Archive for the ‘ Random Rant ’ Category

What are we? Chopped liver?

Monday morning and I have 30 emails (after deleting all the spam). Pretty standard.

Interestingly, there are some great legal business conferences and seminars being advertised by ARK, ACI, etc. that I would love to attend, or send some of my partners. Unfortunately, they are ALL in New York or Chicago.

What is it about the West Coast? We get NO love. Or very little love from the conference organizers.

I know that our naturally grown AmLaw 100 firms have all pretty much relocated their operations to New York in hopes of re-branding as a “national” or “global” firm, but there are still a lot of lawyers and law firms operating successfully from San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Portland, Seattle, not to forget our suburbs as well.

Might I suggest dipping a toe or ten in our waters? Host an event or two and build a following here? Might I suggest coming out in January. We have no snow, and, in L.A. and San Diego, we always have a burst of 80* weather to rub in the noses of our East Coast pals.

May I recommend Terranea as a location? L.A.’s ocean front resort? Check out the views …

The West Coast will be looking really good in a couple months. You might want to try it.

Haters, bullies, fans and secret admirers – LMA style

My daughter is in middle school. The breeding ground for haters and bullies, so it is a conversation we are constantly having in our home.

Thinking back on my middle (then junior) high school days, at the same school, and my experience as an adult, I just told her:

You’re nobody without haters.

Haters are gonna hate. Bullies are going to bully. But really, I think they are just fans and secret admirers, but their egos won’t let them say so.

Think of it this way: You must be doing something right if you are ruffling feathers.

So embrace your bullies and haters.

Over the few weeks there are several Legal Marketing Association-related conferences, in addition to the local chapter and City Group events:

Ready. Set. Let the #LMAMKT AND #LMACME trolls go!!

Oh, the attacks on the speakers. What we do. What we say.

The attacks on the content. The profession.

It won’t stop all day. And then they’ll get mad when no one engages with them.

I don’t know about you, but when I really don’t like someone or something, I just ignore it. It’s called apathy. I just don’t care.

So, just for today and tomorrow, I will remind all of you to ignore the haters and bullies. As a story teller, I have my own reasoning (ask me about it tomorrow) as to why our haters HATE legal marketers so much. Continue reading

And you call them entitled?

pointing-finger-vector1I was at a conference earlier this week, hanging out with the other exhibitors. Speaking with different marketing, business development folks from different industries.

There were seasoned professionals. Entry level sales people learning the ropes. A mixed and diverse crowd from product to service providers.

Inevitably the conversation would turn to the state of business and how we were gaining and retaining clients/customers.

I started testing out my generational marketing positions, to see if others are seeing and experiencing what I am seeing and experiencing. Is my hypothesis of the generational shift in management impacting direction all in my head, or am I on to something?

I spoke with one gentleman about 10 years older than me. A true Baby Boomer. He was being asked to do things differently than he’s been doing it for decades. He didn’t get all this marketing and outreach. What about relationships and how they used to do it? He wanted to go back “there,” wherever “there” was.

He was being challenged by the times and he was definitely outside his comfort zone.

When I referenced the Millennials, his retort was: “Is that the ‘entitled generation’ they’re always talking about?” And then he went on a mini rant.

You are running around, lamenting the advent of technology, the evolution of business practices, your resistance to change, and “Why can’t we go back to business as usual?” and you call THEM entitled??

Is it not as arrogant and entitled to expect the business world to never shift its axis because it will force you to change and evolve? To grow? Learn new things?

Is it not entitled to expect your clients to use a certain software because it will be too expensive for you, the service provider, to upgrade and train your staff? And, besides, no one in your office wants to learn how to use it anyway?

Is it not entitled to expect your clients to receive information the way YOU want to send it, not the way they want to receive it?

Is it not entitled to expect your clients to slow down because you do not want to catch up?

And when I start playing with the numbers, are not these members of this so called “entitled” generation the spawn of the Baby Boomers and older GenXers? The same ones who are now lamenting their existence?

In my program we discuss making others feel less than to make you feel better about yourself.

And is that not what you are doing every time you dismiss a Millennial as “entitled”? Are you not attempting to make yourself feel better in your own limited world by refusing to open yourself up and see where the Millennials and younger GenXers are getting it right?

Millennials put family and personal life first. They want a true work/life balance. They cherish experiences. They don’t want to waste all of the daylight hours in an office with artificial lighting. They are happy to get the work done, they just don’t see why it has to be done between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (or 8:00 p.m. to prove how “loyal” they are), or within the walls of your ivory tower rather than from their laptop at home. And they are not necessarily driven by the same dollar that you are.

While my peers bitched, moaned and complained about their Blackberrys interrupting their personal lives back in the ’90s, I embraced mine as liberating me from my desk so I could go have a life. And I never looked back.

I don’t want to go back to the “way things were” any more than my great grandparents wanted to go back to the horse & buggy days once they bought the first automobile on their block, or the telegraph v. telephones, or rail travel v. air travel, or landlines v. cellphones, or card catalogs v. Google.

Every generation will bitch and moan about the next. (Really?? Twerking??) But it’s not going to stop it from coming, changing, or the world evolving. And, yes, it’s happening at a quicker pace.

So be careful when pointing that one finger towards “they” who are “entitled.” I was taught that when you point one finger out, there are three more pointing back at you.

Practical skills for lawyers? What a concept.

I read in today’s National Law Journal that California might, gasp, require lawyers to have practical skills training before they are licensed.

A task force of the State Bar of California has recommended that new attorneys be required to complete at least 15 hours of practical skills training and 50 hours of pro bono service before they are admitted to practice.

If adopted, California would be the first state to mandate real-world training in law schools and the second to require pro bono work of new attorneys. New York was the first state to require pro bono work and a judicial committee in New Jersey has recommended the move.

What is sad is that while a long time coming, what good will it be if we don’t continue to require such skills training once these associates join law firms or hang up their shingle?

Think about it. When the current rainmakers and managing partners were in law school there was no Internet to the degree there is now. No Blackberries. No iPhones. No social media.

There was no such thing as e-discovery. Scanning. Electronic filings.

“Real-world training” is not something you learn once and then you have it.

When I was working at a certain Am-Law 50 firm I put in to attend the Legal Marketing Association‘s annual conference. It was declined because budgets, bla bla, not fair that I go every year. I spoke with the firm-wide managing partner, who supervised our department:

So, this is it. I am as good as you will ever need me? I don’t need any new skills? I don’t need any new knowledge? You don’t need any more out of me than I am giving you?”

Her reply was “Have a great time at the conference.”

“Real-world” training HAS to be continuous. And there is only so much we can do without the support of our firms.

Unfortunately, in the “real-world” legal environment we motivate lawyers by money and hourly requirements.

If the bar associations want to make a real change and investment into the lives and success of our associates (who, by the way, are our future rainmakers and managing partners), then they need to start allowing marketing, business development, technology, and business trainings to be eligible for CLE credits.

They currently require ethics and substance abuse/addictive disorders credits, why not the “business of law” credits?

Until then, these “non-billable” “activities,” that can make or break a law firm’s business model and operations, will continuously be sent to the back burner, or ignored all together.

When you look at the latest AmLaw 100 rankings, you are looking at multi-million and multi-billion dollar a year GLOBAL operations. Yet they are loathe to turn the business operations over to “non-lawyers,” and God-forbid you actually pay them a salary that in on par with what the partners are making.

While I applaud the California Bar Association for taking this baby step, a leap is what we really need.

What’s the etiquette rule on returning unsolicited calls and emails?

I was out of the office sick on Friday (yes, I was legitimately sick, on a Friday before a 3-day weekend, thank you very much), and am slowly going through my 100+ emails.

The amount of spam is out of control. Usually I just “block” the sender and move on.

But I am noticing a new trend in here.

It’s the personal requests, that are turning into guilt, that turn into anger messages painting me as rude for not responding.

Some of these requests are so bold that they are now attaching meeting requests to drop onto my Outlook calendar.

Look, I didn’t ask you to email me. I didn’t ask for information about your product or service. And, frankly, if I responded to the emails, I think a tribble cascade would begin, so I delete. I mark as spam. I move on.

I just know if I were to reply “no thanks,” they will take that as a permission to start emailing me more. Or, worse yet, calling me and leaving messages.

So here’s my dilemma.

Sometimes I actually know these companies so I can’t block them.

Some of them are well-known service and product vendors in my industry. It might even be a product I am interested in for down the road, but I can’t let on, or the tribble cascade beings and the next thing you know it is out of hand.

I don’t think the onus should be on me to have to return an unsolicited call or email. If I don’t reply, can’t you take that as a “she’s not interested” and move on?

And don’t make me feel bad for not giving you 15 minutes of my time. Because it will never be 15 minutes. You and I both know it.

I’m not looking for an answer here. I’m just venting and justifying my deleting and blocking so many emails today.

 

Release the Kraken and Unlock that Content

Just sat in another program where the editor of legal publication said that under absolutely no circumstance will they open up their content. It is all safely tucked behind a firewall. They are in the business of selling newspapers, after all.

I disagree with you, Mr. Editor. You are in the business of distributing content.

Yes. You need to make money. But you want to make money off content that my law firm and my lawyers produce, either by writing articles, being interviewed, submitting our wins and losses, joining your submissions of best whatever.

As far as I am concerned, a publication is only as good as my hyperlinks to it.

If you lock away all of your content, you provide very little value to me and my firm.

I am not asking you to give away your content. But make it searchable. Accessible.

Include the headline, byline and first paragraph. Law360 does that. Gives me something to link to. Sure, it’s a paid service to read the content. I put (subs. req.) after the hyperlinks. But they give me something to hyperlink.

Oh, and I pay Law360 for that service, by the way. And happily so.

So release the Kraken and unlock that content. Or at least give me a little tease.

Hitler and I agree: Damn You Google

I invited JD Supra’s Adrian Lurssen to my San Francisco office to give a presentation to our lawyers up here. Fire them up to take our blogging and content to the next level. We had a full house. Great discussion. And then he broke the news to me about Google Reader being retired.

Just had a cool working lunch with @heather_morse at @bargerwolen in SF. Biggest takeaway for Heather: Google Reader is shutting down. :-)

— Adrian Lurssen (@AdrianLurssen) March 14, 2013

I had my own little tantrum. But I have to say, Hitler sums it up for me below. Enjoy. Damn you Google.

You really are not that special, and neither am I

Oh, I’ve been seeing people posting on Facebook and elsewhere how special they are. Seems LinkedIn sent them a notice that they are in the top 5% or 1% of profiles viewed.

Yeah, yeah. Bla, bla. Me too. So what?

HMM LinkedIn

Am I better than 99% of you because I’m in the top 1% of LinkedIn profiles viewed?

Does this new elite status make me a better legal marketer, board member, blogger, Girl Scout Leader, wife or mother?

If my profile is viewed more than Despina Kartson, does it make me a better strategist?

If viewed more than Aleisha Gravit, a better organized and systematically logically thinker?

No.

My value and contributions to my profession are not based on how often my profile is viewed. This new LinkedIn status does not make me special, a best, or super, or whatever person.

My value and contributions are based on my actions and my reputation. My work product, and my ability to showcase it.

Being in the top 1% of LinkedIn profile views just means the spam-bots have found me. Now, do you want to buy some cookies or what??

Buy the Cookies

 

Step away from the vanity ad …

trouble-with-tribblesNot sure if you’ve checked your in-box yet, but there’s another opportunity for you to purchase an ad based on your latest ranking.

Oh, I know you are a preeminently, super, best lawyer, but please, stop buying these ads.

The opportunities appear to be multiplying like tribbles, or ads for male enhancement paraphernalia in my junk mail folder.

Yes, this one looks cool, and that magazine is great, but no one, no one, no one, especially a general counsel, will base their purchasing decisions on these ads and rankings.

I have seen a few RFPs asking to know how many lawyers are Chambers or Martindale AV ® ranked, but I am very skeptical of how and why that question got in there in the first place.

These “opportunities” are all about playing on the lawyer’s vanity, and some company making money off the plaque, video, or ad.

Not sure if you realize this, but they never contact the marketing department on these opportunities, because they know what we know:

  • They mean nothing.
  • They are all for show.
  • They are all about selling advertising.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against advertising when it is part of a branding campaign and done well. However, the purchasing of a vanity ads does not fall into this category. I do believe that you can strategically use the information to your advantage, but it needs to be strategic, which does not include purchasing an ad.

General counsel do not hire you because of a ranking. They hire you because they have a business problem, and you have the skills and knowledge to solve that problem.

You do not need one of these countless directories to tell that story for you.

With all that said, if you’re cool with knowing that we will not be able to measure new business back to the vanity ad, that it is all for show, and it does not influence the purchasing decisions of general counsel, I’ll go ahead and spend your money for you. I’d rather get a new pair of shoes. But what the hell. At the end of the day, it’s not my money.

The First Rule of Legal Marketing

TRUST. If you ask me, the first rule of our profession is trust.

Without trust we cannot do much in our firms. Without trust we cannot learn and share with one another. Without trust we cannot mentor, or be mentored, by the incredible leaders of our profession, who are still around. Which says a lot about who we are as a community.

We had a breach in trust yesterday.

I started a Facebook group for legal marketers a year or so ago. I had a question I needed to ask. I should have known the answer, but I didn’t. I didn’t want it posted in a public forum where it would live there forever. So I started a group with a dozen or so of my legal marketing friends. Not all LMA members.

I invited my friends to invite their friends, and the group has now grown to 257. I don’t even know a lot of these folks. But I still feel comfortable openly sharing. If I trust you, and you trust your friend, then I trust your friend.

Per Facebook rules, the group is “secret” so that our conversations remain completely private on our personal walls, but is open to all to join. (If you want to join the group, send me a message on Facebook).

But whether on Facebook, in an e-mail thread, at an LMA meeting, or a board meeting, we legal marketing professionals openly share with one another.

We don’t collude or plot, but we share our difficulties and frustrations that come with our jobs, and seek out solutions to our challenges from our peers.

This level of trust amongst us has allowed us to create something really, really special: friendships.

I count amongst my closest friends members of my profession and/or professional association. Some are service providers. Some are competitors. Some are true peers.

These close friendships allow me to not only do my job better, but allow me to be a better and more authentic Heather.

I trust you to see the vulnerable me. The real me.

When I am mentoring new members of our profession, I always start by telling them about this trust thingie we have going on. How you can pick up the phone and call anyone. How you can ask a stupid question.

In the past 14+ years that I have been doing this, I can honestly say that breaches in trust are few and far between, but the damage one breach can cause can be immense, and can do great harm.

However, I would caution all of us to not allow these rare breaches of trust to impair our culture of trust. It’s what makes us special. It’s what makes us a better community. It’s what makes us better legal marketers. And it’s what makes us better friends.

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