Last Monday, I posted: Travel: My Latest Lesson Learned about getting stiffed by a third party travel company that we paid last December, only to learn this December they had not paid the resort we had booked.

We hated paying a second time, but we enjoyed our stay at Secrets Puerto Los Cabos. On Saturday, December 12, we moved to Diamanté Cabo San Lucas.

We played golf there for the first time in January, 2010. Juan Carlos was our caddie and we had the opportunity to have him again on this trip.

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We purchased a week there in January, 2011 before the first place to stay had been constructed.

At first I was nervous because we had paid for our week and couldn’t use it. I wasn’t sure what we had bought other than the opportunity to play golf at a world ranked golf course.

Now, Diamanté is our very favorite place to visit.

The Dunes Golf Course, which is rated #38 in the world is Nancy’s number 1. So, the golf by itself makes Diamanté unique and special. But, there’s more.

At Diamanté the facilities are great. We just stayed a week in our two bedroom location in the Dunes Resort Club. It was really great and we had a wonderful view of the 18th fairway and the ocean,

We walked down the stairs for a Latte, dinner and the golf pro shop. There is a wide variety of food and it’s very good. For the first time ever we spent a week and never left the Diamanté property. But, there’s more.

Because we own the right to use a week at Diamanté we run into many of the same families each year. So, we don’t feel like we don’t know anyone else staying there. But, there’s one more thing that really makes Diamanté special.

What we love most about Diamanté is the staff. They love working at Diamanté so we see the same people every visit. That includes the guys who meet us when we arrive, the waiters in the bar and restaurants, the staff in the pro shops and even the maids who clean our room.

They remember us and make us feel like we are visiting our second home. We get to know them and learn all about their families.

This trip for the third straight year, Javier caddied for us four days. He knows how we play and helps us read putts and pick out the right clubs. We think so much of him that our photo with him last year was our Christmas card photo this year.

Here is our photo with him this year. IMG_0675

It was really funny. On our flight home Nancy and I ate a Christmas cookie from Diamanté and the couple from Wisconsin next to us figured out right way that we had been there.

Look, we are back home now, and there is no place like home, especially for the holidays. But, more than anything else, when we travel, staying at a place that makes us feel like it is our second home is incredibly special.

As many of you grow older, if you can find that kind of place, I guarantee you, it will be the place you want to visit away from your home.

Have a great holiday season.

What are you reading for your career?

Seth Godin recently posted: Did you do the reading?

I always “did the reading.” What kind of reading?

First, I read everything I could get my hands on about the construction industry. I read books on civil engineering, road design, and bridge design. I read books on the business of construction. I subscribed to the American Society of Civil Engineering Journals.

I read books about leadership, business, negotiation, successful companies and persuasion. I read biographies of famous lawyers. I read books about famous trials.

Whenever I read a business book of any kind, I underlined, later highlighted and created my list of takeaways. It’s the only way to make reading the book worth the time.

If you are a regular reader, or if you just know me well, you likely know that several lawyers I coached read books together and every other Friday at 3:00 PM Eastern time they send an email to me and the group outlining their takeaways from a chapter and how they plan to implement what they have learned.

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Some of the books they have read include:

To Sell is Human by Daniel Pink

Give and Take by Adam Grant

How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

They’ve read even more, but I just want to give you a sample.

What are you reading? Will it make you better able to serve your clients, or  lead your lawyers?

Want to start a book group in your firm? Want to be part of one with lawyers I coach?

Thinking of overwhelming this morning because we woke up at about 4:00 AM to the tornado siren outside our house. A few minutes later we, along with the dog were huddled in the closet and heard and felt a tremendous wind going over our house. Just a couple of minutes later it was quiet again.

One of the great joys I have working with law firms across the US and Canada is the opportunity to meet and learn something new from outstanding lawyers.

One example is Pierre Raymond, one of Canada’s leading M&A lawyers, and  the former chair of the well known Canadian firm, Stikeman Elliott. Pierre and I served as a panel sharing ideas with the Stikeman Elliott associates.

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I enjoyed listening to Pierre and asked him to share some of the same ideas with you. Here is Pierre’s guest blog.

When I talk about Business Development to articling students, associates or junior partners, my mantra is always the same, irrespective of their seniority:

1. Get known by as many potential clients as possible;
2. Earn the trust of the potential clients; and
3. “Ask for the order”.

Throughout our career, everything we do in Business Development revolves around these three directives.

1. Get known by as many potential clients as possible: the lawyers senior to you in your firm when you are starting your career and members of the business community when you are a partner.

As an articling student or junior associate, your very first aim ought to be: every associate senior to me and every junior partner in my firm (they are your first pool of clients and will remain so for numerous years) knows (i) that I exist and (ii) that I am eager to work, not only for the lawyers of the firm in general but specifically for him or her.

There are may ways to achieve this goal, here are a few thoughts. You ought to look for a way to distinguish yourself from the crowd: make the first move.

You would be surprised to know how impressive it is for a “senior” to be politely approached by a younger lawyer who introduces himself or herself to me, for example, in an elevator, the lawyers lounge, an office get together, a retreat or (the best) who knocks on my office door and who tells me unequivocally something like “my name is x. I understand you do public M&A and, next time there is an opportunity, I would be very interested to work with you and learn from you”.

Sounds corny? Wrong, big time wrong!

Let the older guy (me) tell you: it is hard not to be impressed by the forthrightness and desire to work shown by a young lawyer who approaches you in such a way. The next time that I am looking for help, do you think that I will be leaning towards asking the articling students/junior associates who wait in their office for seniors to knock on their door to give them work or towards asking the fellow who “got himself/herself known” to me and “asked for the order” a week or two before? Don’t be shy, your seniors will truly be favourably disposed towards you as a result.

2. Earn the trust of the potential clients: being socially apt is useful, but the lawyers senior to you/the external clients will not handover to you the file/ business they are responsible for unless they think you are smart, knowledgeable, reliable and will bring value to the resolution of the matter.

This is not just a fuzzy concept you read about in books (or blogs). As you work on a file for a senior or for an external client, -every day-, ask yourself if you are, at this very moment, earning the trust of your client (internal or external) as a result of

(a) the quality of the work you do for your client this very day,

(b) the timeliness of your deliverable,

(c) the way you summarize verbally your findings, etc.

Every day, be aware of that. Each of those item is an opportunity to earn (or loose) the trust of your client. Don’t miss it.

In my view, one of the best Business Development tools per se and also a great tool to develop your business development abilities is to give a substantive presentation to your practice group or to an external client. Every year, you should participate in two or three of such presentations.

By doing so, you obviously touch on the first two segments of the mantra. But, as or more importantly, such presentations are hard to beat at demonstrating your substance on a particular topic, and in general, hence at gaining the trust of your potential clients.

Of course, giving a presentation can be intimidating at first. But cut your teeth with your practice group, then move on to the whole section. Also, you don’t have to do it all by yourself.

Share the presentation with someone else, it will dilute the stress. Same for client presentations or even lunches with clients, bring someone from another section. It will make the presentation or the lunch livelier and the clients will feel that they got insights from two lawyers with two different backgrounds instead of only one.

3. Ask for the order. Lawyers usually agree with the first two segments of the mantra but are often shy to “ask for the order” explicitly. They push back and say to me “I don’t need to be that outright, the client must know that this is what I am looking for”.

Obviously, you need to be polite but leave the ambiguity at home and you must hear yourself say: internally:

“Do you think that I could be on your team for your next litigation file?”; to an external client:

“Would you retain me and my firm for your next acquisition?”

Doing anything less than that will raise doubt in your clients’ mind as to your determination or you will give them an easy excuse to use someone else who is more insisting (and your internal or external competitors will not be shy, trust me!)

By the way, senior associates and junior partners also ought to knock on their seniors’ doors to get better known (as suggested in 1. above for articling students and junior associates) but principally to “Ask for the order.

Senior associates and junior partners are usually not very keen to do this and say to me:

“I can’t go and knock on doors of lawyers senior to me and ask outright for work, the seniors will think that I am not busy” (and hence that I am probably not a good lawyer in the eyes of the lawyers who generate work in the office).

This is simply paranoia or a bad excuse! Again, the seniors are really pleasantly impressed to see the juniors eager to work and proactive to fill their plate. And, by the way, all seniors have had (and more than once!) a slow period and they will probably secretly think that they should have done then exactly what you are doing now with them!

You can’t get yourself to admit to seniors that you are not busy? Say a white lie (and if you are busy, you nonetheless need to plant the seeds for when you will experience a slow down, say the truth):

“I am quite busy these days, but I would really like to work with you/but we haven’t worked together in a long time. Can you keep me in mind in the near future ?”

Note that I said “Can you keep me…” and not “Please keep me…” Subtle pressure will not hurt!

To sum up, if you look at the Business Development tool kit, some of its tools can, at the outset, be intimidating as they require time, commitment, social skills, etc. But other tools are immediately accessible, numerous small steps that you can easily insert in your everyday routine.

Yes, it requires stepping out of our comfort zone, but ever so slightly. Really. And, as it is for any other matter in our life, stepping out a bit of our comfort zone is…fun and tremendously rewarding professionally and personally.

Pierre Raymond

 

 

If you are a regular reader or if you know me, you know that in 1965 I left the friendly confines of Lombard, IL to begin my college life at Virginia Tech.

T. Marshall Hahn was the President of Virginia Tech then. He was an incredible man and maybe one of the best college president leaders of his time.

I played baseball and lived in Miles Hall for two years with the other Virginia Tech athletes. (When I say I played baseball, that is giving me too much credit, I played as a freshman and “practiced” to play as a sophomore.)

In those two years, I learned about a defensive back in our dorm on the same floor, number 25 a guy named Frank Beamer. He was a great player, but maybe overshadowed by number 10, Frank Loria.

I knew even as a nothing baseball player down the hall that both of those guys were the real deal and would become great coaches. As an aside, I also knew that my friend, Johnny Oates would become a big league player and manager and he did both.

Both Frank Loria and Frank Beamer would become college football coaches. Frank Loria’s life would be cut short in the Marshall football team plane crash. Frank Beamer would become the Virginia Tech head coach in 1987.

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He didn’t start out very well. But Virginia Tech believed in him and he became a legend and the active coach with the most victories.

Frank Beamer announced his retirement on Monday and gave a press conference. While I’m sure there comes a time to “move on” and hire a younger coach, I was teary eyed listening to Frank and watching this  about him.

Virginia Tech alums and fans became so accustomed to 10 win seasons with major bowl appearances that when we didn’t do as well the last four seasons, many wanted Frank to retire. He did, but you could tell he was very sad.

I could feel his pain as I watched.

So many have come forward and shared wonderful stories about Frank Beamer. I want to share just one that I read on Facebook. Please click here and read it because it shows what kind of person Frank Beamer is.

I’m writing a novel. If you know about writing you likely know about a character’s “arc.” In my novel, my protagonist Gina comes to realize she has focused all her attention on what she has achieved, rather than focusing on what kind of person she has become.

Frank Beamer has achieved so very much. He put Virginia Tech on the map, created Beamer Ball and played for a national championship with an underdog team.

But for those Virginia Tech grads who know more than the wins and losses, we will always treasure the man, the unassuming guy from Fancy Gap, Virginia, who was the real deal and showed everyone respect. That is true character.

We love you Frank. Thanks for being the guy any parent would want a son to play for.

 

Call me old fashioned, or maybe just nostalgic. I cherish traditions. Does your city have any? Does your law firm have any?

I grew up in Lombard, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. Lombard is the Lilac Village and each year has a Lilac Festival and a Queen and her Court each year. I saw on the link that it is May 2-17 this year.

I am speaking at an event in Chicago on May 14, so I may just have to take a few hours and walk through Lilacia Park during the festival.

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Last week I wrote about my upcoming trip to Montreal. Because the American Airlines non-stop flight lands at almost midnight, I flew up on Saturday night and I was there on Sunday, the last day the Quebec Region’s Sugaring Off Maple Syrup Festival.

Most of the Sugar Shacks are outside of Montreal, but the City has created its own version where they invite top Montreal chefs to create unique dishes, all with some amount of Maple Syrup.

Montreal lawyer Ayse Dali and her family took a good part of their Sunday to take me to the  Old Montreal: Back at the Sugar Shack. For me it was a once in a lifetime unique and wonderful experience.

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As you know, Nancy and I recently moved to Prosper, Texas. It is a small town well known for its Christmas Festival. A few years ago, Nancy and I attended the annual Waimea Christmas Parade on the Big Island of Hawaii. Even though we were visiting, we felt we were a part of the community.

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My old law firm had a tradition. It wasn’t a big one, but it was an important one. Every Friday we had the “All Attorneys’ Lunch” on our 37th floor.

This was an opportunity for us to spend time with our colleagues from different floors and practice groups. Since there were about 200 lawyers in Dallas on 8-9 different floors, leaders thought this tradition was an important one.

I visited my old firm (now part of a larger firm) last year and was pleased to learn that the Dallas lawyers still eat lunch together on Fridays.

What are the traditions in your home town or your law firm? If you have an extra minute, please share them by commenting here.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

My 2015 Business Plan:

My plan 2015 has many similar goals to past plans, most of which focus on getting in front of current and potential clients. But, this year’s goals will be achieved in somewhat different ways than in the past.

In 2011, Lamson, Dugan and Murray partner, Craig Martin, wrote: A 2012 Business Plan to Get in Front of Existing and Potential Clients. I asked Craig to share his ideas with you on his plan for 2015.

Relationship Building:

This year I will be serving on the Boards for both the Cornhusker Chapter for Associated Builders and Contractors and the Omaha Chapter for the National Association of the Remodeling Industry These board positions should provide excellent opportunities to build relationships with industry members.

Industry Presentations:

 I will continue to provide Lunch & Learns for clients and friends in the construction industry. This year I have also been invited to present at a bonding company’s regional meeting for its Midwestern clients. I am also looking into providing a webinar for ABC National. Blogging. I will continue to blog twice a week on the Construction Contractor Advisor , writing about construction industry trends and topics of interest. Blogging has become a tremendous resource for new clients. My goal this year is to be named in the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100.

While this year’s plan is not full of new ideas, it is so rewarding to reap the benefits of previous year’s business plans. If I had not made it a goal to become more involved in industry organizations, I never would have been asked to serve on these boards. If I had not been presenting to industry members, I never would have been asked by a bonding company to speak at their regional meeting. And, if I had not been blogging, I would not have generated nearly as many clients or gotten to the first page of Google for Nebraska Construction Attorney searches.

A couple of months ago I received an email from Frank Strong, Communications Director of LexisNexis. Frank wanted to provide me access to the LexisNexis Law Practice Management Software in the Cloud. Frank sent the PR piece and a blog: 10 Reasons to Love LexisNexis Firm Manager for Law Firm Practice Management . I suggested that LexisNexis do a guest blog for you to learn more about the Practice Management Software.

Guest blog by Loretta Ruppert is the Sr. Director with LexisNexis Firm Manager. Loretta brings experience as a previous business owner and legal technology consultant, a manager of professional services for a CPA firm, an accountant, and a subject matter expert for developing back-office software. Probably most relevant, she is a former law firm employee and user of law firm practice management and financial systems. Find her on Twitter @LorettaRuppert.

The “cloud” is something approaching a nebulous term that has nonetheless worked its way into the lawyerly lexicon.

According to a recent LexisNexis Firm Manager survey, 40 percent of small law firm attorneys say they are already using the cloud; 50 percent say they are more likely to use cloud tools, and 72 percent say their firm is more likely to use cloud tools this year than they were in the last.

So it’s a done deal then isn’t it – everyone’s going cloud diving? Not exactly. The cloud comes with reservations – and specifically the top two reservations from the same survey results are 1) security and 2) ethics.

Law firms considering the cloud would be well advised to vet the security of any cloud provider. This is both a matter of IT security and policy. With regard to IT security, firms need to ensure the technology they select affords them the data protection they expect for storing confidential client files. By contrast, policy centers on data ownership – and assurances that what a law firm puts in a cloud – may also be taken out should it choose to leave.

As for ethics, at the time of this writing thirteen states, though not all of the original colonies, have published cloud ethics opinions. The ethical standard across most of these consists of “reasonable care.” That is to say for example, that an attorney has taken reasonable care to ensure the vendor provides preservation of confidentiality or has taken adequate measures to inform the client of cloud-use for matters the practice undertakes.

5 tips for evaluating the cloud

Despite the enthusiasm for the cloud, reservations remain. Often the anecdote to reservation is education and understanding. To that end, if you or your firm is considering the cloud, here are five tips for evaluating the cloud.

1. Identify a business need. Having the latest and greatest tools might win popularity points, but it’s not the basis for pragmatic business decisions. The first step to deciding whether or not a firm needs the cloud is to identify a problem you are trying to solve – and mapping that to the solution that will solve that problem. In the aforementioned survey, the two single largest benefits small law firm attorneys identified were a) mobility and access to data from anywhere and b) disaster recovery and back up storage.

2. Understand data protection. Attorneys need assurances that the vendor they choose will safeguard their data with the same level of caution lawyers do. Standard requirements for any confidential data sources ought to offer encryption, security testing and third-party validation of those tests. The location of the data centers where law firm information might be stored is an important consideration given the rules governing who has access can vary from country to country.

3. Examine the data policies. The terms of service (ToS) should be crystal clear to an attorney putting their faith in the cloud. It’s not just a question of technology, but also one of policy. For example, a law firm should ensure that it maintains complete right of ownership of any data in the cloud.

4. Explore service level agreements. Any tool chosen is of little value if it cannot be used when an attorney needs it the most – a challenging client call is one where your matter information is stored safely in the cloud but you are unable to access the data. Especially in a profession like law, the service needs to work when and where you work. Guarantees of the service’s performance and evidence that the vendor itself has a data recovery plan in place are among the minimum requirements a law firm should expect.

5. Consider future functionality. Especially with small, but growing law firms, attorneys should consider the service provider’s ability to scale with the business. Sometimes this means more than the ability to handle a greater workload, and also includes future uses – such as integrations with email and the typical calendaring programs. Even if today, the only business case for the cloud is to share files securely, or to back up data, it’s worth considering the vendor of choice’s capacity to support future needs.

* * *

Outside the legal industry, even consumer-software is increasingly moving towards cloud models. Within the legal industry, nearly 40 percent of respondents believe that cloud-based tools will eclipse the pervasive traditional premise-based solutions. The tips offered here are a good starting point for evaluating whether or not that’s a path that fits the needs of your practice or firm.

 

 

What is the first goal of your law firm’s blogs and use of social media? I suspect for most law firms the goal is to attract new clients. I contend that the first goal should be to deepen relationships with existing clients.  After your firm accomplishes that goal, it can use those tools to get noticed by potential clients.

Recently I read: The Big Brand Theory: The Ritz-Carlton Uses Social Media to Create Indelible Memories. It is worth reading and using as a model. When asked what Ritz Carlton hopes to achieve using social media,  Allison Sitch, Vice President of Global Public Relations, said:

It comes down to one word: engagement. It’s a natural extension of who we are as a brand. We engage in deep relationships with our guests. We genuinely care about them and their individuality and what they’re looking for.

If you are a regular reader, you know that I measure service by what I receive at The Ritz Carlton Hotels. I know from my own experiences that Ritz Carlton does care about it guests and it shows in its use of social media.

What can your law firm learn from Ritz Carlton? How can your law firm engage in deep relationships with clients and potential clients? I am interested in hearing your thoughts, but here are mine:

  • Use social media to keep up with your clients’ businesses.
  • Use social media to keep up with your clients’ industries.
  • Use social media to stay in touch with your clients’ contacts.
  • Use blogs to report on matters your clients need to know.
  • Use blogs to share your insights on those matters.
  • When appropriate, use blogs and social media to promote things your clients are doing to help their communities.