Cordell Parvin Blog

Developing the Next Generation of Rainmakers

Recommended Blogs and Podcasts: Try Some of These

Posted in Career Development, Client Development

When I was a young lawyer, I rarely read fiction. Instead, I read books and articles that I thought would help me become a better lawyer and more valuable to clients.

While I read a lot of fiction today, I still enjoy learning new ideas about client development and people skills.

I am often am asked what my favorite blogs and podcasts are on those subjects, so I thought I would share some of them with you.

Seth Godin is the marketing guru and a lot of what he writes about applies to lawyers.

Years ago I read In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters. Go to the Tom Peters Website to find many valuable materials on marketing.

Jackie Huba has written three books on customer (client) loyalty. I know you will find them helpful .

Scott Ginsberg is an excellent writer on becoming more valuable to clients. If you go to his regular website there are dozens of good articles on networking etc.

David Meerman Scott is a Web era marketing guru. Years ago I read his book The New Rules of Marketing & PR. I found many ideas I could have applied if I was still practicing law. On his website you will find plenty of free stuff.

I regularly read Brian Solis blog

Copyblogger is my favorite site on blogging and writing.

Chris Brogan is co-author of Trust Agents a great book every lawyer should read.

Personal Branding Blog has excellent ideas on personal branding.

Each year, Social Media Examiner publishes its Top 10 Social Media Blogs. Here are the Top 10 Social Media Blogs: The 2014 Winners!

My favorite Podcast is The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. I like it becauseJohn Jantsch interviews all the people above and more.

I learn something valuable from each of the blogs and podcasts above. You will also.
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The Brand Called You: Building and Broadcasting Your Brand

Posted in Book Reviews, Career Development, Client Development

Do you have a brand? When clients think of you, what comes first to their minds?

One of the books  I most frequently recommend is Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.  When it first came out several years ago I both listened to the book and read a hard copy.

Most law firms are focused on building their brand, but only a few lawyers are focused on it. In chapters 23 and 24, Ferrazzi discusses building and broadcasting your individual brand.

What do you want people to think when they hear your name? There is also a great 1997 article Tom Peters wrote for Fast Company magazine titled: The Brand Called You. Interestingly, his points are still valid today. He writes:

If you want to grow your brand, you’ve got to come to terms with power — your own. The key lesson: power is not a dirty word!

In fact, power for the most part is a badly misunderstood term and a badly misused capability. I’m talking about a different kind of power than we usually refer to. It’s not ladder power, as in who’s best at climbing over the adjacent bods. It’s not who’s-got-the-biggest-office-by-six-square-inches power or who’s-got-the-fanciest-title power.

It’s influence power.

When I was building my law practice, how did I try to create influence power.  I wanted my potential clients to think I was:

  1. The preeminent transportation construction lawyer in the US
  2.  Innovative
  3. Construction business savvy
  4. Likeable
  5. Caring
  6. Focused on helping contractors

For 25 years I wrote a column for Roads and Bridges magazine titled “Law: The Contractor’s Side.” That column enabled me to build my brand more than anything else I did. First, it gave me the opportunity to show readers I understood them and the construction industry. Second, the column led to many speaking opportunities, which furthered my opportunity.

What do you want your clients to think about you? What is the best way to show them your brand?

One final thing: The Kindle version of my books-Prepare to Win, Say Ciao to Chow Mein, Rising Star and It Takes a Team are on sale at Amazon for $2.99 and $1.99, less than 1/2 what I will pay for my Latte this morning.

Success: What Should You Focus On?

Posted in Career Development

After my WHAT IS THE SECRET TO A PRODUCTIVE AND SATISFYING LAW CAREER presentation yesterday at the University of Nebraska  law school, a student asked:

What should I focus on to be a successful lawyer?

I thought it was a great question. I especially liked that she included “what should I focus on..”

I could have given an entire presentation just answering that one question. But, I had very little time and had to come up with a “sound bite” short answer. So, I replied:

Success does not come from focusing on success, happiness and money. Instead it comes from focusing on your passion, developing your talent, and identifying the needs of those you want to serve.

What do you think?

P.S. If you would like to check out the slides from the presentation, you can find them here.

Recommended Reading: How Will You Measure Your Life

Posted in Book Reviews

In the blog I posted yesterday, I mentioned that lawyers I coach read books together and share their takeaways with each other. I know they find it a valuable experience because each reader sees something different.

One book the readers found very valuable was How Will You Measure Your Life? by Harvard Business School professor, Clay Christensen.

Tricia Deleon shared her thoughts on the last few chapters with her group and gave me permission to share them with you.

Here are my quick take-aways from the last chapters of our book. If you haven’t read the rest of this book yet, please do so. The authors make some deep, inspiring and important points.

Chapter 7: Sailing Your Kids on Theseus’s Ship

  1. We want to feel good as parents. We work hard to make more money so we can give our kids “more opportunities.” Children go to so many activities and camps that they don’t even have time to get part-time jobs. Very true…I started working when I was 15 and learned a lot of life lessons and the value of hard work from scrubbing the floors of Domino’s Pizza or serving ice-cream at Dairy Queen.
  2. Self-esteem comes from achieving something important when it’s hard to do.
  3. Don’t solve all of your kid’s problems. If she tells you at the 11th hour that she didn’t complete her science fair project, don’t stay up all night to do it for her. That teaches her that life can be about others bailing her out, or that it’s okay to take short-cuts or read the Cliff’s notes. Ouch. So true. Glad I am reading this now when my daughter is only 4 and we haven’t encountered this yet!

Chapter 8: The Schools of Experience

  1.  Don’t judge success (or a resume) by solely looking at the scoreboard of what the candidate has achieved. Look for what “courses in the school of life experience” the candidate may have had. Our firm is trying to do more behavioral-based questioning during job interviews. We hope to train our attorneys to interview by asking more interesting and probing questions about how the candidate has dealt with setbacks or stress in his life rather than just asking surface questions about law school.
  2. Author said he appreciated how some boys in Boy Scouts would personally plan a hiking trip versus having his parents plan it. True. I judged a local Girl Scout logo design recently. It was amazing how you could quickly tell which ones were submitted by parents versus the scout. I voted for the one the scout did!

Chapter 9: The Invisible Hand Inside Your Family

  1.  Create a culture for your company and family. You want your employees/family to make the right choices without requiring constant supervision.
  2. This inspired me to sit down with my husband so we could think about a “culture” we wanted to memorialize in writing for our family re: family values. It’s still a work in progress, but I appreciate this book causing me to think about it. I agree with the authors: you have to build, talk about and create the culture you want in your family. If I want the DeLeon’s to be known for kindness or generosity or compassion, we need to talk about it and model it for our daughter.

Chapter 10: Just This Once…

  1. Decide what you stand for and then stand for it all the time. Author decided he would take off Sundays as his Sabbath. He had a championship basketball game to play on a Sunday. He told the coach and team he couldn’t and they went crazy. He kept his commitment to God. His team won without him. Amen.
  2. Think about who you want to be/what you want your life to be like (likeness), then commit to it (commitment) and then decide what metrics you will measure your life by. Author decided, like I would, that God is the only one who can measure/create “success.” His measure of achievement is on an individual basis, meaning how many other people’s lives have I invested in via my time, resources and energy.
  3. This chapter and the epilogue inspired me to sit down this week to draft a personal motto or likeness and to pray about becoming committed to it.

Great book recommendation, Cordell. I enjoyed reading it and will probably re-read it every couple of years.



Client Development Coaching: One Huge Benefit is Sharing with Others

Posted in Client Development Coaching

One of the great joys I have coaching lawyers from the US and Canada, and I think one of the huge benefits for those lawyers is getting to know each other and sharing ideas and referrals. Here are three examples that have happened just in the last week.

One way we do it is through book groups. One book group is currently reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. The book group shared their thoughts on the first chapter last week.

Another way we do it is I introduce lawyers from different firms who might be good referrals for each other. This week I received an email from one of the Toronto lawyers I coached sharing with me that a Texas lawyer I coached had sent a Toronto litigation matter to her.

A third way we share ideas occurs when a lawyer I coach asks a question and I seek thoughts from other lawyers I coach who I believe would have the best ideas on the subject. That happened just this week.

A lawyer I coach asked:

I have identified several (7-8) in-house counsel that I would like to develop a relationship with/take to lunch, etc. Many (but not all) are women, some are women of color, and one even went to my law school (but before I did).

My question is what do you suggest is the best way to connect with these people?

One of my work colleagues is LinkedIn “friends” with practically everyone in our city, but I would prefer NOT to ask him for an introduction as the point is to develop my own clients.

A few of these in-house counsel are connected to other attorneys that I know via LinkedIn, but I find it awkward to ask another attorney for an “introduction.” At the same time, I am told that “cold calling” to introduce oneself and set up a lunch is considered quite tacky and taboo.

Do you agree or is there a way to do it a non-aggressive way (particularly for the one who also went to my law school)? It just seems like a great pool of potential clients that I am missing out on, but I am certainly not the “hard sell,” aggressive type and don’t want to do anything that would be frowned upon.

I sent her question to Bizunesh Scott, another lawyer I coach who offered these suggestions:

I tend to not ask people to introduce me on LinkedIn. I have a lot of LinkedIn connections and get asked to make introductions. But, often the person they want an introduction to is a 2nd degree connection. And, even if it’s a first degree connection, I often do not know the person well enough for the ask. I would use that as a last resort and only if you are confident that the person you are asking has a meaningful relationship with that person (same year out of law school, pervious work history together, in same association maybe).

A couple of suggestions (all to be done by email):

  1. Invite the target to a conference that you are attending or speaking at by offering to pay the registration.
  2.  Host a webinar and invite your targets to the webinar.
  3. Invite your clients and potential clients targets to an in person lunch at your firm to discuss a substantive legal topic. Call it a roundtable. I would put all their names in the to line so they know the scope of the attendees and let them know it is small on purpose.
  4. If someone cannot make it to 1-3, a follow-up email for a quick call, coffee, or meeting.
  5. Google the person to see if they are speaking at any conferences and connect with them there.
  6. Use a connection and do a cold email. I respond to sorority connections, law school connections, or if I am bored.
  7. If you are not in the same state, email that you are in town for an event and would like to meet to discuss topic.

After two emails within a month, wait two months before contacting again.

Would you like to form or join a book group? Do you have a question, that another lawyer like you might answer? Do you want to become part of a client development group telephone coaching program? Finally, would you like to participate in one of the group roundtables I host here in Dallas and Fort Worth.  Although I have not scheduled the events yet, we are looking at hosting a Bloggers Bootcamp and hosting a Construction Lawyers Client Development Bootcamp.

Client Development: Become a Magnet (Go To) Lawyer

Posted in Career Development, Client Development

One client development key: Become remarkable in the eyes of potential clients so that they will seek you out.”

I read an article written by Dr. Ivan Misner, a New York Times bestselling author, who wrote The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies
The point of the book is that 29 percent of us are connected.

The book has a 52-week program to help readers become part of the 29 percent. You might be surprised to learn that Dr. Misner believes introverts are better at networking than extroverts. If you want to get a preview of what you will learn from the book take a look at The 29 Percent Solution – Book Review.

In Misner’s article I found the following interesting:

  1. In business, being a magnet means being recognized as a “go to” person and that includes knowing people who can solve other people’s problems.
  2. We tend to attract people like ourselves. Busy people attract busy people, making it more difficult to get together, but the rewards are great when a group of busy people get together.

What can you do to become a magnet and attract clients?

Recommended Reading: Are you reading about the great ones?

Posted in Book Reviews, Career Development

Are you reading about the great lawyers who practiced law before you?

I was inspired to become a lawyer and I was inspired to become a better lawyer when I read about the great lawyers from the past and present. I am not sure young lawyers are doing it today. So, I wanted to recommend some books for you.

I am not sure if it is a generational thing, or just me, but when I read these books, I felt like I was right there in the courtroom watching some of the most famous trial lawyers of the 20th century .

One last thing: If you are a trial lawyer and want to read about famous trials, like many tried by the lawyers mentioned above, you must go to professor Douglas Linder’s Famous Trials website. Every trial lawyer will find something inspiring there.

Recommended Reading: The Wow Factor

Posted in Career Development, Client Development

Barney Adams has written a book titled: “The Wow Factor: How I Turned One Idea and My Unbridled Enthusiasm into a Golf Revolution. ” Golfers probably recognize his name from Adams “Tight Lies” one of the best selling golf clubs in history.

I especially like what Barney Adams said to Success Magazine during an interview: Success Stories: Barney Adams:

In the first place, I think everybody is in the service business. You have to define what service that product provides the customers. My job was to improve the flight of the golf ball when you hit it.

His success came in part from the realization that he was not designing and selling golf clubs. Instead he was helping golfers with better ball flight. After creating Tight Lies, Adams Golf went from being virtually unknown to the Inc. “500 Fastest-Growing Small Companies” list. It also led to the largest IPO in the history of the golf industry. Then in 2012 TaylorMade acquired Adams Golf. Adidas-owned TaylorMade buys Adams Golf for $70M.

Ok, what lessons can you learn from Barney Adams?

  • Barney Adams followed his dream-his passion.
  • Because of his passion and intense desire, he did not quit when he did not achieve his dream right away.
  • He became successful in part because he realized he was not selling golf clubs (for us legal services). Instead, he was helping golfers (in our case clients) with better golf flight (in our case achieve their goals).
  • There was a little luck in becoming successful. He went to work creating custom clubs at Hank Haney’s golf facility. It was at that facility that he got the idea for Tight Lies.


Collaboration: Why Your Law Firm Should Reward It Now

Posted in Law as a Business, Law Firm Leadership

Why are so many successful lawyers silos in their law firms? Does it matter?

Have you heard the phrase: In MBA programs students are taught to collaborate. In law schools, students are taught to compete?

If you are a regular reader, you have likely seen that phrase in previous blog posts. I thought about it again when I recently read a Kevin Roberts blog: Genius Isn’t Enough, Execution Is Everything. Kevin was reviewing the new Walter Isaacson book: The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.

I specifically liked this Isaacson thought:

I think sometimes we underestimate … or sometimes we don’t fully appreciate the importance of collaborative creativity. So my book is not a theoretical book, but it’s just a history of the collaborations and teamwork that led to the computer, the Internet, the transistor, the microchip, Wikipedia, Google and other innovations.

Years ago, I suggested to my law firm’s executive committee that it put together a group of the most successful lawyers in our firm to meet either monthly or quarterly to creatively brainstorm ideas that could help us become more valuable to our clients. Here are some of the ideas I had at the time:

  • Client Service: How can we better serve our clients?
  • Motivation: What can we do to provide an environment that encourages our younger lawyers and staff to excel?
  • Visibility: What can we do to raise our visibility in the industries and cities we serve?
  • Attorney Development: How can we create the premier attorney development program recognized by our clients, our lawyers and potential recruits?
  • Collaboration: What is it? Why does it matter? What can we do to encourage it and reward it?
  • The Internet: How can we use it more effectively than other law firms to help our clients?

I had many more ideas for topics, but hopefully these will get you thinking.

So, I guess my question is are lawyers in your firm creating silos or collaborating with each other in creative ways?

Client Development: 3 Statistics Showing Why It Is More Challenging Today

Posted in Client Development, Law Firm Leadership

Do you believe client development is more difficult today? I do. Your clients have more choices and less time to choose. You likely have less non-billable time to devote to client development. Here are some random statistics showing why it is more challenging

  1. Number of Lawyers: In 1951, there were approximately 200,000 lawyers in the United States. That is approximately 1 lawyer for roughly every 700 people in the nation.  Today, according to the American Bar Association there are currently 1,116,967 lawyers practicing in the United States. That is approximately 1 lawyer for every 300 people, or approximately .36% of the total population.  At this rate we are not far from the day that there will be a one-to-one relationship between licensed lawyers and American citizens.
  2. Billable Hours: A 1958 ABA pamphlet suggested a quota of 1,300 hours a year for associates. Yes, you read that correctly. In 2000 many larger law firms demanded associates bill 1950 or more hours a year.
  3. Size of Law Firms: In 1960, there were only 38 law firms in the entire country with more than 50 lawyers.  By 1985 there were more than 500 firms of that size or bigger. Today, a 50-lawyer firm is considered a small firm in many cities.

Tulips standout.jpgWhat do these statistics tell us? At the very least, it is harder to stand out from the crowd. Business clients cannot distinguish the legal skills from one firm to another. But, as I have written many times, they can distinguish whether lawyers understand their industry, their company and them.

Based on that knowledge, if I was a law firm leader I would build industry based teams that cross practice groups. Lawyers in those groups would join industry associations. If my firm was blogging, I would have industry based blogs, like:

  • Financial Services Law Blog
  • Hospitality Industry Law Blog
  • Retail Law Blog
  • Construction Law Blog
  • Healthcare Law Blog
  • Energy industry Law Blog
  • Transportation Law Blog
  • Computer/Technology Industry Law blog

I could go on, but you get the idea. If your firm focuses on industries, builds industry teams and writes industry law blogs, I think you will stand out from the crowd.