Archive for the ‘ Clients ’ Category

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

Yes, 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:

1 Insight

Why do lawyers hate sales, marketing, and business development?

Dan went out and researched: “When you think of ‘sales’ or ‘selling,’ what’s the first word you think of?”

Answers from the audience: cars, sleazy, pushy …

When the seller has more information than the buyer, when the buyers are not aware, this is what you get:

wordcloud

Here’s the big insight: We no longer live in a world of “buyer beware,” but “seller beware.” We live in a fundamentally different world where the buyer is now in the stronger position. Thank you, Google (and how many years have I been saying this??).

The low road has now been blocked. We have to take the high road.

3 Principles

Attunement

This is perspective. Can you get out of your own head and get someone else’s perspective? Can I get the business perspective of the clients? Can I gt the perspective of perspective clients?

Attunement is a cornerstone. In any realm we have very little power. We need to find the common ground.

Buoyancy

How do you explain away the failures and rejection are one of the keys to success. The ability to bounce back from rejection is so important.

How many lawyers are rejected once and NEVER go back to the well, or try again? Yeah, I’ve encountered that.

Clarity

Access to information is power. Moving from “accessing information” to “curating information” is powerful. Being a problem solver is not as important today is as important as being a problem finder.

5 Takeaways

  1. INCREASE YOUR EFFECTIVENESS BY BRIEFLY REDUCING YOUR FEELINGS OF POWER. Is your natural instinct to look at things from your perspective or the other person’s perspective? People in key power can be too self-involved and will not see the other person’s perspective. Huh?? Think about it. A junior person is very aware of all the people above them, and what they want, what they need, what they are concerned about. More senior people will not be as concerned about those lower on the power scale. By reducing your FEELINGS of power, you will get more attunement, buoyancy, and clarity. Very interesting.
  2. USE YOUR HEAD AS MUCH AS YOUR HEART. When studying attunement in a professional setting you want people who can imagine what the other side is THINKING, and what the other side is FEELING. Turns out that THINKING is the more important than the two (in a professional setting). You need to focus on thoughts and interests, not what they are feeling.
  3. PAY ATTENTION TO OTHERS’ POSTURE, GESTURE, AND LANGUAGE. THEN REFLECT THOSE BACK WITHOUT BEING AN IDIOT ABOUT IT. When two groups were sent into to negotiate, one group was given the extra instruction to “mimic” the person they are selling. If they touch their face, you touch your face. They cross arms, you cross arms. They stand funny, you stand funny. So, which group did better???? Yeah, the group that mimic the other person’s behavior. Why? There is a language aspect to mimicking. By mimicking you are paying attention, you are getting their perspective. You need to use their language.
  4. DON’T BE A GLAD-GANDER. BE YOURSELF. Who are better sales people, introverts or extroverts? Since I have been wrong all day … I’m going with introverts sell more. DAMN, Wrong again. Extrovers do slightly better. But AMBIVERTS do greatly better. What the hell are AMBIVERTS??
    • Ambiverts have introvert and extrovert traits, but in balance. See if you recognize any of these ambivert traits: Ambiverts are more flexible. They don’t really prefer one way of functioning over the other
  5. GIVE PEOPLE AN OFF-RAMP. We spend too much time trying to change people’s mind. Give them an easy way to act.

Adam Levine, Lawyers and Legal Marketing: Are you a fan of your clients?

First off, I have been a wee bit busy these past two weeks. I said goodbye to Barger & Wolen and hello to Greenberg Glusker. My Girl Scout troop has sold more than 6,000 boxes of cookies, and we have five (yes, FIVE) booths this weekend. I attended the all-attorney retreat, which was awesome, except for being sick, which wasn’t.

So here I am. Almost two full weeks in and I’m finding my way with nearly 100 new attorneys, three floors, my team (both in-house and outside consultants), a new computer system, projects in motion, projects kicking off …

And then this story, Adam Levine Had The Best Reaction When A 10-Year-Old Superfan Had A Panic Attack Meeting Him, hit my Facebook feed earlier this week, and I can’t shake it. I still tear up when I read it.

If you have not read it, stop now and read it. I’ll wait.

It’s a sweet story, right? Adam Levine is a nice Jewish boy who didn’t go to law school, but I bet his grandma’s pretty darn proud of him this week.

But the story really made me wonder: Are you a fan of your fans? Are you a fan of your clients?

It reminded me of this story about Taylor Swift “stalking” her fans, and then going out shopping and surprising them with Christmas presents?

Sweet. Right?

If you still are not adding one plus one, I’ll do the legal marketing math for you:

  1. Appreciate your clients. Without them, you’re just a guy or gal with a fancy piece of paper in a frame.
  2. Be your client’s #1 fan. Learn about them. Stalk them (in a healthy and completely legal way). Respond to them.
  3. It’s the personal touch. Whether it’s laying down while your client is having a panic attack, or commenting on a blog post, sending flowers on someone’s first day on the job, or showing up at a family funeral. It’s those little, personal touches that reinforce the personal connection.

If this thing that we do — life — is about our personal connections, about knowing, liking and trusting one another, why, why, why do we STOP when we get off the elevator? Why do we take clients (and referral sources) for granted?

One thing I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE (amongst a long list of things) about my new firm is their support of our attorneys being fans of their clients. It is something that they just do instinctively. And I get to work with that.

How cool is that?

You had me at “the billable hour is directly opposed to the best interest of the client …”

Mark this day down on your calendars, kids. We will one day look back on November 18, 2014, as the first day in the long anticipated end to the dreaded billable hour.

From today’s American Lawyer:

Law firms have been calling for the end of the billable hour for decades. And since the 2008 recession, they have increasingly offered cost-conscious clients alternative fee arrangements.

Now Jackson Lewis says it wants to take the next step in the evolutionary process of alternative fee arrangements by eliminating the billable hour as an evaluative tool for its 293 associates. As of Jan. 1, associates at the labor and employment firm will be assessed on efficiency, client service, responsiveness, team-orientation and pro-bono commitment in an effort to align the way Jackson Lewis “deliver[s] legal services with clients’ needs,” according to firm chair Vincent Cino. (The firm’s compensation model for partners is based on revenue rather than hours.)

“The billable hour is directly opposed to the best interest of the client and to the provider of service because by its very nature it adds an artificial barrier to the accomplishment of the only real objective, which is a quality legal product for a set and expected price,” Cino says.

Whether you agree or not that the “billable hour is directly opposed to the best interest of the client” you have had to wonder, at some point in your career, “Well, how did we get here?”

Continue reading

Can a law firm exist without clients? 49% of new partners surveyed think so.

I’m reading a new survey from ALM, New Partners Ambivalent About Rainmaking, Survey Finds, and am aghast at the naïveté of the respondents. Apparently, 49% of new partners surveyed don’t think that their ability to make rain is a deciding factor in their being promoted to partner (equity or non-equity).

Asked how important they think certain factors were in their promotion, 84.4 percent of respondents said they believe they were promoted according to their ability to perform first-class legal work, and 60 percent cited the strength of their commitment to the firm. (Respondents were allowed to choose more than one answer.) Just under half—49 percent—of new partners said that their ability to bring in new clients was an important factor in their promotion, although equity partners saw developing clients of their own as somewhat more important than nonequity partners did.

“Associates are not adequately aware that they effectively need their own book of business of approximately $750,000 to $1 million to be a partner at a large law firm,” one respondent wrote in the survey. “Even if an associate is promoted, they are destined to be unsuccessful as a partner without this size of a book.”

Wow. Without clients, you know the people who write big checks to the firm, there is no firm. Clients do not appear out of nothing. Those relationships have to be developed over time, years actually, then maintained and hopefully built. Institutional clients no longer exist. You cannot make partner and expect — poof! — originating credits miraculously appear.

And to the 84% who think the ability to do first-class legal work is what got you promoted, let me clue you in on something: The ability to do first-class work is stipulated; you would have been fired years before if you could not do so.

And while business development might not be the most comfortable of tasks for an individual, it is very important to a firm that their equity partners bring in new business. A law firm cannot exist on service partners alone (unless you hire a Pete).

Business development (sales) is not a talent many of us are born with, but it can be learned and developed over time for many (not all). But it first must be engrained into the culture of the firm. Too many firms do not support business development, but expect the results. There is no training or coaching to learn the skills necessary to accomplish the tasks. There are no rewards, in the form of hourly requirement credits, for business development. Too often the hurdles to get approval become insurmountable, and I haven’t even touched on the compensation system.

How timely that Dave Bruns and I will be presenting next week at the ALM West Coast Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Leadership Forum in San Francisco: The Total Package: Business Development Integration for Success. This is a topic that is near and dear to the business development teams across the country, and we hope to discuss what firms need to do to support the success of their business development programs.

 

I’m hiring a law firm. Oy!

In my 20s I received a great piece of dating advice: Don’t answer the door on a first date wearing a wedding dress.

I would say similar advice applies to lawyers: Don’t show up for the first meeting with a potential client carrying a proposal and an engagement letter.

I am in the process of looking for a very specialized law firm to handle a very specialized matter for a specific type of business. I am the new president of my HOA, which is a stock corporation (coop), not a condominium. Our issues are different, as are the legal requirements set by the state, to be reflected in our governing documents.

I thought my email inquiry was clear: “Do you work with Stock Cooperative HOAs? We are looking for a firm to handle the updating and revising of all of our governing documents.

The reply back within hours from the administrative assistant included 1,818 words in the reply (that’s four full pages if you’re wondering), along with two attachments.

Wow. Holy boiler-plate.

I was looking for a yes or no answer and I got a whole crap load of copy-paste gunk, a 21-page proposal misidentifying our type of association as well as our governing documents, along with a 7-page fee agreement and engagement letter “signed” by one of the name partners. However, the did customize our association’s name on the cover of the proposal.

Sadly, my simple question was never really answered: Do you represent businesses like mine? The admin said yes, but their marketing materials don’t lead me to believe that is true.

If we were on a first date I would have been tempted to excuse myself to use the restroom and just keep on going out the back door.

Considering the admin didn’t even got my name right, my first inclination is to pass on the firm, even though they are considered one of the top in the field. That or send the admin an invitation to the next LMA-LA event so she can learn how to properly market her firm.

But I’ll speak with an attorney first before I pass on the firm. Bad legal marketing shouldn’t stand in the way of good legal work. Let’s face it, not everyone can be a legal marketer extraordinaire.

Exceptions don’t make the rule. The business model is broken.

2372626568_63f6b8c069_oGreat debate starting to take place in the legal marketing/business of law world.

Is the business model broken?

At the Legal Marketing Association‘s annual conference, I attended a moderated roundtable discussion on Disruptive Legal Trends. While it began as a discussion of the Axioms of the world, the conversation quickly shifted to the business model itself. The summary of that session, along with the Big Data session, can be found in LMA Think Tank Live Summary prepared by Shift Central.

I was in the room when Toby Brown spoke his now immortal words, summarized in his post, The Business Model is Not Broken, and he is right, all eyes in the room “turned and gave me [him] the ‘who farted’ look.”

I must admit, I am one who believes that the model, in general, is broken. And while there are exceptions out there, such as Toby’s firm, Akin Gump, who are leaders in the change management, there are too many firms out there refusing to evolve.

The leverage pyramid of partner to associate is gone. The billable hour is losing popularity and faith. Alternative fees are not discounts at $1 million billed.  And merger to grow (or survive) is not a strategy.

Clients are more and more in tune with cost and price to value propositions, and lawyers, the service provider, need to evolve and meet their clients on their plane (and I am not talking the kind with first class seating to be billed out as a necessary expense).

I have heard attorneys say, when presented with new processes and procedures that will save time, “Don’t they know how I make my money?”

And that’s what’s broken. The profession of law has evolved into the business of law and not all lawyers and law firms have drunk the Kool-aid and evolved.

Firms and attorneys that truly understand the nuance between profession and business will survive. Those that don’t will fade away. Sadly, most of those firms will fade away with little fanfare.

Toby and I are not really at odds. We’re just looking at the same thing, yet our perceptions are skewed by our vantage points. He is at Big Law that is doing it right, while I am at a regional, mid-sized firm that is evolving. The conversations we have with our peers are different, because our peers are different.

Our firms are lucky. They are the exceptions. Their legal professionals are in the middle of the conversations surrounding this evolution, and helping to reshape the cultural and business model within our firms. But what about the rest?

The Patton Boggs and Orricks (are they next???) of the AmLaw 100 world get lots of press as they search for a merger partner, yet annually there are dozens of other firms of local prominence across the country that are acquired by big law with little more than a press release, or fail on their own and quietly close their doors.

As I said in the Think Tank, on the smaller platforms it is hard to hide a failing business model. It is readily apparent what is working and where things are not, and merger as a strategy, in and of itself, will not help a firm to survive. It just puts off the inevitable.

It’s a very interesting conversation and one that will continue.

Photo credit: Amanda Hatfield on Flickr

Controversial Clients and Social Media: The Donald Sterling Edition

As an LA Clippers fan, I am disheartened and disgusted by Donald Sterling, his wife, and everyone associated with the franchise who have stood by and co-signed this racist crap.

However, just as his wife is currently being represented by counsel in her attempt to retain her ownership of the team, Donald Sterling deserves the same, controversial or not.

Yet, in our social media warfare world, TMZ is reporting that eight major law firms have rejected his attempts to retain counsel. Donald Sterling is “radioactive.”

Our sources say partners in the firms feel representing Sterling would alienate both their African American clients and corporate clients that are hyper-sensitive to controversy.

One source closely connected with Sterling tells TMZ … it’s especially galling for the Clippers owner, because a number of partners in these firms have called him from time to time asking for favors, including tickets to games.

They are reporting major firms in Los Angeles and San Francisco, which brings to mind several AmLaw 100 firms who are not shy or meek when it comes to their client base.

I am sad to say this, but I told yo so.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,572 other followers

%d bloggers like this: