Back in August, some of you may remember I blogged about the power of news aggregators, asking the question, How Do We Make Them Read? Since that time, I have been watching new aggregators come on to the scene, new products being offered, new interfaces introduced, new pricing models worked out and all the while, I still can’t help but wonder how we make them read. Though, three new trends I am seeing out there in the world of aggregators is getting making the job of getting attorneys to read the news just a bit easier.

  1. Several of the products on offer, have started to include robust back end analysis and metrics with the aggregators. Clients (especially people like me in the competitive intelligence community) want to know who is reading, when they read and what articles have my clients clicked all the way through to read the full text. What are the trending topics of interest with a particular practice. Then I can be a step closer to understanding the issues of interest and how can I turn that into action, or identify a lead. Library Services, meet Business Development.
  2. Semantic analysis, though it can never replicate the human element completely (more on this in item #3). Some of the aggregator out there such as Digimind are offering a semantic analysis with the tool. The accuracy can be hit or miss on the tone owing to the algorithms and taxonomy, but it is nice to have a baseline for what you are reading, coded right into the article and interface. Certainly when helps to know if all the press on a given client is negative, or even perceived as such even if it is only 60-75% of the time. Maybe some crisis management or litigation is in coming down the pipe….Public Relations, meet Business Development.
  3. The most intriguing offering to me at the moment is the pairing of aggregators with other industry professionals. There have been others, but the most recent to come to mind is that of ShiftCentral announcing earlier this month, that former lawyer turned law firm CMO Mark E. Young, has joined the aggregator to head up what they are calling an Intelligence Agency. Competitive Intelligence meets Marketing.

As I sit with partners and watch their inboxes fill up with newsletters/bulletins/internals blogs and other informaton/intelligence items we have aggregated, I still can’t help but wonder how we’ll make the shift from better packaging and synthesis to action. News aggregators, like the ones reviewed in the past, or mentioned here today, certainly can take us part of the way. I think we are almost there…but the rest….

In the last several years, Know Your Customer or Know Your Client (KYC) legislation has come to the forefront. Professional service firms everywhere write about KYC rules, and law firms themselves are creating new processes and procedures for dealing with the KYC rules. Every time I see an email circulate in our firm about KYC training for associates or new KYC procedures, it makes me think – there is more knowing your client than finances and ethics. For Example, what about client current awareness, business issues, pending legislation, outside counsel of record, board of directors and the C-Suite. To me, KYC is a cry for competitive intelligence (CI) help!

From the first day of starting to work in the legal industry, whether as an articling student, a legal assistant, a law librarian or a marketer, you are taught that in this business (and it is a business as much as it is a service) it is all about client relationships and the service provided to those clients. Legal services have evolved to a point where it is assumed that if you are a qualified lawyer, you and your firm can provide any necessary legal work. And many firms focus their marketing and branding efforts around the client experience. Clients should not be left waiting in the reception area; boardrooms should be comfortable and help clients feel at ease; legal opinions should be expertly drafted without any errors; client entertainment should be of the highest caliber. But the true differentiator between firms is in the service and the commitment to the client relationship. It is not the lavish entertainment, or even the right coffee brand in the boardrooms that makes the difference. Expertly crafted legal opinions and practical defensive contracts will certainly help, but buyers of legal service everywhere will tell you that what they really want from a law firm is a group of lawyers who are responsive and smart. Clients want lawyers who meet their needs by delivering timely targeted advice. In other words, clients want lawyers who know them, understand their business needs and their industry issues.

If clients want smart in-the-know lawyers, then I cannot think of a better way for lawyers to nurture their client relationships, differentiate themselves in a crowded competitive landscape, and maintain their roles as trusted business advisors, than through engaging in and supporting a robust CI program. Contrary to popular belief, CI is not about competitors or who did what deals, CI is about the competitive landscape for both firms and clients. Knowing your client, their market, their industry, their issues and their pending challenges from both a legal and business perspective is CI. Knowing your client is about knowing who are the C-suite and in-house counsel team. Knowing the client includes knowing where your firm’s relationships with the client exist, if at all. Knowing the clients means knowing what pending legislative changes will impact a client’s business – you can offer legal and business advice to mitigate any risk or vulnerabilities. These are all the questions that a quality CI program can help you answer at a moment in time. More importantly, the difference between research and CI, is that CI will help keep the answers consistently and routinely up-to-date, so when a client calls, the service provided is second to none. The goal of a robust CI program is to keep firm lawyers current about their client’s business – it would be as if the lawyer is embedded in the client’s office, market and industry.

So in 2012, answer the cry for CI and KYC!

Having been in the legal business for 25+ years, I have long marveled at the machinations of lawyers over their billing rates. I recall being a bit shocked back in the 80’s when I first saw lawyers having fits when “The Firm” raised their rates – yet again.
Why was I shocked? Only the week before these same lawyers had been bragging about how awesome they were in court and about the high-value results they delivered to clients. So which is it? As a lawyer are you highly valuable (justifying a higher rate) or are you low value? At the time I remember thinking, “Pick one option and go with it.”
Fast-forward to the present – and just like all things in the legal market – we are still having the same conversations. In talking with a colleague from another firm, the rate-increase topic came up. He was lamenting his upcoming, potential rate increase. He noted how poorly he predicted clients will react to ANY rate increase, especially in this market.
So I asked him my old question. He didn’t like it.
After he calmed down I shared some thoughts with him.
Rate increases are a relationship building opportunity, but only if you treat them that way.
A better question for my colleague: “How many clients just pay your rate without asking what it is?” I’m guessing not many. What this means is you should already be having these conversations with your clients. Rate increases are an opportunity to get in front of clients and engage in conversations about pricing options for the coming year. Isn’t this what clients are asking you to do?
Rates are a tool, but should not be treated as a hammer.
Why treat your published rate like it’s chiseled in stone? Rates are merely the starting point for rate and fee conversations. Come to grips with the notion that price increases are a fact of life in business. However, the days of sending letters to clients announcing your annual rate increase are over. What’s important now is how increases are communicated to clients. (In-person is the right answer – btw.)
Rates matter, but fees matter more.
Have conversations with clients about pricing, versus rates. At the end of the year, or end of a case, what really matters to a client is the fee. How much did the case or deal cost them? Your rate could be $10 per hour, but if you took 100’s of hours to complete a task, the fee is going to be high. A challenge here is that clients tend to compare pricing on a rate level, instead of a fee level. Use the price conversation to help the client shift their thinking towards fees. In the long-run this will greatly benefit them and solidify your relationship with them.
It’s Not Easy
I know … having pricing conversations can be challenging, especially in the current environment. The new question I should start asking lawyers: “Did you pick law because you thought it would be easy?” I’ve yet to meet a lawyer not up for a challenge. They just need to add pricing conversations to their list of worthy challenges.
It’s either that, or pick an easier profession …

[Guest Post by Elaine Egan]
For decades technology has been an enabler for Knowledge Management.  Industries have surrendered to the pressure of a technology solution that doesn’t factor in the real human element of organized information, defined terms and evaluation that lead to actionable knowledge.  The founding principles of knowledge management are that unique information held by an individual, group or organization and leveraged to best knowledge advantaged creates a competitive edge.   This unique knowledge makes one group better decision makers, more creative and they perform faster; leaving the other guys in the dust.   By learning, sharing, reusing, collaborating and innovating, one group is viewed as more appealing and valuable.

Of course a portal, website, intranet, database, CRM and a Google search feed the hungry information seeker; but the information is only as good as the evaluation it has undergone.  Enter the Library and information professional.  The information professional possesses the subtleties of data relationships, subject expertise, content understanding and integrates desired information with technology efficiencies leading to actionable knowledge.

With all this competition in the market, is it no wonder why Marketing and Business Development teams are not only supporting but driving strategy and constantly seeking opportunities?   I think of Business Development in a law firm or professional consulting firm like an R&D division at Johnson & Johnson, DuPont, Dell, Apple and GE.  The R&D group much like a BD team requires elements of planning and research prior to implementation or bringing a product to market.  The initial planning phases typically would probe and assess based on a few basic thoughts.

  • What is needed or possible in the market?
  • Do we want to be part of it?
  • How do we find who, what, when, where and why?
  • Does it support the organization’s mission or goals?
  • Have we the expertise?
  • Can the organization support the outcome?

By responding to RFP’s and gathering Business and Competitive Intelligence, Business Development teams are building a strategy based on some forms of these R&D questions.  However, we know there is a big gaping hole when firms do not include the information professional in aspects of this planning process.  When a Business Development team requests a basic TAXI report, a Hoovers report or a League Table the firm isn’t widening the intelligent view of a client, an industry or creating a unique opportunity.  By formalizing the partnership between the Library Information Center, Knowledge Management and Business Development you gain a connection between data, information and content with a broad spectrum view of industry specific knowledge management that supports long term business goals.  The Library and information professional are the linchpin that promotes agility, by reducing response times and delivering trusted information that intersects with intelligent decision making.  Knowledge Management within the Library demonstrates that concepts, data and industry awareness adapt to changing needs.  This knowledge is the resource that is a business development value proposition.

After seeing the initial product some two years ago, I got to walk through the new LexisNexis Client Analysis (LNCA) products with Lexis’ Chris Whitmore. The product was beta tested throughout 2010 and is set to go out for general release on April 1st, and Lexis pushed out a press release on it yesterday. I wanted to go over some of the features that Whitmore showed me and add in some comments on what the product is set up to do from a Business Development perspective.

The idea behind LNCA began after Lexis purchased Redwood Analytics and decided that all that financial data was great, but could it be married up with other products like the firm’s Client Relationship Management (CRM) tool [InterAction] and external client information that is housed in Lexis’ product atVantage? By combining the different products business development professionals (or law firm partners if you’re in a pinch) could break down that data and create self-service analysis reports, cross-selling opportunities, client profiles, and trends analysis reports. Those just happen to be the four general features of the LNCA product.

While I was talking with Chris Whitmore, he mentioned that the demand for intelligence and analytics is on the rise in the legal field within the area of business development, and that Marketing has evolved from generic tactical approach to a more analytical and intelligence approach. In other words, firms are realizing that client development, cross-selling and retention can no longer be accomplished through a shotgun approach where the idea was to scatter the firm’s resources and talent over a wide batch of clients. Instead, firms need to focus like a laser on existing clients and then isolate potential clients where the firm’s services fit their needs.

Many firms have been doing these types of deep-analytical reports, but they tend to be manual processes based on data that may not be relevant to the real needs of the firm in a biz dev approach. The most common of these are the famous “Top 25” or “Top 50” client projects that firms take on to see what kind of opportunities in cross-selling can be made for those clients. The typical pattern for pulling these are based on the past year or two financial data with a few clients sprinkled by some of the firm’s top Partners.

Although the idea of using last year’s financial data may be the easiest way to pinpoint who the firm is doing the most business with, LNCA is set up to do a deeper analysis of that data and identify those key clients, along with attempting to do analysis of those clients that are at-risk of leaving the firm, or trending in a way that shows significant reduction in work going to the firm. According to some of the Redwood studies, it is typical for clients to reduce their legal spend with a firm somewhere in the average of 15% every year. So, firm’s are constantly looking for ways to stop this reduction in work.

LNCA uses that financial data, over an extended period of time (1 year, 2 years, 5 years) to help label clients based on their trends over those periods. Clients are profiled into one of four quadrants based upon the hours of work performed for the clients and the weighted average hours of work per year based on partner rates, the breadth of work, and key partner participation. The best clients fall in the first quadrant, and the clients with the least amount of work trickle down to quadrant four.

Once the quadrants in eight potential areas:

  • Acorns – clients that start small and grew into very large clients. (more on these later)
  • Backsliders – Started in Q1/Q2 but are now in Q3
  • Cross-Sell Legacy – Where clients with have fluctuated over the past two or three years and have worked with more than two practice groups during that time.
  • Cross-Sell New Opps – Newer clients that have worked with more than two practice groups in the past two years
  • Cross Sell Ongoing Opps – Older clients that still use the firm, but haven’t used more than two practice groups at any time
  • Fallen Star – Clients that were in Q1, but have fallen below certain sub-quadrant scales
  • Growth – Current Q1 or Q2 and have increased in scale since inception (excludes those labeled as Acorns)
  • New High Activity – New clients currently in their first 12 months of activity that have more than 10 active matters, each with more than five hours.
LNCA starts with this financial information, but begins to integrate the CRM and other data that helps narrow along the lines of two important metrics that firms need to know about their clients – Relationships and Attrition. InterAction information is isolated to see who knows who and determine the relationships. Are they all with one person, or does the client have a more varied relationship throughout the partnership? The idea is that if all of the relationship is with one partner, the higher the risk is for attrition with this client. If that can be identified, then the firm could work to expand the relationships with that client beyond the core partner.
Now, I’m going to have to stop here and point out the obvious that InterAction is one of those resources that many firms have, but where the data is suspect at a minimum. For firms that have nice clean InterAction data, this may be a gold mine, but for those firms that I’ve talked to that have InterAction, I’m not sure how much good information can be pulled from this resource.
Self service analysis… Build your own list
The Self-Service Analysis tool is set up to allow for the filter of  the data you want pulled. Analysts can focus in on each quad, and within specific bubbles within those quadrants. The financial data also is set up to be sorted and filtered. The analysis also looks at partner billing data and gauges the relationship between the partners and the clients. Finally, external information from LexisNexis’ atVantage product is matched up with the client data to give a quick indicator of if the legal work is growing or shrinking, and how much the firm is getting of that work. 
Once you have a list (and everyone knows how much Partners love lists!), you can export the lists to Interaction to begin the marketing push. The basic idea behind the self service part is for the analyst to have access to the data, and allows the analyst to set up reports in a number of ways (charts, pivot tables, etc.) This should help identify and rate clients on a number of predetermined categories and make the final results more consistent as you look at a cross section of clients. 

Cross sell analysis … Slice and dice the data

The Cross selling analysis tool breaks down exactly how cross sold the clients really are (practice groups, partner relationships, etc.) There are multiple ways to split this data in order to determine where the strengths and weaknesses are for specific clients. 

Trend analysys … Identify the trends

The Trend Analysis portion charts out where the clients fall over set period of time. Charts can be graphed in different ways. By comparing the work performed for the client over a number of months or years, the idea is to get an early warning on when the firm is starting to lose work for specific clients. It also works the opposite way in helping identify trends for the client that may serve as opportunities for the firm to gain work in different practice groups, or differnt offices.

Profiles piece … Where it all comes together
Profiles attempt to sum up the lifetime value of the individual clients. Clients that are high performers, clients that are at risk, and those that fall somewhere in between. The profiles portion is set up to help the firm work toward building better relationships with the client, or even determine that the firm needs to reduce the time the spend attempting to attract new work from clients that have weak ties to the firm.

InterAction, Redwood and atVantage… Do you have to have all of them?

Obviously, not everyone has all three pieces of the LNCA pie. Whitmore explained that LNCA comes with Redwood. So, if you don’t have Redwood already, then it will be a part of this product. In addition to bringing in Redwood, LNCA will bring in a limited portion of atVantage if your firm does not subscribe. The limited version is not as broad as the full version, so there will be some reduction in overall capability of LNCA, but there should be enough to point you in the right direction on legal work for those clients. If you do not have InterAction, however, then that piece will not be brought in with LNCA. There is also no plans to integrate LNCA with any other type of CRM resources.

Cost? Setup?

LNCA is a web-based product set up on the Microsoft Silverlight platform. It is a subscription based product  that is normally set up on a three-year license agreement based on number of users within the firm. There is no installation fee, so the monthly price will include the set up of the product.

I asked if this resource is also designed to help identify potential billing rates or alternative fee arrangement opportunities, and was told that LNCA isn’t designed to do that, and that type of information was something that the Redwood Planner platform (separate service) was set up to do. Also, the data generated by LNCA is usually generic so that it won’t expose sensitive billing or realization information on individual rates between partners.

The product goes out on April 1st. Hopefully, I’ve relayed enough information from my preview to let you know whether it fits the business development needs of your firm. I’m sure you’ll hear from your Lexis sales rep before too long!

Tell me if you’ve heard this (true) story before… A Partner calls up the Marketing team and says that he is going to be attending a conference this weekend and wants to get some background information on a small group of General Counsels (GC’s) that will be attending. Immediately, Marketing calls the library and asks to have a basic competitive intelligence report drafted up on those ten GC’s — using one of those magical database that we must have.

In the not-so-distant past, we would have gone to the basics of looking up the person’s profile on “magical databases/print resources” like  Martindale-Hubbell or Chambers, and then researched their company websites for profiles, and then conducted a news/information search (sometimes referred to as “I Googled Them”.) However, one of the best resources that we have at our disposal today is the information that the GC’s put out themselves on LinkedIn.

The LinkedIn research works really well if the person you’re looking for is “within your network” (no further than 3 connections away.) If the person is more than 3 connections away, then you usually don’t get to see the full profile, or take advantage of some of the searching features that are available for those within your network. So, the key is to work your connections in such a way that expands your network to include as many GC’s as possible. The best way to do this? Get your firm’s Partners connect with you on LinkedIn. Make it clear to each and every partner that doing so is in their best interest and makes it easier for you to track down information on the potential clients.

Also, don’t forget to connect with your Marketing team. If they rely upon you for competitive intelligence research and analysis, then they too would benefit by connecting with you on LinkedIn and sharing their network with you. Hopefully, your Marketing team is already connected with all the firm’s Partners (if not, then suggest that they start doing so!) Adding a few more connections expands your CI capabilities exponentially, and that can make you the hero when it comes to getting relevant information back to the Partner so he can better prepare to talk with the GC and bring in some more business to the firm.

Back to the story I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Out of the ten GC’s, nine of them had LinkedIn profiles. Out of those nine, eight of them were in my network. The end result was that I was able to pull relevant information on these GC’s and get it into the hands of a partner in just a few minutes. Now I have to go out and start tracking down those other Partners at the firm so that I don’t miss out on that ninth GC the next time around.

When lawyers talk about Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs) they usually want to know: 1) Which one works?, and 2) What is the number? When I get this “silver bullet” question, I always reply with the same answer. There is no silver bullet AFA – the real secret of AFAs is talking to the client. This conversation needs to be a give-and-take dialog, where firm lawyers actually do most of the listening.
As you might guess, lawyers don’t like to hear this answer. They want something simple and straight forward. Peeling back the layers, the main reason they want a simple answer is because they don’t like to talk to clients about fees. This type of conversation is outside their comfort zone, in part, since it makes them feel they are in an adversarial position with the client. The reality is that these conversations put them in full alignment with the client’s best interest. Failing to talk about fees is a recipe for conflict and problems with your client.
This is where the non-lawyer, fee expert can have their highest value. Including them in the conversation with the client can erase the fears of talking about fees. First off, a non-lawyer is in a position to freely discuss fees and fee concerns with the client. Not being the client’s advocate allows a more open and straight-forward discussion about fees. Questions focused on fee concerns and fee pressures the client has are easy to surface. Just as importantly, a non-lawyer brings a second set of ears to the discussion. It’s been my experience that in these conversations I hear different aspects of client answers to fee questions, and many times catch nuances of their concerns that lawyers miss or don’t see the importance of.
The lessons here are two-fold. First, there is high value in having these fee conversations with clients. Since many of these clients are lawyers by training and experience, they have not been engaging in these dialogs. As such, they greatly appreciate the concern and conversation. Second, bringing someone to the table without an interest in the legal issues and with an ability to discuss this subject, makes these open conversations possible.
Any firm or lawyer wanting to prosper in this emerging, competitive environment would do well to include non-lawyers in fee conversations with their clients. Even separate from alternative fee situations, this proactive approach will impress the clients and give your firm new insights into clients’ buying decisions.

We’ve all got our heroes…Mom, Dad, or a teacher in High School are traditional ones, but how about in your profession? Who are the heroes in your profession that have changed how you look at your profession? Perhaps it isn’t even a person, but maybe some event or act from a group of people that makes you proud to call your self a professional. This week we have a number of perspectives… even one from a professional musician… about the heroes we look up to in our profession.

I should have known that this is the 666th post from this blog as soon as I woke up this morning to find what my friends wrote about me… apparently, there were some emails flying around last night which I wasn’t included!!

Enjoy the different perspectives, and forgive the love-fest that I received toward the end.

Also, don’t forget that these Elephant Posts are meant to be a public forum, and we all really want to read different perspectives. Scroll down to the bottom to read next week’s question and follow the instructions on how you can contribute your perspective.

Legal Researcher Perspective
Greg Lambert
The Group @ OSCN.NET
Between 1999-2002, I worked one of the best jobs that a law librarian (especially one with a knack for being a techie/geek) could ever want to do. The Oklahoma Supreme Court made a commitment that it would change how it handled the Court’s opinions, and would create an online system ( that allowed for anyone to see the Court’s decisions, the day they were published, and they adopted the Uniform Citation System that allowed those decisions to be officially cited that same day.

The staff in the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) were some of the brightest, forward thinking group of people I ever worked with. The law students that worked as interns for the AOC, and had to do all the grunt work of getting old cases ready to be released on the site were great to work with, and I don’t know if they realize the importance of their work, even 10 years later. OSCN put every single court decision from the Oklahoma Courts, with Uniform Citations, going all the way back to the Territory Courts of 1890. We even offered to help, and host other states to do the same with their court decisions. Unfortunately, only Wyoming took us up on that offer. I really wish more states would look at what OSCN is doing and follow the trail blazed by a group of heroes.

B2B Marketer Perspective
Kathryn DeLia
A Material Girl…
My professional hero is Madonna. Yes you may think that is corny and everyone has an opinion of her, but take a look at the business aspects of her. She is extremely marketing and PR savvy, negotiated a financially successful deal with Live Nation for maximum exposure for tours, tons of merchandise including her recent launch of ‘Material Girl’ clothes with her daughter. She has built her brand extremely well and kept it that way for 20 years. Yes, I am sure she has some excellent business advisers but I don’t think they were the brains behind her reinvention, etc. Pure marketing power – a marketing girl who built a sensational brand to become all material girl! Now that is a hero to emulate.

Librarian Perspective
Laura Londa
Leader not Manager
I need to list 2 people, but for the same reasons.  One is Cindy Zollinger, CEO of Cornerstone Research and the other is Bob Oaks, Chief Library & Records Officer of Latham & Watkins.  They are both truly leaders not just managers.  While they do need to manage a lot, when it comes to people, they lead.  They not only show you what is possible, but also instill in you the belief that you can achieve it.  They also both have the unique ability to be kind and caring while still running things.  You can’t help but trust them implicitly and you know that the choices they make for you and the company are carefully considered and respectful of you and of the goals of the company.  There is never any doubt that they are in charge, but there is also always the understanding that you can go to them with suggestions and ideas and you will never be dismissed out-of-hand.  They not only lead, but are willing to learn and know that there is always more to learn.  There are very few chiefs that have these qualities.  I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to work for and with both of them.  And I have always sought to model my work after them as I move into more “”managerial”” roles.  I try to lead as they would, not just manage.

Business Intelligence Analyst Perspective
Denise Rabogliatti
It Opened My Eyes
My hero is the individual who gave me my first research project. The project was simple and direct (and it was a paid exercise). I found that it piqued my interest in finding a career in which I could search for information, pull it together and present it in a way that answered an information need. If I had not had this opportunity, I do not know if I would be writing this today.

Law Student Perspective
Danny Johnson
So Fly Like a G6
My professional hero is Kirk Jowers. I’m starting law school in August and Kirk has given me critical advice about preparing for and pursuing my goals in law. He is the most quoted man in Utah politics and is a partner at a DC firm but still manages to spend time with undergrads at the U of U.
At my job at NetDocuments my hero is Marc Duncan because of his skills on the office IndoBoard 

Professional Musician Perspective
Artie Langston
Heroes In Low Places
My greatest hero and mentor is Ray Brown, who some may know as the long time bassist with Oscar Peterson, and onetime husband of Ella Fitzgerald.

Ray was a consummate artist, and his eminence talents were derived from hard work, as well a beautiful soul.
In spite of his fame, Ray always had time for young people, and the times we met were both thrilling, instructive, and inspirational. the first time I heard him play, I knew without a doubt what I wanted to do with my life, no matter what the cost.

The greatest compliment I ever received was when Snookum Russell, another friend and mentor who had nurtured the careers of a number of great Jazz artists, told me that he had not enjoyed working with anyone as much since he had Ray Brown in his band.

Ray is gone now, but I remember every word he told me, and have passed the wisdom of them down to my own students over the years.

Law Librarian and Competitive Intelligence Liaison Perspective
Jan Rivers
@Glambert Rules!
Greg Lambert is my professional hero. While being a full-time law librarian and manager, he also contributes to a fabulous blog, tests out new and exciting technologies, gives back to his profession, and is always collaborative, informative and, above all, entertaining. Also,rumor has it that he plays a mean sax….”
AFA Perspective
Toby Brown
Greg the Great Oracle
When it comes to knowledge – for possessing, sharing  and knowing how to find it – Greg rules.  The 3 Geeks blog truly rides on his shoulders due to this factoid.  His commitment and passion to knowledge is beyond belief.

It used to be when I wanted to find something, I would first send emails out to my circle of knowledge (a.k.a. The Brady’s).  Usually the Greg (a.k.a. The Master of Knowledge) would be a the first or at least an excellent responder.  So then I switched to first sending him a note.  And finally, after much prodding from Greg – I just check our blog.  9 times out of 10 he has already discovered the bit of knowledge I need, reviewed and analyzed it and posted about it on the blog.

That’s why 3 Geeks Rules.  Greg is my professional hero since he sets such a fine example of how to master knowledge and share it with the world.

To boot – he’s a damn fine friend to have.

Knowledge Management Perspective
Ayelette Robinson
“Greg, You Are Da Man”
Greg Lambert is my hero because he inspires those around him to share and collaborate in ways that make us not only better professionals, but also better people.

Thank you, Greg!

Internet Marketing Perspective
Sophia Lisa Salazar
“The One, The Only …”
Greg Lambert! 🙂

After much thoughtful consideration, I know that Greg is the only other person that can write as much as I can but he actually posts his stuff!

Always thoughtful, always productive, always provocative, Greg’s aces in my book.

He’s not only a 3Geeks Blogger, he’s a hell of a nice guy!

Competitive Intelligence Perspective
Zena Applebaum
Man of Geeky Mystery
Greg Lambert is my professional hero.  I don’t know how he does it!  He plays with gizmos and gadgets all day and still manages to be seen as a thought leader and man knowledgeable about libraries and the law.  How does he do it???

I want to be like Greg.

Law Librarian Perspective
Mark Gediman
Greg Bueller-er- Lambert Is My Hero
I don’t know anyone who is more of an all-around mensch than Greg Lambert.
He is always there to keep me in my place.  He critiques my work, pokes pins in my premises and gives me cool nicknames (like Sam the Butcher-don’t ask).

He’s the one that goaded me into blogging into the first place.   So know my critics now know who to blame.
I can’t think of anyone who works harder or nags better to get stuff out of me (to be fair, I did commit to it.  At least, that’s what Greg told me).

Seriously, Mr. Lambert is inspirational:  He has a respected blog, he is willing to serve in a leadership role in his organizations, he is a respected voice in the librarian community, can go toe-to-toe with the best of them when it comes to pop culture and, most importantly, is a great guy to have a beer with.

In fact, I want to be just like him when I grow up.

Information Technologist Perspective
Scott Preston
The Renaissance Man
Greg Lambert is my professional hero.
He has a tremendous breadth of knowledge with experience in law, computers, programming and legal research.  He is always bringing new technology and ideas to the table.  He is fun to work with, inspires many of us to contribute to the greater community and has introduced me to some truly great people.  Greg is one of those amazing people that seems to be able to morph into whatever is needed at the moment.  He is more than willing to share his knowledge and does so in a manner that makes everybody feel important.  Rumor has it he is really good at Frisbee golf too.

I want to be just like Greg when I get to be his age!

Greg is the Renaissance Man.

Business Intelligence Analyst Perspective
Denise Rabogliatti
What! More?
No one says that we can’t have more than one hero . . .

Greg is one of mine.

What more can be said than has already been stated? His broad and deep knowledge, insatiable curiosity and willingness to share will lead the profession to the future. He is an example to which we can aspire.

Blogger & Collaborator Perspective
Greg Lambert
Let’s Finish Off The Love Fest With Some “Brady Love”
Well… waking up early this morning to discover all the “love” that my fellow Brady Bunch crew wrote about me was both fun to read, and a little embarrassing at the same time (but, I quickly got over the embarrassment.) A couple of years ago, I wrote a post called “Improve Yourself – Join a Clique” where I mentioned my clique (AKA “The Bradys”) and the benefits of having peers that you can bounce ideas off of. Although it appears from the previous writings that I’m doing the heavy lifting in this relationship, it is not true. I just happen to be the loudest member of a great group. So, I thank them for their kind words, but I also have to remind them that it is the overall conversation and collaboration that we give each other as a group that is what makes this a great relationship. As anyone in “The Bradys” knows, they love to give feedback… just ask anyone of us that has gone to a meeting for an hour, only to come back to their desk and see 25+ emails sitting in their in-box from “The Bradys” responding to a question one of us asked.

Next Week’s Elephant Post Question:

What Unorthodox Predictions do you have for 2011? What Taboos are going to go away this year?

The first few weeks of the year are filled with predictions of changes to come in the legal industry. Most of those predictions are “yawners” (such as Richard Susskind’s prediction of firms adopting more social media, adopting cloud-based apps, and using tablets… which Toby labeled as Susskind “jumping the shark” on his predictions.)

Let us know what you think are changes that are occurring “under the radar” in the industry. Are partners at firms going to feel the downsizing this year – by being downsized themselves? Are unprofitable practice groups going to be cut loose from their firms? Will there be a change in the legal publishing industry that will shake up the way law firms buy legal research? Is outsourcing going to be no longer a taboo word that makes the hair on the back of every one’s neck stand up?

So the Elephant question for next week is, What are your “other” predictions for 2011?

Simply fill out the form we have created for this question, and you can check in occasionally to see what others are contributing. This should be a fun Elephant Post to read!!

See you next week!!

Mark Herrmann at ATL, wrote an excellent piece on “Is blogging a useful business development tool?” I thoroughly enjoyed the piece, but take issue with a core aspect of his thesis. He notes that “Blogging can be very rewarding in many different ways, but it will create only a very few (if any) serious rainmakers.”
My push-back on this piece is somewhat semantic – but in a crucial way. I question whether the legal industry understands the term “business development.” At many firms, you still can’t use the word “marketing”, so they call it client relations. We blend together and interchange the terms: marketing, client relations, client development, business development, rainmaking and on some rare occasions, we use the term sales. In a more traditional business environment you have the continuum of marketing – business development – and sales. Marketing is primarily about getting attention in the market. For law firms this is done via websites, brochures, seminars and ads. Business development (BD) is primarily relationship building with existing customers and with the new customer leads generated by marketing efforts. For law firms this is usually the follow-up efforts from marketing events, along with pure BD events, such as attending sporting events and social gatherings with clients. Sales is the closing of business deals. This is where one locks in an engagement with a client, and settles on the fee.
In many professional services firms, BD is sales. In reality, BD (although not always called that) is sales for law firms as well, which brings us back to Mark’s thesis. Blogging is really a marketing tool that extends itself into the BD realm via its relationship enabling aspects. But blogging doesn’t build relationships – people do. Blogging merely provides the platform to build relationships. Therefore, I wouldn’t expect a blog to turn anyone into rainmaker, any more than I would expect a kiss to turn a toad into a prince.
It has been my experience that the law attracts people who are uncomfortable with BD. Lawyers get much more excited about the facts of a case or the terms of deal than they do with relationship building. One of my golden rules of AFAs is that a lawyer will do anything to avoid talking to a client about fees. This demonstrates the non-BD personalities of most lawyers.
And again back to Mark’s article – what really caught my attention was the incredible success he experienced from his blogging efforts. Just to name a few:
  • I became a better lawyer.
  • We became unbelievably plugged in to events in our area of law.
  • We dramatically raised both our personal profiles.
  • People who sponsored conferences about drug and device issues were keen to have us participate.
  • We got our book deal.
Most BD people I know would kill for these opportunities. Becoming the “go to” person in your field is approaching BD nirvana. Clients come to you, instead of you knocking on doors hoping to get some of their time.
My evaluation of the ROI of Mark’s blogging is extremely high. But no – his blog didn’t close any deals for him. And I wouldn’t expect it to.
Meanwhile – my blogging goals remain the same: Getting to know more fascinating people and learning interesting things.

Thanks Boss!!

We’ve usually focused on the “negative” when it comes to the Elephant Posts, but this week we wanted to give our contributors a chance to “talk-up” their boss or one of their peers that had an impact on their careers.

What is one thing that you have learned from your boss that has been transformational for you?

This question brought back memories of a job interview I had once, where there was a moment when my potential boss said something to me that he doesn’t remember saying, but I never forgot. Just for fun, I thought I’d do my part this week via video… and a cat… see below to see what I mean. We got a number of responses this week recalling how someone they worked with did or said something that made an impact on them. The Library Perspective Learning To Enjoy The Ride Holly Riccio It is hard to think of one thing learned from my bosses over the course of my career as a law firm librarian, but two things stick out in my mind – one from the beginning of my career and one more recent interaction. The first thing I learned was to be a contributor to the law library community and actively engage with my professional colleagues. This was something I took to wholeheartedly and have never looked back. In fact, before I had even completed my first year of being a professional law, I was running for and then elected to the board of LLAGNY, the Law Library Association of Greater New York. I have continued to be involved in both my local chapter (now NOCALL, the Northern California Association of Law Libraries) and the national association (AALL, the American Association of Law Libraries) and take advantage of as many speaking and writing opportunities as I can find and fit into my life outside of work. It has been one of the most rewarding things about being a law librarian over the years. It has also helped me a number of times in my job, when I have called on a friend or an acquaintance for help finding something obscure or out of my usual realm. It has also provided me with opportunities to hear about other points of view on things or see how other libraries and firms do things and bring those ideas back to my job. The second thing I learned happened more recently and, in some ways, is tangentially related to the first. I was telling a work colleague that I had always had two goals from the moment I became a professional law librarian – one was to be a Library Director at a law firm and the other was to be elected to the board of AALL. I have yet to achieve either of these goals, although I have tried to get elected to the AALL board. (I ran and lost.) I am pretty sure that I will have another opportunity to run, so that one is a work in progress. As for the other goal, the comment I got back when I shared this was unexpected and quite interesting. My colleague started talking about George Clooney’s character in the movie Up In The Air. I haven’t seen the movie, so forgive me if I am not accurate in any of this, but the gist of what he was saying was that very often the thing we most want isn’t all it is chalked up to be once we achieve it, like when Clooney’s character finally reaches the 10 million mile mark for frequent-flyer miles with American Airlines. Now, I do still think that my goal of becoming a Library Director someday is one that will not disappoint me, if and when I am able to achieve it, but I did take something very important from that conversation. What I took from it was an understanding that title isn’t everything and that a lot of what one’s job consists of is what one makes of it. I have always known this, but it really hit me in this moment. What I did as a law librarian at the beginning of my career is so vastly different than what I do today and much of that is in response to how the world of law firms – and law firm libraries – has changed. I have changed as a result and grown and stretched in the process. I have had the opportunity to work on some really wonderful projects and with amazing groups and individuals that traditionally would have been outside of my “library world.” As a result of this conversation, I have resolved that I am going to make the most of any and every opportunity that either comes my way or that I can create and make sure to enjoy the ride a bit more. I am sure that this is where ultimate professional fulfillment truly lies.

Another Library Perspective
Why Do You Want To Limit Yourself To That?

Knowledge Management Perspective Hey Good Lookin’ Ayelette Robinson The best professional advice I’ve heard: Make the people around you look good. These words that were passed along to me encompass so much. Doing your job well is not simply about taking care of your job responsibilities or being a good team player. It’s about appreciating the 360-degree view of what you do and how it affects your colleagues, and providing exemplary (though sometimes invisible) service to those around you so that they shine to their bosses and to their colleagues. For example, doing your job is drafting the document you’re supposed to draft; exemplary service is sending it to your colleague in a mobile-device-friendly format so that she can review it between meetings while out of the office all afternoon and send her thoughts to the other stakeholders before the end of the day, without having to wait until she gets home and has access to a laptop. It’s the difference between the Motel 6 and the Ritz Carlton; you get a bed and a shower either way, but the experience is completely different. For those among us who are not completely selfless, making those around you look good has many long-term benefits: you make those colleagues feel good, which probably makes them better co-workers; they appreciate your work, which builds your relationship with them and encourages them to return the favor; and they remember your work, which is bound to enhance your reputation and open up opportunities that you wouldn’t have even imagined. So whether it’s your boss, your peer, or your supervisor, making those around you look good will make you even better lookin’.

Project Management Perspective There’s Only Two Questions You Need To Ask Toby Brown My boss was able to boil down law firm motivations to two questions.. Initially I found them a bit corny and perhaps over-simplified. However, having weighed these questions against law firm decisions over the past two years, I now hold them as gospel. He state that all firm decisions are driven by two questions. If the answer to either question is yes (or a variation of yes), a law firm will not proceed with a project, proposal or any other decision. The questions are as follows:

  1. Will this embarrass the firm?
  2. Will a partner leave the firm because of this?

Beyond the two questions, which I have found to be very useful, this thinking has fundamentally changed the way I approach ideas and proposals. Instead of over-analyzing and trying to understand all the motivations of everyone involved, I can easily weigh the prospects of a project and proceed accordingly. Simple and elegant. Business Development / Competitive Intelligence Perspective Do… Don’t Just Protect Ann Lee Gibson One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard was from Bill Guthner, Nossaman Managing Partner: “Do your job like you’re willing to lose your job!” Meaning, do your job, don’t just protect your job. Work Environment Perspective Working With, and For Others Karen Sawatzky I had two bosses earlier in my career who made a huge difference in the way I worked. The first, Al Tupper, was a forensic engineer, and I worked as his secretary. He taught me the value of “please” and “thank you”. No matter how trivial the action, he always said please and thank you. While I sometimes forget my own manners, I haven’t forgotten the lesson. The second was Ian Cull. Ian hired me to start up a career resource centre. One day he said, “Hiring smart people makes you look smart.” It took me a moment to realize (a) he was talking about me; and (b) he thought I was smart. He gave me the freedom to do the job as I saw fit. And it taught me what was important to me in my work environment. Internet Marketing Perspective Sunny Side Up, Please Lisa Salazar

Smile. Smile all the time. Smile more

One of my very first bosses told me that I did a great job; she couldn’t flaw me for any of my work. But I came across as too stern. I remembered being surprised by this but then realized that it was an opportunity for some real personal growth. As much as we hate to hear this, people judge us by our appearance. And it isn’t just our clothes. It is our demeanor, our attitude, our–je ne sais quoi–joie de vivre. And it is something that I have to practice every day as a marketer. It has been a real lesson for me. And, speaking as a lawyer who is inclined to be extremely serious, it goes against my nature. But when I found myself moving into marketing, the ability to literally “lighten up” has become more and more important. As a project leader who often has to work across multiple departments and gain consensus on a topic that is extremely subjective (what? web site design subjective? You betcha), smiling has become an important tool in my arsenal. In fact, a Harvard Business Journal article solidified this philosophy and taught me that people would rather work with a lovable star than the incompetent jerk. So turn that frown upside-down! Information Technology Perspective Closing the Loop – 360 Degree Customer View

Scott Preston In this context, closing the loop is a simple customerservice technique that accomplishes several things. Closing the loop gives you, the customerservice representative, an opportunity to make sure that you delivered what wasexpected. It gives you an opportunity tomake sure that no other questions or concerns have gone unanswered since youfirst took ownership of the request/task/project. It gives the customer an opportunity toverify whether he or she is indeed happy with the results and it verifies tothe customer that you understood the request, you cared about his or her needsand you saw the request through to the end. All of this is great stuff and well worth the price of admission, however,this is not the transformative part.

“The transformativepart is the idea that by closing the loop you please the customer and getcredit for the work you have done.”

Many times all the workthat goes into providing the solution goes on behind the scenes. The customer has no idea the effort taken tocomplete the task. You might havediscussed the necessary resources when the project started, but that was anestimate. When closing the loop, youhave a perfect opportunity to share the amount of effort that was given onbehalf of the customer. For even thecrankiest customers, this amount of effort is reassuring.
By closing the loop,you get confirmation from the customer that his or her needs have been met andthat you made sure it happened. Youbuild a stronger relationship and you are seen as a caring customerrepresentative that understands the business.

We are all good atgetting three quarters of the way there, but are we getting the entire 360degree experience? In IT, by the time wehave delivered the solution we were moving on to the next project. This is understandable given the number ofprojects we handle. What is notunderstandable is the lost opportunity to get credit for the work completed. This simple idea has a transformative impacton the delivery of services.

Information Technology Perspective Vision & Opportunity Mac Oparakum Over the years, I’ve come to value one very important lesson – perspective. Charles G. Koch once said “Our vision controls the way we think and, therefore, the way we act … the vision we have of our jobs determines what we do and the opportunities we see or don’t see.” During my days as a support technician, I managed computer-learning labs for several school districts. They had their own culture, technology preferences, policies and budgets. When the State Education Board sanctioned a new learning lab program, I was faced with installing a new solution and implementing the accompanying AppleTalk, EtherTalk, Ethernet or Token-Ring network. Noticing my apprehension, I remember the day when my boss reminded me the end goal was to educate students. I needed to tune the solution to help the students, teachers, and schools leverage new technology towards that goal versus focusing just on the amount of work ahead of me. She was right. As a volunteer at my local church, I lead the visual media team. I recall the day we were hosting a band touring across the United States. Near the end of rehearsal, a passing thunderstorm caused an electrical blackout. When power returned, most of our equipment lost their settings. The leaders of the event gave us “the show must go on” speech because 1000 people were heading our way. We scrambled to reconfigure equipment and the concert continued without a hitch. We made the best of the negative situation and the effort lead to an opportunity to run the control booth with professionals. Earlier this year, my CIO called a meeting to discuss the realities of the New Normal and our need to understand the impact of disruptive technologies. He asked us to read Why the New Normal Could Kill IT (hyperlink: before the meeting. I was enlightened and my CIO’s insight made it clear we need to change the ways we do things. The game changed but my head was still down looking at the playing field. I now raise my head more often to confirm I’m playing the right game. When challenges cross your path, a change in perspective may transform you. Next Week’s Elephant Post Question: We’re going to have some fun with next week’s Elephant Post question, so you’ll need to follow along with my thinking on this. In the movie The Princess Bride, there is an exchange between Vizzini and Inigo Montoya. Vizzini keeps saying “INCONCEIVABLE!!” and Montoya calls him on it:

Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE!! Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

We’ll modify this somewhat and ask this:

“I think you need to look up the meaning of ________. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

Share with us your story of someone (a vendor, a colleague, a friend… an enemy) that uses a word, phrase or concept that doesn’t mean what they think it means. If you have such a story, then send me an e-mail to discuss getting it ready for the next Elephant Post.