneys, and the firm.

Yes, I admit, my attendance at the LMA conference is like a family and high school reunion wrapped in one.

It is also the place where I pick up new tools; meet new people who become colleagues I call upon in the future; am introduced to new products; and find inspiration.

All of these things allow me to do my job better. I always come back from LMA ready to try something new. I have fresh ideas and a new perspective.

Of all the conferences I can attend, I choose to be at LMA. I was on the board when we selected this location. I blocked my calendar off rights then and there. I don’t miss it. I have even had LMA written into my employment agreements. That is how important LMA and the annual conference are to me.

I am just really turning my eye to the conference agenda, but the content is exciting, touches on all the vertices of what I need to do, and is located in my college town (no, I did not go to the “party school” … I went to the “smart school” on the bluffs in La Jolla — inside joke for San Diegan college students), so I get to hang out with my college roommate and introduce her to my LMA peeps … hopefully she won’t tell too many stories.

I plan to arrive in San Diego bright and early Sunday morning. There may or may not be plans to hit my favorite Mexican restaurant/bar in La Jolla, so make sure we connect on Twitter @heather_morse before heading down.

The Grammys, lawyers and legal marketing: Stay true to your brand

I don’t know what it is with my brain, legal marketing, and pop culture, but while watching the Grammys last night I couldn’t help but find lessons and similarities between the Grammys, lawyers and legal marketing.

What I saw last night was a living, breathing lesson on how to successfully (and not so successfully) evolve an older brand — in this case Madonna, Paul McCartney, and Annie Lennox.

Let’s do it.

#GrammyDon’t

Oh, Madonna. I love you. I prounced around my living room in the ’80s singing along as I shreaded my clothes and wore too many belts at once. But I grew up, and it’s time you did as well. But last night. Wow. Your original fan-base was just embarassed by your get-up, and your attempts to dance like you were still 24. Time to grow up … we sure have.

#LMAMKT Lesson: I am watching the AmLaw 100-200 start to shift their leadership from the older boomers (and the generation before them), to a younger one. These 50, 75, 100+ year-old brands need to carefully evolve themselves. You need to follow your client base’s lead. Some brands alienate their current client base to appease a new and hipper “it” crowd (Brobeck); while others have gracefully evolved without stunts (Skadden) finding relevenace with each new generation.

#GrammyDon’t

When you are known as one of the greatest musicians of all time — a f***ing Beatle, for God’s sake — you don’t play back up guitar and singer to anyone. You don’t align yourself with the flavor of the day to try and find relevance.  It falls flat and the new crowd wonders who the hell you are.

#LMAMKT Lesson: You are your brand. Don’t dilute it or water it down. Why are you lowering your rates? Why are you taking on lesser-valued work? Why are you entering markets where you have no reason or business case to be there? Why are you opening offices in cool, hip areas when your brand is boring and white shoed?

Don’t become the Michael Kors of legal. Don’t become your grandpa trying to be something he isn’t. And just because it worked for Skadden, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Skadden is being true to THEIR brand, and that’s why their evolution works.

#GrammyDo

Oh, Annie. Not only did you smack Ryan Seacrest down with your shade on 50 Shades of Grey, you were the epitome of style and grace on the Red Carpet, and your duet with Hozier was perfection. It was your night to shine last night and you did so by remaining 100% true to who you are and your brand: An accomplished and intellegent woman, and musician.

Last night you not only introduced yourself to a younger generation — who are now excited to learn more about you, your music, and your brand — you did so without alienating your original fan base. You made this GenExer proud.

So what’s the final takeaway?

You cannot slap a cool logo on an old brand and expect a younger generation to fawn over it. The authenticity needs to be there. Annie succeeded where Madonna and Sir Paul failed as she held true to who she was at all times. Her evolution was not awkward or forced, but a progression that made sense and was welcomed by all.