Heather Morse began her career in legal marketing in 1998, after spending 10 years working with non-profit and member service organizations. In May 2008, Heather launched The Legal Watercooler, a blog dedicated to the conversations surrounding the business of law.
But that’s not the only reason I’ve been radio silent. I had a situation happen where my trust was breached, and I was hurt. Nothing “bad” happened, but I was left feeling vulnerable and retreated, and that kicked in some writers block that I haven’t experienced since college.
I tried writing, and it stalled. I just couldn’t go “there” and be free in my thoughts, and open to what it was I wanted to convey. If I can’t be authentic, I just can’t write. For me, writing is cathartic, free-flowing, and insightful. It is as much for me–allowing me to clarify my thoughts and positions–as it is for the reader.
And then I stumbled upon Brené Brown. Or, better yet, every other post in my Facebook feed seemed to be about her.
Apparently she’s been around for a while, but I had never seen the TED Talk, the Oprah Postcasts (parts 1 and 2), or read her books. But she quickly had me with “daring greatly,” and so here I am. Writing.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
“Citizenship In A Republic,” (Paris, France on April 23, 1910)
Listening to Brené, reading her books, watching her talks, I’m finding the need to tap into my vulnerability again. I need to brush off my hurt, kiss my boo-boos, pick up the pieces of my authentic self, and move on stronger than ever.
My before and after quotes
Which brings me to two quotes that have changed me, providing me my before and after:
I don’t know if this quote originated in the book, or if John Lennon said it first, or if it truly just belongs to anonymous. What I do know is that when I was watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and this line was spoken, it took my breath away. I even rewound the movie a couple times to really absorb it.
I got it. Intuitively. Instinctively. This quote touched me and I felt something shift inside me in that moment.
To this day, when I am having one of those “between” moments in my life–when things aren’t working the way I want them to work; if I am uncomfortable, or out of sorts–rather than doubling down on my misery, leading to depression, I remind myself that “if it’s not alright, it’s not the end,” and I just keep trudging along until it is alright. And it always is, at some point.
I was 23 and my life was a wreck. It had been a wreck for quite some time, but my structure of college was now gone, having just earned my degree, and I was spending too much time with Luke, Laura, and a bottle.
When I first heard the phrase “pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization” my heart dropped because I knew deep to my core what that meant. No one had to explain it to me or provide me examples. No one had to convince me that it applied to me too. I knew that these people knew what was wrong with me, and I became willing to believe that they had a solution that was right, for me.
When the times come, as they always do, and things in my life are not quite right, when my center is off-center, when my head is at its loudest, this quote is always louder. And so I have not had a drink or other mind-altering chemical since August 3, 1988.
What’s your quote?
We all have a quote. The one that we pull out to pull ourselves or someone else up by the bootstraps. The one that resets our engines. The one that hits us in the feels.
You don’t have to share your quote with me (although I welcome you to do so in the comments), or print it out and pin it to your bulletin board, but you should know it, intuitively, instinctively, authentically.
I am of the mindset that if I am complain about something I’d better be the first to raise my hand to volunteer. And while I have not complained about access to justice, I do complain about how the business of law just isn’t getting it right, especially where legal professionals are concerned.
The task, in and of itself, is challenging Rules 5.4 (fee sharing) and 5.5 (unlicensed practice of law) of the code of professional conduct, which will not only impact the delivery of legal services through technology companies, but will impact law firms by opening up fee sharing, and perhaps in time, the actual ability for legal professionals to take an ownership stake in law firms.
You see, no matter how much we legal professionals try, there is only so much we can do without that ownership stake. Our seats at the table are warm, but when push comes to shove, we don’t have the vote. And that is what keeps most law firms from innovating.
Moving the Chains
Just like in football, progress is all about progress. I don’t expect to walk away from this task force having solved all the problems associated with access to justice. But if we can move the ball, just far enough, we can get that next down, setting us up for our next play.
There’s more work to do, and it’s wrapped up in lots of old thoughts and assumptions. We’re chipping away at it via this task force, and others working on diversity and inclusion. Yes, They are related.
Today’s ATILS agenda, along with links to the recommendations, can be found here and when the meeting starts, you should have video access here. You can also get updates on Twitter via #ATILS.
Recommendation: Retain California’s case law definition of the practice of law and do not seek to “codify” it in a rule or statute
Recommendation: Add an exception to the prohibitions against the unauthorized practice of law providing “safe harbor” that permits a (certified/registered/approved) entity to engage in practice of law activities using technology as the primary delivery system
Recommendation: If an entity is permitted to practice law using technology, then that entity should be required to provide adequate privacy protections similar to the protection afforded by the attorney-client privilege and a lawyer’s ethical duty of confidentiality
Consideration of report and rationale for recommendations
Overview of Regulation of Practicing Law in California
Definition of the Practice of Law in California
Restrictions on the Practice of Law in California by Persons or Entities Not Licensed by the State Bar of California
Task Force Recommendations regarding Regulation of Practicing Law in California
Regulation of Artificial Intelligence
Federal Law regarding Regulation of Artificial Intelligence
State Law regarding Regulation of Artificial Intelligence
Purposes Served by the Regulation of Artificial Intelligence
Additional open questions with respect to artificial intelligence and unauthorized practice of law or suggestions for additional recommendations
The Task Force is working its way towards the draft recommendations, which will be available for public comment during July and August, with the final recommendations going to the California Supreme Court by the end of the year.
My apologies for being radio silent on the blog for the past month or so. For those who follow me on LinkedIn or are Facebook friends, you know I’ve had a recent job change, which includes moving from Los Angeles to New Orleans in a very short frame of time.
Earlier this month I joined McGlinchey Stafford as their Chief Business Development Officer. It was one of those things that came together in a way that you have to admit, “This was meant to be.”
It’s a great little story, actually. The opportunity kept presenting itself to me in different ways, and from different people. It wasn’t until the fourth time that I took my own advice (via Kat Cole) and coached myself to “Just Say Yes!”
From the moment I said yes, everything fell into place quickly. And while it all happened faster than I had anticipated, the Sports Dude and I have found an incredible place to live; our condo is in escrow with a full-aspiration, off-market offer; my older child is looking at summer school classes at Loyola, which is walking distance from our new home; and, the firm has an Irvine office that I can work out of when I come out to visit my son and take in a school play.
What’s that song say again? Something about every new beginning starts with some other beginnings end? And that’s really what has happened. For me to say hello to the new opportunities in my life I have to say goodbye to other ones.
Semisonic - Closing Time - YouTube
Greenberg Glusker was a great opportunity for me, and we did some incredible things in my years there. What I’m most proud of is my team and the ability to leave knowing that they are fully capable of handling things without me.
I’ll stay till the wind changes,” Mary Poppins
As a marketer, it’s important for me to know when it’s time for me to leave, and time for someone else to take over. It’s also important to me in my tenure at any firm that I get my department in a position where it can operate seamlessly in my absence.
I’m sure there will be bumps along the way, but nothing my team can’t handle. Most importantly, the firm itself will benefit from the ideas, energy, and spirit a new CMO will bring. They are ready for someone else’s “hello.”
Sometimes You Get What You Need
My job, boiled down, is about creativity. I need to be able to see the challenges and the opportunities clearly, so that I can prepare the game plan and execute it.
Living in Los Angeles, I wasn’t thinking clearly. Read about all the reasons people are leaving LA, and add me to the list. I was stuck. I couldn’t upgrade, nor could I downgrade our home. The traffic left me feeling claustrophobic and stuck on the Westside. No doubt, I was in a rut.
I cannot convey to you the smile and energy that hit my face as I turned onto St. Charles Street and made my way to our new home just spitting distance from Audubon Park.
Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want" in 1969 [Reelin' In The Years Archives] - YouTube
“Won’t you miss you LA?” is a common response I’ve been getting from people when I broke the news of our move. To which I quickly reply, “I’ll miss the LA of 20 years ago.”
“But what about the Rams?” I’ve been asked. Well, turns out they’re playing the NFC South this year, so we’ll be road-tripping to Atlanta and Charlotte, amongst other cities, and, yes, coming back to LA for the Saints game.
“Well, you know it’s hot in New Orleans. And humid,” people keep reminding us. Yes. We know that. But living coastal my whole life, it’s pretty darn cold (“May gray” and “June gloom” ring any bells?), and I love hot summer nights. Oh, and there is this new invention they have in the South: central air conditioning. You should try it. I have it in my car, my office, and my house.
“But, but … the Sports Dude???” Yes, the Sports Dude. Turns out, they actually play sports in Louisiana, and he has some leads on some sports dude jobs, so fingers crossed that his “just say yes” comes together as quickly as mine.
“It is a different ‘culture,’ you know.” Hmmmm. Not sure what they mean by that, but if they’re talking about people who are polite, say hello while walking down the street, offer to help when my hands are full, and enjoy eating incredible food while listening to great music, I’m all in.
For the past few decades my mantra has been: “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find, you get what you need.” It’s held me in good stead, and kept me in a place of acceptance of my moment in time.
It hit me last weekend as I pulled up to a meeting of my spiritual fellowship in The Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans: My worlds have finally aligned and I’m not only getting what I want, but I’m getting what I need.
The issues of diversity and INCLUSION at law firms is not as complex as we want to make it. We’ve been talking and writing about this forever, but talking and writing isn’t action.
We have a pipeline problem that goes back to high school, and probably middle school, yeah, elementary school as well. What are YOU doing about that? What is your FIRM doing about that?
We have a pedigree bias problem. What are you and your firm doing about that?
We have an implicit bias problem. Have you taken the test? Do you understand YOUR implicit bias?
We have an interview process and procedure problem. Has your firm revamped and retrained HOW you interview?
We have an inclusion problem. Look around your firm. Who isn’t getting invited to (fill in the blank). What clusters are clustering together and why?
I’m reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. Throughout the book she talks about her experiences growing up and her education, about getting to Princeton and Harvard Law, and then to an AmLaw 100. And she talks about what it felt like there, in the ivory tower, when she’d go home each night to her home on the south side.
Flip to page 121 and start reading about her experience as part of the recruiting committee at the firm. Honestly, when reading this paragraph, she could be talking about ANY law firm:
Trying to help remedy the imbalance, I pushed for us to consider law students coming from other state schools and from historically black colleges like Howard University. When the recruiting team gathered in a conference room in Chicago with a pile of student resumes to review, I objected anytime a student was automatically dismissed for having a B on a transcript or for having gone to a less prestigious undergraduate program. If we were serious about bringing in minority lawyers, I asserted, we’d have to look more holistically at candidates. We’d need to think about how they’d used whatever opportunities life had afforded them rather than measure them simply by how far they’d made it up an elitist ladder. The point wasn’t to lower the firm’s high standards, It was to realize that by sticking with the most rigid and old school way of evaluating a new lawyer’s potential, we were overlooking all sorts of people who could contribute to the firm’s success. We need to interview more students, in other words, before writing them off.
We can do better than this. Think about all the law firms out there touting their diversity programs. They’ve hired Chief Diversity Officers. They are training and coaching and training and coaching, yet where are they on this chart? If they’re supposed to be the examples for the rest of us, what is it that we should be taking away from this?
We cannot do better if we’re not willing to look and get rid of what isn’t working. We KNOW diverse (and I’m not just talking diversity in color and gender, but ALL experiences) environments and groups produce better results. Yet law firms want what I like to call “diverse like us.” Meaning, different races, creeds, and colors, but with all the same pedigrees and bells and whistles, just like us. That’s NOT diversity.
Diversity and inclusion are not something that will naturally happen because we’re nice people, or because we want it, or because we know it’s the right thing to do.
Diversity and inclusion will ONLY happen by taking actions, challenging our way of thinking, and, yes, doing things a lot differently than we have been doing them to date.
Diversity and inclusion will not happen by concensus, but only through leadership. If you’re not on board, you’re part of the problem, and you need to go.
It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be uncomfortable. But we’re all good, nice people and we know it’s the right thing to do.
Technology changes the way we do things, and sometimes it’s really hard to let go of the way things have always been done. Add lawyers to the conversation–who have been trained that precedent is pretty much everything–and we have the next best thing since oil met water.
I want to introduce you to a term that you most likely have heard of, have an idea of what it is, and are most likely wrong. I know I was.
Access to Justice.
What pops into my mind are state appointed criminal defense attorneys. What I have discovered is that my concept of “access to justice” was really limited to the narrow definition.
Access to Justice means different things to different people. In its narrowest sense, it represents only the formal ability to appear in court. Broadly speaking, it engages the wider social context of our court system, and the systemic barriers faced by different members of the community.
The barriers to the legal system are immense. It can impact access to immigration assistance, landlord tenant disputes, divorces, child custody, wills and trusts, adoptions, elder care, transgender services, and a multitude of other civil matters, not to mention criminal defense.
And this is where things are getting interesting because “Justice is about just resolution, not legal services”:
The access-to-justice crisis is bigger than law and lawyers. It is a crisis of exclusion and inequality. Today, access to justice is restricted: only some people, and only some kinds of justice problems, receive lawful resolution. Access is also systematically unequal: some groups–wealthy people and white people, for example–get more access than other groups, like poor people and racial minorities. Traditionally, lawyers and judges call this a “crisis of unmet legal need.” It is not. Justice is about just resolution, not legal services. Resolving justice problems lawfully does not always require lawyers’ assistance, as a growing body of evidence shows. Because the problem is unresolved justice issues, there is a wider range of options. Solutions to the access-to-justice crisis require a new understanding of the problem. It must guide a quest for just resolutions shaped by lawyers working with problem-solvers in other disciplines and with other members of the American public whom the justice system is meant to serve.
Grab some coffee and read these three pieces. It’s important to understanding the conversation, where we are at, and what’s about to come.
Technology and AI
Technologists have entered the picture. They’ve been in the picture for quite a while, but they are now ready to come out of the shadows. They are meeting the problem where the problem exists, and that is not necessarily at the shingled door of a licensed attorney. So how do we ensure that their solutions are sound and protect the most vulnerable?
The average American is spending less that $250 a year on legal services (see chart below and Bill Henderson’s report to the California State Bar). That’s less than an hour of a lawyer’s time. Herein lies the problem, and technology is providing us a solution.
Four Truth Bombs
Truth Bomb #1: Just because you need legal services doesn’t necessarily mean you need a lawyer.
Truth Bomb #2: The cost of legal services isn’t just impacting the least able to afford it. It’s impacting nearly every individual in the United States.
Truth Bomb #3: Yes. Technology and AI will replace some (not all) of the work that lawyers do, meaning we will need fewer lawyers.
Truth Bomb #4: Yes. Technology and AI will creep into corporate law firms cutting into the billable hour.
Since we are a public agency, all of our work is available. You can watch our committee live, view the videos of the sessions, read our work and papers. We will, by the end of the year, make recommendations to the California Supreme Court.
I sit on the UPL/AI sub-committee. Right now, we’re looking at how we can bring these legal technology solutions into the fold to ensure that they are quality solutions. Our sub-committee met in full session, so you can view our conversation from the February 28, 2019, meeting here (this is the link to the full video The UPL/AI Sub-committee discussion begins around the 50 minute mark).
The conversation is happening now.
The future is here.
No. Things will not be the same.
Yes. The delivery of legal services will change.
The only question remaining is what it will look like in the end.
My husband, the Sports Dude, is a Rams “super fan.” I didn’t dub him that, our local news channel did in a story that ran earlier this week. Being a sports fan led him to becoming a sports reporter. Eric a fan of the the Dodgers, Lakers, Kings, and Clippers, but the Rams, they have his heart.
How does a kid born in Paris, who emigrated here with his parents and brother speaking no English, become an American sports fanatic?
Simply put, it was the team: from the owner to the coaches to the players. They taught him the game, and he learned how to love it and them in return.
Rams fan has collected team memorabilia that dates back to 1951 I ABC7 - YouTube
The clothes made the fan
Original 1970s sketch by Henri Geller for Carroll Rosenbloomy father-in-law,
My father-in-law, Henri Geller, was a men’s clothing designer back in the day, and he designed clothes for the Rams’ owner Carroll Rosenbloom and many of the coaches and players. My husband tells vivid stories of the players and Mr. Rosenbloom in his father’s design studio. They gave my husband his first tickets to an NFL game, which he still has in his memorabilia collection, and a fan was born, so to speak.
The Rams don’t know it, but they just created a Super Fan in Josh Garcia, the son of the team’s custodian. Watch for great things to happen for that boy.
Can law firms create Super Fans?
This of course got me thinking about lawyers, law firms, and loyalty and whether we too can create super fans?
Loyalty is the golden ring of any marketer. It can roughly be defined as the moment when your clients refer you to others.
Loyalty is not a brand. It’s not about rewards programs. You cannot bribe someone to love you.
Loyalty is not about satisfaction. Dogs are loyal. Cats are satisfied.
Relationships with our clients is satisfaction. They are transactional. We do something, they pay us, and they are satisfied. They owe us NOTHING.
Satisfaction is a mood.
Loyalty is a behavior.
Satisfaction is the past. What you did for me yesterday.
Loyalty is about the future. What I will do for you tomorrow.
Creating loyal clients comes from doing great work, meeting expectations, results. It’s begins with a transaction, and then moves beyond that.
Super fans have moved loyal. It’s no longer just business. Somehow the relationship gets into our DNA and changes our trajectory. It evokes an emotional reaction that takes us back to a precise moment. It’s an experience that your actions created in an authentic, organic, and unique way.
For the Sports Dude, it began as a child, and changed his life. He is a sports journalist because he was a super fan.
But what does this look like for lawyers and law firms?
Creating a super fan has nothing to do with our legal work.
For the firm, it has to move beyond the attorney’s relationship with the client: What is the FIRM’s relationship with the client?
It is the firm’s loyalty to “our” clients, to who they are, and how the collective we participate in their lives.
It’s when the firm shows up in a personal way when there is a life moment.
It’s when the firm creates experiences for them and their families.
It’s when the the line extends from just attorney-client, to friends, mentors, advisors, confidants, and extends further our to others.
Simply put: It’s when the relationship moves beyond just the attorney and now includes other members of the law firm: the managing partner, the receptionist, the billing clerks, the legal assistants, the marketing professionals, in the same “authentic, organic, and unique” ways.
Super fans are a one-way street
Loyalty is a two-way street. But when creating a super fan, it’s a one way street. It’s when we do (fill in the blank). It begins with us doing for them. Period. We are not expecting in return for these actions. There is no quid pro quo.
Coming back to my original question, “Can a law firm create a super fan?” I believe the answer is yes.
If we take a step back and look through our client rosters you can see them. Look for it not in the numbers, but in the relationships and in the stories. There is a bond there that moves beyond the legal services provided and the business the client has. It’s personal and deep. It is authentic. And it can be lost by the entity, the firm, as was in the case when the Rams moved away for what my husband calls the “20 year road trip.”
Losing your super fan
When the Rams left Los Angeles it became personal to the super fans. They no longer rooted for the players or the team’s success. Some may have moved on, and others just became what James Kane would refer to as satisfied.
And the same is true for your client super fans. Since it is more than just an attorney-client relationship, and based on more than just a business transaction, the firm also needs to continue to nurture the relationship and recognize that its actions could impact their super fans.
It means remembering that relationships are personal, and not forgetting to make those special moments, It means not taking the relationship for granted, or taking actions that are contrary to the super fan’s best interest, even though it poses no conflicts. It means doing for the client when there is nothing to gain in return. It means the relationship has to be more than mutual, contractual, and based on the law. You are not paid for it.
As I am writing this, I think of the people to whom I am a super fan. I am unwavering in my support of them. I not only refer them business constantly, even when I don’t give them business of my own. I think about the companies to which I am a super fan, and those that lost me due their breaking my trust in them. I felt these entities were no longer loyal to me.
In this crazy, competitive world in which we operate, there is a comfort in knowing we can still have deep, true relationships. That we can invoke that emotion and passion in others. And that no matter what, it is the bonds that connect us and unite us that truly make for good business relationships.
How did he become such a spiritual guru? I know … he set an intention to do just that.
My Intentions for 2019
I have two intentions for 2019: 1) Clean my life and 2) have more fun.
1. Clean my life
I am intent on being healthy. In 2018 I did two rounds of Whole30. Yes. I started it as a means of losing weight (which I did do, but did not keep off, but that’s a story for Facebook), but I have discovered so much more in the process and I am excited to see what is created here. I am deep into reading It Starts with Food, have begun Round 3 with several friends, spending more and more time and my grocery budget at local farmers markets, and my Instapot is my new favorite kitchen gadget.
It turns out I enjoy looking at food with a whole new perspective and my intent is to now know and understand how food impacts my health. If my parents are any indication, I have a good 40+ years to go in this body, so how I treat it is important.
I am intent on having a healthy home. Along my Whole30 journey I have begun looking at how I store food and clean my home. I am also seeing how my consumption is leading to too much plastic and other wastes. So I have begun purging my home of chemicals and plastics, replacing them with organic cleansers and products, as well as glass and silicon products for storage, along with reuseable bags for produce shopping. Here are a few of the changes I have made so far. I can’t wait to see what else Facebook shows me based on past clicks and what I Google.
I had an interesting conversation with an industry colleague yesterday. He made reference to my “super power”: The ability to shake things up. Others refer to it as being a PITA (pain in the a$$). Or bossy. Or, how’s this: a strategic thought leader unafraid of taking risks to achieve results.
I used to be afraid of my super power. I used to shy away from it, down play it, sit on the sides of the conference room table rather than in the center to not over-power a room.
If I’m going to “lean in” to anything, it’s going to be being change-agent.
Today begins that process for me. I was recently appointed to the State Bar of California’s Access Though Innovation of Legal Services (#ATILS) and we have our first meeting today. I am one of several “non-lawyers” (or, as I like to call us: consumers of legal services, California citizens, members of the legal eco-system, business executives) appointed to the panel.
Our charter, which I have chosen to accept:
The Task Force on Access Through Innovation of Legal Services is charged with identifying possible regulatory changes to enhance the delivery of, and access to, legal services through the use of technology, including artificial intelligence and online legal service delivery models.
The legal profession is at an inflection point that requires action by regulators. Solving the problem of lagging legal productivity requires lawyers to closely collaborate with allied professionals from other disciplines, such as technology, process design, data analytics, accounting, marketing and finance. By modifying the ethics rules to facilitate this close collaboration, the legal profession will accelerate the development of one-to-many productized legal solutions that will drive down overall costs; improve access for the poor, working and middle class; improve the predictability and transparency of legal services; aid the growth of new businesses; and elevate the stature and reputation of the legal profession as one serving the broader needs of society.
The exploration of abolishing this rule will break open the lock the industry has placed on itself. It will impact technology. It will impact the delivery of legal services. It will impact the law firm.
I was obviously not appointed to the task force to be a wallflower, rubber-stamper, go-with-the-flow participant. But I’m a professional.
I am mindful that I am representing a demographic of the legal ecosystem, as well as the many Californians who are priced out of purchasing the most basic of legal services, not to mention the association back to my employer. I also understand and appreciate the impact it could have because, as the saying begins, “As goes California ….”
But this is an opportunity that might not come around a second time, and I’m not going to allow it to pass me by.
My plane is making it’s final approach, so I’m going to have to shut things down for now. Please follow my blog and the Twitter hashtag #ATILS. My understanding is that the task force will be live-streamed. If so, I’ll circulate the link.
I suppose we are about to find out if the game changer is really here.
The holidays are officially upon us and the stress of gifting as well. Black Friday, Cyber Monday be damned.
But we’ve all been there. We go out of our way to purchase the “perfect gift,” only to see the recipient nod a little “thanks” in our direction. Or we give a little something, only to see the person’s face light up and joy fills the room.
So before you start sending out gift baskets galore, take a moment to read this post.
Gratitude is a science, and we can measure it
When it comes to gifting, it turns out there is a science behind it.
Gratitude–which is what gifting is about–actually relieves stress, and can be measured.
Well, apparently Glenn R. Fox, a USC professor who spoke at our firm recently. While Dr. Fox’s talk was on gratitude as a whole, it turns out that they measure gratitude through gift giving. Which, ironically, was perfect timing as my department was getting ready to embark on the our annual “Holiday Gifts” program.
According to Dr. Fox and the research over at USC, gift-giving is “multi-dimensional” and can be measured through the “feeling that arises when we receive something that comes at effort and that fulfills a need.”
Gratitude uses the brain’s relief, reward and moral processing centers
Quick biology lesson
So what does that mean to us? It means that for both the giver and the receiver, there is a physiological reaction when we buy or receive a gift that is meaningful.
Our brains light up! We have an emotion reaction, which is different than a feeling. It’s been a long time since I took a biology class, but it all started coming back to me: An emotion is “a constant flow of visible bodily changes, built by evolution to protect the whole organism.” Think “fight or flight.”
But here’s the catch. This isn’t about money. it’s about the effort that goes into securing the gift, and whether or not the gift satisfies a need of the recipient, defined by the recipient.
Type of need that is fulfilled
Gratitude Exercise #1
I suppose it’s easiest to think about this in the context of a good or bad gift that you’ve received. Dr. Fox left us with three different gratitude exercises. This one is around a gift you’ve received:
What was the gift?
Be as specific as possible, and a gift can be physical or not. Good to be from a person but it doesn’t have to be.
What was the context?
Explain as much as you can remember, take a minute and reflect on everything it took to provide the gift.
What need was fulfilled?
Note what type of need was fulfilled — hunger, safety, fun, creativity, etc., and how it made your life better.
What effort was fulfilled?
How much effort did it take? How busy is this person, were they seeing that you needed help in a particular thing?
It was not hard for me to think of several circumstances where I have received a good or bad gift and the emotions it invoked. I completely know where I stand in your life when you send me a bottle of wine as a gift, for instance.
How to gift?
Do you see where I’m leading you here?
Think about your best client. Your top referral source. That person in your life who went out of their way for you this year. If you know them well, it will be easy to figure out what is important to them, and to find a meaningful gift. It could be:
memorabilia from their favorite sports team;
a hand-crafted gift you found while on vacation that you hauled back from overseas;
an experience you were able to create that they will never forget;
a donation to an organization that is important to them.
A $20 eBay find will go much farther than a $100 bottle of wine. You get the idea.
However, what about the people on your list that you don’t know as well?
Social media is a blessing
Time to do some Internet trolling. Check out the social media sites of your client. If you’re not friends on Facebook or Instagram, why not? Friend or follow them. The worst they will do is ignore the request. Most likely they will accept.
But even their LinkedIn profiles or Tweeter feeds should provide you information on their personal interests. It might be a LinkedIn group they are a member of (scroll to the bottom of their profile) or a post on Twitter that reveals a recent trip or experience, or a like or dislike.
Several of our attorneys of late have created experiences with their clients that are one of a kind. Going to “old-chella” or the Saints v. Rams game that was one for the ages. But experiences don’t have to be so extreme. It can be showing up and participating in something important to the client (they are performing at a program or donating their time at a shelter). It can be the families getting together for a concert, or play. It can be a chef’s dinner at a favorite restaurant. It can be a book that you recently read, and want to share.
And gifting doesn’t need a special month. When you’re out and about and see something you know your client would appreciate, well, just do it.
Yes, Virginia, gift giving is marketing
My old boss Steve Barrett used to always say that if “you can’t measure it, it isn’t marketing.”
I suppose since we now know that gift giving can be measured, it is marketing. But it’s not really something the marketing department can just do on our own. Yes, across the country, marketing departments are knee-deep in holiday cards, gift baskets, and year-end stuff. … but this is the kinda thing we love to do as well. You can also enlist the your assistant or team, teenage kids, or just have some fun Googling around over a cup of coffee.
And here’s the best part. Whenever possible, personally deliver the gift.
Throughout the 1970s there was a cigarette slogan, “You’ve come a long way baby.” And, according to a recent survey conducted by ALM Intelligence and Calibrate Legal Inc., we’ve got a long, long way to go.
First of all, trying to get a good compensation survey for the legal marketing and business development functions and roles in a law firm have not been easy, nor have they been consistent. The actual tool that comes with this survey allows you the ability to slice and dice a comparison of roles, regions, and titles. With more than 800 respondents, it is a good pool of data, and I look forward to the updates as more people participate.
I actually had a lot of fun comparing my role and salary to other regions, and the tool provided me with a trove of information supporting how I would like my team compensated.
Men v. Women
This survey is the most comprehensive one I have found. And while there is good news in there (download survey summary), one of the most disturbing ones has to do with pay disparity between men and women, especially at the AmLaw 100 and 200 levels.
Why the Pay Disparity?
Some of the reasons for the pay disparity are easy to see and understand. Difference in size of the firm, the revenues. Others, are head-scratchers: men tend to jump around in their jobs more, while women do not. So, loyalty to your job or firm can negatively impact your salary. That happened in my first jump. I was offered a position which would have meant a 33% increase in my salary, which was more of a salary adjustment as the titles and responsibilities were similar. My current firm wanted me to stay, but not at that price, yet they would have had to pay that price to replace me.
So why do women choose smaller firms and stay?
I’m uniquely positioned because I have worked in both the AmLaw 100 and the smaller boutiques, so I have a personal take on this. I jumped jobs several times early on in my legal marketing career, yet have spent the past dozen plus split between two firms.
For me, those early jumps had to do with promotion and salary.
Later on, I chose to leave the AmLaw 100 and move to a smaller platform so that I could be more hands-on and available for my family while my kids were younger. I knew I would make less money, but that would be off-set with not having to travel, work late nights, and have my phone go off at any time. I see many of my female CMO friends either do not have children, or have a stay-at-home spouse (or a spouse whose job lends itself to a job that allows them to take on the day-to-day parenting).
Yet the disparity between me and my male counterparts in mid-sized firms is there.
How do we change this?
I believe the first step is this survey and the light it is shining on the results. This is a tool for each one of us to begin to have the conversations in our firms, but also in our next job interview.
I know that I have been on the negative receiving end of a gender pay disparity more than once. Always in hindsight. Part of this has to do with salary disclosures. Which is why I’m glad the State of California bans that practice.
If law firms are Mansfield Rule certified, then they should be transparent, fair and balanced in their salary histories for their business executives as well. Our counterparts through the Association of Legal Administrators need to do their part; to offer a woman less money than a man, for the same or equivalent role, has to be exposed and rectified.
Learn how to negotiate like a man
Many, many years ago I read Dr. Deborah Tannen‘s Talking From 9 to 5 (which is ALWAYS on my top list of business books to read). Game changer for me. One of the takeaways that has stayed with me is that women are too quick to accept the first salary offered when interviewing for a new job, while men look at it as a starting point for negotiations.
And while I get that, I’ll go back to transparency and collaboration: If I work hard to negotiate my salary to $150,000, only to find out that my counterpart (taking into account all things being equal) makes $200,000, why did the admin allow that? Why are women offered salaries less than the men we replace? And if you were willing to pay a man more to replace us, why not pay it to keep us?
Men and women communicate differently, which is why I am so thrilled to be part of Susan Freeman‘s Bubbles, Bites and Bits of Wisdom series that is kicking off next month. I look forward to joining everyone up in the Bay Area for the inaugural program on December 13, and will be speaking there in June.
Calendar allowing, I’ll make it as often as I can to support the all-star speakers roster. Incredibly, Susan has arranged for our mutual heroine, Dr. Tannen, to join the series at the end of 2019.
In the meantime, I hope you will join me in this adventure of working together to better understand our communication differences, shining a light on our roles salaries, bridging the gaps that lead to and perpetuate pay disparities, and rectify this not only for ourselves, but for those who follow us in this incredible profession.