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Legal Marketing Advice From Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog

Most lawyers dream of a successful practice in their area of choice/skill, the opportunity to handle interesting cases, and recognition as leaders in their field. Some lawyers understand that effective marketing plays a big role in achieving these goals – and others, as we’ve discussed in our “Why Lawyers Hate Marketing” series, don’t.

Thomas Goldstein has hit each of these benchmarks – he is a premier Supreme Court litigator, the author of the wildly popular SCOTUSblog, and is frequently sought out for his analysis and insight on Court issues – and he is a proponent of legal marketing. In a recent podcast with the ABA Journal, he explained how legal marketing activities helped him reach his current position, and offered advice to other lawyers on how to carve out a niche in the legal market.

The podcast discusses RFPs, personal relationships, marketing and developing a personal brand – it’s  most definitely worth taking thirty minutes to listen.   Out of those thirty minutes, the points that stuck out to most were Goldstein’s examination of why SCOTUSblog is so incredibly successful. For starters, the blog is clear in its mission. It is written by passionate, informed attorneys who set out to do one thing exceedingly well, rather than create a blog for the sake of having a web presence. Second, the blog isn’t designed to promote Goldstein and his firm. In fact, they specifically avoid talking about cases in which they are involved. Instead, SCOTUSblog focuses on imparting wisdom and serving the reader.

Goldstein’s advice applies to a wide range of business development and marketing activities. Whether it’s developing a blog, curating a Twitter feed, writing an article, making a PR push or embarking on another type of marketing initiative, attorneys most often achieve success when they focus on the areas for which they have passion, unique insight, and in which they can add the most value to consumers.


Getting the RIGHT Seat at the Table

goldilocks-and-the-three-bearsBuzzwords and trendy phrases are a part of legal marketing. Cross-selling, content, alternative fees, managing up, strategic planning and thought leadership are some current favorites. But buzzwords are only buzzy for so long – ideas have legs and longevity. Which is why I read with interest another recent article about “getting a seat at the table,” and realized that the term is just as prevalent in legal marketing circles now as when I started in the industry seven years ago.  With years of discussion under our collective belts, there are myriad interpretations of what “having a seat at the table” means and how to best get there. It’s a little bit like a classic fairy tale – let’s say, Goldilocks and the Three Bears – the same overarching ideas are always there, but with each retelling, the narrator adds their own flourishes and interpretations.

A seat at the table is a concept that LMA – at the national and chapter levels – has embraced. In recent months, the Virginias Chapter scheduled a panel on the topic at their Continuing Marketing Education conference, LMA National held “C-Suite Summit – Take a Seat at the Management Table” and the Bay Area Chapter has an upcoming program titled “Creating a Career Map to Obtain a Seat at the Table.” The topic was also explored at a national conference panel in 2012, which Leslie Knapp listed as one of her top five conference moments. (Her take? “our CMOs have more than earned a seat at the table; it’s time the lawyers invited them to sit down already.”)

Also like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, everyone has a different vision of which seat is “just right.” Depending upon your career path, firm culture, team structure and seniority, the seat may come in the form of an invitation to sit in on a meeting…or to present to the entire partnership. Your seat may look like a collaborative strategy session with firm leadership…or a two-minute presentation on LinkedIn. What’s clear, though, is that regardless of what our seat looks like to each of us, having one matters to all of us.

The below articles and presentations explore the topic from several angles – hopefully, one of these perspectives leads you to your perfect seat.

When you’re feeling affirmative…
Give Marketing a Seat at the Table – Law.com

When you’re feeling skeptical…
Do Legal Marketing Professionals Deserve a Seat at the Table? – Real Lawyers Have Blogs

When you’re feeling critical…
Do Legal Marketing Professionals Want a Seat at the Table? – TinkerX

When you want to see what LMA says…
Reserving Your Seat at the Table – LMA Strategies

When you want to learn what managing partners think…
Managing Partners Share Forecasts and Insights (Part 1 here, Part 2 here) - Marketing Tales from the Trenches

When you need a video break…
A Seat at the Firm Strategy Table – Marguerite Downey, Adduci Mastriani & Schaumberg LLP

When discussions turn to fees…
Pricing: A Way for Marketing to Earn its Seat at the Table – Silvia Hodges

When the path seems unclear…
The Path to World Class – Exploring the Attributes that Distinguish Top-tier Legal Marketing and Business Development Teams – Zen and the Art of Legal Networking

When your job description feels unclear…
Not All Legal Marketers Are Created Equal – Legal Water Cooler

When you’ve just gotten back from a conference…
Legal Marketing: What To Do Now – Myrland Marketing

When it’s time to take the next step with content marketing…
Cultivating Visibility – Success

When you want to relate to your lawyers…
Legal Business Development: Are You Earning Your Seat at the Table? – JDSupra

When you’re looking forward…
What Does a Chief Strategy Officer in a Law Firm Do? – Law Firm 4.0

When you’re worried about the economy…
Job Security: Demonstrating Value to the Management Committee – LawMarketing.com

When you want a broad view…
5 Ways to Get a Seat at the Table (Or at Least Improve Your Chances) – Brandon Hall

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Five Tips For Making It Rain

Law360, one of my favorite resources for legal industry news and information, had an interesting article yesterday, titled “Five Tips For Making It Rain.”

Featuring advice from successful rainmakers, the article frames the advice we’ve all heard (and given) in relatable, attorney-focused language.  Key points:

  • Identify Networks Strategically
  • Play to Your Personal Strengths
  • Sell the Team – Not Just Yourself
  • Make Personal Connections
  • Be A Good Resource

Which of these tips will you try?  Have any of them worked well for you in the past?

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Freesources: The New Rules of Legal Thought Leadership Webinar from ON24


These days, “thought leadership” seems to be one of the most popular phrases in the legal marketing.  How do we promote it?  Who is doing it well?  How can we get our lawyers to understand the importance of thought leadership?   We all  want to position our lawyers and firms as thought leaders, but sometimes the path can be a little fuzzy.  On Thursday, March 28th at 1:00 pm Eastern, the fuzziness will disappear.

ON24, the AMAZING sponsor for Virginias Chapter webinars, will be offering a complimentary webinar that will help legal marketers turn the concept of thought leadership into actionable business plans for lawyers.  Speakers Marsha Redmon, CEO of Marsha Redmon Communications and Robert Algeri , co-founder of Great Jakes Marketing, will provide a step-by-step path your firm can use now to get more benefit from lawyers’ thought leadership content, using real-life examples of firms that are getting it right.

To register for “The NEW Rules of Legal Thought Leadership”, or for additional program information, click here.

We’ll be there – will you?

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Happy National Grammar Day!

In celebration of National Grammar Day, the Harvard Business Review has posted an article outlining how “good grammar is instrumental in conveying ideas with clarity, professionalism, and precision.”  It may seem obvious, but a small study of LinkedIn profiles conducted by Grammarly offers new data in support of proper grammar usage:

Professionals with fewer grammar errors in their LinkedIn profiles achieved higher positions. Those who failed to progress to a director-level position within the first 10 years of their careers made 2.5 times as many grammar mistakes as their director-level colleagues.

Fewer grammar errors correlate with more promotions. Professionals with one to four promotions over their 10-year careers made 45% more grammar errors than those with six to nine promotions in the same time frame.

Fewer grammar errors associate with frequent job changes. Those who remained at the same company for more than 10 years made 20% more grammar mistakes than those who held six jobs in the same period. This could be explained in a couple of ways: People with better grammar may be more ambitious in their search for promising career opportunities, or job-hoppers may simply recheck their résumés between jobs.

In honor of today’s holiday, why not challenge your attorneys to review their LinkedIn pages?

Further Reading
Proofreader Susan Sheppard/WordsRight
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation [Amazon]
The Elements of Style [Amazon]
LinkedIn Tops 200 Million Members:  One Simple Way Lawyers Can Use It  [Real Lawyers Have Blogs]
7 Ways for Lawyers and Law Firms to Use LinkedIn More Effectively  [Real Lawyers Have Blogs]

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2013 Litigation Trends Survey

Have you checked your email this morning? Looked at any legal industry or legal marketing news feeds? Spoiler Alert: there’s a great sale going on somewhere, and, more importantly, AmLaw 100 firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP has released their 2013 Litigation Trends Survey Report.

As legal marketers, we often coach attorneys to learn about what keeps clients up at night so that we can provide relevant, appropriate solutions and strategies. For the past nine years, Fulbright has gone straight to the in-house counsel’s mouth for this information.  For the 2013 edition, the firm surveyed 392 in-house counsel to gather data on a wide range of topics, including alternative fee arrangements, hiring, matter management, legal spend and extensive practice-specific findings.

We’ll be posting more about the survey data throughout the coming week, but check out what publications such as Law360 (including IP, Labor, Employment and Securities–specific analysis), Corporate Counsel and Law.com are saying about the survey’s findings. Fulbright’s press release and survey summary can be found here, and you can download the complete survey from Fulbright’s website.

A few initial thoughts:

We’re definitely including the Litigation Trends Report in our list of FreeSources.

The survey findings are a great resource for attorneys and legal marketers. Staying on top of legal trends is a key competency for legal marketers, and one of the best ways to show value. If you dig into the data just a little, I’ll bet you’ll find something that will affect or influence your firm’s business plan for the coming years.

What a great business development tool for Fulbright & Jaworski! The firm’s name is at the top of the call list for every legal industry publication this morning, and I’d be interested to see an analysis of the increase in traffic to the firm’s site. I’m not a client (or a lawyer) and I found myself wandering around Fulbright’s website for a few minutes after downloading the survey.

The survey of in-house counsel, which Fulbright has conducted for the past nine years, shows amazing thought leadership. Imagine that you’re an in-house attorney at a major company – when you think of a firm that “gets” what you’re looking for, why not go to the firm that literally wrote the book (report) on it?

Not only is the survey itself impressive, but the follow-up is equally impressive. Fulbright captured my information when I downloaded the survey, and immediately sent an email with links to their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages, inviting me to join the conversation about the survey. In marketing-speak, I appreciate their multi-platform approach to leveraging their hard work…in regular person-speak, WOW.

We hope you’ll join us – and Fulbright – as we discuss the survey findings and what they mean for legal marketers. In the meantime, we’d love for you to share how you’ll use the survey findings.

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FreeSources: How to Become a Legal Industry Trend Expert

You’ve heard of Cool Hunters, right? They’re market researchers who (according to Wikipedia) “make observations and predictions in changes of new or existing cultural trends.” In other words, they get paid to hang out with teenagers to find out what band/trend/color/fashion will be the “next big thing”…so that their clients (often companies with operations around the world) can jump on the bandwagon and up their “cool factor”. As much fun as it would be to be a Cool Huntee, legal marketers are more like the law firm equivalent of Cool Hunters – charged with keeping up with the latest industry trends, upcoming hot-button issues, new tools and legal news so that our clients (often attorneys with licenses to practice across the U.S.) can anticipate the latest trends, and leverage that information for business development purposes.

As we discussed in our previous FreeSources post, keeping up with the latest industry trends, jargon and news can be a challenge. Not every firm has the resources to send their marketers to conferences or high-priced webinars, and not every legal marketer has the time to attend them. Fortunately for us, many leaders in the legal industry analysis and trend forecasting field make their information available for free. Some of our favorite resources for keeping up with legal industry trends – without a hefty pricetag – are described below.

Altman Weil
Altman Weil is a leading management consulting services firm that works exclusively with legal organizations. In addition to providing services to individual law firms, Altman Weil regularly conducts surveys on industry trends. The results of those surveys are available on their website…you guessed it, for free.

Recently, Altman Weil published the results of their 2012 Chief Legal Officer Survey, which found that in-house counsel “are re-negotiating outside counsel fees, shifting work to lower-priced law firms, increasing in-house capacity, opting for alternative service providers and using new technology — all to develop a more cost-effective legal services model.” It’s not a surprise that alternative fee arrangements and cost reduction are top-of-mind for in-house counsel, but the CLO Survey (and many others conducted by Altman Weil) provide specific details and comments from survey respondents. Still not convinced? Check out Altman Weil’s Resources page, where you can find links to blogs, past studies, whitepapers and articles.

Association of Corporate Counsel
What’s that saying about going straight to the horse’s mouth? The Association of Corporate Counsel website is the perfect example. Think of a visit to this site as the online equivalent to eavesdropping with permission! Although some sections of the website are accessible only to ACC members, a wealth of information is available to site visitors.

We recommend checking out the site’s Legal Resources section, the free articles and reference documents, and the Value Challenge section. Recently, our most-visited page on the ACC site has been the ACC’s 2013 Chief Legal Officers (CLO) Survey, which asked more than 1,400 CLOs about their top concerns “for the past 12 months, today, and into the future, and a prioritization of their business issues.”

We try not to play favorites, but we can’t deny our crush on Lawyerist. Written by lawyers, former lawyers and two non-lawyers (because, as they say “lawyers don’t know everything”), Lawyerist keeps up with and stays ahead of the latest news in law practice. The site isn’t geared exclusively to lawyers or marketers, and offers readers different (but always intelligent) points of view.

We’re huge fans of their posts on marketing, insight into Alternative Fee Arrangements and the interactive LAB, a message board for readers to share ideas and ask questions.

We’ve saved the best for last! Who better understands the type of information that legal marketers need than other legal marketers? Who knows more about emerging products and tools than the leading vendors and early adopters?

LMA is an amazing resource for legal marketers, offering insight and guidance on the most pressing issues facing the industry. If you haven’t taken a spin around the website lately, check out the revamped bulletin board features, regular intelligence briefings and the great work being done by chapters throughout the U.S.


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