Before going to law school, read this.

I would hope that before you decide to take on an average of $88,000 – $127,000 in debt you would do your due diligence. You are, after all, about to enroll yourself or your child in law school.

According to Steven J. Harper, in a recent New York Times Op Ed, Too Many Law Students, Too Few Legal Jobs:

Students now amass law school loans averaging $127,000 for private schools and $88,000 for public ones. Since 2006 alone, law student debt has surged at inflation-adjusted rates of 25 percent for private schools and 34 percent for public schools.

There are so many dirty little secrets that need to be exposed before anyone can make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to gamble with law school. And, yes, I am very deliberate to use the word gamble. And informed.  Continue reading

We’re in the BUSINESS of law, dammit. #BizOfLaw

Dilbert-60-hours

My post from the weekend, Rambling thoughts from 30,000 feet in the air, is about the BUSINESS of law (moving law firms from good to great; the metrics we’re measuring for success).

Tim Corcoran‘s latest post, Working Smarter, Not Harder, is about the BUSINESS of law (h/t for the Dilbert).

Kevin O’Keefe, Nancy Myrland, Gina Rubel (and colleagues), Ed PollSteven Harper, Greg Lambert (and colleagues), Cheryl Bame, Cordell Parvin, Patrick Lamb, Jonathan Fitzgarrald, Adrian Lurssen, Adrian Dayton, and one of my absolute favs Ed Reeser — and the list can go on and on and on — are ALL talking, writing and/or blogging about the BUSINESS of law. My apologies for not listing everyone. Check out my Twitter lists for more names to follow, and please suggest more in the comments below. 

As we continue to elevate the conversation of the business of law, I would suggest that we all create a “Business of Law” tag or category on our blogs, if we haven’t done so already; and that we use the same hashtag (#bizoflaw) on Twitter.

LinkedIn, unfortunately, does not recognize the “Business of Law” as a tag for our posts, but if we all create an “skill endorsement” of “Business of Law” and add it to our headlines, then perhaps we can create a movement. And, please, endorse me for “Business of Law” and “Leadership” on LinkedIn. I just added both to my skills list.

What it comes down to is that we are all talking to one another on a weekly or daily basis about the BUSINESS of law, and we all basically agree with our messages. We need to strategically broaden this conversation to more and more people (attorneys in key leadership positions, other c-level legal professionals, influencers — conference organizers and the legal media) who SHOULD be recognizing, listening, participating, and joining us in this conversation.

So who is with me? #bizoflaw #leadership #lawyers #lmamkt

Rambling thoughts from 30,000 feet in the air

So here I sit, on the aisle seat in row 8, headed off to a warm, tropical destination, and I’m wondering, “How do I move my firm from good to great?”

There are so many different places in Jim CollinsGood to Great where I can pause and write a blog post. Yes, the book is dated (Circuit City is one of the “great” companies), but the message is evergreen.

I’m in the Hedgehog Concept chapter and I’m looking at the notes I am taking:

  • What can we be #1 in?
  • What are we passionate about?
  • How are we measuring success?

The answers to one and two are proprietary for any of us. But when it comes to measuring success, most law firms are still measuring year-end success by PPEP and driving that point value up, which, don’t get me wrong, is incredibly important. Let’s face it. We all want to make good money, better money, and more money. But are we measuring it by the right metric? Continue reading

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