Tuesday, May 10, 2011

While you were sleeping, redux. The world keeps getting smaller.

The rapid march of BigLaw globalization continues. Most of the activity is, understandably, focused on China, the "fastest growing legal market in the world."
What are you waiting for?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Go West, young man. And East. And North. And South.

What's BigLaw doing in this "down" economy? Getting bigger. Looking for opportunities to add greater value. Opening offices, merging, forming alliances. Gobalizing:
What do these firms (and others) know that you don't? They read the same news, see the same signs, talk to the same clients and bankers and accountants. Are they getting secret information? Playing insider baseball? Or are they just taking a longer-term view of the crisis, the evolution of the global practice of law, the opportunities to survive and succeed in what promises to be a radically different future?

Maybe it's time you started looking beyond your borders. Go west, east, north and south. It's a big world, full of big opportunities.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Are you talking the talk? Walking the walk?

Hong KongOr just sitting at home, watching the world go by from the comfort of your office? When was the last time you traveled outside the country? What languages do you speak? Can you carry on a conversation in a foreign tongue? Have you ever tried? Can you find your way through a crowded Japanese city, negotiate a contract in Columbia, interview a client in Paris? In Japanese, Spanish or French?

On a flight to Asia a few years ago, I struck up a conversation with my seat-mate. Like me, he spent a lot of time on planes and as often happens, our conversation turned to the mileage elite threshold of our favorite airline. I told him that I'd made the 100,000-mile mark over the past two years, but I didn't think I'd reach it for a third year in a row. He told me he already had. It was February.

The world keeps getting smaller. Clients, from corporate executives circling the globe to retirees on vacation to entrepreneurs looking for ideas, are spending more and more time outside the United States. They're seeing the world through different eyes, discovering unknown cultures and traditions, meeting new people and eating new foods and getting new ideas about the way things are done. Shouldn't you be doing the same?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Have you made your resolutions for the New Year?

I was interviewed Friday by Chelsey Lambert at Total Attorneys for their Total Expert Radio broadcasts. I'm not used to sitting on the interviewee side of the table, and it was a lot of fun. Chelsey did a great job keeping me on topic. Thanks too to Kevin Chern and Kate Battle, who made the interview possible.

Chelsey and I talk about new year's resolutions for lawyers in three areas: growing their business, communicating their message, and managing their practice. We cover a lot of ground, especially with respect to business development, communications and practice management trends in 2010 and how those trends will translate into 2011. You can listen to the interview below, but if you don't have time right now, here's the summary of my new year's resolutions for lawyers and law firms:

Growing your business
  1. Make a plan, a road map, that contemplates what you want to achieve in your practice, the people that will help you get there, and they ways in which you are going to connect with those people.
  2. Set priorities. Time is not unlimited. Decide what's most important, and focus your efforts on that. And don’t make grandiose projects that will never come to fruition. Baby steps are fine.
  3. Talk to your clients more. Go through the list of your clients, not just the ones easy to talk to, and start connecting with them. Talk about service, about value, about their problems, about solutions.
Communicating your message
  1. Revamp your marketing materials. Practice descriptions, biographies, boilerplates, etc. They get stale quickly. Try to tell more -- and more meaningful -- stories.
  2. Write where your clients read. If they read blogs, write a blog. If they read trade publications, do what you can to publish in the trades. How do you find out what they read? Ask them.
  3. Draft a communications plan but don't get hung up on the process. Write down what you want to say, who you want to say it to, what you want to achieve from saying it, and where you should say it.
Managing your practice
  1. Set objectives for your practice beyond just practicing law. If you don’t plan your route you may end up somewhere you don’t want to be.
  2. Embrace alternative billing. Develop some meaningful alternatives to the billable hour that you can offer clients without hesitation.
  3. Explore new technology. Cloud computing, client extranets, mobile technologies, etc. Figure out how you can use technology to provide better service, and start doing it. 

Listen to internet radio with Total Attorneys on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Best wishes to all for a healthy and happy 2011!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 ABA Journal Blawg 100

The nominees for the 2010 ABA Journal Blawg 100 have been released, and for the second year in a row, my lawyer interview blog 22 Tweets was included on the list of the best legal blogs as selected by the editors of the ABA Journal. It's a great honor for me to have 22 Tweets listed alongside so many law blogs that inspire, educate, inform and amuse me every day, but the real credit goes to each and every one of the nearly 90 lawyers who have allowed me to interview them over the past year and a half.

22 Tweets was nominated in the category of "Legal Biz," up against such powerhouses as Adam Smith, Esq, What About Clients?, The Client Revolution, Law21.ca and several other blogs that I read just about every day. I never imagined competing against them in a popularity contest, and don't imagine I'll end up at the top of the heap come December 30, but that won't stop me from seeking your vote for 22 Tweets. You can do it here (you'll need to go through a relatively painless registration process to register before voting). You get 12 votes, one for each category--though you don't have to use them that way--but I'll warn you in advance: you will have a hard time narrowing your list down to 12 blawgs. Really.

So get out there and rock the vote. We're all counting on you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is it time for a marketing tune-up?

The market appears to be picking up. Clients are getting back to work. New opportunities can’t be far behind. What are you doing to find them? To make sure they show up on your radar? To put yourself in a position to see those opportunities that do present themselves, and to land the work when you pitch for it? Maybe it’s time for a marketing tune-up.

Just like you regularly perform maintenance on your car, you need to perform regular maintenance on your marketing efforts, objectives and plans. You need to modify them to reflect the constant evolution of your practice, your client base, your experience and your network. And as you do that, you should keep in mind some basic notions:

  • Planning is everything. Know where you want to go? How to get there? What it looks like when you’ve arrived? You need a plan. Not a complicated one that accounts for every contingency and takes two or three or six weeks of reflection and drafting and editing. It does have to set goals, realistic, achievable, measurable goals. It does have to understand the clients you want, the work they need, and your ability to perform that work. Plan your route so you don’t end up someplace you don’t want to be.

  • You’re not out to change the world. Yes, you need a plan of action, but you don’t need to change the world, to solve every problem, to cure cancer on your first try. You just need a road map to start. You can build the atlas as you go along. And you can always change your mind when an idea doesn’t work or a potential client doesn’t pan out or a deal falls through. Just don’t get hung up on making it perfect, because that will get in the way of making it in the first place.

  • Focus on opportunities. It’s easy to spend time picking apart ideas, looking at what won’t work, what you can’t do, what you’ll never be able to achieve. But that won’t get you anywhere. Spend your time looking at what you CAN do, not what you can’t. Isolate the opportunities—true opportunities, ones measured in terms of probability not possibility—and the steps needed to realize them. You’ll solve the real problems when you get to them.

  • Be realistic. It’s only an opportunity if you could realistically get the work and do the job better than your competition. If you can convince your client that it makes sense—for them, not just for you—to give you a new assignment. If your experience allows you to tell a credible story, a story that convinces someone who doesn’t know you that they should trust you with the future of their company. If you can’t do that, then you’re probably not going to get the work, and you shouldn’t waste your time chasing it.

  • Don’t neglect your existing clients. Relationships are relationships, and those with clients require the same amount of work as those with potential clients. Providing good legal advice, answering questions, dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s isn’t enough. Anticipating client needs, addressing their concerns, understanding their objectives, communicating early and often are essential to maintaining the types of relationships that will not only keep clients coming back, but lead to increased referrals.

  • Don’t forget your homework. Think you know what your clients need? The services they’re looking for? The business problems they’re struggling to solve? Do your research. Read what your clients are saying. What the press is saying about them. What their competitors are doing, what’s going on in their industry, where the growth is in their markets. If you can, talk to your clients about their business, their industry, their competition, their challenges, and most of all how they define success and how well they are achieving it.

  • Execution is everything. You’ve set your objectives. You’ve identified realistic opportunities. You know where you want to go and what you need to do. But a plan is only the beginning. To generate results, you need to execute with discipline, follow-through and flexibility. Sound easy? It really isn’t. If it were, everybody would be doing it already. The part that drives success is execution, and it takes time, commitment and hard work.

As the economy improves and opportunities increase, there’s no time like the present to review your marketing efforts, rethink your marketing objectives and tune-up your marketing plans. You’ll be glad you did.


This post was first published on Construction Law Musings, July 9, 2010

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