Cordell Parvin Blog

Developing the Next Generation of Rainmakers

Client Development Tips: From Law Firm Lawyer Who is Now In-House

Posted in Uncategorized

A lawyer I coached recently went in-house with a well known corporation. I asked him what he knows now that he wished he had known when he was in private practice. Here are his tips:

Tip #1: Spell my name correctly. That goes for both me and my business. I will likely be forwarding your e-mail or letter to someone else. I will not do that if you cannot get my name or my business’s name correct.

Tip #2: I am looking for expertise when I hire outside counsel. I have l been practicing law for many years and probably have some basic knowledge on most subjects. When I see your bio and you have seven things (unless they are related) as your area of practice, I will move on and assume you don’t specialize in my area of need.

Tip #3: Get to know my business beyond a superficial level. Pay attention to my industry. That sounds egotistical from a client standpoint, but it will do you well in the long run. The better you know my business, the better advice you will give.

Tip #4: Don’t take me for granted. Don’t assume that because I have hired you, I will always hire you for other work or the same work. You may never know how many other firms would like me to hire them for your work. You ought to be routinely reaching out to me to see how things are going.

Bonus: If you are hosting me, don’t prominently display competing products. I get that not everyone buys my company’s products, but it is annoying.


Client Development Coaching: What Are You Doing Differently?

Posted in Client Development, Client Development Coaching

I have written many blog posts since I started 8 plus years ago. I sometimes wonder if any of you reading this one were with me when I first started.

Over the years, I have found that some of the very best posts come from lawyers I have coached. This is one of them. I hope you find it helpful.

Client development coaching is about making changes. If you worked with me, what are you doing differently?

In many firms, I have the chance to work with several groups of lawyers over many years, If the first group is successful, then lawyers vie to be part of the next group.

A few years ago I finished working with a group of lawyers at a firm and at the last group meeting I asked each lawyer to describe what he or she is doing differently now. Later I asked the lawyers to share their ideas with the lawyers in the next coaching group.

Here is what one lawyer told the next group:

About six years ago, I didn’t do any regular exercise. I’d go on hikes and campouts occasionally, but didn’t do anything habitually. I decided that needed to change, and I started going for walks every day around my neighborhood.

I didn’t look or feel any differently right away. I just knew from common sense this had to be a good idea. Within a few months, however, I had taken up jogging.

I had probably never run more than a couple of miles at one time in my life. Now I’m devoted to running and it has benefited my life enormously on many different levels. I jogged 18 miles this past Saturday as I am gearing up for a marathon next month.

Client development coaching for me has been like my progression in running. It got me to start taking walks around my professional ”neighborhood,” and now I’m beginning to move from walking to an occasional run, and I’m noticing some results here and there.

Weaving client development into your professional routine will help you make marketing a monthly, weekly, and eventually daily occurrence. If you’re already marketing your services, client development coaching can potentially help you do it better.

If in all honesty, you haven’t been marketing yourself, client development coaching can potentially inspire you and give you ideas about how to start. To tap into that potential, learn from your colleagues in the coaching program,  share your successes with each other.

Give some thought to your meetings with Cordell — if you have an idea, share it with him. Once in a while, he’ll pat you on the back and say, “That sounds great.” The other 99 times, he’ll provide a suggestion that will make a good idea great.

Cordell taught me how to do little things better: Handwritten notes, e-mails of articles, small gifts, etc. This past December, I can’t tell you how pleased I was to get several phone calls and messages from client contacts laughing appreciatively about the perfect gift I had sent them. Not one of these gifts was expensive. Every one of them was thoughtful in the literal sense of the word.

Client development coaching made me willing to take the risk of doing big things. One of the first things I did after getting involved with coaching program was to get on an airplane and went to see someone with whom I had worked on a fairly large case that had concluded roughly a year before. Quite frankly, it knocked me out of the office for a couple of days and it yielded no tangible results.

Yet, I learned from the experience, and most importantly, I developed a willingness to risk my time in the pursuit of richer relationships with business contacts. This led to a later, much more time intensive trip that actually led to a couple of files getting overnighted to my desk, along with a slew of new business contacts to build upon.

Client development is not a mathematical formula — we might all wish it were so easy. Things that work for you might not work for me. No one  is going to tell you precisely how you can get from Point A to Point B. That is at once frightening and liberating. Be open-minded, be patient, and be willing to ease outside of your comfort zone.

Congratulations on becoming part of a terrific firm initiative.

So, what is your takeaway from Keith’s advice to his firm’s next coaching group?


Lawyers: Simple Ways to Use Social Media Marketing in One Hour: Part 3

Posted in Client Development, Social Media

In this the third in the series Shawn Tuma shows how he used social media for marketing in 57 minutes.

Executing the Plan — in 57 minutes you can do these 10 things to market your law practice

Now that I’ve described the tools that I use in Post 2, I will show you exactly what I did in 57 minutes on a Saturday morning:

  1. Had a really big cup of coffee
  2. Wrote a very brief blog post on Business Cyber Risk | Law Blog that linked to and promoted a post I had written the day before (which post linked to and promoted a post from a year ago)
  3. Created an image for the blog post using Canva
  4. Shared the blog post on all the usual sites (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook) plus 13 selected LinkedIn Groups, Pinterest and Instagram for the fun of it (why not when you created a cool image?)
  5. Read and shared 3 cyberlaw / computer fraud / cybersecurity related articles on Twitter (and set several for auto tweet at a later time)
  6. Read and shared 1 cyberlaw / computer fraud / cybersecurity related articles on LinkedIn
  7. Read and shared 1 cyberlaw / computer fraud / cybersecurity related articles on Google+
  8. Read and shared 7 articles through Fraud 2.0 that then went out via Twitter, the blog Facebook Page, LinkedIn and Google+ (one of which referenced my post from Business Cyber Risk | Law Blog from the day before)
  9. Read, saved to Evernote, and shared The Tricky Business of Law Firms Attracting Online Attention article by Kevin O’Keefe on lawyers and law firms using social media.
  10. Retweeted other people’s content 4 times (a great way for people to recognize you)
  11. Accepted some great LinkedIn connections from people I had met the day before and engaged in a couple of other brief conversations in LinkedIn groups
  12. Talked with my wife intermittently
  13. Wrote a summary of everything I did in Evernote so that I could eventually write this blog post!

There you have it!

In less than one hour you can sit in front of your computer with a nice cup of coffee and do 10 specific activities that help market yourself and your law practice by connecting with and building relationships with other people, writing a substantive blog post to further develop your knowledge about your practice area and help demonstrate that knowledge to others, and generally sharing information that people in your target audience may find valuable. That is high quality marketing and it works.

As you can see, once you have the process in place, it really does not take very long to work your social media activities. Then, once you have made some connections with people you would like to get to know better, you can meet them for coffee, lunch, or at a more strategically appropriate networking event and you will have a lot more to talk about.

Lawyers: Simple Ways to Use Social Media Marketing in One Hour (Part 2)

Posted in Client Development, Social Media, Uncategorized

Dallas Cyber Security lawyer Shawn Tuma is back with Part 2 of his three part series on Social Media Marketing in One Hour. I hope you had a chance to read Part 1 where Shawn explained why he turned from traditional go to events marketing to social media.

How much marketing “bang” you can get in less than 1 hour of executing a strategic social media marketing plan

The tools I used in this example

For this example, I used multiple blogs and all the usual social networking sites that I run through Hootsuite. Hootsuite is the secret weapon that makes all of this happen. Below I’ll explain how and why I use these different tools.

The blogs

The foundation for most of my social media marketing activities has been my blog. My primary blog is the Business Cyber Risk | Law Blog. I have been blogging on this site since 2010.

Since then, the focus of my practice has evolved and is generally focused on issues such as cyber law, computer fraud, cybersecurity, data breach, privacy, trade secrets, and social media law — areas that I generally refer to as business cyber risk. I have generally tried to provide a fair amount of substance in my posts and not clutter it up with a lot of general sharing of information like we generally do on our social networks.

I do not want my readers to feel like I am just sharing a bunch of junk so I am selective about what I share on that site. Because of that, I have experimented with using other blogs for different purposes. The verdict is still out on whether I will continue to do so. I would appreciate your feedback on this so let me know what you think.

My blogs are WordPress sites. One of the great features of the platform is that I have it connected to my Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and a Facebook page that is set up for the blog so that when I publish a blog post it automatically shares the post through those social networks which makes the blog a great vehicle for sharing information quickly and keeping a record of it for future reference.

I have found that my primary blog has become a great source of research material and that I frequently look back to earlier posts when I have questions about certain cases or legal issues that I have blogged about in the past. It is like a “knowledge bank” of prior research. Because of this, when I find information that I want to share but also want to keep a record of, I would find myself struggling between whether it was worthy of sharing on my primary blog or whether it would clutter up the stream too much.

This led me to set up a second blog that I named Fraud 2.0 that I have connected to the same automated sharing sites as my primary blog. But, instead of writing substantive posts, I use this one for sharing information that I want to keep a record of, want to widely disseminate very quickly and easily, and may want to write a couple of lines about but nothing more. This is really easy to do because WordPress has an add-on for my Google Chrome browser that is called “Press This” that enables you to take the webpage you are reading and with the click of a button share it straight through your blog site.

I have a third blog called CFAA Digest that is simply a collection of briefs on cases involving the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). I had great plans for this site but did not seem to factor in the time limitations that we humans have. This site will probably not be around much longer.

Hootsuite — and the social networks

HootSuite is the secret weapon for how to make all of this work. If you do not use it, I encourage you to do a little research about it and start using it. NOW!

It is a site that aggregates all of your social networks into one dashboard and allows you to read the content on those networks and then share it through some or all of those networks with the click of a button. It also allows you to schedule times in the future for sharing content.

It too has an add-on for my Google Chrome browser that enables me to take the webpage I am reading and, with the click of a button, share it through some or all of my social networking sites. This is very powerful because it enables you to take the time you spend reading news articles and also use it for sharing valuable information for others.

In the next post (3 of 3) I will explain how I used these tools during that one hour period of time which will allow you to then see how you can apply those same strategies to your marketing efforts.





Lawyers: Simple Ways to Use Social Media Marketing in One Hour: Part 1

Posted in Client Development, Social Media

I met and started coaching Shawn Tuma in 2011. Shawn had found me using social media and had subscribed to my blog. After a three hour coaching session, Shawn posted one of my favorite blog posts: Are you like Clark Griswold or Ray Lewis? explaining how I convinced him to narrow his focus.

Shawn did just that and at the same time became my “go to” source for lawyer marketing using social media. Shawn is now a partner with Scheef & Stone, L.L.P. He is a cyber lawyer who helps businesses throughout the US with cutting-edge issues involving computer fraud, cybersecurity, privacy and intellectual property law.

Shawn has done a really great job writing and speaking on those issues and then getting his work to many others using Social Media. Over the last year, Shawn has given several presentations and webinars for lawyers I coach. Here is a link to a Social Media Webinar I know you will find valuable.

Last June, Shawn demonstrated how he could effectively use social media tools in less than an hour. I asked him to share his ideas with you. So, this is the first in a three part series.

This is the first  in a 3 part series that focuses on simple ways that you can use social media to market your law practice in less than one hour. The first post explains how social media can be a more efficient tool for marketing than traditional face-to-face networking.

The second post discusses the tools you will need to use to effectively market your practice using the techniques I discuss.

The third post provides an actual example of what I did on one particular day, in less than an hour, to market my practice and it has a list of 10 specific activities that you can easily adopt and try for yourself.

Why Social Media Can Be More Efficient Than Traditional Networking

“What can I do to market my law practice in less than an hour?”

If you are serious about trying to build your law practice then I hope you have asked yourself that question, or something similar. Time is precious and the last thing any of us want to do is waste it. But, there are also things we must do if we want to grow our law practices. Marketing is tops on that list and that is why all of us should constantly be asking ourselves how we can get the most marketing bang for our time-buck.

I have to market. You have to market. But what does it mean to market?

It took me a while but I finally realized that working hard to become a great lawyer was not enough to help me get the kind of clients I wanted and needed to build my law practice. I realized that in addition to striving to become a great lawyer, I would also have to market myself and my practice. Unfortunately, the word marketing was an amorphous term to me. I had no idea what it meant or how to do it.

Traditional “marketing” took too much time

So, I did what many others do: I started going to business networking events believing I could walk into the room and  be greeted with lots of eager clients who would immediately recognize the value I could provide to their businesses. Then, with the flip of a few business cards, I would reel in more work than I could handle and I would be set for life! That’s how it is supposed to work, right?

Maybe you have better luck, but it did not work for me.

I quickly learned

  • I was wasting at least an hour at the event meeting people who wanted to sell me their products and services to me,
  • 30 minutes driving time, to and from the event, and
  • heaven only knows how much time fielding follow-up telephone calls and responding to emails from the people I met there who had no interest (or ability to afford) my services but thought I was the ideal candidate for theirs.

There had to be a better way.

After a few frustrating months, I realized there was a better way.

Social media “marketing” was much better suited for me

I started to realize this when I started reading Cordell Parvin’s blog. In March, 2011 he posted: Social Media: One Tool to Become More Visible and Credible where he explained the benefits of using social media for networking and marketing.

I was immediately drawn to this because it was  efficient and gave me a very broad reach. There was no travel time, no cost to participate, no meals or drinks to buy.  And, the whole world was within my reach, not just the handful of networkers I met who were trying to sell something to me!

I jumped into it, found that I had a knack for social media marketing, and began having limited success. It was easy to get into because I was already used to using social media on a personal basis. What made it easy, however, also became a stumbling block. I was using social media in the way that I enjoyed it, not for a strategic purpose to grow my business. This changed when I began working with Cordell.

You must develop and follow a strategic plan to effectively market with social media

One of the most important lessons that Cordell taught me was that I had to stop doing things because I enjoyed them but, instead, I needed to do things that were strategically designed to accomplish my clearly defined marketing goals.

Here is how you can do it. Start by defining your marketing goals and then work backwards to develop a strategic plan to accomplish those goals. The plan must be specific and mine was. It addressed the “why,” had a specific amount of time allocated for each activity (to 2 minute increments), and had specific action items so that it was actionable and did not require a lot of time being indecisive and “mulling over things.”

I still have the original Plan on my credenza today and regularly refer to it though much of it has become habit and some has evolved as well.

If you are like me, you would rather see an example of how something is done than to be told how to do it. So instead of telling you more about my plan, in my second post I will explain what tools I use and why I use  them. In  my third post I will share how, on one particular Saturday morning, I spent less than one hour and did 10 specific activities to market myself and my law practice.

With this you will see just how much marketing “bang” you can get for less than an hour investment. Then, after you see how much you can accomplish in such a limited amount of time, you can work on preparing a plan of your own.

You can follow Shawn on Twitter @shawnetuma. After you read the three part series I am sure he would be happy to answer any questions.


Client Development: First Step is Kindness

Posted in Client Development

How do you convert people you know into clients?

One school of thought is to let them know what you and your firm can do for them. I know many of you feel uncomfortable with that approach. You don’t want people you know to think you are trying to “hustle” their legal business or their company’s legal business.

I recently read a blog that Seth Godin posted in June of last year: Treating people with kindness. It resonated with me. I was at my best when I treated people with kindness with no expectation of anything in return.

Want some ideas on kind acts? Take a look at: 100 Ways to Be Kinder.

Can we create our own list of 100 Ways to Be Kinder? If you have an idea, add a comment and let’s see if we can come up with 100.

Self Motivation: Have You Answered the Why Question?

Posted in Career Development, Client Development

Time management is the most frequent agenda item for lawyers I coach. More specifically, I am asked how to find time for client development when the lawyer is busy with billable work and wants quality family time. Do you also wonder how you can find the time?

You might think this is a time management issue. More often than not, I find it is a self-motivation issue. Donald Latumahina wrote an interesting blog: Self Motivation: How to Motivate Yourself a few years ago. His first suggestion for building self-motivation is to Have a Cause. He says:

While other causes could inspire you temporarily, a cause that matters to you can inspire you indefinitely.

His third suggestion is to Be Hungry. He says:

To be truly motivated, you need to have hunger and not just desire. Having mere desire won’t take you through difficult times since you don’t want things badly enough.

If you are struggling to make time for client development ask yourself the “why” question. Write down why developing a client base and book of business is important to you. It will help get you have a cause. Let me share my answers with you. Developing a client base and book of business would:

  • Provide security for my family
  • Enable me to help clients achieve their goals
  • Make my work more interesting

If you find it challenging to make time for client development, you might want to read Rising Star, which I co-authored with Kristi Sebalj. (Note: As you will see if you click, the Kindle version is on sale for $2.99).Here is some of what I said in the introduction:

This was the second book I have wrote about Tony and Gina Caruso. In “Say Ciao to Chow Mein: Conquering Career Burnout” Christina Bost Seaton and I focused on Tony, who after finishing his first year as an associate in a large Texas law firm is burned out and struggling to find meaning in his career. Rising Star: The Making of a Rainmaker is about Gina, who is now a partner in a mid-sized firm. She is the talk of the firm, having brought in $1 Million of business. Yet, she feels like a one-hit wonder because her success was a result of one big case from one big client…

I have known Tony’s and Gina’s throughout my 35 years practicing law. Their characters are a composite of lawyers who have worked for me and lawyers I have been blessed to coach and mentor. Many of those lawyers have caused me to study and examine differences between lawyers who are successful and happy and lawyers who are not…

As you read Rising Star, think about what you really want in your career and how you can most effectively and efficiently achieve it. That will be a good starting point to motivate you to achieve your goals.

One final note: If you are a regular reader, you know that Gina Caruso and her husband Tony are the characters in the novel I am writing. Gina is a risk taker with high energy and enthusiasm. She has an amazing ability to persuade people she meets. Tony is more cerebral  and focused like a laser beam. While Gina is all over the map, Tony keeps his eye on the ball.  When Gina finds herself in a jam, it will be up to Tony to help get her out of it.

Client Development: 12 Questions to Start 2015

Posted in Client Development

I hope that each of you has approached 2015 with enthusiasm and energy. For many lawyers this will be a transition year. Here are 12 questions that will help you determine if you are making client development happen or just hoping it will happen.

  1. Have you set 2015 goals for client development and prepared a plan to achieve them?
  2. Have you set goals for the first 90 days of 2015?
  3. Do you plan time each week for client development activities?
  4. Are you focused on your contact with clients, potential clients or people who can refer business to you?
  5. Do you regularly visit/meet with clients just to learn more about what is going on in their business?
  6. When you see an article, book or seminar that may be of interest to clients, do you forward/send it to them?
  7. When you finish a project do you follow up and seek feedback on your performance?
  8. Do you ask questions and listen well when visiting with clients?
  9. Do you read your clients’ trade publications?
  10. Do you know your clients’ industry, business, strategy and legal needs?
  11. Do you know your client representatives personally, including names of their family members, their assistant’s name, their interests outside of work and their values?
  12. Have you set up a way to keep track of your clients and their industries?
Over the many years I have worked out, I often wondered why I worked out at a higher level when I was working with a fitness trainer. I have concluded that the fitness trainer helps me develop a plan that will work best for me, then she holds me accountable and pushes me to do more. Finally, she lets me know when I am doing well.

If it makes sense for fitness, doesn’t it make sense for client development? I invite you to join a 2015, group telephone coaching program. I will help you develop a plan that will work best for you, hold you accountable and push you.


2015: Become Remarkable in Your Clients’ Eyes

Posted in Career Development, Client Development

I have learned from coaching senior associates and junior partners that many young lawyers don’t know where to start with their client development efforts. They mistakenly think they need to sell clients, make cold calls and figure out other ways to solicit business. Since all of this is distasteful to most, they don’t ever get started.

In a nutshell, here is what I am trying to teach young lawyers:

You cannot directly market or try to sell clients. The harder you try to sell the less successful you will be. Clients want to buy (or need to buy), but they do not want to be sold. Whatever you tell clients about how good you are or how your service is extraordinary, they will likely not believe it because your competitors are telling them the same thing.

Clients do not want to hire lawyers who are ordinary. They want to hire lawyers who are extraordinary, remarkable and memorable. The game plan for successful client development is having the clients come to the lawyer as a result of creating something remarkable or being remarkable and having clients, potential clients and people who can refer business talk about the lawyer.

I got the remarkable idea from Seth Godin. He says that the premise of remarkable is to have non-compensated third parties become an evangelist for you and your services.

In a world where law firms and lawyers all look alike, how can a lawyer stand out from the crowd and be remarkable, extraordinary and memorable?

I teach lawyers how I did it and how they can do it. The first step in becoming remarkable is to determine what you want in your career. Second, you need to learn how to become credible by building your profile. Third, you need to learn how to determine your clients’ and potential clients’ views, biases, and perspectives so you can create something that will be noticed and be remarkable in the eyes of those who might hire you.

How can you do it? Stay on top of what is going on in your clients’ world and find an issue you think will impact them. Then, become insatiable studying the issue until you are an expert. Finally, write and speak on the issue and use social media to share your articles, blogs and presentations.

I know that approach works because it worked for me. That is what client development is all about. Each young lawyer I have met can be remarkable if they are open to trying, and if they make a commitment to work at it. 

So, for one key to being successful in 2015 think of how you can become remarkable in the eyes of the clients who might hire you.

Career Success: Make These Lifestyle Changes in 2015

Posted in Career Development

Do you have a game plan for changes you want to make in 2015? If not, I want to share ideas with you I shared with an associate years ago.

Years ago, a senior associate in our firm who I will call Linda told me that she was burning out. She described working all day, including eating at her desk, and then getting home, fixing dinner, putting her kids to sleep and then feeling totally exhausted.

I know that Linda is not the only lawyer who has felt that way. Most of us instinctively know things we should do; yet we don’t do them because we can’t find time. Sometimes we make New Years resolutions and quickly revert back to our old habits the first time we feel challenged.

As I told Linda, we will never find the time. We have to make time. I also told her that she should not make crash diet changes, but rather she should make permanent lifestyle changes. Here are lifestyle change suggestions I gave Linda:

  1. Take responsibility for your career and life.
  2.  Determine the priorities in your life and plan each week around those priorities (e.g. family, health, spiritual, work).
  3. Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days a week.
  4. Eat dinner at home with your family at least ___nights a week.
  5. Get up from your computer once an hour and, if nothing else, just walk down the hall and back.
  6. Take time during the lunch hour to get outside. Do not eat at your computer.
  7. Focus on things you can control rather than worrying about things you cannot control.
  8. Be a “glass half full” person rather than a “glass half empty” person.
  9. Begin building your career based on your major definite purpose (the intersection of your talent, passion and client needs).
  10. To better understand the lifestyle changes outlined above read these three books and after each chapter write down how you will apply what you read:
  • “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz – this book will teach you to manage your energy.
  • “First Things First” by Stephen Covey, A. Roger Merrill, and Rebecca R. Merrill – this book will teach you to manage time based on your priorities.
  • “Getting Things Done” by David Allen – this book will help you reduce stress by getting better organized.