Archive for the ‘ Guest Blogger ’ Category

Florida Bar Rules That Make You Go Hmmmm

On August 29, 2013, the webinar “Overview of the New Florida Bar Rules with Florida Bar Ethics Counsel Elizabeth Clark Tarbert” was presented to the Legal Marketing Association Southeast Chapter members.

A fellow Coolerite wrote the following recap of one very important point of the presentation, asking that his/her name not be used:

As we all have read over the past few months, Florida Bar Rules of Advertising are quite challenging.  There are two rules discussed today that stood out from today’s presentation:

  • Seminars. Florida law firms are not permitted to pass out firm brochures or any other information at a firm hosted seminar. Instead, the Bar suggests firms just leave the information on a table in the back of the room and have the attendees pick it up, if they choose to do so.  But wait, there’s more. Remember our training and plain ole “good manners” to send a post-seminar thank you letter to attendees?  Not in Florida, the Bar prohibits such letters. Firms can only send a post seminar letter if the attendee asks for additional information. If a firm chooses to send a letter, they must follow the direct mail rule – for ease of reference, see the Bar’s five-page checklist for direct mail.
  • Social media.  Twitter and LinkedIn was discussed. The Bar is still discussing LinkedIn endorsements and will update their website once a ruling comes down.  The Bar rules state that:
    • Any communications that a lawyer makes on an unsolicited basis to prospective clients to obtain “followers” is subject to the lawyer advertising rules, as with any other social media as noted above. Because of Twitter’s 140 character limitation, lawyers may use commonly recognized abbreviations for the required geographic disclosure of a bona fide office location by city, town or county as required by Rule 4-7.12(a).

What does this mean? The lawyer or firm should carefully capture firm (or lawyer) name and geographic location in Twitter handle as all that information needs to appear in 140 characters in every tweet. The guidelines for law firm social networking sites can be found here.

You may also want to read a previous post by our LMA friend, Nancy Myrland, “Legal Advertising Rules – How About That Florida Bar.”

Bottom line:  While we understand the Bar is trying to protect consumers from the “bad guys,” some of these rules are quite challenging and make us scratch our heads and wonder.

My hat is off to all of my colleagues who take on the challenge of marketing in Florida.

My question to those in Florida would be from the first point:

If we host a client seminar in Florida, we cannot hand out our own brochures to the attendees upon arrival. They need to pick them up from a table in the back of the room. What happens when we are sponsoring a program via DRI or ACI, which host numerous legal programs in Florida. Can our brochures be placed in the conference bags? What about a squish ball? Or flash drive with materials?

Creating and Organizing Your Speech

Thank you to guest blogger  Gail Lamarche for recapping Lexblog’s webinar, Find Your Voice – Speak With a Purpose , featuring Faith Pincus.

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Faith Pincus

Faith Pincus delivered part two in a series of public speaking webinars on behalf of Lexblog. You can read the highlights of the first webinar, Find Your Voice, Speak with a Purpose, here.

In today’s webinar, Faith shared the best and easiest ways to organize your presentation, how to write catchy introductions and how to make your conclusions memorable.

She began with several quotes which exemplify the power of language, including the famous quote from Martin Luther King “I have a dream.” That’s what a successful speech can do — statements made by speakers 50 years ago still have an impact today.

In developing your speech, think of the “AMI” methodology = Audience (your speech is about them, not you); Message (develop the purpose of your speech and write it down); and, Image (it’s not just about how you look, but how you deliver).

Five Steps to Organize Your Presentation

  1. Define the Purpose or Thesis. Write down what you are trying to accomplish and then say it out loud. If you need to take a breath while saying, it’s too long.
  2. Gather Supporting Materials. Use a variety of supporting materials that will help you explain the concept you are trying to teach or discuss. As you go through the materials, think about different ways you can illustrate your point. Why use supporting materials? It will help you connect with audience and will “humanize” your topic in a way your audience can absorb. Use facts, quotes, cases, statistics, interviews, articles, deposition testimony, even role playing. Stories are huge – humans relate to stories and are very helpful in communicating complex ideas.
  3. Determine Top Three Points. After you gather the supporting materials and have determined your purpose, look at it all and find the top three points only.  Why just three?  Research shows that people remember and absorb odd numbers.  All the information you gathered can be broken-down into those three points.
  4. Determine the Organizational Pattern. You can deliver your speech in several different ways, including chronological or sequential order, it depends on the topic. Lawyers often use a “problems/solutions” order or even a “compare/contrast” order taking one idea and comparing to the other.
  5. Create An Outline. Do NOT write your presentation out as a speech. Most people are not capable of reading a presentation word for word and then delivering it in conversation style with enough finesse to have impact. You are not the President of the United States with a teleprompter. Best practice is to create it in outline format, maybe even in full sentence format and practice out loud to see what works and what doesn’t. When you write it down, it may sound brilliant but when you start saying it out loud, you trip over it or some sentences or it may not make sense. As you practice and become more familiar with the presentation, reduce the full sentence outline to a key word outline.  The key word outline is meant as a prompt to remind you what you want to talk about. Ask if the outline accomplishes your purpose (Step 1).

Create Catchy Introductions

The purpose of an introduction is to grab your audience’s attention, peak their curiosity and interest and connect with them. The introduction should clarify your purpose and preview your main points. Connect with the audience the entire time with good eye contact; it will boost your credibility.

You only have a few moments to make a first impression and establish you are credible. Don’t fumble papers and NEVER read your introduction, in fact memorize it. Make sure it’s short – in fact five minutes or less is good. No one wants to listen to a 20-minute introduction.  It shouldn’t take that long to introduce your presentation and grab your audience’s attention.

What goes in an introduction? Faith uses great quotes. You can also use statistics, anecdotes, stories, humor, rhetorical questions, “raise your hand if” questions.” Faith cautions that if you are going to use humor, make sure it’s funny, non-offensive and somehow related to your topic. Test the humor by running it by someone that doesn’t have to laugh at your jokes.  What doesn’t go into an introduction?  Statement like “thank you so much for having me speak today” and “what a great audience.”

Develop Memorable Conclusions

Conclusions should reinforce your image and message and include a call to action. People remember the first and last thing they hear so reinforce your message in your conclusion and leave on a strong note.

What goes in a conclusion? Conclusions should not be any longer than your introduction. Summarize your three main points, take something from your introduction and make reference in your conclusion to bring your speech full circle. Never end with “okay, that’s it, we’re done” or ask “any questions?” Faith has a good suggestion to say “I have time for a couple questions and then I’m going to wrap it up.” That way you end with your note and message. Side note, make sure you do wrap it up in a timely manner and not continue on for another 20 minutes.

How do you deliver a conclusion? The same way you do an introduction. Memorize it and deliver it with confidence and good eye-contact.

Audience Questions

Q. Is it best to take questions during your presentation or at the end?

A. Faith said to do what works best for you there are no hard fast rules. If audience is big, you may want to wait until the end. Can you do so with getting sidetracked? You don’t want to answer so many questions that you ran out of time to finish your presentation. She suggested handing out 4 x 6 cards, have someone collect them and state that you will take time to answer questions throughout the day.

Q. What can you do when a member of the audience is monopolizing your time with questions?

A. Take back in control. The second the person takes a breath, interrupt and say that’s really interesting and you have a lot of great ideas. Validate what they are saying but ask them to write down their questions and see you on break. Then seek them out to answer them so as not to lose credibility.

Q. What are some tips to overcoming fear and nerves?

A. Faith suggested some great books:  Speaking Scared and Sounding Good by Peter Desberg and Overcoming Your Fear of Public Speaking – A Proven Method by Dr. Motley.

Faith also suggested to be well prepared and practice a lot! Take your nervousness and harness the energy. Don’t let mental conversation in your head take control.

Find Your Voice – Speak With a Purpose

Thank you to guest blogger  Gail Lamarche for recapping Lexblog’s webinar, Find Your Voice – Speak With a Purpose , featuring Faith Pincus.

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Once again Kevin O’Keefe offered LexBlog’s clients a great webinar on March 16 with Faith Pincus, a licensed attorney who trains lawyers (and others) nationally on how to enhance their speaking ability. Faith blogs at Speech Advice.

Faith began her presentation by quoting Thomas Edison,

Opportunities are missed because they are dressed in overalls and look like work.

Speaking engagements are work, but they are also excellent opportunities which allow you to shine as an expert in your field.  So how can you get speaking engagements?

Think of Your Audience

To whom do you want to speak? Typically, for lawyers, the audience can be broken down to three categories:

  1. attorneys that can refer clients to you;
  2. attorneys that can hire you directly; and,
  3. attorneys that can bring you on as a consultant;

Then, reach out to groups or associations that can refer business to you. Perhaps it’s a Realtor or builders association. Also check your local chamber of commerce websites for clubs, don’t forget the public can hire you directly too!

Faith gave an example of trust and estate attorney she worked with, he found great success speaking to local church groups. Think outside the box!

Who To Approach

Once you determine your audience, do your research. Find out who handles the guest speakers for that organization and research the person who you will be “pitching”.

Check social media avenues to see if you’re connected to them in some degree on LinkedIn. If you have a connection in common, reach out for a referral. Having a personal connection by someone who can attest recommend you is better than a cold call. After all, it’s all about relationships.

How To Ask – Back to Basics

If you can’t go that route through a connection, e-mail (or make a good ole fashioned phone call) and offer to speak for their group…nicely!

Faith cautioned not to be arrogant by saying “you are the king or queen” of “x.” Offer to speak in a friendly, causal, but professional manner.

There is nothing wrong with asking people for speaking engagements. The answer is always no if you don’t ask.

If there’s a specific venue or program, ask to speak – especially if you are speaking for free. If you want to speak for a fee, that’s a whole different ball game.

Be sure to include your background and qualifications, let them know why you are an expert in your niche. Also mention any honors or recognitions you earned (top 100 lawyers, 40 under 40, etc.). If you have an audio clip, presentation outline, newsletter or blog post, offer it to the conference organizer.

Make Speaking Engagements Worthwhile

If you are going to make the effort to speak, do a good job by meeting the needs of your audience. Faith recommends to show up at least a half hour early to meet your audience.  Ask them why they are there and what they wanted to learn. That way you can tailor your presentation on the fly and, as a bonus, you have that one-on-one connection.

Faith also shared the “don’t” list:

  • Don’t show up 15 minutes before and just stare at your notes. Use this opportunity as much as you can to network. You already known as the expert. And have a better chance of getting referrals.
  • Don’t wait until the night before to prepare. Practice, practice, practice.
  • Don’ read, work from an outline. Get a DVD on public speaking, go to Toastmasters and check out Six Minutes blog, do everything you can to improve.
  • Don’t put up a whole bunch of text on slides and just read off them. PowerPoint is meant as a visual aid. Prepare an outline, review it and mark where will slides enhance what your message. Then find images, perhaps even create custom cartoons. Need inspiration? Prepare a leave-behind with the information.

Marketing

  • Use your blog pre and post event. Check out Class Action Countermeasurers. It lists topics on blogs with links to the presentations, speakers and organizations. Include your speaking engagements on your firm bio.
  • Repurpose your presentation. Use it as a blog topic or article in a newsletter. Plan ahead and ask if you can get an audio copy of the event. If you can’t, there are recording devices that can attach to a lavaliere. Hire a professional audio editor (at anywhere from $40-$100/hour) to get nuggets to post on your blog and website. The audio editor can make a nice introduction and cut out the “um’s and ah’s.” When you have a good video opportunity, use it.
  • If you get evaluations from where you speak, hang on to them for next time you want to speak. Get testimonials and get audio sample to pitch to other organizations.
  • Use social media. Post your presentation on Slideshare, an excellent resource for research and a plug-in application on LinkedIn. Speaking of LinkedIn, do you lawyers know that LinkedIn has surpassed Martindale Hubbell in lawyer profiles?
  • There’s also TripIt which allows your connections to see where you are going and when you are speaking.
  • Write a blog post before the event: hey I’m going, hope to see you there; here’s my email, reach out to me. A perfect example, is our Legal Marketing friend, Nancy Myrland. While there, do a short blog post on what you have seen, observed and learned. When you return from the conference, highlight hot discussions and share with your audience.

Recommended Reading:

  1. Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive
  2. Slide:Ology

Q&A

Kevin shared the following audience questions:

  • Q:  How do lawyers let people know what they do when they are speaking in front of a large audience?
    A:  Faith, Present in a thoughtful manner. Include short war stories and mention in the course of your presentation how you help your clients. Also prepare a leave-behind and include a checklist that is valuable, something your audience needs to refer to over and over again. Get that top of mind awareness.
  • Q:  Toastmasters, yay or nay?
    A:  Faith, Yay. Toastmasters is an excellent organization for people to get over the fear of public speaking and nervousness. The program is designed to allow you to practice over and over again in a non-pressured environment. The audience is just like – not trained public speakers that need help. Of course, you can also hire speaking coaches, like Faith.
  • Q:  What can you do with all those videos from previous presentations?
    A:   Faith, Hire professional video editors (typical hourly rate $60-$70/hour). Split up the video in two minute segments with great sound bites and post on YouTube, your website and blog. The video editor should be able to do a nice phase in and phase out and don’t forget to add a byline.
  • Q:  What can I do if I don’t have any video presentations?
    A:   Faith:  Go to an A/V recording studio and do a 5 or 10 minute presentation.
    A:  Kevin:  Bloggers have power to get speaking engagements. In fact, Kevin’s speaking engagements grew tremendously after he started blogging. He recommends: 

    • following blogs and publications distributed by organizations that invite people to speak via RSS feeds (or your Google Reader);
    • follow them on Twitter
    • reach out and connect with then on LinkedIn
    • get to know conference coordinators, become their confidant and someone they can trust
    • use your blog tools; share word of events on your blog; set up a speaking engagements or presentations topic that’s easy to find

    Two main take-aways:  do your research to get a speaking engagement and once you do, don’t waste the opportunity.

Recapping: Making – Not Finding – Time for Client Development

Thank you to guest blogger  Gail Lamarche for recapping today’s Lexblog webinar, Making — Not Finding — Time for Client Development, featuring Kevin O’Keefe and Cordell Parvin.

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With 36 years of law practice behind him, Cordell Parvin now coaches attorneys in all aspects of legal marketing, client development and blogs at lawconsultingblog.com.

When he just started his career as a young construction lawyer, his peers mocked him when he wanted to have a national practice from Roanoke, VA.  That is until the Secretary of Transportation for the State of Washington called him when the bridge collapsed.

How did that call happen?  It was from writing articles and being known for a construction litigation law niche practice.  Cordell shared his best practices and tips during the webinar which was recorded and can be found here (UPDATED LINK).

  • 500 hours.  That is how many non-billable hours a lawyer should spend on client development per year or 20-30 per month.
  • Have a plan in place for not only non-billable time but personal time as well.  Review the plan every 90 days.  Plans should include:
    • Time for client development
    • Organizations to join
    • Networking events
    • Articles
    • Blog posts
    • Pro bono activities
  • Feeling overwhelmed with billable work, personal responsibilities and marketing?  Set priorities.  Start a journal.  Document your non-billable time and you will be able to figure out what worked and what didn’t.
  • Split your development time in two categories:  one for reputation building (writing and speaking); and one for relationship building (getting out and meeting people).
  • Tips for young lawyers:
    • spend time your first few years developing your skills to become a great lawyer
    • learn about your clients
    • learn people and communication skills
    • read books
    • attend seminars
  • Write articles:
    • Not sure what to write about?  What questions are your clients asking?  Take the memorandum of law and turn it into an article or blog post.  Every matter you work on can take a wider angle.
    • Create how-to guides for contracts, design builds.  Post the e-books on your website so clients can download.  Take what you learn and re-use it.  Provide valuable information to your audience and raise visibility and credibility.
    • Review the Encyclopedia of Associations for your state.  Every association has newsletters or publications.
  • Develop a niche practice, be focused.  How?  What are you passionate about?  Used great examples of lawyers who stepped outside the box, developed a niche practice and moved full steam ahead.  Staci Riordan incorporates blogging, Facebook and Twitter for the fashion law blog.  Alison Rowe with her Equine Law Blog and Kevin O’Neill started a weekly podcast Capital Thinking.

Cordell and Kevin also shared some great blogging tips:

Another day, another Florida Bar Advertising Decision

Attorneys and legal marketers in Florida routinely face one of the most comprehensive and detailed sets of state restrictions on attorney advertising. Pre-publication review of advertisements, an outright ban on testimonial advertising, and rules that interpret Facebook “friend” requests as unlawful solicitation are but a few examples of the constitutionally-overbroad reach of the Florida Bar’s advertising rules.

While the advocacy group Public Citizen and a number of Florida attorneys have attempted to challenge these rules in federal court, the Florida Bar has done an effective job of rebuffing or delaying this litigation. The latest example is last week’s 11th Circuit decision in Harrell v. The Florida Bar.

Despite the decision’s length (some 63 pages), it effectively kicks many of the issues down the road to be decided at a later day. So, for the time being, Florida attorneys are left with most of the issues raised in Harrell – issued related to the vague and often arbitrary nature of the Florida rules and their application – unanswered.

Nonetheless, there are several bright points to be found in the decision:

  • While not ruling on the issue directly, the 11th Circuit indicated a willingness to consider whether many of Florida’s attorney advertising rules, including those that prohibit “manipulative” ads and those that “characterize the quality of the lawyer’s services,” are impermissibly vague. Whether through further litigation by Harrell or the Florida Supreme Court taking it upon itself to clean this up, greater certainty would make the work of legal marketers in Florida far easier.
  • One of Harrell’s primary issues was his use of the slogan “don’t settle for less than you deserve.” The bar had flip-flopped on the slogan, approving it at one time and then reversing itself years later. In the course of the litigation, the Bar flipped again, approving the slogan and then moving to dismiss Harrell’s complaint as moot. The Court of Appeals rejected the Bar’s mootness argument, finding that “the circumstances here raise a substantial possibility that “the defendant has . . . changed course simply to deprive the court of jurisdiction.” This means the federal district court will be able to hear Harrell’s challenge to the Bar’s vague and arbitrary approach to reviewing advertising.
  • The one area where the Court provided attorneys and marketers the most guidance was around the Bar’s requirement that lawyers submit TV or radio ads for review at least 20 days prior to the first planned airing date. Harrell challenged this rule as an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech, but the court, relying on a long line of cases addressing the commercial speech doctrine, found that this 20-day filing requirement is constitutional.

Although it’s unfortunate that the Harrell decision did not get to the bottom of the vagueness that resonates in Florida’s rules, it did offer a step in the right direction. Hopefully Harrell will continue to press this case in district court, and rules can be pruned back to the point where they are both constitutional and amenable to consistent interpretation by those marketing legal services in the Sunshine State.

By Josh King

Josh is General Counsel & Vice President of Business Development at Avvo, Inc. He writes and speaks frequently on issues related to interactive media law and legal ethics.

What is all the Hoopla over Avvo reviews?

In 2007 John Henry Browne, a criminal defense attorney, claimed that his Avvo.com rating of 3.7 was damaging his practice. He filed a lawsuit against Avvo, but it was dismissed on pre-trial motion.

In 2008 attorney Charles Krugel wanted to cancel his membership and un-claim his Avvo profile, on the grounds that Avvo was biased against small firms and solos. Avvo responded to his request by saying, “Now that you have claimed your profile it cannot be un-claimed.”

A recent post by Jay Fleischman says that many attorneys live in fear of a bad review on Avvo.

In my opinion the hoopla over Avvo is unwarranted.

There is a more popular review system that is being overlooked, and that is the Google Local Business review.

Sure Avvo received 600,000 unique visitors in December 2009. But 600,000 pales in comparison to Google’s stats. According to Google’s keyword tool, the December 2009 search volume for the word lawyer was 11,100,000. And when people run a Google search query on the word “lawyer” combined with a geographic region like “Chicago” they come face to face with Google local business results. The results include a map, firm names, and firm reviews.

It takes 10 minutes for a firm to set up a free profile in the Google Local Business Center. It takes even less time for a satisfied customer to post a review on Google. Your satisfied client just has to click on “write a review.” They don’t even have to set up an account, as they do on Avvo, to submit a review.

The bottom line is that lay people are not likely to go straight to Avvo.com to find a lawyer, and it does not come up on the first page when you search with a phrase like “New York employment lawyer.” What does come up, when you search for “New York employment lawyer” is a map and some firm names. Try it for yourself and you will see that point B on the map is for the Blanch Law Firm, and they have 10 glowing reviews.

I’m not advocating that lawyers ditch Avvo.com. I am all for tools that allow consumers to rate products and services. I am simply suggesting that a free, extremely visible review tool should not be ignored.

By: Kelly Spradley, VP of Marketing and Sales at Impirus
www.impirus.com/

(To submit a guest post, please contact me at legalwatercooler@gmail.com. Remember, no hard sales for your company … just write about stuff that’s interesting for members of the legal industry … and don’t take yourself too seriously.)

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