HTM Lawyers is the nation's leading attorney-driven marketing and business development consultancy for lawyers and law firms. For more than a decade, the company has provided law firms throughout the United States and across the globe with consultative guidance in all areas of marketing initiatives. Follow this blog to get opinionated law marketing & business development advice and..
In the nearly 20 years that I’ve run my law marketing consultancy, HTMLawyers, there are few things I enjoy more than the in-person pitch. For me, those pitches are always at law firms, and often are delivered to a variety of audiences—a few select attorneys, a management committee, or marketing committee. But I always feel like if I have the opportunity to describe my services and offerings “live” that I have a great chance of getting the business.
Of course, I also find from time to time that those opportunities are not real. Some firms are just looking for free advice, others are looking to get a better price out of their current providers, and some really have no idea what they are looking for (but it is not what I’m selling). While I never hesitate to spend out-of-pocket travel and time on a pitch invite that sounds viable, I still feel a bit deflated when I quickly realize I was wasting my time. But that goes with the territory. On the flip side, there are pitches that I thought were a waste of time and turned out to be quite lucrative. Yet others did not pay off at that moment in time, but many years later. In some cases, declining the invite–which I did not too long ago from an Am Law 200 law firm—can be the smartest move yet. You just know it is a loser. So you don’t waste your billable time and money on something that was not going to be profitable.
Just this week I was preparing one of my law firm clients for a huge pitch opportunity at a Fortune 100 company. In reviewing the correspondence between the in-house legal department and the law firm, I was as excited about it as if it was me doing the pitching. Because I know that getting in the door to sit down with corporate counsel and pitch a law firms’ services is as good as it gets in business development. Yet I continue to be amazed how many law firms blow it…and that is the subject for my marketing column in the July/August 2019 issue of the ABA Law Practice Magazine, Wild Pitches: Law Firms Often Miss the Strike Zone.
Of course, this week, another white shoe New York law firm, Willke Farr, was getting to put its own crisis communications plan into play, when firm co-chair Gordon Caplan was placed on leave in the wake of the hottest news story of the week—the college admissions cheating scandal. In Law360’s Did Willkie’s Reaction To Admissions Scandal Miss The Mark?, reporter Aebra Coe asked me about the firm’s action and reaction, and potential for long-term damage to the firm brand. From a PR standpoint, there are huge differences between the stories—one is about the firm as a whole; the other is really about the behavior of an attorney that works there. In neither case will the law firm suffer any serious repercussions (as should be the case), but no big-time business likes to wake up to these calls from the media. But how to properly handle crisis communication is an article and a subject for another day.
I read many articles on the morning after an Eagles win in my local newspaper, The Philadelphia Inquirer. On the day after a loss, I read a few less—but win or lose, I enjoy the Up/Down drill that points out the highs and the lows with a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or simply two thumbs going sideways. So I thought I could copy the concept in what I plan on having as an annual column, The Law Marketing Up/Down Drill in the March/April 2019 issue of the ABA Law Practice Magazine.
For my column, the beauty of the up/down drill is that it allows me to cover a myriad of hot topics and areas of interest in law firm marketing circles—rather than just focusing on one. You’ll need to click over to the column above for the detail, but here is a synopsis of the subject matter addressed. You may not agree with my opinion or perspective on all of them. I’d love to hear from you.
Perhaps life has really been about search all along. We search for the right job, the right spouse, the right schools, the right restaurants, pretty much the right everything. So Google has either made searching easier, or harder, depending on how you look at it.
In today’s legal marketplace, as lawyers, we want to make sure that we can be found by those doing the searching. What complicates things for people like me in the “law marketing biz” is that the methods, tools, tricks and rules keep changing—those pesky algorithms—meaning that you need some sort of online PhD to keep your law firm clients on track, so they can be found by their prospective clients. So it made sense for me to address this fluid subject matter in my November/December 2018 ABA Law Practice Magazine column, In Search of…Lawyers and Clients (For 2019 and Beyond).
As is the case with most of my marketing columns, the topic finds me. Every day, I’m working and talking with different attorneys at different law firms in different parts of the country—and whatever topic comes up the most is often my next column. A few conversations on the most effective search mechanisms left my head spinning. I’m not going to lie about it either. I had no idea what newsjacking or hyperlocalization or geo-fencing was. I did not know all the nuances of what could and could not go into various forms of Facebook advertising. And focusing on things like “snippets” in Google definitely helped me steer some of my law firms in the right direction.
Ethical issues and dilemmas hit the legal profession from all angles. In serving as issue editor for the September 2018 edition of the ABA’s Law Practice Today (LPT) webzine, I sought to address a wide variety of subjects from attorneys with different practices and backgrounds.
Of course, I authored my own piece, What Do the Revised Rules for Lawyer Advertising Mean for Me?, recapping the recently adopted Resolution 101, passed by the House of Delegates at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago this past August. These suggested amendments to the Model Rules (7.1 through 7.5) relate to the realities of today’s lawyer advertising. While change is long overdue, it will be interesting to see the true impact that they may or may not have on state bar regulations and subsequent enforcement.
Whenever I pass a roadside diner promising something like “world’s best cherry pie,” I think about lawyer advertising restrictions. Because no law firm or lawyer could tout themselves as the best or greatest—and many of the taglines, phrases and symbols used to market products and services to consumers are restricted or outright prohibited in the legal profession.
Of course, I’m a sucker for that cherry pie. And it never is remotely close to the best I’ve ever had, but I also know the difference between a marketing message and stark reality. Which all somehow leads into the topic of my marketing column in the July/August 2018 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, Law Marketing Model Rule Revisions – Better Late than Never?
It remains to be seen what will actually happen to the proposed model rule changes to law marketing and advertising when it gets to the ABA House of Delegates in August. After all, it is a long way from the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility (which arrived via multiple reports starting in 2015 from the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers—APRL) to the House floor. The debates at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver this past February volleyed back and forth between those that thought the suggested revisions went too far, and others who firmly believed they did not go far enough. Of course, once something is approved—state bars often like to remind us that they are nothing more than “model” rules, and that the states will decide themselves what direction lawyer advertising should go in down the pike.
The Inaugural Law Mentoring Weekend at the University of Delaware
No law school? No problem.
The Legal Professional Preparatory Program and HenLaw Society at the University of Delaware just held their inaugural Law Mentoring Weekend on campus at Clayton Hall in Newark, Delaware. The program was designed to provide mentoring skills and actual mentoring (from U-D alumni) to students interested in pursuing legal careers while also offering attorneys that are U-D alums an opportunity to network with colleagues.