Posted by: johnocunningham | May 20, 2019

Technological Competence – Ethical Duty and Competitive Edge

Earlier this year, Texas became the 36th state to adopt the ABA’s updated Model Rule 1.1 on requisite competence, which provides in Comment 8 that “a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits associated with relevant technology.”

Ethicists, scholars and practitioners have published analyses of this evolving concept of technological competence, noting that it extends to all pertinent types of technology for improved efficiency, productivity, case management, document management, knowledge-sharing, data security, proper billing and more.

Lawyers and law firms are consequently faced with the need to hire experts who can help them keep up with all kinds of developments, including the latest in blockchain, data mining, and all of the technology associated with acronyms such as SaaS, GDPR, SOC standards, and more.

But client expectations are moving faster than the ethical rules, and lawyers should be looking to the example of their best corporate clients to see how they research, adopt and implement technologies that maximize their productivity and security.

In fact, chief legal officers for large corporate clients are now starting to list technology competence in productivity and security among the traits that they look for in outside counsel. Thus, law firms that are investing serious time and effort in technology competence should also be communicating to clients about what they are doing to lead the competition in the battle to serve them best.

Posted by: johnocunningham | May 16, 2019

Small Firms Can Win Big Clients Too

I recently noticed a helpful short article in the May edition of the Texas Bar Journal by Martha M. Newman, entitled, “You Can Win Big Company Clients!”

The entire article is worth reading (thru the link above) but I will share just a few facts cited by the author that might be of particular interest:

  1. A recent survey of in-house lawyers found that 45 percent had cut ties with one or more outside counsel in the past two years, and the most often-cited reasons were – 1. too expensive; 2. unresponsive; 3. worked inefficiently; and 4. did not understand our business (this latter complaint is the top-ranked reason for ditching counsel in a few surveys I have seen).
  2. In-house lawyers are seeing that small firms have good lawyers too – 92.3 percent of winners in court come from small firms according to an analytics firm (of course, most firms are small firms and complex commercial cases handled by larger firms often settle before trial).
  3. According to one survey, only 17 percent of in-house law departments have formal processes for placing firms on approved outside counsel lists, and 63 percent have only informal lists with most GCs preferring network referrals.

These observations are consistent with my own interviews of in-house lawyers, who reject the notion that only big firms can get their work, and who generally look for the right lawyer for the right job, sometimes being someone from a large firm and sometimes not. In-house pros are especially sensitive to getting good local counsel for matters located in smaller population areas where big firms rarely provide local assistance.

So small firm lawyers should not exclude big companies from their target lists based on faulty assumptions about how the counsel selection process works.

One of the trends I have noticed over time is the growing number of women who have ascended to the role of General Counsel and/or Chief Legal Officer in substantial commercial enterprises.

I have also noted that these professionals have commented in the press and on seminar panels about the relative scarcity of women equity partners in law firms. They are also more likely to be sensitive to the lack of racial minority equity partners.

If women who are GCs hire more women and minority providers in law firms, and if they make it clear that their business goes with their individual providers, one would expect a “correction” over time in gender and racial imbalance at firms.

But some in-house professionals are not waiting for a course correction – they are driving demands for diversity of gender, race and sexual orientation in servicing their accounts now. (See, e.g., news story about ACC survey and diversity demands).

Law firms that are in fact “walking the walk” with regard to diversity should be communicating their progressive positions effectively and firms that are not there yet can benefit from what the American Lawyer says are the only proven paths to greater equality – training on gender (or race) bias and cultural enhancement coupled with committed execution of practical strategies for hitting numerical targets.

Posted by: johnocunningham | April 15, 2019

LSSO RainDance 2019: Stretching for New Heights in New Ways

June 5 and 6 promise to be “rain-making” days in Chicago, at least from a legal sales and service perspective, because that is when the LSSO’s annual RainDance takes place.

The leaders at LSSO always try to top themselves, year after year, and this year should provide plenty of value for attendees in the form of these types of programs:

  • An examination of the handling of key accounts from the perspectives of Big Four accounting and consulting firms versus large law firms.
  • An interactive session designed to help law firm marketing pros to build credibility, trust and understanding with attorneys they serve.
  • A presentation on overcoming adversity and setbacks by a New York Times best-selling author who has survived mountain-climbing disasters, damaging earthquakes and other life challenges.
  • An overview of the latest law firm dashboard metrics that demonstrate value to the client while enhancing service and driving up revenues.
  • A business lab designed to generate creative and practical ideas for boosting diversity and inclusion in business development with attention to Mansfield Rule Certification.

The entire conference will also be kicked off with an analysis of Peer Monitor, which promises to demonstrate the biggest macro financial trends affecting the legal service industry, as well as the financial performance of 200 firms through Q1 2019. Industry experts will be providing their takes on alternative providers and other disruptive trends.

Sounds like another agenda rich in both practical value and creative innovation. Best wishes to all who make the trek to RainDance 2019.

This is my 74th post in a series of monthly (or quarterly) features that I have dubbed “Best of My Blog Roll.” The concept is simple – at the end of a month or quarter, I peruse my own blog roll (see that column on the right) for material created by other bloggers that I think is most worthy of sharing with others, and then I report on it here.

Reviewing blog posts for the first quarter of 2019, I have chosen to highlight the following blog posts:

  1. A post by Bruce MacEwen at Adam Smith, Esq. that reviews annual legal industry reports and lateral partnership movements, concluding that the market for legal services is splintering and evolving even faster as the economy recovers than it was during “hard times.”
  2. A post by Amanda Foushee on the Marsden Marketing Blog, entitled “Revving Up Demand Generation with Content Syndication,” a post noting that Americans consume more than 11 hours a day of media content.
  3. A post on the Clockwork Design Group Blog, which provides practical advice and tips about generating and disseminating all kinds of social media content.
Posted by: johnocunningham | January 28, 2019

Best Blog Posts of 2018 (Dec)

This is my 73rd post in a series of monthly features that I have dubbed “Best of My Blog Roll.” The concept is simple – at the end of a month I peruse my own blog roll (see that column on the right) for material created by other bloggers that I think is most worthy of sharing with others, and then I report on it here.

Reviewing blog posts for the month of December 2018, I have chosen to highlight the following blog posts:

  1. A post entitled, “Four Tasks to Improve Your Business Communication Skills,” written by Lindsay Griffiths for Zen and the Art of Legal Networking.
  2. A post entitled, “How to Ask Clients for Testimonials,” by Danielle Diforio at the Clockwork Design Group blog.
  3. A post by Marsha Kelly about business advice from a “tribe of mentors,” based on the work of entrepreneurial guru Tim Ferris in “Tribe of Titans.”

Hope you enjoy find these collections of practical advice to be as functional as I did.

Posted by: johnocunningham | January 24, 2019

Wait, I Was Told There Wouldn’t Be Any Math…

Many lawyers go to law school because they do not want to be in business, but that does not mean lawyers can escape the mathematics of success.

A number of the world’s most successful firms are now following the example of their most successful clients by plying sophisticated math formulas and doing “regression analysis” to determine which variables are associated with revenue and opportunity.

How does all this work? Well, one of the best short legal publications I have seen recently on the subject comes from Rees Morrison at the global legal consulting firm Altman Weil. It’s entitled, “Legal Managers’ Progression with Regression: A Lawyer’s Gentle Introduction to Data Insights from Linear Regression.”

One example of a key takeaway from the regression analysis performed by Altman Weil is that the number of lawyers in a commercial corporation’s law department is not a significant predictor of total legal spend. On the other hand, the corporation’s total revenue is statistically significant in its association with legal spend.

Finding new opportunities for your firm involves deployment of multiple marketing and communications strategies. Coming up with the right focus for those strategies, unfortunately for us liberal arts majors, does sometimes involve math !

Posted by: johnocunningham | January 4, 2019

Most Popular Blog Posts in 2018

According to WordPress analytics, the blog posts on this site that were most widely read in 2018 were actually posts made in prior years.  This demonstrates the lasting power of cogent content on the web, which can be passed around in the form of social media links for many years.

It also tells me that I should highlight these popular posts for readers once again as we start a new year. The top five posts were, in order of popularity:

  1. How Many Impressions Make a Sale
  2. Why Bad Writing Happens to Smart People
  3. Law Firm Tag Lines – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly (an original piece from April 2013 that has been copied elsewhere in whole or in part without attribution)
  4. Ten Hilariously Misused Legal Terms
  5. What the 80-20 Rule Really Means

Hope you enjoyed them, and feel free to suggest more topics of interest pertinent to professional services communications, marketing and client development.

Posted by: johnocunningham | December 26, 2018

Does Your Firm Give “Customer Lifetime Value” Scores ?

For years, business gurus have encouraged service providers to get their clients and customers to rate them and make suggestions for improvement. Now, retailers and other business providers are turning the tables and scoring the customers. Will law firms and other professional service providers follow?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted the trend of giving “customer lifetime value” scores that help business service providers to prioritize their A-plus customers.

Service providers have long been coached to make every client or customer feel like they are the only customer, but then the age of algorithms took over and people started to focus on measures that predict which customers will provide the best return on investment over short and long-term periods.

Now, business providers are finding ways to elevate some customers from “coach” to “first class,” offering everything from bonus gifts and other forms of recognition to priority service and certain types of exclusive value-added services.

I’m not sure it is even a good idea for law firms to give tiered service to clients, but it certainly makes sense to learn which clients are providing or will likely provide the best return on investment in marketing and special services. It also makes sense to do what leading firms do now – setting up specially trained and selected client service teams for A-plus clients and prospects.

This is my 72nd post in a series of monthly features that I have dubbed “Best of My Blog Roll.” The concept is simple – at the end of a month I peruse my own blog roll (see that column on the right) for material created by other bloggers that I think is most worthy of sharing with others, and then I report on it here.

Reviewing blog posts for the month of November 2018, I have chosen to highlight the following blog posts:

  1. A post by Lindsay Griffiths on the “Zen and the Art of Legal Networking Blog” about “Referrals and First Impressions: How Technology has Changed Them.”
  2. A post by Vanessa Schaefer on the “Clockwork Design Group Blog” about “What Retargeting Is and How Professional Service Firms Can Use It.
  3. A post by Silvia Coulter on the “LawVision Blog” about what it takes to build a client sales team in a law firm.

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »