Chicago's Sachnoff & Weaver just published its always-superb annual review. Copies of 10 years of reviews are viewable online. The impressive 47-page, 2005 glossy brochure recounts 21 major client stories, followed by bullet points of other cases in the same practice area. (Click on the picture at the right to see it full-size.) The review by the 140-lawyer Chicago firm hits the mark in several ways:
Client testimonials are interspersed with the success stories. For example, Earl Mankin, President of Geneva International Corporation, is quoted saying "What I value most about my relationship with Sachnoff's attorneys is the deep interest they've taken in my business." Illustrated with oil-painting pictures, the review also quotes clients Debra Koenig, CEO of VICORP Restaurants, Joel Solomon, GC of Corus Bank, Mark Rogers, Corporate Counsel of Insight Enterprises ("I knew that Sachnoff was a definite keeper"), Jill Murphy, Associate GC of Aegon USA ("Sachnoff has the depth of talent you'd expect from a large, multi-office organization") and Noel Elfant, GC of Zebra Technologies Corp. Wow -- it doesn't get better than this.
"Happy Talk" is kept to a minimum. The intro page from the CEO and President is restrained to one page and runs an amazingly concise 244 words. This is a model for law firms everywhere!
The headline also summarizes the success story, which is the zenith of succinctness.
Color pictures jump off the page, enlivening the stories about battles over wheat beer and copper mining.
The annual report can serve as the firm brochure. There's just no need to say anything else.
Kudos, once again, to marketing wizard Dean Harakas, the firm's Vice President-Client Services and Strategic Planning.
It finally happened: a law firm has been sued for failing to update their Web site.
Robert Murphy, an attorney who used to practice with Del Sole & Del Sole in New Haven, sued his former employer for failing for nearly a year to remove his name from their Web site after he left, according to news articles.
Murphy started his own firm, Berlin Law Offices, in Berlin, CT, and asked his former employer to remove his name. They didn't respond and kept his name online. Murphy sued, charging that having his name on the Del Sole site was confusing to prospective clients and directed them away from his new solo practice.
"Although it might be a pain for law firms to keep their Web sites up to date, they absolutely need to do so if outdated content is confusing or deceiving consumers," said lawyer Henry Jacobs, who represents Murphy and specializes in Internet law.
Law firm Web sites are the single most effective marketing tool employed by corporate, transactional and defense firms, according to a just-released national survey by Alyn-Weiss & Associates, Inc. of Denver, CO
Robert A. Weiss, President of Alyn-Weiss & Associates made the announcement on the LawMarketing Listserv. The survey also revealed a growing number of business law firms employ formalized search engine marketing to obtain case inquiries from the Internet.
For the past 20 years, every national survey of business and defense firms had ranked seminars and presentations/speeches as the most effective business development tactic a business and commercial litigation law firm could employ. However, the 2006 reveals that 82 percent of the 119 responding firms had “received work directly or by referral during the past 24 months,” from their Web site. That’s up from 51 percent of firms in 2004 -- a huge leap reflecting the power and pervasiveness of the Internet on traditional legal services purchase patterns. No firm reported using search engine marketing techniques in the 2004 survey, but 20 percent said they did in 2006.
"Follow-up calls to firms confirmed that most of the 20 percent of responding firms who had employed formal search engine marketing techniques -- key phrase optimization, geotargeting and click-through campaigns -- had received a steady flow of case inquiries," said Weiss.
Seminars and presentations slipped to second on the list of most effective marketing tactics. Fifty-five percent of firms reported receiving work directly or by referral from those efforts, which is down from 77 percent in 2004.
Trade and community group participation came in third with 47 percent of firms, the same as in 2004, reporting they obtained work that way.
Participating firms filled out detailed questionnaires concerning their marketing efforts and expenses. The questionnaires were developed with input from a panel of law firm marketing directors and legal administrators. Returns were received from December 2005 to January 2006.
It was the end of a long program on sales at the ALA convention in Montreal. Then Alvidas Jasin – Director of Business Development for Thomson Hine, with 370 lawyers in Cleveland and 7 other offices, brought the audience to their feet with a karate chop -- literally.
He handed out sections of half-inch thick pine to about 100 audience members, young and old, strong and feeble. "You are going to go back to your firm and tell them you can break a board with your bare hand," he said. The stunt was to demonstrate how to overcome obstacles: don't focus on the obstruction, instead look past it to see the solution.
Attendees were shown a PowerPoint slide on how to make a fist properly, how to position your feet, and how to make the "hammer strike."
Similarly, he told the audience to whack the boards with their fists, yell out "Kia!" and aim for a point two inches beneath the board. Each person picked a partner to kneel and hold the board firmly. After a few practice swings, the room yelled "Kia!" and boards everywhere split in two.
As an emergency service person stood in the back of the room -- just in case -- each person switched places and let their partners shatter their board. It was a real confidence builder and it didn't hurt at all.
Jasin, whose career includes Ernst & Young, KPMG and CBIZ, has been staging this stunt at conference all over the country. It really jazzes up a presentation, and hammers his point home.
I remember when I graduated from law school -- I had a deep knowledge of appellate court opinions, but no practical skills at all. They don't teach how to file a motion or how to build a practice. But here's some good news:
The University of Miami has launched a certificate program of "Marketing For Lawyers: Developing and Maintaining Client Relationships" beginning this month. Tom Kane of Sarasota, FL, will be the lead instructor for this course offering what will be quarterly course.
It will be run out of the Division of Continuing and Professional Education, and specifically the Office of Professional Advancement of the University of Miami.
The initial course (limited to 20 participants) will be: May 18-20, 2006.
Course topics include:
• Tools and techniques of marketing • Effective marketing strategies • Short-term marketing winners • Ethical considerations • Law firm Web site and Internet presence • Building lasting client relationships • Marketing planning workshop - participants will leave the course with a working draft of a marketing plan developed for immediate implementation.
Does your firm have a marketing strategy? If so, you're pretty rare. And if you do, it probably isn't being carried out, according to Michael E. Nagel, VP of the Balanced Scorecard Collaborative in Lincoln, MA. "Only 10% of all strategies ever get executed," he said at the Association of Legal Administrators conference in Montreal.
·95% of the typical workforce does not understand the strategy.
·60% of organizations do not link budgets to strategy.
·70% of organizations do not link middle management incentives to strategy.
·85% of executive teams spend less than one hour per month discussing strategy.
However, many companies have figured out the solution, including DuPont, Mobil, GTE, Canon, Siemens, Chrysler, BMW, Mellon Bank, Ricoh and Hilton.
1. Start at the top: mobilize change through executive leadership.
2. Translate change into operational terms: set targets and measure progress.
3. Align IT, HR, the finance department and the management committee to support the strategy.
4. Motivate the workforce to make strategy everybody's job.
5. Govern to make strategy a continual process, hold strategic review meetings, review performance based on supporting the strategy, put a budget behind the strategy and share the results.
I have to admit, it all sounded good, and if I were the Czar of the firm, I could issue an edict to make it so. Or else I could hire a platoon of consultants, get everybody to read the books they wrote and get the firm leaders to understand their incredibly complex charts like this one here.
But that's for firms with a bigger budget than mine.
John Moore, who was formerly in marketing at Starbucks Coffee and Whole Foods Market, makes a great point in his blog post, Get Bigger by Acting Smaller on MarketProfs.com.
"When small businesses dream, they usually dream of becoming a bigger business. When you think about it, nearly every big business began as a small business. Nike's first sale came from the trunk of a car. Dell shipped its first custom-built computer from a college dorm room. And Starbucks began as a mom and pop coffee shop.
However, a bigger business doesn't always equate to being a better business. At some point, big becomes bad. Big becomes a matter of being convenient rather than unique (McDonald's). Big becomes a game of market share rather than customer care (Wal-Mart). Big becomes ubiquitous (Microsoft).
It seems that by the time a small business gets big, it's time for it to act small again." He offers five "Jumbo Shrimp Marketing Rules:"
Rule #1. Be the Best, Not the Biggest
Rule #2. Love Your Business
Rule #3. Passion Attracts Passion
Rule #4. Treat your employees as family
Rule #5. Redefine Success (define success by the impact you are having on the lives of customers).
Creating a potential gold mine for law firms, an ethics ruling in New Jersey now allows a law firm to own another law firm as a wholly-owned subsidiary. This is groundbreaking news, because up to now, a law firm could only own another business, like a consulting firm, as an ancillary business.
“We…conclude that a professional corporation covered by Rule 1:21-1A may form a subsidiary to provide legal services and that such a subsidiary may be organized as either a professional corporation or a limited liability company,” the opinion states.
• Law firms can buy and sell other law firms as investments. • Law firms can hire a pinpoint boutique to handle a spike in client demand, and then sell it off or shut it down when the demand falls off. The owner firm wouldn’t have to fire any of its own staff, as happened when the technology bubble burst. • The owner law firm can acquire a smaller firm without having to charge big-firm rates or pay big-firm salaries. A large firm could own, for example, an insurance defense firm, pay the lawyers bottom dollar, and be able to bill out at $100 an hour. This means big law firms won’t leave money on the table. • Owner law firms can acquire less glamorous practices, like collection law firms (which are very profitable and make a 40% commission on debts collected) without having to sully its own reputation. This can be very handy when the big firm has a bank as a client, and is happy to do its securities and acquisition work, but doesn’t want to foreclose on mortgages. It makes the owner law firm a full-service firm. • Big firms can get into profitable areas they won’t touch now – like matrimonial law and plaintiff’s personal injury law – without having to have their own lawyers do the work. Of course, the subsidiary PI firm would be conflicted out of suing clients of its owner. • Law firms can market themselves like General Motors, and have separately branded divisions, like Cadillac, Chevrolet, Pontiac and Buick. • Or, law firms can market themselves like General Mills, with individual brands like Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant and Häagen-Dazs.
The ruling came down April 27, 2006 as a joint opinion: Opinion 704 of the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics and Opinion 37 of the Committee on Attorney Advertising of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
The opinion states that the parent law firm can reap the net profits of its subsidiary, but “the ownership/subsidiary relationship be disclosed in all subsidiary advertising and marketing materials.”
One or more of the parent law firm’s shareholders and associates must direct and handle the operations of the subsidiary; this is a role that cannot be served by a non-lawyer. “The central goal of that prohibition is to keep the rendition of legal services from being under the control and direction of nonlawyers,” the opinion states.
“The Subsidiary must include the names of one or more of the attorneys who are principally responsible for the legal services provided by the Subsidiary. Nevertheless, we conclude that to ensure clear disclosure, the name of the Subsidiary also must contain the following phrase beneath or next to the Subsidiary’s name “a subsidiary of X law firm.”
This opinion illustrates the trend among law firms to behave more like business corporations. Of course, it’s an ethics opinion that applies to only one state. However, New Jersey is a bellwether, and I see other states adopting a similar approach soon.
BTI recently interviewed more than 100 law firm CMOs and Directors of Marketing about marketing budgets and ROI, as well as goals, best practices and management tools. This research will be published in June. Following are the key results:
Overall marketing budgets rose slightly in the past year, landing at 2.2% to 2.5% of firm gross revenue, depending on firm size (up from 1.9% to 2.1% in 2005)
At a typical law firm , the largest budget category is Salaries at 23.8%.
Salaries are followed by:
Business Development 23.5%
Marketing Communications 13.7%
Seminars and Events 12.1%
Public Relations 8.0%
The remainder of the marketing budget goes to a variety of firm-specific activities.
I picked up intelligence today that law firm administrators are getting upset about the salaries that some law firm marketers are getting. They're ticked off that the CMO is making as much or more money that they are, as well as more than the IT or HR director.
According to a 2005 survey by Abbott, Langer & Associates, Inc., Legal Administrators earn a median total income of $73,758, with a mean total income of $81,037; 10% of this group makes under $38,440, and 10% make over $141,744. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Administrator/Office manager is paid the following:
$78,500 -- 123,250
$76,500 -- 115,750
$61,000 -- 93,250
$58,000 -- 87,500
$49,500 -- 76,000
$47,250 -- 69,750
$42,250 -- 57,500
$40,000 -- 55,250
It's an interesting sore spot, because in many occasions, the administrator is the boss of the marketing director. The CMO, however, reports to the partners or the management committee.
Compare the administrator salaries with some of the marketing job openings advertised so far this year:
Director of Marketing/Client Services - Baton Rouge, Louisiana - $100,000 to $150,000
Director of Business Development and Marketing -- Miami, FL -- $100,000 - 120,000
Director of Business Development and Marketing -- Minneapolis, MN -- $120,000 - 140,000
Marketing Director -- Tampa Office - $80,000 - $100,000
This, of course, is NOTHING compared to the 1,600-lawyer Chicago law firm that paid its ex-Texas CMO $400,000 per year, or the 1,000-lawyer New York firm that allegedly paid its ex-California CMO $600,000.
The administrators are beefing that the marketing salaries are knocking their firm salary structures out of whack, because of the high demand for law firm marketing with 5 years of experience or more.
The is GREAT news for the marketers, because it means they've worked their way out of the "overhead" category in law firms. The marketers are able to say, "If you invest $5 with my plan, you'll get $20 back. I can prove return on investment."
It's a simple case of supply in demand, in my view -- you hire a marketer, your firm earns more revenue
How do you market a tax practice? The answers came from LawMarketing Listserv members Vickie J. Gray, Larry Bodine, Jaffer Manek, Hale T. Chan, Ross Fishman and Mark Merenda. Among the ideas raised were:
You're dealing with tax-nerds. "Spoon feed them your ideas a little bit at a time. Leave the big picture behind and focus on the steps involved to accomplish what you are proposing. Follow up faithfully. Keep your expectations small - baby steps," said Vickie Gray.
Decision makers at Fortune 1000 corporations are usually tax directors or financial officers. The best place to find these folks is through TEI (Tax Executives' Institute). Though lawyers in private practice cannot join TEI they of course have conferences and meetings with numerous social and sponsorship opportunities that give you a chance to get in front of their members.
New business for a tax practice is going to come from referrals and cross selling.The partners in the practice need to develop a network of bankers, financial advisors, insurance agents and other lawyers who can refer tax legal work to them.
Firm management must make it mandatory or create an incentive for the internal partners to introduce tax partners to their clients.The same onus/incentive must be placed on the tax partners.
Cross-selling is never going to work unless the firm's culture and compensation system both DIRECTLY AND STRONGLY support it.
The firm's culture and compensation must also hold lawyers ACCOUNTABLE for cross selling.First, lawyers need to write out personal marketing plans where they specify exactly what cross-selling activity they propose.Then the compensation committee must deny them a bonus or cut their income for failure to carry out the plan.
Law firms are creating client service teams to protect, preserve and expand the business relationships, according to marketer Iris Jones, Esq., Client Services Advisor at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington Teams add tremendous value to the client by providing better service, better anticipation of the needs, ability to be proactive in service delivery and better communication internally and externally.
Highly successful client service teams:
·Fully understand the client’s business
·Regularly communicate with the team
·Share timely competitive and business intelligence
I was shocked to read this new statistic from BTI Consulting in Boston in a new article "The Declining Client Satisfaction Antidote" on the LawMarketing Portal.
"Low client satisfaction plagues today’s legal industry. Client satisfaction rates among the Fortune 1000 plummeted by nearly 15 percentage points during last year. Local and regional markets fared little better," says Marcie L. Borgal, Senior Strategic Analyst at The BTI Consulting Group.
What's the problem? She says three critical law firm behaviors underlie falling client satisfaction according to clients:
Not keeping up with changing client needs
Doing a poor job of articulating and delivering value
In 2006 there will be 22,000 billion emails messages sent, up from 19,000 billion law year, according to the April 4 Financial Times. It’s a crushing load.I could easily spend an entire workday doing nothing but answering emails.But there’s good news:
The growth in spam is slowing.
Most business have effective enough email filtering technologies.
Companies like America Online offer a Goodmail System, which charges the sender to guarantee delivery to the mailbox of a recipient, who has agreed in advance to accept the email.
Technologies like instant messages and wikis (web sites that anyone can edit) will draw users away from email, so fewer messages will be sent.
E-mail was never meant to be a collaboration tool, for which it now is overly used.Blackberry-addicted executives are using email for online negotiations and scheduling, ultimately reducing efficiency and increasing stress.Business people phone each other less and turn to the less-efficient and less personal alternative of email.
There are two ways out of the email overload, according to the FT:
1. Younger people who grew up with instant messaging are bringing its use to the workplace.Three or four quick IMs can instantly replace email messages that get bogged down in the crush of messages or falsely snagged by spam filters.
2. Wikis (which are like a Word document online) are becoming popular for collaborating on documents, according the FT, especially for things like meeting agendas and project reports.“Wikis help managers and executives keep in touch with projects without getting CC-ed to death,” the FT said on page 1 of its April 12 Digital Business section.
Open Text, which sells wiki software, says wikis consistently reduce email volume by about one-third, by capturing content and storing it online.High-tech companies like Google and even conservative institutions like the Dresdner Kleinword Wassterein investment banks are using wikis.In fact, traffic on the DKW wiki exceeds that on the entire DKW intranet.
Finally there may one day be a return to the ancient technology of “voice messaging.”This is when you pick up a phone and actually talk to someone. Can “in person messaging” be far behind?
I won't be posting from April 4-20 because I'll be out of the country and on the road. First I have to fly to Munich, Germany, to help my favorite aunt into a nursing home. Then I return to Tucson and start packing for the drive back from Tucson to Illinois. I'll be back in my office in the Prairie State on April 21.
"If you flip through successive issues of any trade publication, you’ll often see the same smaller half, quarter, and one-eighth page ads repeating every single month," he says.
"This is often a telltale sign these fractional-space ads are paying their own way by generating solid sales leads for their advertisers, where larger, prettier, full-page ads in the same pubs often appear and disappear like footprints along the beach," he says.
In fact, some fractional ads have become legendary for their pulling power and longevity. According to top ad executive Fred Poppe, the late co-founder of Poppe Tyson, an ad displaying gears and wheels for Downs Crane and Hoist ran in trade publications for 35 years, outpulling the average ad in these publications by 50%.
Just about any type of service can be advertised effectively in a smaller page size. Plus -- fractional ads are cheaper!
The average marketer spent 12% of his or her search budget on search engine optimization (SEO) last year. That's the art of tweaking your company's Web site so search engine spiders are more likely to notice it, and give you great organic rankings. (Organic are the results you don't pay anything for.)
On the other hand, the average marketer spent 88% of his or her search marketing budget on paid search ads.
Marketing expert Mike Cummings profiles a lawyer on The LawMarketing Portal who started out running a three-person law firm out of his home, and today practices with a major firm representing over 10% of the cases on the Supreme Court docket. From his earliest days as an associate, lawyer Thomas Goldstein marketed himself to become an industry leading Supreme Court practitioner.
"Attorneys must realize that marketing, selling and relationship management are now essential skills that they need to develop to succeed in today's legal profession. If you master these skills, you can choose the clients that you want to work with, do the kind of work that you desire and control your own career success," Mike writes.
To read how a goal-oriented lawyer marketed his way to making his dream come true, read "Taking a Shortcut to the Top of the Profession" at www.lawmarketing.com
Law Firm leaders are invited to take The Law Firm Business Model Survey, a pioneering benchmarking survey currently being conducted by marketing consultant John Remsen and Juris, Inc., makers of law firm business software.
The survey’s objective is to provide law firm managing partners and administrators standardized industry benchmarks from a broad sample of US law firms. Participating firms will get a complimentary copy of the completed survey report, plus your own customized Law Firm Business Model. With this information you will be able to compare your firm’s performance against broad industry benchmarks and gain invaluable intelligence regarding billing rates, leverage and other key financial and profitability data.
To participate in The Law Firm Business Model Survey, click here and you will be directed to the confidential online survey questionnaire. It should take you or your firm administrator about 15-20 minutes to complete. The deadline is March 31, 2006.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Jay Hennessy, Juris’ Vice President of Business Development, at 615.850.2403. Juris is a sponsor of The Managing Partner Forums, held throughout Georgia, Florida and Texas.