The First Amendment should apply to everyone, even lawyers in Ohio

Jeremy Hammond

Once again the First Amendment, as it applies to lawyers, is under attack. The First Amendment! The one that says speech is protected from being abridged by the government. That one. Here it is, in case you forgot:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

14th Amendment. Bla bla. Equal protection. Applies to the states.

Yet, here we are again, a government body is telling lawyers that they cannot speak freely. Did anyone in Ohio read Bates v. State Bar of Arizona? We’re not talking about misleading language (which is a violation of any false advertising law), but handing out a brochure or pamphlet with your contact information, or having a Q&A after a CLE. Continue reading

How to listen to a conference, from your desk

The LMA Technology Conference kicks off today in San Francisco, and I can’t be there. We have a big client event tomorrow night, and today is all about the final steps for preparation.

What to do? What to do?

Set my Tweetdeck columns, that’s what’s to do. Through the wonders of technology, and a hashtag, #LMATech, I can listen in and really not miss too much.

Here’s what my screen looks like on my second monitor today:

Tweetdeck

As you can see, I’m following two separate hashtags, one for legal marketing in general (#LMAMkt) and the other for the conference (#LMATech). The other two columns are lists of people. The top LMA folks I follow, and then a larger group of people and companies within the legal marketing space.

By following the hashtags today, I will stay on top of the current trends and what’s happening in those two areas of interest today; and by following the people, I will learn a little bit more about them outside of our common interest. The hashtags will also allow me to identify people to add to my lists to increase my network. Come on, didn’t you want to know what Adrian Dayton wore for Halloween?

Social Media

(Photo: Adrian Dayton)

Thinking of buying a .LAW domain today? Think again.

next big thing

Today’s the day. Dot LAW (.law) is released. Should you run out and spend $200+ to reserve your firm’s spot? Guest poster Igor Ilyinsky breaks it down for us.


Igor Ilyinsky

Igor Ilyinsky, Founder, FirmWise

Have you ever felt like you missed the big wave on some business opportunity? For me, as a techy, that’s a daily feeling as I watch kids become billionaires off of silly apps and websites. This all started for me when I was a kid myself, in 1997, a junior in college with nothing but time. As the internet geek I was, I used to spend that time trying to look up random domain names on Network Solutions to see if they were available for purchase (not that I actually had the thirty five bucks per year to register them). I recall stumbling on the availability of “business.com” thinking it was a meaningless domain name (this is 1997 mind you). Imagine my dismay when I learned that someone who purchased it only a few months later flipped it for $7.5 Million in just two years. Still, the business of squatting on a domain seemed very seedy for me to get involved (at least that’s what I told myself).

Fast forward to 2015. The ICANN (look it up) has announced that the “.law” gTLD (again, Google it) will be available for sale, throwing lawyers and legal marketers all over the world into a frenzy. Do we buy a domain? Is this the next internet gold rush? Not so fast! Gone are the days when it cost $35 to buy a domain (actually they were free before 1995, then they started charging at $50/yr, then dropped to $35 two years later, and now they are pretty much free again with the hosting of a website). These days getting in early on a premium gTLD can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, plus a lot of headaches as the new registration system works itself out.

Specifically, according to Minds + Machines, the company that owns the “.law” extension, you’ll need to pay a premium of $12,500 per domain to get first dibs (source: https://join.law/). However, if you’re willing to wait a few days, the price will go down. After 5 days, the cost for access is only $125, and if you wait one whole week, there is no additional price beyond the actual yearly registration of the domain.

Oh, you thought the $12,500 includes the registration fees? Silly! Those vary depending on who you choose as your registrar, and what their “cut” will be. You see, in order to get that highly coveted domain you want, your registrar must be the first to request it the exact moment it goes on sale (Noon ET on Monday the 12th). In order to assure that someone will be at the ready to do this for you, your paperwork must be prepared well in advance, and it’ll cost you a pretty penny. One registrar I spoke to tacked on almost $3000 in additional fees for a Monday request. What if you don’t get the domain you want? No worries, you get your money back, minus a “we tried our best” fee which in most cases was only $50-$100. There’s a list of accredited registrars, not including their pricing, on this page: http://nic.law/registrars/ (note: the “Sunrise” period already ended last month, Monday opens the “General Availability” period, also known as the landrush).

So is it worth it? Continue reading

What the hell did I just say?

For those who do not know me, or do not know me well, I must warn you, I process externally. If you happen to sit outside my door, or down the hall, you have been warned and know what to expect when I have “that” look in my eye.

One of the reasons I started this blog is that I had just left Pillsbury for a much, much smaller boutique. What I didn’t count on was losing my peers, especially my office administrator who had such great wisdom to share. This blog allowed me a place to refine my ideas.

At heart, I am a writer and a communicator. My head is constantly filled with words and ideas moving at great speeds. Without the ability to refine my ideas I cannot craft messages, and forget sounding credible.

The ability to communicate and communicate well is the foundation of my livelihood. It is my reputation. It is what differentiates me from you.

Coming from a gal who reads grammar books for fun, I am never satisfied; I can always learn more, and refine my craft.

One of the few newsletters that actually comes to my inbox is WordRake‘s Writing Tips. And I actually read it.

Today’s tip was a reminder to watch for ins and ofs and I wanted to share it with you:

… ins and ofs prance through our writing, dosey doe in and out of our sentences, then duck and hide among gatherings of words that mean nothing. They are drawn to the absurd and unnecessary, and we hardly notice them nestled there.

There are great examples throughout the post, so definitely click and read on the tip.

Ins and ofs, for the most part, are fillers and add no real value to what you are trying to convey. In a world where words are real estate, and the currency is the reader’s time, we need to edit, edit, edit.

In short, watch your ps and qs, and your ins and ofs.

Communication and my leadership crush on Kat Cole

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I have a leadership crush an Kat Cole and I’m not ashamed to admit it. Sure, I’m old enough to be her much older sister, or aunt, but I love following her on Facebook (we’re friends … not that she’s ever commented on any of my witty posts) and first connections on LinkedIn. I use her as an example when I am mentoring young men and women, especially when it comes to just saying yes.  And I love reading anything she writes, and most things that are written about her.

I was first introduced to Kat when she was the keynote speaker at the 2014 LMA annual conference. I wish there was a link to her presentation, needless to say, Catherine and Gina were mesmerized.

Catherine MacDonagh (L) and Gina Rubel (R)
(I have leadership crushes on them too)

I need to find out who Kat’s presentation coach is because this woman can communicate, and communicate well.

Which brings me to the 12 Communication Habits Made This Former Hooters Hostess a Billion Dollar Brand President at 32. Read the article for the full list, examples, and details, but here are the ones I wanted to highlight:

Focus on trust first, then results.

If there is no trust, there is no foundation. NOTHING will ever take place, there will be no movement, there will be no change. Every leadership book I have read emphasizes this fact: There is no leadership without trust.

Go to the front lines!

Leaders cannot hide. They need to walk the halls. They need to meet with all members of the team. They need to know names. They need to build relationships. They need to ask questions, and get honest responses … which they cannot do if there is no trust.

Assume positive intent.

Written on the glass partition between me and my team is written “Assume Right Motives.” If we are coming from a position of trust, then we have to assume positive intents and right motives. That doesn’t mean we live in a Pollyanna state of mind, or we don’t question, but we cannot begin and live our days questioning and peering over our shoulders. Comes back to … you got it. Trust.

Speak the truth.

This is about giving honest performance feedback. Ugh. It’s really tough. I don’t want to criticize anyone, but if we need to talk about something, we need to talk about it. I publicly praise and privately criticize, which is hard sometimes when my office has a HUGE glass window. So those talks take place when someone’s at lunch, or hasn’t arrived yet, or has left for the day. I also found DeborahTannen’s Talking from 9 to 5 Women and Men at Work  a must read communication book for women in the workforce.

I could provide feedback of each of the 12 communication habits Kat talks about in this piece, but then you wouldn’t read it and come to your own conclusions.

So share your thoughts below in the comments. Which communication point’s truth spoke to you and why?

Photo Credit: FOCUS Brands

Leadership Revisited

I have written several times about my participation in the SmithBucklin Leadership Institute last year. The class of 2014 will have a reunion later this week, and yes, I have homework.

One of our assignments is to reflect on our last year’s final homework assignment — how are we going to pay forward what we had learned — and to provide an update on how we’re doing with that. No generalities are allowed. We need to dig deep, and provide details.

As I flipped open to last year’s homework, I realized that I was in a different place. As in jobs. At the time of our last session, my firm had announced, yet had not closed, a merger with an AmLaw 200 firm, and my answers were all based on that scenario.

The three learning elements that I was committed to pay forward were: Continue reading

Glad to see sexism is alive and well in law firms. Not.

kapow1

Charlotte Proudman, you are my new hero. Good for you for calling out the Big Law partner who thought “complimenting” you on your photo was a great way to begin a conversation:

Baby Boomers take note. Millennial women will not put up with comments like this. They have been raised to believe that they are equal in every way to the “adults” in their lives. And they have no problems speaking up and out.

If the partner in question had just bothered to look at Ms. Proudman’s Twitter profile, he would have been well warned to keep his comments to himself:

Charlotte Proudman

When I was coming up in the working world, pre-Anita Hill, GenX and Boomer women did not have the terminology (sexual harassment), the tools (HR departments), and the laws (thank you, very much) to aid us when faced with a man 20+ years our age making rude comments, suggestions, and threats.

When we spoke up we were fired. And that was that.

Having a trailing edge Millennial daughter, I can honestly say, “Wow” and “Look out.”

Well educated gentlemen, the rules have changed. Just talk to any teen-aged girl about “rape culture” and you will be schooled in ways that will make your BS, MBA, JD, PhD certificates not worthy of the frames that hang them on the walls of your offices.

And if you think women like me are blowing this out of proportion, and are just too sensitive or serious, just take a look at the anonymous comments (here and here) from LAWYERS attacking Ms. Proudman for being a “feminist” and for her speaking out about the incident and “shaming” the partner in question.

This is nothing more than a “blame — or shame — the victim” mentality (she shouldn’t post a picture if she doesn’t want comments) that is beyond disturbing. My personal favorite from “Bobby”:

bobby

We have come so far, yet really, we haven’t. For any male lawyer who is wondering why Ms. Proudman is so offended by having her photo praised as “stunning,” please walk down the hall and ask any woman over 40 about the first time she was sexually harassed in the work place.

For me, I was 23-years old working at a restaurant to help pay my way through college. Players from the local professional football team would come in and hang out at our bar after training practice.

One Friday night, with a full station of tables working, my manager told me that “Mr. NFL player” at the bar would like me to join him. I was confused, as I was “working.” My manager told me not to worry about my tables, that he thought it was a very good idea for me to go join the player. I told him no. I wasn’t raised that way and went about my work.

I was fired that week.

That was my first story, but not my last.

And if you’re thinking, “But that was in 1988; that doesn’t happen any more.” Um, yes it does.

I was just recanting a story of the senior partner, after a major client meeting, leaning over in the limousine and kissing the associate. She did not return to the firm. He did. That did occur in this millennium.

While I am sure the big law partner does not need any more shaming (the British tabloids have picked up the story), the lessons obviously still need to be learned.

If we truly want diversity, and women in leadership roles in law firms, then we need to be seen and treated, in public and private, as the equal professionals we are.

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