Friday, December 31, 2010

Thanks for 2010. Looking Forward to 2011.

As 2010 comes to a close, I'd like to thank our clients, co-workers and friends for their business and support. We look forward with anticipation to the joys and challenges of 2011.

If you are spending this weekend working on your law firm business development goals, here is a link to our free 2011 legal marketing plan white paper.

Happy New Year! Consider us as a marketing resource for 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Make a 2011 Law Firm Marketing Calendar

January 1 is almost here, and your attorney marketing calendar should be in writing, ready to implement. Here are some campaign suggestions from my Courting Your Clients legal marketing book:

1. Social media marketing. Use your blog as a content driver for LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. 1-4 social media posts per week minimum is a good starting point.

2. Speak at conferences and seminars. Two speeches per year minimum is a starting goal.

3. Publish. Plan now to write at least two articles for publication in 2011. Editors are always receptive to a well-written article.

4. Internet marketing. Search for your services on Google (i.e., IP law firm in Los Angeles) and make sure you show up. If all you see are your competitors, you are losing high quality leads!

Here is access to a 2011 legal marketing plan white paper designed to help you expand your law practice. In addition to a recommended campaign schedule, you will find a sample marketing calendar and a guide to preparing your law firm marketing budget.

Or contact this Rainmaking Lady to discuss your marketing needs.

Monday, December 13, 2010

2011 Legal Marketing Outlook: Sharp Elbows

Client retention and competition for new legal accounts will draw intense 2011 attention, as outlined in a Washington Post story today titled "Law firms use layoffs to add to profits" by Amanda Becker.

According to the story, "The legal specialty group at Wells Fargo Wealth Management said firms in the Washington area saw profits per equity partner rise 8.4 percent during the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2009, despite the fact that revenues were flat. The bottom line was helped by paying out an average of 4.8% less for salaries, as firms tweaked headcounts and stopped paying termination expenses to former employees."

As GCs continue to slash budgets for outside legal expenses, law firms are taking an even harder line on prompt timecard submissions and collections. Increased alternative fee arrangements will follow the law of supply and demand, potentially making new accounts less lucrative.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

2011 Legal Marketing Plan Available

Want to expand your law firm client list in 2011? Here is a simple yet structured guide to business development titled Sample 2011 Legal Marketing Plan, now available for download.

December is an ideal time for law firms that are serious about legal marketing to prepare for a strong January launch of business development campaigns. Managing Partners, practice group chairs, solo attorneys and experienced practitioners will find this to be a handy reference guide.

Social media marketing on LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter and Facebook; referral networking; speaking; article placement; Internet marketing; SEO; and more all play an important role in building a successful integrated lawyer marketing program.

The 2011 Legal Marketing Plan, based on the legal marketing book Courting Your Clients by firm marketing consultant Margaret Grisdela, shows attorneys how to translate their attorney marketing plan into a marketing calendar and marketing budget.

Connect with Margaret Grisdela on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Legal Marketing for a DUI & Criminal Practice

Who are good referral sources for a criminal attorney who handles DUI, traffic and related cases? This question arose from a reader of my legal marketing book Courting Your Clients today.

Of course non-competing attorneys and accountants can be good referral sources. Criminal lawyers might also try attorney referral services, perhaps from local bar associations or the courts. Bail bondsmen could also provide referrals.

A leads group like BNI is potentially another good source, since it gives on-going exposure to a wide audience with many contacts.

DUI attorneys might also look for other niche markets. For example, counselors at universities or high schools might be a good referral source. Students who get in trouble with the law are likely to have parents who appreciate the value of maintaining a clean record with the law. 

Here in Florida many DUI attorneys get a list of DUI offenders from the courts or police department that they use for direct mail campaigns.

Did I mention the Internet? Of course, this is an ideal source of lead generation through Internet marketing, SEO, Google AdWords, and social media (blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook).

Other forms of legal marketing for DUI and criminal offenses might include placing ads at race tracks, bowling alleys, sports arenas, or other outlets that emphasize competitive behavior.

As always, adhere to the attorney advertising guidelines for your state in these types of legal marketing campaigns. Remember, never stop marketing!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Competitive Intelligence Book for Law Firms

Winning new law firm business in 2011 will come after hard fought battles for market share in today's economy, especially for AmLaw 100 and 200 firms. How and where should a law firm concentrate their business development resources in order to beat the competition?

Competitive Intelligence: Improving Law Firm Strategy and Decision Making, a new book by Ann Lee Gibson (Ark Group / Managing Partner magazine, 2010), may help law firms answer that question.

According to the author, "the book is aimed at a broad audience -- partners and senior managers of law firms, CI practitioners and othes inside or outside law firms who want to understand how to apply CI in a law firm setting.

It takes a highly practical look at how CI is applied in firms. It also addresses how CI in the legal industry is similar to and distinct from CI in other industries, the challenges peculiar to law firms, typical law firm key intelligence topics and assignments, and more."

A Table of Contents and Executive Summary are available for review. Sample sections and ordering info is available here.

Marketing to your current clients is always an important part of any legal marketing plan, as outlined in my legal marketing book (Courting Your Clients), now in its 2nd edition. Since you already have a strong relationship with existing accounts, cross-sell and up-sell campaigns can help you extend your reach.

Read more about the book and author here. From one legal marketing author to another, congratulations Ann!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Booz Allen: Analogies to Strategic Legal Marketing

Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (BAH) went public yesterday (see today’s Wall Street Journal). Law firm business development strategies come to mind in reading from the BAH prospectus. Chief Marketing Officers and Managing Partners might be interested in some of the benchmark data from the prospectus.

Key BAH business points include: $5.1 billion in revenue in FY 2010; 25,100 employees; 1,300 clients; and 4,900 contracts and task orders.

Of particular interest from a benchmarking perspective is that BAH enjoys an overall win rate of 57% on new contracts and task orders for which they compete, and an impressive win rate of more than 92% on re-competed contracts and task orders for existing or related business. Law firms can compare their performance on new business pitches and take action accordingly.

Translating some of the operating numbers into averages (admittedly an imperfect calculation), BAH has average revenue per client of almost $4 million. The average client engages the firm for 3.8 contracts, with average revenue per contract of $1 million. Each employee generates an average of $203,187 in annual revenue. Looks like BAH has perfected attempts at cross-selling and up-selling current clients.

Revenue has been strong in recent years (18% CAGR), which is a reflection of federal spending. The major weakness in this business model is complete dependence on one industry – the federal government. With budget deficit committee reports and DOD budget cuts in the news, the strategic focus on one market sector may backfire as government expense reduction moves to the forefront in 2011 and beyond.

Additional similarities between Booz Allen and the legal industry can be found in the BAH operating model, which the prospectus describes as being based on the following factors:

(1) Dedication to client service, which focuses on leveraging experience and knowledge to provide differentiated insights;

(2) Partnership-style culture and compensation system, which fosters collaboration and the efficient allocation of people across markets, clients and opportunities;

(3) Professional development and 360-degree assessment system, which ensures that people are aligned with the firm’s collaborative culture, core values and ethics; and

(4) Approach to the market, which leverages a matrix of deep domain expertise in the defense, intelligence and civil markets with strong capabilities in strategy and organization analytics, technology and operations.

Interesting reading! The full prospectus is available here via What is your 2011 legal marketing strategy? This @RainmakingLady, author of Courting Your Clients, is available for discussions. Contact her at 1-866-417-7025.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Starting a Law Firm? Here are 3 Legal Marketing Tips to Make $$

Recent law school graduates, yet to take the Bar exam, are already planning to hang out a shingle, according to an article on today's Above the Law titled Spurning Biglaw: Graduates Choose Starting a Small Firm Over Getting a Big Paycheck.

Recognizing that business is down for many attorneys these days, the three law students featured in this article are willing to work hard, build their practice, and keep expenses low the first couple of years to match expected income.

As the author of the legal marketing book Courting Your Clients, I have dozens of ideas on how attorneys can get new business. Here are 3 techniques that serve as a foundation:
  1. Build Your Referral Network. This sounds basic, but the truth is that most attorneys rely on referrals for new business. However, they don't maximize the power of their network because they manage it in their head rather than on paper. Write down your best referral sources - non-competing attorneys, accountants, or bankers - and assign an A/B/C priority to each one. Be in touch with your "A" referral sources every 30-45 days, ideally in person. Connect with your "B" sources every 60 days, also in person. Add your "C" referral sources to your email or call list. Stick to the referral network contact schedule and you will have a sales force working for you 24/7 without the need for commissions.
  2. Focus your practice and target your prospects. Concentrate in no more than 3 related practice areas. This will help clarify your marketing message. Your marketing dollars will be more productive, because you are spending on a narrow market and will get better word-of-mouth. Create a list of at least 25 high quality prospects that you want to develop as clients, then take it step by step to meet the right people at each prospect firm, introduce your law firm, and develop the relationship. 
  3. Create a strong Internet presence. A website is a must, and social media is a plus. You want prospects to find you online, and those that you meet in person will want to visit your website to learn more about you. 
That's just the starting point! Want more ideas? Read the book Courting Your Clients for a simple yet structured approach to legal marketing. 

If you read this post in time, sign up for our Courting Your Clients webinar scheduled for Friday November 12th (more in the future). Contact the author for more information.

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Courting Your Clients Webinar this Friday 11/12, Noon

    Learn the business development methodology outlined in the new 2nd edition of Courting Your Clients: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing in a free webinar this Friday.

    Webinar details:

    Introduction to Courting Your Clients
    Friday, November 12, 2010
    Noon to 12:30 EST
    Click to register here

    Author and law firm consultant Margaret Grisdela will demonstrate how speaking, publishing, referral networking, Internet marketing, and other forms of business development all work together to create a cohesive legal marketing program focused on lead generation.

    Participants will learn how to integrate multiple marketing and public relations tools with simple yet powerful written plans, including a calendar of scheduled campaigns, that make it easy to monitor performance and measure results.

    This webinar is ideal for solo attorneys, managing partners, lawyers in a small to mid-sized law firm, law firm administrators, and law students. 

    The book is also available for purchase here.

    For further information about the webinar, call 1-866-417-7025 or send an email to the author.

    Blog Copywriting Topic for Class Action Lawyers

    The case AT&T Mobility Services vs. Concepcion will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 9th. The future of class action law may rest on the decision reached by the Court in this matter.

    Class action attorneys on both sides of the issue will find this to be an excellent topic for blog copywriting this week.

    Specifically, the court will review a 9th Circuit decision holding that the Federal Arbitration Act did not preempt a California law rendering a cell phone company’s arbitration clause unconscionable because it made consumers waive their right to class-wide arbitration, according to a recent article in the Wisconsin Law Journal titled U.S. Supreme Court Term Packed with Big Cases.

    Attorneys who are looking for assistance in creating or maintaining a law firm blog as part of a legal marketing can contact this Rainmaking Lady for help. Blog copywriting is one of many services available as part of our Courting Your Clients legal marketing methodology.

    Sunday, November 07, 2010

    How to Add a Tweet Button to your Law Firm Website

    Lawyers looking for viral Internet marketing options can now add a tweet button to a web page. Visitors will then be able to easily retweet the page, giving the law firm strong word-of-mouth legal marketing benefits.

    Here's how it works:
    1. Choose the style of button you want. Options include vertical or horizontal, each with or without a counter. You can also customize language regarding the tweet text, URL and language to be used.
    2. Recommend people to follow in the retweet. The default is that your own Twitter name will be included (for example, the author's is @RainmakingLady).
    3. Preview your button to confirm it works the way you want.
    4. Copy the HTML code created for you by Twitter, and add it to your webpage(s).
    You can also create your own custom Tweet button if you wish using special developer tools. Full details here.

    Here's WHY you should test the Tweet button on your site:
    1. Your message is more powerful when it is relayed by others to their circle of friends.
    2. You will increase online lead generation, creating new prospects for your legal services.
    3. Gain a competitive advantage by increasing your social media and SEO visibility.
    You can add the tweet button to any or all pages on your website. Your law firm home page would be a good place, as well as any special "link bait" pages you create to provide valuable information for prospective clients.

    Consider this as one more marketing communications tool for your legal marketing and Internet marketing campaigns.

    Read more how to add a Tweet button here. This Rainmaking Lady is available to take your questions.

    Friday, November 05, 2010

    New Twitter Features Juice Legal Marketing

    Lawyers intent on Internet marketing and SEO visibility will want to check out new Twitter features, including:
    • Tweet Details. When you click a Tweet, an adjacent panel opens to display additional information about the author or subject. Depending on the Tweet’s content, you may see: @replies, other Tweets by that same user, a map of where a geotagged Tweet was sent from, and more.
    • Mini Profiles. Attorneys on Twitter will now get the benefit of having portions of their profile information, including latest Tweets, displayed in a panel adjacent to a Tweet. Visitors simply need to click on the attorney's Twitter name to see this data, without navigating to the actual profile page. 
    These features are currently in preview, and will be adopted over the next few weeks. Learn more about Twitter enhancements here.

    Law firms who are not on Twitter are missing a golden business development opportunity.

    If you want to learn about how Twitter and other social media strategies fit into your overall marketing program, register for a complimentary legal marketing webinar featuring the Courting Your Clients approach to business development. Friday, November 12th at Noon EST, 30 minutes. Register here.

    Visit the author on Twitter @RainmakingLady.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Courting Your Clients Legal Marketing Book Now in 2nd Edition

    LinkedIn, Twitter, blog syndication, and other social media marketing campaigns are among the many law firm business development ideas contained in the second edition of “Courting Your Clients: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing,” now available from Legal Expert Connections.  

    "Attorneys today face enormous time pressure to simultaneously provide excellent legal service and attract new business in order to maintain billable hours," said author and law firm marketing consultant Margaret Grisdela. "The book Courting Your Clients outlines a step-by-step methodology that can be easily adapted to any law practice."

    Speaking, publishing, referral networking, Internet marketing, and other forms of business development all work together to create a cohesive legal marketing program focused on lead generation. The methodology outlined in Courting Your Clients suggests the number of times each activity should be conducted over the course of a year. Simple yet powerful written plans, including a calendar of scheduled campaigns, make it easier to monitor performance and measure results.

    Marketing to current and past clients is an essential element in any effort to enhance law firm revenue and profitability. The book devotes an entire chapter to client retention and growth programs, including up-sell and cross-sell campaigns. Other marketing recommendations include focusing on a niche, clearly defining ideal clients, and attracting qualified prospects through an educational approach to business development.

    About the Book

    Courting Your Clients: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing
    Second edition
    Margaret Grisdela, author
    ISBN 978-0-9795674-1-4, 175 pages
    Published by Legal Expert Connections, Inc.
    $29.95 plus shipping

    Order the legal marketing book Courting Your Clients here.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Client Diversification Minimizes Revenue Risk

    Over dependence on a small number of accounts can put your law firm at great risk. As Corporate Counsel increasingly conduct account reviews in an effort to reduce outside legal costs through convergence (i.e. reducing the number of law firms they work with) or alternate billing arrangements, your law firm may draw the short straw.

    A law firm Managing Partner can inadvertently be in this position for several reasons. During stronger economic times, many law firms did not feel the need to conduct any aggressive legal marketing campaigns. As the economy has contracted, however, so has the flow of incoming leads. Suddenly a law firm has a dwindling client base.

    Alternatively, a law firm that is lucky enough to sign a new large account can quickly get wrapped up in the day-to-day needs of client fulfillment. Before the attorneys think about the longer term implications, the firm may be overly reliant on one or two major accounts. If one of these large client leaves unexpectedly, the ability to pay salaries or the rent can suddenly become difficult.

    What is the answer? Attorneys must find a way to meet the daily demands of court deadlines and client expectations, while also investing in an on-going legal marketing campaign.

    If internal staff resources are tight, law firms can reinvest some revenue in outsourced business development activities. The right law firm marketing consultant can recommend an integrated set of programs that will increase visibility, generate leads, and help the firm to create more revenue opportunities with existing clients through up-sell or cross-sell initiatives.

    You can learn more about protecting your law firm's revenue base with my legal marketing book Courting Your Clients: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing. It's now available in a 2nd edition, which includes social media marketing, blog syndication, and a recommended guide to scheduling your marketing activities. Order your copy today.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Client Segmentation in Legal Marketing

    If 80% of your law firm revenue comes from only 20% of your clients, the Pareto Principle is at work. Think of this like a pyramid, where a small number of accounts represent your “Priority A” clients, while you are likely to have many low priority accounts.

    Segmentation is the process of dividing all your accounts into 3 or 5 prioritized categories (like High, Medium, and Low). Revenue levels usually determine the priority of an account, but other factors can include client-generated referrals or client prestige.

    Five Reasons to Segment your Clients
    1. Segmentation helps you to create appropriate law firm marketing strategies
    2. You will be able to allocate your legal marketing time and resources more effectively
    3. Client segmentation provides guidance on account prioritization to fellow attorneys and other staff members (although you don’t want to openly publish your prioritization strategies) 
    4. Common characteristics of your best accounts can help you target similar clients for new business development
    5. Not every account is a good one. It's OK to fire your low level accounts (within ethical guidelines, of course).
    Learn More about "Courting Your Clients"

    Client segmentation, cross-sell, and up-sell techniques are just a few of the many topics covered in the 2nd edition of the legal marketing book "Courting Your Clients: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing." Click on the title to order your copy today.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    National Law Review Features Attorney Articles

    Syndicating social media and attorney business development were the topics of two articles I recently published in the Business of Law section of the National Law Review.

    If you are trying to increase your online visibility, NLR offers you another outlet. Below are some FAQs from a recent NLR enewsletter.

    What Does NLR Publish?
    Secondary legal analysis - alerts, newsletter articles, blog posts, by-lined articles. They don't publish press releases and other promotional items.

    Who Reads the NLR?
    Most frequent readers are in-house attorneys and mid to upper-level managers from the insurance, compliance, health care, risk management, pharmaceutical, chemical, finance, engineering and human resources fields.

    How Many Readers Does the NLR Have?
    NLR averages well over 23,000 visits per month with 85% of those visits being new. During the week they average over a 1,000 visitors a day.

    Who Owns the NLR?
    NLR is a woman owned and operated business.

    What Does it Cost?
    NLR offers two packages. All the content your firm can upload for a flat annual fee of $1,499. If you prefer that NLR uploads your firm's content, add $500 for a flat annual fee of $1,999.

    How Does NLR Reach Legal Consumers?
    NLR's content is featured on professional association websites as a legal news resource. Also, the NLR comes up higher in searches due to NLR's SEO friendly design and the high volume of quality content posted every day. NLR promotes in traditional ways too - through direct mail, newsletters and conferences.

    Learn more about National Law Review here.

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Blogger Options May Attract More Attorney Blogs

    If your law firm is thinking of a blog, Google just made it a bit easier. Blogger, the popular free blog software available from Google, has added a number of new features recently. Highlights include:
    • New Blog Template Designer
    • Spam Comment Filtering
    • Built-in Blog Stats
    • Improved Post Editor
    • Static Pages
    • Jump Breaks
    • Background Image Uploads
    • Accurate Post Previews
    • Photo Captions
    • More Default Templates
    Setting up the software for a new blog can actually be the easiest part of blogging! The hard part comes when you need to hit the keyboard for your blog copywriting. It helps to create a legal marketing plan for the blog, and an editorial calendar that will give some structure to your blog topic selection.

    Learn more blog tips for law firms here.

    Tuesday, October 05, 2010

    Lack of Billable Hours = Job Loss at Husch Blackwell

    Twenty attorneys were released from Husch Blackwell LLP due to insufficient 2009 billable hours. In a October 4th Law360 article by Richard Vanderford titled "Husch Blackwell Chops 20 Attorney Jobs," first reported by Above the Law, the outlook is cloudy:  

    "At least one consulting firm thinks bad times for attorney job security may not be over. An analysis from a top executive at legal consulting firm Hildebrandt Baker Robbins suggested that almost 27 percent of the 65,000 non-partner lawyer jobs in the nation's top 200 law firms — 17,500 positions — could be eliminated or shifted to lower-paying assignments in the next five to seven years."

    Business development continues to be a top priority on the 2011 law firm horizon, cautions this @Rainmaking Lady. Attorneys who are less than confident in their rainmaking skills should spend some time learning the basics. The good news is that these skills can be acquired with some practice. Writing articles is a good way to get attention. Social media also can be effective in attracting attention. These are just a few of the many practice development tips covered in my legal marketing book Courting Your Clients, available later this month in the second edition.

    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Tips on Blog Copywriting for Lawyers

    Where do you get subject ideas for your law firm blog? How long should your blog post be? When does the blog need to be updated?

    These are just a few of the many questions that were addressed in a meeting today of the Legal Marketing Association, South Florida City Group.

    Jeff Zbar, writer and "Chief Home Officer" was the guest luncheon speaker. His answers to the questions listed above are:
    1. Get blog story ideas from Google Alerts, trade journals, news media, daily events, and even celebrity news
    2. Your blog posts can be short; 300-500 words is recommended
    3. Update your blog frequently. (Daily is great, but 2-3 times per week works also.)
    Syndicate your blog using your RSS feed to broaden your reach is another suggestion for law firm bloggers. You can post your blog material to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook quite easily using features on each of these services or through a service like HootSuite.

    My personal experience is that a well written blog can attract qualified prospects, reporters, and others interested in your firm's legal services. If you need ideas for your blog, let's talk!

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Law Firm Managing Partners Optimistic on 2011

    According to the New York State Bar, "A straw poll of 21 managing partners at New York law firms revealed guarded optimism about hiring trends and demand for legal services in 2011. Only two of the 21 respondents said that they anticipated legal work would decrease next year, while more than 50 percent expected to hire the same number or slightly more first year associates than in 2010." Read the full story.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    U.S. News - Best Lawyers List Debuts

    Almost 9,000 law firms in 81 practice areas in 171 metropolitan areas and 7 states are included in the latest entrant in the law firm ranking races. U.S. News and Best Lawyers, the leading survey of lawyers worldwide, have partnered to produce a list aptly named "Best Law Firms."

    View the selection methodology here. National first-tier rankings will be featured in the October print issue of U.S.News & World Report, which will go on sale September 27.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    San Bruno Fire Solicitations Draw CalBar Warning

    Citing "potential criminal and unethical  conduct by some attorneys," the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel of The State Bar of California issued a strongly worded attorney solicitation advisory notice on September 10th.

    Fire victims, family members, and health care professionals are reminded that unsolicited direct contact with a prospective client by phone or in person is forbidden. Attorneys or their agents who violate this prohibition will very likely be reported to the Bar for disciplinary action.

    One legitimate legal marketing approach to fire victims is to draw their attention to a law firm's website through the use of Internet marketing techniques like search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing. The use of event-related keywords, custom webpages, and even subject-specific mini-sites will attract the attention of potential fire victims who are actively seeking information on their legal rights. Information on legal services can then be provided to the potential client on an "on request" rather than an unsolicited basis.

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Replace Billable Hour Debate with Value Discussion

    Cooley, LLP, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati LLP, DLA Piper LLP, and Venable LLP have discovered an effective way to shift attention from the billiable hour debate to the delivery of substantive value for clients, in an article titled "Law Firms Offer Discounts, Play Matchmaker," published in the Wall Street Journal on 9/9/10.

    An earlier blog column this week referenced the never-ending attention paid to hourly rates, and the WSJ articles gives insight on legal marketing strategies that effectively target client needs, in this case entrepreneurial start-ups.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2010

    Another Day, Another Law Firm Rate Survey

    Partner rates increased an average of 8.6% while mid-level and senior associate rates went up over 11% from 2007-2009, according to a Wall Street Journal blog article on a new survey by CT TyMetrix and the Corporate Executive Board.

    These numbers are somewhat in conflict with the recent ALM Law Firm Economics Survey covered in this column last week, which reported that hourly rates dropped from 2007 to 2008 before regaining some ground in 2009.

    As any legal marketing expert knows, it is always wise to steer the conversation away from how much something costs to the value delivered to the client. The return to the client - in terms of litigation avoidance, competitive product advantages, or financially favorable contract terms - deserves much more attention in this equation.

    Thursday, September 02, 2010

    Law Firm Economics: On the Rebound?

    $342/hour was the average equity partner's 2009 billing rate, while a $400/hour rate put a partner in the top quartile, according to the recently released ALM Legal Intelligence 2010 Survey of Law Firm Economics, subtitled "Weathering the Storm."

    Other survey highlights include:
    • Realization rates are now 85.9%, down from 88%
    • Billable hours for equity partners averaged 1,636 in 2009
    • Billable hours for associates fell slightly to 1,746 hours
    • The ratio of associates to partners is at its lowest level in 25 years
    • The ratio of support staff to attorneys is .88:1, the lowest level on record
    • Average compensation per equity partner is $358,035
    Click here for more findings from the ALM 2010 Survey of Law Firm Economics, or visit ALM Legal Intelligence. Contact ALM via email or by callling 888-770-5647.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2010

    5 Legal Marketing Tips for September

    Today marks the start of a natural business sales cycle. As Labor Day approaches and the summer schedule fades, here are 5 simple attorney marketing tips to help you get more business.

    1. Reconnect with your network. Back to school means back to work. Organizations that went dark over the summer now offer lots of “meet-and greet” opportunities. Think of your 10 best referral sources, and make a point to reconnect with them at upcoming events.

    2. Target 3 -5 prospects. Business development is a top priority at many law firms these days. Write down a list of new client candidates, and then do your homework to identify key decision makers and issues facing each company or industry. Use the many networking events available to you this Fall to make personal contacts with these prospects. Work your way up to a personal meeting as part of your effort to offer legal solutions.

    3. Market to your current clients. Existing accounts are your best source of new revenue fast. Consider a client newsletter, client alert, e-newsletter, or other marketing communication that offers value. Remind clients of your full range of services for maximum cross-sell and up-sell benefit.

    4. Increase your social media marketing efforts. Whether you are a novice or an expert, pick up the pace on your digital marketing communications. LinkedIn is an excellent place to start with the legal crowd, as well as Martindale Connected, JD Supra, and many others.

    5. Polish your elevator pitch. You’ll need it for all the new networking events. Make it short and sweet: a) say what you do in a brief yet memorable way (i.e., ours is “we help lawyers make more money”); b) say who you do it for; and c) offer a quick benefit statement. Make a mental note, also, of the pitch provided by your conversation partners.

    Start your planning efforts today and over the Labor Day weekend, so that you can get a quick start on your September business development goals.

    Contact the author to discuss legal marketing ideas for your firm.

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Start Social Media Legal Marketing with LinkedIn

    Setting up your company profile on LinkedIn is a good first step on the path to social media marketing for law firms.

    Your company profile page can feature a wide range of information, including location, website, number of employees, practice areas, and recent news. LinkedIn users, like prospects or future employees, will be able to "follow" news about your firm also.

    Here are step-by-step instructions from LinkedIn. Please note that you must have a company-owned email domain in order to set up your profile.

    Click on "Companies" found under "More" in the top navigation bar of the LinkedIn menu.

    Click on the "Add a Company" link found in the upper right area of the page.

    Type in your company's official name and your email address at the company on the "Company Name and Email" page. If your email address is already tied to an email domain for an existing Company Profile, you will be prompted to click on the existing Company name to edit the Profile.

    If your company email address is not a confirmed email address on your LinkedIn account, a confirmation email will be sent to the company email address. The email text will give you a link to log in to your LinkedIn account. Be sure to log in to LinkedIn with your current primary email address. This will confirm your email address and add the email address to your account.

    If your email address is confirmed, you will be taken to the "Create a Company" page that will allow you to enter information about your company.

    Click on "Create a Company" once you have completed the required fields.

    If you do not have a registered company owned email address to create a Company Profile you may still create a group to promote your business.

    This process does not take long, and works well to increase your law firm search engine visibility.

    Monday, August 30, 2010

    Social Media BlogChat: a 60 Minutes for Bloggers

    #blogchat is a weekly conversation that takes place every Sunday night starting at 8:00 p.m. CST on Twitter. It is hosted by Mack Collier, and each week a different topic is discussed.

    Last night it was "open mic" on various aspects of blogging, and I participated for the first time. Imagine Twitter on steroids; hundreds of Tweeters furiously typing questions and answers in a continuous stream of 140-character posts for a solid 60 minutes. The transcript for the August 15 session runs 126 pages!

    Some of this week's discussion topics included:
    • Use of videos in blogs
    • How to select topics to write about
    • Blog copywriting techniques that engage your audience
    • Ways to add value for blog readers
    For those attorneys who are trying to learn social media as part of their legal marketing initiatives, this is just one example of free educational events where you can ask questions of experts, or gain the benefit of listening to tips from more experienced users.

    On the other hand, it also demonstrates how intertwined with the Internet legal marketing has become. Even marketers have a hard time keeping up with the daily advances in digital marketing campaign capabilities. From video to podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, SEO, and more, there are dozens of ways for a law firm to attract prospects online.

    It was fascinating to see new ways the Internet brings like-minded people together in real time to collaborate, communicate, and create new relationships.

    Find me on Twitter: @RainmakingLady

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    St. Louis Family Lawyer Packs a Punch

    A Taser stun gun is a unique form of alternative dispute resolution used by one family lawyer who's thinking a bit outside the box. She's actually taken aim at an arguing spouse three times (but never fired), according to an article on divorce and family law in today's Wall Street Journal titled "Breaking Up Without Breaking the Bank."

    From a legal marketing perspective, this @RainmakingLady suggests that safer forms of stress relief might include a water pistol, nerf balls, feather pillows, or Silly String. Even a gavel, while not quite as humorous, would be in keeping with the legal setting.

    What happens if one spouse grabs the gun and takes aim at their intended ex? Then the lawyer will need a lawyer.

    Crisis management PR is in the news today as we watch endless reports on the BP oil spill and the salmonella egg outbreak, but why invite trouble. One of the questions to ask before instituting any business policy or action plan is, do you want to read about it on the cover of the Wall Street Journal? Having a weapon at the ready for client disputes does not necessarily attract new business as word gets around.

    In this case, the common saying that "any PR is good PR" does not seem to apply.

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010

    Seth Godin Ditches Publisher for Fans

    Digital and Internet marketing reaches a new milestone today with author Seth Godin's announcement that he will transition from his existing relationship with the Portfolio imprint of Pearson PLC's Penguin Group to a self-publishing platform.

    Future titles by this popular author of "Purple Cow" and "Linchpin" will be made available as e-books, in audio format, PDFs, podcasts, and other formats.

    Demonstrating the power of a blog and an online following, Mr. Godin now has 438,000 online blog readers according to an article in today's Wall Street Journal.

    This type of evolution from print to electronic, and traditional to digital Internet marketing, has many implications for legal marketing and law firms:

    1. The power of social media marketing for law firms becomes more important daily, as conversations shift to an electronic format.

    2. Traditional ways of doing business are shifting, sometimes dramatically, and successful law firm marketers and attorneys will aim to stay ahead of the trend.

    3. Direct client relationships are critical. The elimination of the middle man (i.e., the publisher in this case) continues the march toward greater one-to-one personal contact through technology.

    4. Speed to market. As an author myself, I know that self- publishing takes months out of the publishing process while also providing direct contact with book purchasers.

    5. Shorter business cycles. As works move more quickly into the market, the same is true for their natural fall from the spotlight. A focus on  "what's new" underscores the need for a continuous flow of fresh material to your clients, prospects, and followers.

    Note: The 2nd edition of my legal marketing book, Courting Your Clients: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing," will be available in mid-September. Contact this @RainmakingLady for details.

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    California "Tax Lady" Faces AG Charges

    Successful legal marketing campaigns gave California tax lawyer Roni Deutch a high profile on TV and in the media. Today all that attention is unwelcome as California Attorney General Jerry Brown alleged that Ms. Deutch swindled thousands of clients by charging high up-front fees without lowering their tax bills.

    Roni Deutch, A Professional Tax Corporation, is the nation’s "largest tax resolution law firm" according to the Tax Lady's website. The lawsuit seeks $34 million in damages.

    According to a San Francisco Chronicle article titled "State sues TV's 'tax lady' for alleged swindles," the law firm employs 160 people and generates about $25 million a year in revenue while spending $3 million annually on TV and radio ads, the suit said.

    Looks like the Tax Lady has some taxing matters to attend to at the moment.

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Salmonella Egg Recall Invites Legal Marketing Campaigns

    The nationwide egg recall widened today as a second Iowa egg producer issued a safety alert. Wright County Egg was the first to recall 380 million eggs (up from an original count of 280 million), and is followed today by Hillandale Farms of Iowa.

    Marler Clark, a national law firm representing victims of foodborne illness and other serious personal injuries in litigation against restaurants and food companies, issued a press release yesterday claiming to file the first lawsuit in the outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) against a restaurant in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

    As the competition heats up for cases in event-driven liability matters like this nationwide egg recall, the firms that can field an integrated digital marketing campaign first have an increased likelihood of beating the competition when it comes to building a caseload quickly.

    A standalone, customized website is a fundamental early-mover advantage in any digital campaign. Within hours of the BP oil spill, for example, proactive law firms started to launch Google ads and new websites built around keyword-specific URLs. This increased search engine visibility, with its associated ability to attract qualified prospects, is a fundamental, Bar-compliant strength in attracting prospective clients.

    Contact the author at 1-866-417-7025 for information on class action or mass tort marketing.

    Click here for details of the FDA alert on Salmonella Enteritidis Outbreak in Shell Eggs.

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    Local Elections Give Attorneys Networking Opps

    Get out the vote efforts abound as states head into the November elections. Here in South Florida, the polls are open for early voting in advance of the August 24th primary election day.

    The Broward County Bar Association has joined with many other local bar associations to help spread the word about candidates and the voting process. Of great interest is the fact that an unprecedented number of sitting judges are being challenged.

    Without having to take sides one way or another, lawyers have a natural opportunity to remind friends, clients, and associates about the importance of participating in the election process. This is yet one more legal marketing technique to stay in touch with your network.

    Friday, August 13, 2010

    Boom or Bust? SMART Legal Marketing Protects Law Firms

    Maintaining an aggressive business development program is an attorney's best antidote to prevailing economic uncertainty.

    It's been a tough week on Wall Street with stocks down about 4%, and there is some dissension coming from the Fed about the future economic outlook. Whatever direction the economy takes, law firms should continue to be very focused on business development to enhance their chance for success.

    If your law firm does not already have some form “SMART” (specific, measurable, achievable, repeatable, and timed) sales process, now is a good time to refocus your efforts. Here are just a few of the many ways to sharpen your business development efforts:

    1. Clearly define your ideal client. For example, you might be targeting high net worth families with children in a certain zip code or medical offices with 10-25 employees. Whatever the case, be as specific as possible.

    2. Maintain a prospect list that names names. Clearly identify who you want to go after.

    3. Establish your selling strategy. What is step 1, step 2, etc. to go from finding a prospect to closing the sale? Once you have the steps, measure and monitor prospects as they go through the process.

    4. Repeat - keep prospecting, keep selling, generally keep working your list. You will want to successfully repeat this sales process over and over for maximum results.

    5. Establish timeframes for your business development efforts to keep the process moving.

    The advice of @RainmakingLady is never stop marketing!

    Monday, August 09, 2010

    Medical - Lawyer Referral Service Draws Attention

    A Tampa, Florida law firm appears to criticize the 1-800-ASK-GARY referral hotline service that the firm itself uses, according to a Tampa Bay Online article titled Law Firm's Ad Derides Services it Uses. Here are some excerpts from the article:

    "1-800-ASK-GARY is a referral hot line affiliated with Physicians Group LLC, a chain of accident clinics operated by Sarasota chiropractor Gary Kompothecras. Physicians Group operates at least 46 clinics in Florida, and with an affiliate has expanded to Minnesota and Kentucky. Both states have auto insurance systems similar to Florida's.

    The hot line refers callers to 42 law firms, some or all of which refer their legal clients to Physicians Group's clinics for treatment.

    Aside from Beltz & Ruth, the referral network also includes big advertisers Morgan & Morgan, Winters & Yonker, and Catania & Catania, according to a list the Ask Gary hot line provided the Florida Bar."

    Tuesday, August 03, 2010

    Tampa Law Firm Sues The Florida Bar

    Attorney advertising restrictions described as "severe and unjustified" are the basis of a lawsuit filed in USDC, Middle District, Tampa on 7/20/10 (#08:10-cv-01598).

    The complaint, filed on behalf of plaintiff Cordell & Cordell P.C., further claims that The Florida Bar rules "prohibit certain categories of commercial speech in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, impose arbitrary restrictions on Plaintiffs' fight to communicate effectively with potential consumers, and are unconstitutionally vague."

    The case dates back to July 2009, when the firm submitted nine radio ads to the Bar for approval. Seven ads were approved, but two were deemed to be not in compliance. In an unfortunate twist, the law firm advised the advertising agency that the two ads in question required revisions but the agency somehow aired the ads without making any changes.

    The Florida Bar became aware of this alleged violation and initiated discplinary proceedings.

    There are other issues at play here also, including charges that the Bar's initial letter was insufficiently specific.

    As Florida legal marketers and attorneys well know, The Florida Bar attorney advertising guidelines are among the most strict in the country. This will be an interesting case to follow.

    Cordell & Cordell PC is headquartered in St. Louis, MO with an office in Florida (and other states). The firm concentrates in helping men in divorce matters. Carlton Fields represents the plaintiff.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Ready, Fire, Aim: Attorney Marketing Ideas

    Finding your optimum selling strategy – meaning the ability to sell one product or service successfully into one market – is a crucial sales and marketing concept emphasized in the book Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat, by bestselling author and fellow Delray Beach resident Michael Masterson.

    Customer acquisition in an early stage law firm (to apply the concepts in this book to the legal market) requires accuracy in targeting your audience, pricing your legal service, and convincing prospects to choose your firm.

    The author suggests researching the market to identify how other firms are achieving success in attracting clients, then taking similar actions. For lawyers, this is likely to be SEO and Internet marketing, referrals, TV or billboard advertising, speaking, publishing, and organizational networking.

    Even though you may be offering similar legal services, however, you want to make yours stand out in the mind of the buyer. Your “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP) should highlight a single compelling benefit of your service above all the others. Finding a way to make your law firm different can translate into revenue and client retention on the bottom line.

    By the way, nothing is more important than selling when first building your book of business cautions the author. Especially if you have your own firm, don’t get sidetracked by “nice to have” trappings or systems.

    This is an informative book written by a master of marketing. While it is particularly well suited to information and consumer products, it reveals many highly effective direct marketing techniques.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010

    Google Caffeine and Legal Marketing

    SEO algorithms and Internet marketing techniques are changing as a result of Google's new web indexing system called Caffeine. A news story, blog post, or other item of user-generated content will now benefit from Google Caffeine's 50% faster, fresher results for web searches.

    Searchers will find links to relevant content much sooner after publication than was possible ever before. This is Google’s competitive response, in part, to Twitter and Facebook.

    Here are the implications for law firms and legal marketers:
    • Google index now is updated on a real time basis
    • Fresh web site content increases in importance
    • Sitemaps need to be updated in real-time or at least more frequently
    • Upsets the apple cart for SEO algorithms, although meta tags and inbound links remain important
    • Social media content enhances integrated web visibility
    Overall, marketers need a content strategy (website-social media-SEO-etc.) across platforms to maintain high visibility.
    Google Caffeine was launched in June, and you may notice that things like Google Alert notifications are appearing faster. Read Google's announcement here.

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Inactive Clients are a Goldmine of Potential $

    Call one every day this week to say hello. 12 legal marketing hints:

    Before the Call

    1. Visit the client’s website in advance and Google their name to find out what’s new.
    2. See if they are active on LinkedIn or Twitter. If so, read their profiles before you call. You may learn something to help start the conversation.
    3. Be ready with some legal fact or breaking news that you think would be of interest to the client. If so, perhaps you could schedule a consultation with them off the clock.

    During the Call

    4. Ask how their business is going, and what kind of new clients they are seeking. Perhaps you can give them a referral.
    5. Tell them about a new service you are offering.
    6. Share news about a case you recently handled.
    7. Consider setting up a lunch if there appears to be any interest.
    8. Ask if they know of anyone who might need your services

    If you don’t get through on your initial call, leave a voice mail and also send an email.

    After the Call

    9. Take follow up action as appropriate.
    10. Send an email to thank them for their time.
    11. Send the client an informative article that they may find useful.
    12. Mark your tickler file for your next contact.

    Learn more about Marketing to Inactive Clients

    Chapter 7 of my legal marketing book Courting Your Clients is titled “Mine Your Client List.” Watch for the 2nd edition of this fact-filled book, due out in early September. Add your name to our notification list via email to author Margaret Grisdela.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Legal Expert Connections Provides Social Media Services to Broward County Bar Association

    Helping law firms and attorneys connect with clients and prospects on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs is a new legal marketing service available from Legal Expert Connections. The firm is now assisting the Fort Lauderdale-based Broward County Bar Association in developing a social media campaign, beginning with a blog.

    “Social networking is now an essential element in any law firm Internet marketing campaign,” said Margaret Grisdela, president of Legal Expert Connections and author of the legal marketing book Courting Your Clients. “Legal marketing campaigns also have special compliance requirements, however, in regard to professional ethics and attorney advertising guidelines.”

    These expanded online marketing services help law firms in three primary areas:

    1. How to get started on social media. Attorneys are busy with the daily demands of clients, cases, and courts. Law firms receive help in developing an online networking strategy, followed by assistance in setting up individual attorney profiles that incorporate search engine marketing best practices.

    2. Techniques to build followers and connections. Lawyers are taught how to quickly build an online community. What to say on social media is also a training topic, along with tips on how to create an editorial calendar for advance planning purposes.

    3. Automating social media posts across platforms. A well-written law firm blog can serve as the basic driver of online content. Lawyers learn how to use blog posts to update other social media sites using the RSS feed, thereby streamlining the publication process.

    Contact this RainmakingLady at 1-866-417-7025 to discuss your social media marketing needs.

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    E-Book Sales Underscore Digital Trends

    Lawyers who have not fully embraced social media and Internet marketing are in denial of major trends. News items today include: 1) Amazon is now selling 180 e-books for every 100 hardcover books ; 2) companies are buying so many new computer servers to meet growing Internet demand that it is fueling some level of economic recovery; and 3) Facebook is about to reach 500 million members.

    While we know that consumers and businesses increasing turn to the web for research, recommendations, and recreation, this means that legal marketing campaigns need to change as well. Search engine positioning on the first page of Google, through natural SEO or PPC pay-per-click ads, is no longer enough. Law firms require some level of visibility on the leading social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

    Consumer-oriented law firms, like personal injury attorneys or trust and estates lawyers, are the most likely candidates for sites like Facebook. LinkedIn works well for all attorneys, particularly those with a corporate or governmental practice.

    Is your law firm prepared for social media? Read more here about Social Media Law Firm Success Strategies.

    This RainmakingLady welcomes your feedback.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Making Ideas Happen in Legal Marketing

    The dreamers, the doers, and the incrementalists are three personality types identified by author Scott Belsky in his new book “Making Ideas Happen,” (Penguin Group USA Inc., 2010). The first group generates a constant stream of new ideas, but has trouble executing. The doers focus on the logistics of implementation, without the flow of creative genius. Incrementalists share traits of both, but move so quickly through cycles of idea generation and execution that they never fully develop any one concept. All parties can get trapped on the "project plateau," that painful period when you face the reality of how long project implementation can actually take.

    If you are part of a legal team that must work quickly and effectively to respond to changing market conditions, this book is a quick read that will open your eyes to higher levels of productivity.

    Many ideas in this book (which focuses on "making ideas happen" in a general context) can be applied to legal marketing campaigns, which frequently involve multiple specialists like social media experts, website designers, copywriters, and search engine marketing consultants.

    Here are some key project management recommendations from the author:

    - A relentless bias toward action pushes ideas forward
    - Each person must “own” their action steps
    - Spending time on notes is not worth the effort
    - Design and personalization play a role in organizational systems
    - Organize around projects, not location

    Emphasis is on action steps in this book, and how different personality types can collaborate to maximize performance. I found it very interesting and recommend the book to you.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    JD Supra Partners with LinkedIn

    Authors on the legal self-publishing site JD Supra can now easily make their documents available on LinkedIn. Both sites will synchronize automatically when  a new document is uploaded to JD Supra.

    View this Rainmaking Lady's profiles on JD Supra and LinkedIn. It took just a minute to use this new feature. A similar capability to post JD Supra documents is available for Facebook. Lawyers will want to look at this option as another way to extend their legal marketing campaign.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Enhance Google AdWords Campaigns with Negative Keywords

    Law firms can quickly spend even a generous online advertising budget when pay-per-click campaigns are not optimized.

    Negative keywords are one important way to improve click-through rates for a search engine marketing campaign. First, let's start with a definition of negative keywords. Quite simply, they are words that you want to filter out of your legal marketing campaign. Here are two ways you can identify and remove negative keywords.

    1. Google AdWords provides a "Negative Keywords" link at the bottom of the "Keywords" page when you are in an Ad Group. Click on this link to specify keywords that are not relevant to your account for the particular Ad Group, or for the entire campaign. Examples might include words like "free," "job," "career," or "training." If you are a personal injury law firm, you can filter out searches that include "divorce" or "real estate."

    2. Also while you are on the "Keywords" page in an Ad Group, you will see a button that reads "See search terms." Click on this button (select "all") and you will see ACTUAL search terms that generated a click and a cost to you. Google's algorithms can sometimes match the keywords you are bidding on against unexpected search terms, so this gives you practical insight on how to sharpen the focus of your campaign. You are likely to set up more negative keywords once you see these results. (Note: Reports exclude keywords with no clicks.)

    Your Google AdWords attorney marketing campaign will benefit from the insight of an an experienced campaign manager. You will be able to increase your click-through rates, improve the quality of your leads, accelerate the conversion process, and maximize your online advertising budget.

    This Rainmaking Lady welcomes your questions and comments. Visit our law firm search engine marketing site.

    Wednesday, July 14, 2010

    FDA Panel Mixed on Avandia Approval

    FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg will make the final decision about future use of diabetes drug Avandia, made by GlaxoSmithKline PLC.

    The majority of medical experts on today's FDA panel (20 of the 33 members) voted to keep Avandia on the market, with 12 voting for removal and 1 abstention. Twelve people voted to remove the product from the market, and one person abstained. Several panelists recommended that stronger label or usage restrictions be applied.

    Both plaintiff and defense attorneys have been following the hearings. The broader policy question relates to public safety protection when adverse new findings become available regarding a medication that is already in the market.

    In anticipation of the vote, Glaxo has been working to settle many of the lawsuits outstanding. See "GSK settles bulk of Avandia suits for $460M" in According to the article, plaintiff attorneys are pleased with the settlement efforts. An earlier blog post commented on Internet-based class action marketing campaigns being used in the effort to attract Avandia users.

    Tuesday, July 13, 2010

    FTC Seeks Reform of Consumer Debt Lawsuits

    Automated litigation software that allows law firms to file thousands of consumer debt cases annually is coming under court and FTC scrutiny, according to an article titled "Automated Debt-Collection Lawsuits Engulf Courts," published in The New York Times on July 12, 2010.

    The article cites a Woodbury, N.Y., law firm, that files about 80,000 debt collection lawsuits annually with only 14 staff attorneys.

    According to a July 12, 2010 FTC press release, the Commission’s principal recommendations in regard to consumer debt litigation are:

    1. States should consider adopting measures to make it more likely that consumers will defend themselves in litigation, decreasing the prevalence of default judgments.

    2. States should require collectors to include more information about the alleged debt in their complaints.

    3. States should take steps to make it less likely that collectors will sue on debt on which the statute of limitations has run.

    4. Federal and state laws should be changed to prevent the freezing of a specified amount in a bank account including funds exempt from garnishment.

    The National Association of Consumer Advocates, a nationwide organization of more than 1500 law firm and debt counseling members who represent consumers, has been working to educate consumers on their many rights when facing bankruptcy or mortgage foreclosures.

    Monday, July 12, 2010

    Legal Community Awaits Avandia Decision

    Legal experts watch as the medical community debates potential recall of the diabetes drug Avandia, made by GlaxoSmithKline PLC. Studies have linked the drug to increased risk of heart attack. At issue is the broader matter of drug safety policy after products have already received FDA approval.

    Glaxo faces up to 11,000 cases in federal and state courts, according to an article in today's Wall Street Journal titled "FDA Faces Avandia Decision." The firm has settled almost 700 cases in recent weeks.

    Many plaintiff law firms continue to offer consumers assistance with Avandia-related complications, based on a quick Google search for Internet marketing campaigns, including Sokolove Law, Ashcraft & Gerel, Steigerwalt & Associates, and Phillips & Associates.

    Read more about the Avandia debate on the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog.

    Sunday, July 11, 2010

    New LinkedIn Features Make Legal Marketing Easier

    Attorneys can make social media connections faster with new LinkedIn Group features. News and member-generated discussions are now shown on one page, and the latest comments on a discussion are more prominently displayed along with the photo of the person offering commentary.

    Other new LinkedIn Group features include:

    1. A "Top Influencers" board makes it easier to see the most active / influential group members.

    2. Ability to search all discussions within a group. For a lawyer, you can now easily search for discussions about your area of practice, like divorce, patents, or employment law. This will help you make your time online more effective.

    3. Improved navigation makes it easier to find the more active discussions.

    Learn more about the new features of LinkedIn Groups by watching a quick video here. Give it a try! Using these capabilities can help bring attention to your law practice.

    Saturday, July 10, 2010

    Florida Bar Internet Advertising Rules Spark Criticism

    Florida lawyers face increased regulation on website advertising, as previously reported. The new rules, originally scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2010, were recently delayed by action of The Florida Supreme Court.

    At the heart of the matter is a new requirement that certain law firm information, such as testimonials and references to past results, can only be accessible "on request" on a law firm's web site. A law firm wishing to display this data must require a site visitor to take an affirmative action, such as clicking on a button after reading a disclaimer, before accessing a web page with testimonials or certain other performance data. The web page containing this data must be hidden from the search engines, meaning that the page is only accessible through the disclaimer page.

    Large Florida law firms are becoming more vocal in their opposition to this law firm advertising rule, according to an article by Julie Kay titled "Florida Law Firms Protest Bar's Online Ad Rules," published in the July 12, 2010 issue of the Daily Business Review.

    Read The Florida Bar News article here titled "Court Delays Enforcement of Atorney Website Rules" also for more information.

    Out of state attorneys should pay attention as well, since The Florida Bar's attorney advertising rules apply broadly to "lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida who solicit or advertise for legal employment in Florida or who target solicitations or advertisements for legal employment at Florida residents." (Rule 4-7.1(b))

    This Rainmaking Lady respects discussion on Florida web site rules, while noting that legal marketing opportunities on the Internet have grown geometrically via Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and other social media sites in the years that this evaluation has been in progress. The effort to regulate online communications may only become more complicated.

    Thursday, July 08, 2010

    Bloomberg Enters Legal Research Market

    Westlaw and LexisNexis are now targets of Bloomberg Law, the formidable financial data publisher that hopes to extend its reach to law firm desktops across the country. An article in today's Wall Street Journal titled "Bloomberg Hangs New Shingle" tells the story.

    Over the past five years, Bloomberg has reportedly hired 250 full-time attorneys to analyze court and other legal documents for online publication in their new product.

    There are two key points that this Rainmaking Lady finds interesting from a business development perspective:

    1. Bloomberg Law goes beyond legal documents to integrate complementary data sources like corporate filings, stock charts, links to information about judges and corporate counsel, as well as information that can point to potential conflicts. In this regard, the bigger picture helps the law firm rainmaker improve the effectiveness of a business development campaign.

    2. Flat fees of $495 per month per attorney for the Bloomberg product challenge the more complex usage-based pricing models of competitors. Since alternative billing arrangements are a big topic in legal circles these days, it is useful to see how a more straightforward price schedule for legal research can be effective in gaining market share within law firms.

    Competition is a difficult but ultimately critical market-driven factor that will result in better products at better prices. The holistic approach of Bloomberg Law offers additional tools for successful legal marketing.

    Wednesday, July 07, 2010

    Big Legal Marketing Ideas on a Small Marketing Budget

    We've been talking to a lot of attorneys lately who don't have much money for marketing. From AmLaw 100 firms to solo and mid-sized practitioners, marketing dollars are tight.

    Let's look at the bright side, though. There are lots of low cost legal marketing campaigns available, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Here are 5 marketing tips for recession-proof marketing.

    1. Set up a Google AdWords account. This "pay per click" offering means there is no cost to you unless someone clicks on your ad and visits your website. Plus you can set a daily budget to control expenses.

    2. Work your referral network more aggressively. Prioritize your referral sources, and create a 1-page outline that lists your sources with a communication schedule. For example, meet with your priority "A" referral sources every 30-45 days, your "B" resources every 60-90 days, etc.

    3. Schedule your own speaking event. Partner with 1-2 complementary service providers (like another attorney and an accountant) and put together an event you can all promote to your clients/prospects. Arrange to hold this in the firm with the most suitable office space, and bring in some food. You will attract attention, get new leads, and gain some positive energy.

    4. Increase your visibility on social media. I was able to land a new engagement last week from an inactive client I "LinkedIn" with, and you may be able to do the same. Stay connected!

    5. Write an article. If business is slow, that means you should have some extra time to pen an educational article targeting your ideal clients. Chances are good that they are grappling with the economy as well, so give them some suggestions on how to take the right legal steps to protect or enhance their business or personal situation.

    See, increasing your legal marketing profile can be easy and fun! I'm writing the 2nd edition of my legal marketing book Courting Your Clients, and have a lot of ideas you may find helpful. Drop me an email and I'll share some more.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Legal Marketing Skills Offer Job Protection

    Good news on the legal horizon includes increased hiring plans among half of the law firms questioned in a recent Altman Weil survey, reported in yesterday's Wall Street Journal Law Blog.  Also, billing rates increased 3% last year.

    Other aspects of the survey document past hiring practices that translate into a particularly difficult future market for young lawyers and non-equity partners, including:
    ♦ Nearly 40% of the firms surveyed made fewer partners in 2009 and 50% indicated they “will or might” do so again in 2010;

    ♦ About 50% of the firms reduced or discontinued hiring first-year associates in 2009 and 38% said they will do the same again; and

    ♦ About 20% of the firms planned to fire non-equity partners this year, and 37% “will or might” deequitze partners.
    Those who stay and those who don't will be determined in part by their ability to bring in new business. Marketing is a process that can be learned. Click here for a free sample attorney marketing plan.

    Click here for the Altman Weil 2010 Law Firms in Transition survey results.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Florida's Largest Law Firms

    The Daily Business Review has a newly published list of the top 100 Florida law firms. The top five firms are:
    1. Akerman Senterfitt
    2. Greenberg Traurig
    3. Holland + Knight
    4. Carlton Fields
    5. GrayRobinson
    Blue skies are finally appearing for these Sunshine State law firms, following a couple of years of stormy weather for law firms throughout Florida. Read the full report here on Florida's top 100 law firms.

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    Impact of BP $20 Billion Fund on Oil Spill Litigation

    BP's agreement to set aside $5 billion per year for the next four years is likely to deter some litigation, according to an article titled "Claim Fund Offers Shield from Suits" in today's Wall Street Journal. Here's an excerpt:
    Some of the plaintiffs may now end up dropping their suits—or never file suit in the first place—and tap the fund, which would save them from paying big attorneys fees. "They're going to have to think about this," said Richard Nagareda, a law professor at Vanderbilt University. "The fund promises a much faster payout."
    "Make it Right," BP's commitment to restoration, recovery, and reimbursement has 900 people devoted to handling claims on a 24/7 basis in over 25 locations. This easy access to the claims process undermines the need for actions that would otherwise be filed in court.

    Of course, oil is still spilling and the magnitude of damages in terms of duration and scope remain to be seen.

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Plaintiff Legal Marketing in Millions at Leading Firms

    Sokolove Law LLC has a $12 million annual digital marketing program, according to today's Wall Street Journal. The firm has a 20 person Internet marketing team.

    Plaintiff's law firm Parker Waichman Alonso LLP also maintains 20 technology specialists who maintain the firm's 300 websites, according to the same article. The firm now spends $1 million of its $3 million annual marketing budget on online marketing.

    Nowhere is this shift to social media and Internet marketing more apparent than with the BP Oil Spill litigation. As covered in earlier blog posts, plaintiff firms are aggressively using blogs, webinars, web sites, and online PR to attract online traffic.

    It must be paying off. "The folks who reach us through social media are twice as likely to become clients as those who would reach us through television or print," says Michael Skoler, chief marketing office for, a website of Sokolove Law.

    Defense firms, are you listening? Traditionally slow to respond with Internet marketing, now is a good time to put the Internet to use for blogs, online articles, white papers, and more.

    This Rainmaking Lady is available to discuss BP oil spill litigation marketing for plaintiff or defense firms.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    Best Lawyers Partners with U.S. News

    The lawyer directory market is heating up, with the recent announcement by Best Lawyers that it is partnering with U.S. News for a national profile.

    The rankings of over 500 law firms from all states and specialties will be published in the U.S.News flagship magazine in September 2010, and in a special stand-alone publication which will be mailed to 30,000 general counsel in the U.S. and emailed to an additional 55,000 leading lawyers around the world. The rankings will also appear on the websites of both U.S.News and Best Lawyers.

    Law firms can not pay to be included in Best Lawyers; rankings are based on interviews and other carefully defined selection criteria.

    Wednesday, June 09, 2010

    Social Media Tips for BP Oil Spill Defense Lawyers

    While the plaintiff’s bar has been quick to launch Internet marketing campaigns designed to attract victims of the Gulf oil spill, defense firms have been slow to respond online. This article provides a brief overview of BP oil spill litigation, with suggestions on how defense firms can use social media to attract new business from named defendants.

    Hundreds of cases have been filed in federal courts against BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and Cameron International from April 20, 2010 through close of business on Friday, June 4th, according to a quick search of the PACER docket database.

    Oil spill litigation covers the Gulf states, and involves a wide range of claims. The most popular actions as identified by the “nature of suit” in the federal docket database include:

    120: Marine Contracts
    160: Stockholders’ Suits
    190: Other Contracts
    240: Torts to Land
    290: All other Real Property
    340: Torts, Personal Injury: Marine
    345: Torts, Personal Injury: Marine Product Liability
    365: Torts, Personal Injury: Product Liability
    380: Other Personal Property Damage
    893: Environmental Matters

    BP has named Kirkland & Ellis as a lead defense firm, with Arnold &Porter and WilmerHale also providing services, while Transocean is working with Skadden Arps, Preis & Roy, and Sutherland Asbill according to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

    Frequently the defense law firm is not named when a case is initially filed with the court, meaning that many of these cases may be subject to intense competition from other Big Law, mid-sized firms, or even solo practitioners who act as local counsel.

    Social media campaigns can help to increase search engine visibility and attract qualified prospects for defense firms that write and speak about oil spill litigation.

    Five ways that defense law firms can use social media for oil spill business development:

    1.Build a blog, or write a series of focused articles for an existing blog.

    2.Use the RSS feed from your blog to automatically feed other social media outlets, like LinkedIn and Twitter.

    3.Use LinkedIn ( for online networking. Look for existing connections to the law firms that have already been appointed, with the intention of an introduction for possible overflow or conflict work. Join groups and answer questions relating to the oil spill.

    4.Get involved in online discussions on sites like Martindale-Hubbell Connected (, which offers an Emerging Issues forum for the BP oil spill.

    5.Self-publish on legal sites like JD Supra ( for greater Internet visibility.

    An essential first step is to create a strategy for your social media campaign. Identify your goals, objectives, target audience, and success measures. Equally important, create an outline of 10-20 topics related to your area of expertise as it relates to oil spill litigation. This type of an editorial calendar helps you organize your efforts, assign multiple attorneys to assist in writing articles, and plan a publication schedule.

    More on Social Media, the BP Oil Spill, and Law Firm Marketing …

    Margaret Grisdela will be addressing this topic at a June 11, 2010 marketing presentation at the Florida Liability Claims Conference in Orlando, Florida sponsored by the Florida Defense Lawyers Association ( She is available for other speaking engagements as well, and invites your comments.

    Friday, June 04, 2010

    Tyco & Shook Hardy Find Success in Flat Fees

    Since Tyco International selected Shook Hardy & Bacon in 2004 as its sole provider for product liability litigation services, the arrangement has worked well for both parties. Read the story titled "Flat Fees, Fat Coffers: Clients, Firms, Can Make Big Bucks by Going Flat," in's Corporate Counsel.

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Superlatives Spoil Law Firm SEO Campaigns

    "The Best Law Firm for [Practice Area]" caught my eye recently while reviewing some online press releases. The announcement goes on to say that the law firm is an "excellent choice," and even promises a rosy future to new clients.

    This well-intended search engine optimization campaign, taking advantage of the many free or low-cost Internet-based press release services, can clearly get the attorney in trouble with their State Bar.

    While SEO is important, it still needs to comply with attorney advertising guidelines. SEO marketers should be screened not only on their ability to increase your visibility in the search engines, but on their understanding of the legal market.

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Marketing Your Intellectual Property Law Webinar

    Internet marketing strategies and other legal marketing campaigns for Intellectual Property lawyers will be the subject of an ExecSense webinar this Friday. I am honored to be the session leader. Details:

    "How to Grow Your Intellectual Law Practice in 2010"
    Friday, May 28, 2010, 2:00 p.m. EST
    Register here

    IP participants will learn the most in-demand intellectual property legal services for the upcoming year and how other lawyers are capitalizing on offering these and other services to clients as a way to grow their practice. Take the 60 minutes to view this webinar (on your computer, mobile phone, iPod or printed out) to be in-the-know on how other IP lawyers are growing their practice in 2010, how their strategy is different than in years past, and how you can capitalize on these strategies for yourself.

    Registration is $250, with a special 2-for-1 offer. Details at

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    BP Selects Kirkland & Ellis for Oil Spill Litigation

    Today's Chicago Tribune reports today that Kirkland & Ellis is taking the lead on the BP defense team.

    Talk about the importance of personal relationships ... ties between BP and Kirkland date back to 1938 price fixing and antitrust litigation.

    BP litigation is expected to be expensive, extensive, and long-lasting. The article reports:

    "At least 70 suits were filed in the two weeks following the April 20 explosion, including 59 that want to proceed as a class action, according to court documents. Plaintiffs assert similar claims: that negligence resulted in personal injuries, damage to their businesses or property damage. They seek compensation, including punitive damages."

    "A judicial panel that oversees multidistrict litigation is expected to hold a venue hearing in July. BP declined further comment on the pending litigation."

    7 Ways Lawyers can Save Money on Google AdWords

    Is the cost of your Google AdWords campaign moving skyward? Here are seven tips that will help you make every dollar count.

    Refine your Keywords

    Filter out searchers who are looking for services you do not offer with “negative” terms. For example, if you are a personal injury attorney but do not represent motorcycle accident victims, set “motorcycle” as a negative term. Also test the use of exact terms, broad match and exact phrase options. The same keywords formatted differently will yield varying click-through rates.

    Scrutinize your Ad Triggers

    On the keywords tab within a campaign, click on the menu button that reads “see search terms.” You will be able to view the search terms that triggered an ad display. Please note that this feature applies only to keywords that generated a click. You may be surprised to see irrelevant searches that you can filter out of your campaigns.

    Test Ad Placements

    Your ads can run on sports sites, events calendars, or other consumer oriented sites that incorporate Google AdWords. Payment options include pay-per-click or cost-per-thousand impressions.

    Update Landing Pages for Better Conversion

    Attracting a visitor to your site can be quite an investment. A targeted “landing page” tied closely to a keyword helps to increase qualified lead flow. Add an inquiry form on each landing page if possible.

    Test Ad Display Times

    Exercise your ability to set the times when your ads will display. While 24/7 is ideal, it may be more than your budget can bear. Specify the hours of the day and/or days of the week when you want your ads to appear. You can also adjust bids for your ads during certain time periods, or test a series of night-time ads versus day-time ads.

    Limit Your Geography

    When budgets get tight, pull back your ads to your immediate hometown vicinity. Specify your markets by city, county, or region under “Locations and Languages” on the campaign settings page.

    Streamline your Ad Network

    On the campaign settings page, under “Networks and Devices,” select only “Google search” under networks. This will filter out less productive searches through Google partners or general news sites. You should start to see higher click-through rates on fewer, better targeted impressions.

    These are just a few of many ways you can maximize your AdWords campaign. The author invites your questions and comments.

    About the Author: Margaret Grisdela is the author of Courting Your Clients and president of Legal Expert Connections, a national legal marketing agency. Reach her at 561-266-1030 or

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Internet Marketing Keywords Trounce Editorial Rules

    Article titles, once carefully crafted by editors, are now the domain of search engine optimizers.

    A story today at The New York Times titled "Taylor Momsen Did Not Write This Headline," reads:

    "Headlines in newspapers and magazines were once written with readers in mind, to be clever or catchy or evocative. Now headlines are just there to get the search engines to notice. In that context, “Jon Stewart Slams Glenn Beck” is the beau ideal of great headline writing. And both Twitter and Facebook have become republishers, with readers on the hunt for links with nice, tidy headlines crammed full of hot names to share with their respective audiences."

    Law firm marketers, take note!

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Profit per Partner Sends Wrong Message

    So says international law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP, which issued a press release today titled "Orrick to Emphasize Alternative Success Measures."

    "Today, more than ever, the Profit Per Equity Partner metric simply does not tell the market how profitable a firm is, how efficiently it is run, how well it serves its clients, how well it treats its people, or how committed a firm is to pro bono work, its community, and diversity," said Ralph Baxter, Orrick's Chairman and CEO.

    Given the cost pressures facing many corporate clients in today's tough economic climate, this move diverts attention from an emphasis on money to a more client-friendly focus on service and results. Orrick is wise to take a leadership position on this topic, which is bound to be well-received by clients and prospects.

    The ACC value challenge encourages Big Law to innovate in regard to alternative fee arrangements, and a move away from widely publicizing monetary measures is a positive step.

    Now other firms are likely to feel pressured to take a similar stance.

    Friday, May 07, 2010

    Six Legal Marketing Tips for Solos and Small Law Firms

    "Effectively Marketing a Solo or Small Law Firm Practice," is a great article by attorneys Deborah Hrbek and Jill Miller published in today's New York Law Journal.

    Six marketing techniques to stand out from the competition, according to the authors, include:

    1. Identify your target clients and market
    2. Create a distinctive brand
    3. Network selectively in the right spots
    4. Be likeable and authentic
    5. Focus on customer service

    Not every client is a good client, even in these challenging economic times. The authors write:

    Successful firms will turn down (and always provide a suitable referral to) clients who do not meet their fundamental criteria. It may seem counterintuitive, particularly during these challenging economic times, but attorneys who decline work outside of their target market necessarily end up doing more of the work they love.

    This Rainmaking Lady agrees entirely with the points made by the authors, and in fact I cover the same topics in my legal marketing book Courting Your Clients: The Essential Guide to Legal Marketing.

    Read the full article here.