Legal Marketing Association

Seth Godin wrote a blog several years ago: Mentoring, platforms and taking a leap. It is worth reading. I appreciate this point he makes:

And yet most mentors and coaches and teachers will tell you that few of their students ever do, not in comparison with their potential. A few break through and change everything, and we celebrate them, but what about everyone else?

I agree with his point. Only a few lawyers I have coached truly reached their potential. So, what about everyone else?

How can I encourage or push them to come closer to their potential? In this post, I want to ask you six questions. I believe figuring out the answers to these questions will give you ideas on how you can create a successful program in your own firm and reach those lawyers.

When I coach a group of lawyers in a firm, we frequently set a group goal and decide on action items to achieve the goal. Each member of the coaching group sets individual goals and prepares a plan to achieve them.

Members of the group share their plans with me and in some cases with the other members of the group. Each month, each member of the coaching group reports on what he or she has done that month. Some firms put the reports on a coaching group portal page and other firms send an email with the photo of each person in the group and his or her report by the photo.

Here are questions for you to ponder:

  1. Why do I have the coaching group set a group goal?
  2. Why do I ask the participants to agree on  action items to achieve the group goal?
  3. Why do I begin the first individual coaching session learning about the lawyer’s family and what he or she enjoys doing when not working?
  4. Why do I have each person to set his or her own goals and create a business plan?
  5. Why do we create 60 days or 90 days action plans each time I meet with each lawyer?
  6. Why do I have each member of the group to share with me what his or her client development plans are?
  7. Why do I encourage firms to have each member of the group report monthly what client development activities he or she has done, and why do I suggest the report be published?

If you answer these questions you will have some good thoughts on how to make client development coaching successful in your firm.

quarters.jpegA friend asked why me why so few law firms have client development coaching programs. My answer was simple:

Some law firms look at client development coaching as a cost rather than a revenue producer.

As you may know, I set up a client development coaching program for new partners in my old law firm. We set a goal of doubling the total business of the new partners in two years. After we achieved the goal in one year, I decided I wanted to work with lawyers on client development full time.

A few years ago I did a series of presentations for Legal Marketing Association (LMA) chapters on how to set up a wildly successful client development coaching program in their firm.

Knowing that even if I made awesome presentations, the legal marketing professionals would go back to skeptical firm leaders and partners, I concisely shared what a firm should experience from a coaching program. Here is my short list:

  1. INCREASE FIRM REVENUE AND PROFITABILITY
  2. Make its next generation of partners and firm leaders more focused on client development.
  3. Develop individual and group responsibility and accountability.
  4. Make client development a greater part of the firm’s culture.
  5. Help each lawyer in the program determine the client development efforts that will work most effectively for him or her.
  6. Ensure that each lawyer in the program is taking action.
  7. Increase business with existing clients and bring in new clients.
  8. Enable lawyers within the program to get to know each other better, to work effectively as a team, and to collaborate on their client development efforts.

If you have a partner who is interested in teaching and coaching lawyers in your firm, you have a great opportunity to create a wildly successful coaching program.

 

A few years ago I gave a presentation to the Legal Marketing Association Southwest Chapter meeting in Phoenix. My topic was: Developing the Next Generation of Rainmakers: Create Your Own Client Development Coaching Program.

I shared my ideas on these topics with the audience:

  • How to convince skeptical partners to train and develop the next generation
  • Why client development coaching
  • How to structure a successful program

I coach many different lawyers. Each lawyer is unique with different talents, passions and challenges. One of the most important things I can do as a coach is help each lawyer find what will work most effectively for him or her.

Many lawyers I coach come into the coaching with pre-conceived stereotypes of rainmakers and fear they cannot be successful because they are not like that stereotype. My job is to help those lawyers see their own path to success. Taking StrengthsFinder 2.0 is a great help.

Andrea Anderson, a Holland & Hart partner shared that her greatest take away from coaching was developing self confidence that she could be successful using her own unique strengths, Take a listen in this short podcast excerpt.

Anderson Andrea.jpgAndrea Anderson Podcast

Andrea made clear that you can become successful discovering and then focusing on your strengths. She did it and so can you.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m off to West Palm Beach. I received an email yesterday from one of the lawyers I am coaching telling me what she has been working on since we last met. She’s off to a really great start.

A few years ago, I was asked by three Legal Marketing Association chapters to make a presentation on Client Development Coaching.

Coaching SS 76057888

In my presentation, I focused on:

  1. Tools to convince skeptical law firm partners-Those who say “lawyers either have it or they don’t.” You have to be able to convince those partners that your firm will generate more revenue.
  2. Why coaching– One shot training programs do not work. There’s no follow up or accountability. With coaching, it’s more likely your lawyers will make positive changes and achieve their goals.
  3. What will make it successful-starts with selecting the lawyers most likely to be “all-in.” Breaking down plans to bite size pieces. Creating both a group component and individual component.

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Want to see the slides from my presentation? Here they are. You might also be interested in an eBook I wrote. You can download it from iTunes (Just search my name under books), or here is a link to it on SlideShare.

 

I have coached 25 lawyers over the last two weeks, and the most frequent questions I received, especially from the younger lawyers, was how can I more effectively use social media.

I posted this blog last year, but given the questions I thought it was worth posting again,

On Tuesday this week Shawn Tuma and I did a webinar for the Legal Marketing Association (LMA) titled: Simple Ways to Effectively Use Social Media to Help Build Your Law Practice.

I focused on blogging and Shawn showed participants how to use the social media tools to share blog posts, engage and build relationships.

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Here is a link to our Prezi slides.

In 2010, a national law firm marketing department asked me to go cross country and spend a day in four of their offices giving a presentation on blogging and social media and then meeting with practice groups in those offices.  I knew I had been asked to do this task because of the color of my hair (white) and my experience practicing law (35 plus years).

At the time, the firm was not blogging and only a handful of lawyers were using any of the social media tools. Now, the firm has 11 blogs and several lawyers in leadership positions are using social media very effectively. So, I must have made an impression on a few lawyers over 50.

In one of the offices, during a meeting with a practice group, the youngest partner asked:

Cordell, suppose we tell you we do not want to blog or use social media. In five years will we be behind our competitors?

I replied:

Suppose in the 90s your practice group told firm leaders. We do not want to have our group on the firm webpage and we do not want to use email. Do you think in five years you would have been behind your competitors?

The LMA members use social media effectively. I have met several of their members on Twitter.  I thought I might  share with you some of the tweets that members generated during my part of the presentation.

Gail Lamarche @gaillamarche
blogging is different than any other legal writing — @cordellparvin sharing tips/best practices #LMAMKT 3 potential audiences

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Who are your blogging audiences? Your clients, social media sharers, Google search engines — @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Think before you post: Who is your intended reader? Why should they care? What is the takeaway for reader? #lmamkt @cordellparvin

Lindsay Griffiths @LindsayGriffith
A blog is a conversation with your reader whereby you are trying to build a trust-based relationship (YES!!) per @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Gail Lamarche @gaillamarche
your blog is a conversation with your reader and trying to build a trust based relationship #LMAMKT via @cordellparvin build a connection

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Lawyers, your blog readers skim your posts. They read down, not across. High % never finish. Do’t bury the lead. — @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Lawyers, you need a great headline for your blog posts. Will it be found if someone searches for that legal topic? @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
Lawyers tend to write linearly. Your clients don’t need the entire history. — @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Lindsay Griffiths @LindsayGriffith
“Clients don’t care about the history of Swiss watch making; they just want to know what time it is” – GREAT metaphor @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Nancy Myrland @NancyMyrland
“Use persuasive words when blogging. The words ‘you’ and ‘because’ are incredibly important.” — @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Laura Toledo @lalaland999
Start w/ your lead: the inverted pyramid – alluded to by @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Lance Godard @lancegodard
RT @lalaland999: Start w/ your lead: the inverted pyramid – alluded to by @cordellparvin #LMAMKT

Thanks to each of the LMA members listed above for sharing their thoughts during the presentation. As a quick aside, I have never met any of them in person, but have gotten to know them on social media.

If you are interested, you can find the slides Shawn and I used here. Look carefully at Shawn’s slides and you will learn how his strategic use of social media generated new clients and writing opportunities.

I was recently asked what was one important thing I learned about building loyal client relationships. Great question. I responded:

Clients cannot always recognize great legal work, But, they can always recognize a lawyer and law firm who cares about them and makes every effort to provide exceptional client service.

When was the last time client service was on the agenda for a meeting at your firm? If you get a chance brainstorm how you can improve client service. Here are 21 of my ideas.

  1. Learn about the client’s company, business and industry at your expense.
  2. Identify clients’ needs that have the greatest impact on their business success and develop a solution to meet those needs.
  3. Ask clients to identify their objectives before beginning work and then develop a plan to achieve those objectives.
  4. Ask clients how often and how they want to receive communications on their matter.
  5. Establish scope of work, provide an estimate of time, identify law firm staffing and prepare a budget at the outset of any project.
  6. Advise clients when scope of work has changed, the time required to perform work has increased, law firm staffing needs to be changed, or fees may exceed the budget.
  7. Timely return phone  calls and emails.
  8. Deliver value as perceived by the client.
  9. Place young lawyers in your clients’ offices so they can truly “know” the clients’ needs, wants and desires and develop relationships with the clients’ representatives. (They will also likely bring billable work back to the office.).
  10.  Conduct in-house seminars and workshops for clients. If the workshop is for the clients’ legal department, obtain CLE credit for the clients’ lawyers.
  11. Seek to use technology like an extranet to improve efficiency and provide more cost effective services.
  12. Keep your client informed about “breaking news” that might impact them.
  13. Prepare an agenda for each meeting with specific stated objectives and be prepared for the meeting. Prepare action items at the conclusion of the meeting.
  14. Exceed clients’ expectations – to take a thought from the book Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles: Deliver what the client wants-plus one.
  15. When something goes wrong, take responsibility and apologize.
  16. Let clients know when they, or others, can do the work better, or at a lower cost.
  17. Make sure bills are accurate, reflect value of the work performed, do not have names of billers unfamiliar to the client, and are prepared in accordance with the clients needs.
  18.  Offer to attend client business meetings at no charge.
  19. Never waste the client representative’s time.
  20. Ask good questions.
  21. Actively listen.

As you may know, I am a big fan of the Ritz Carlton. I have written about my favorite hotel chain both here and for Practical Lawyer. Recently I wrote: How a Law Firm Can Provide “Ritz Carlton” Service . Take a look you may get some additional ideas.

Today at 1:00 CST, Shawn Tuma and I are doing a Webinar on blogging and social media for the Legal Marketing Association. It is called: Simple Ways to Effectively Use Social Media to Help Build Your Law Practice and it is sponsored by the Social Media SIG. If your marketing professional is a member of the LMA, I encourage you to set up the conference room so you and your lawyer colleagues can participate.

LMA.pngI recently spoke to the Dallas City Group Legal Marketing Association (LMA) chapter on how to set up an effective client development coaching program. The visual is from the announcement of the meeting. In a couple of weeks I will be doing the presentation for the Atlanta City Group LMA.

I suggested that legal marketing professionals bring firm leaders to the meetings. A few leaders attended the Dallas program. If you are attending the Atlanta meeting, I suggest you ask if your lawyers know:

What makes client development in 2011 different and more challenging than 10 years ago – the economy, clients and the tools available
How to develop a business plan
How to determine individual goals that will challenge and stretch them
How to determine what activities to undertake to meet their goals
Methods to hold themselves accountable
How to raise their visibility and credibility to their target market
How to write articles and give presentations that will enhance their reputation and increase their chances of getting hired
Networking
Building relationships
How clients select outside counsel
“Beyond Selling”- How to get business without coming across like a used car salesman
Extraordinary client servicI am speaking at the Dallas Legal Marketing Association (LMA) chapter meeting next month, and the Atlanta LMA chapter meeting in Octobler on how to create an effective client development coaching program. If you are attending either meeting, think about this: Have your lawyes learned:
  • What makes client development in 2011 different and more challenging than 10 years ago – the economy, clients and the tools available
  • How to develop a business plan
  • How to create individual goals that will challenge and stretch them
  • How to determine what activities to undertake to meet their goals
  • Methods to hold themselves accountable
  • How to raise their visibility and credibility to their target market
  • How to write articles and give presentations that will enhance their reputation and increase their chances of getting hired
  • How to write effective blogs
  • The power and effective use of social media
  • How to effectively network
  • How to build lasting relationships
  • How clients select outside counsel
  • “Beyond Selling”- How to get business without coming across like a used car salesman
  • What is extraordinary client service and how to deliver it

On March 17, I will be doing a presentation for the Southwest Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. The title of my presentation is Developing the Next Generation of Rainmakers. When I get to the part on how to make the coaching program a great success, I plan to tell the marketing professionals that selecting the right lawyers to participate is the first and most important element. I will say:

The lawyers who need coaching the least, get the most out of it, because they put the most into it.

Dave Walton, a Cozen O’Connor litigation partner is a prime example. I wrote about Dave in a post in 2009: Take Small Steps for Success. I believe every lawyer in Dave’s coaching group saw the level of his commitment and that served to motivate other members.

Hayes Hunt is another Cozen O’Connor litigation partner who was highly motivated when I coached him. Hayes teaches trial advocacy and at my suggestion he started a litigation blog From the Sidebar. If you are a litigator or interested in litigation, I urge you to subscribe to the blog.

David Walton.jpgYesterday Hayes sent me a link to a guest post Dave Walton had written: The King’s Speech, a Trial Lawyer’s Stutter. When you read it, you will better understand why Dave is so motivated to be successful. He has stuttered since he was a young child. In his first mock appellate argument in law school he was exhausted and stuttered more than usual. The lawyer playing the role of the appellate judge cried. Being a trial lawyer and having to deal with stuttering has made Dave tough and driven him to become the best he can be at anything he tries, including client development coaching. 

My friend Betsy Munnell said it well after reading Dave’s post:

Inspiring words from Dave Walton, a skilled trial lawyer with a King’s challenge, a King’s gift. 

I will share with the legal marketing professionals in Phoenix that the success of their coaching program will hinge on them finding lawyers like Dave Walton. I don’t mean finding lawyers who stutter. I mean finding lawyers who have that something special that drives them to learn and succeed.