Robert Ambrogi did me a kindness by including me in his post, The Year of Women in Legal Tech.

I’ve been working in legal technology before it was even a thing.

Over the past 20 years, the field of legal digital marketing has taken off and become a legitimate business need.

A legal digital marketer as a young woman

As the legal world has become more competitive, the need to keep pace the business world requires law firms to have strong digital marketing talent.

The business of law

To put myself through law school, I worked weekends at large law firm handling every job imaginable: filing, moving offices, answering phones, researching, and delivering mail along with lunch.

Plus, during one spring break, I spent the entire week dinking around on Prodigy–I was fascinated. I know I’m dating myself but it gives you a sense where the industry was when I was in law school.

While I was studying for the bar and waiting on my results, I helped the firm to build their first electronic filing system. I wasn’t yet a programmer but worked closely with the developer to design the system. I soon realized I needed to learn code so I wouldn’t get the wool pulled over my eyes.

It was also during this time was when I learned to run a business and realized that I preferred the “business of law” rather than the practice of law.

E-discovery, chat rooms and server rooms

After passing the bar, I practiced family law then expanded into plaintiffs law. Leaps in technology saw the advent of using technology to perform discovery and document production. I was also considering the impact of the ethics rules on AOL chat rooms.

Then life veered again when I moved directly into technology. Cloistered in a server room, I developed training and marketing material for an e-commerce site. Mostly, I remember how cold the room was and that no one had any pens or pencils at their desk. Why would they–I was surrounded by programmers.

Graphic, digital and web design

At that time, few people knew how to use PhotoShop, Illustrator or PowerPoint, which made me more marketable.

Lured back into law to work as a graphics designer, I worked at a white shoe firm. Not only handling their graphics, I designed their intranet and built their web site. The developer hired to build the site disagreed with the design and refused to build it. So I learned how to code and built it myself, winning a nice award in the process.

Project management, social media and online advertising

Websites, microsites, blogs, online advertising, social media are just the front-end of the projects that I’ve managed. Yes, graphics are a part of the project but the most enjoyable part of my job is the intricacy of navigating through the multiple systems that drive the sites.

Like embroidery, websites are beautifully patterned images made from thousands of multicolored strands of code. The front is beautiful. The back-end; well, I strive for neatness.

I enjoy my job immensely and think I have the best of several worlds: the law, technology and marketing.

Who would have imagined I would have ended up here?

Thanks again, Robert, and kudos to all women who work in legal.

Tim Peterson (@petersontee) of MarketingLand.com did a great job of analyzing a moving target in sizing up “How Facebook’s, Instagram’s and Snapchat’s audience size estimates compare.”

Now, I realize that many believe that Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have little or no value to law firms. I beg to differ. Think of social media as being just another method to deliver marketing and promotion, public relations and brand management—just like TV, radio or publications.

Think of it this way: in the evening, when people are relaxing and multiscreening at home, they are skimming through Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. While checking out @beyonce, @therock or @lin_manuel_, inspiring, artful or humorous law firm content injected into these networks can bring positive attention, higher engagement and broader brand awareness.

Peterson’s charts show that Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, dominate in the seven largest countries by media spend.

Are Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat relevant to law firm marketing?
Chart created by Tim Peterson of MarketingLand.com: *Facebook and Instagram audience estimates are based on average usage over the past 30 days and span web and app users. Snapchat audience estimates are based on usage over the past 28 days and only count users exposed to Snap Ads within Stories, Shows and Discover.

In the US alone, that is an estimated 200M Facebook users, 100M Instagram users and over 75M Snapchat users. And if they are anything like me, they are skipping between all of these channels throughout the evening.

By the numbers, Instagram stories—different from Instagram posts—are reaching far more people than Snapchat (this is interesting because many deemed Instagram stories to be a rip-off of Snapchat’s format). Furthermore, Instragram is more popular than Snapchat in all countries except France.

And possibly the most interesting chart to law firm marketers is Peterson’s stats on those aged 35+. In their mid-career, these people were the first generation to have used Facebook all of their adult life—it is now a habit for them. Facebook was founded in 2004. This means that 35-year olds are the first generation to have used Facebook all of their adult life—it is a part of their everyday life. That means that the majority of folks below the age of 35 are more than likely have a Facebook account, and probably have an Instagram account. These numbers likely include your in-house counsel.

Looking at the chart, these mid-career adults, are using Facebook more than Instagram or Snapchat in every major country. According to the data, based upon recent usage, nearly 150 million adults are looking at content on either their Facebook or Instagram accounts.

Perhaps it is time to reassess you opinion of Facebook and Instagram.

Are Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat relevant to law firm marketing?
Chart created by Tim Peterson of MarketingLand.com: *Facebook and Instagram audience estimates are based on average usage over the past 30 days and span web and app users. Snapchat audience estimates are based on usage over the past 28 days and only count users exposed to Snap Ads within Stories, Shows and Discover.

This is a presentation that was given to the Minnesota Legal Career Professionals (MnLCP) on January 12, 2011.
I always enjoy talking about social media. It’s a huge passion of mine, right up there with movies. I once gave an entire speech comparing Social Media to the Wizard of Oz. But don’t worry, that’s not this speech!
Throughout this talk, I will be making a couple of other movie references—so keep your ears and eyes open.
First of all, how many of you have a LinkedIn account? 24
A Facebook account? 25
Good, I am speaking to the advanced class.
But for those of you who may not know or need to find good analogies to take back to your colleagues here is one straight from the horse’s mouth, LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner:
LinkedIn is a professional online networking site, as opposed to Facebook’s more social site. What does that mean?
While Facebook is in the business of helping you make connections in your personal life to facilitate social interaction, LinkedIn is focused on mapping connections between professionals, to help develop them within three degrees of connection.
By the way, anyone recognize these two folks? The one on the left is John Hodgman, he was the Father’s voice in animated movie Coraline. The other one is Justin Long, the voice for Alvin in Alvin and the Chipmunks.
And these are the real-life guys. The one on the left, for those of you who didn’t see the Facebook movie Social Network, is Facebook’s owner Mark Zuckerberg. The one on the right is LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner.
What do I mean by degrees of connection?
I’m sure everyone’s heard of six degrees of Kevin Bacon: a game created by four Albright students after watching the movie Footloose during 1994 blizzard. The four students wrote a letter to Jon Stewart, telling him that “Kevin Bacon was the center of the entertainment universe” and that every actor could be connected to him through 5 other actors or less.
Well, this idea of six degrees of separation has its origin from an Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy, who wrote a collection of short stories called “Everything is Different”. This idea influenced a great deal of early thought on social networks and LinkedIn is a spin-off of that idea.
I’ll give you some examples. Anyone that reads our blog, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, know that I am a huge admirer of Ashton Kutcher.
Well, I will have you know that I know people that know people that know Ashton Kutcher. He is only three degrees away from me.
And the same with Barack Obama. I, in fact, have a better chance of meeting the president than I do of meeting Ashton. It’s so sad.
Mr. Obama and I have a second-degree relationship while Ashton and I have a third-degree relationship—or what they call a loose connection.
Those third-degree relationships is where LinkedIn comes in and helps you to explore, build out and strengthen these more nebulous relationships.
Right now, there are 153 million people in the U.S. workforce and 3.3 billion people in the global workforce. This  is LinkedIn’s target audience. And your potential audience.
Currently, LinkedIn has 135 million members in over 200 countries, with nearly 60% outside of the U.S.
And in the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area there are over 1,700 LinkedIn profiles that show up in a “law practice” industry search.
So, now we’ve set the stage for why we have to active on LinkedIn, let’s talk about how do you market yourself in this digital landscape?
How many of you have heard of the Four Ps of marketing?
The four Ps are a basic principal of marketing that was introduced in 1953 by Harvard Advertising Professor Neil Borden in his American Marketing Association presidential address. The concept was later published in his article, “The Concept of the Marketing Mix.” And, actually, he borrowed the term “marketing mix” from an associate, James Cullton, who developed the idea in 1948 to describe the role of a marketing manager. So if you ever wondered just what exactly a marketing manager does; well, you are about to find out.
The four Ps are:
1.                Product
2.                Placement
3.                Promotion
4.                Price

Product

So let’s talk about the 4 Ps in relationship to you. What is the product? That’s right: you. You, as an attorney, are the ultimate product in any law firm—you are the intellectual property of your firm. Only you know and have the relationships, knowledge and skills to negotiate, procure, and win business. So we know we have a great product—there is no denying that. But unless you are known you will not be retained. So how do we get you noticed? Well, that brings us to a sub-set of  the first “P” –packaging.

Packaging

What is packaging?
Well, at its most basic—it is the manner in which you present yourself. It can be as basic as your personal style, your voice, your delivery of services. But in terms of LinkedIn, it is your profile. You have got to make sure that you are taking full advantage of all of the offerings available on your LinkedIn profile.
Many people overlook the additional plug-ins and sections that are available for your profile.
These plug-ins allow you to include certifications, if you are board certified, organizations, publications, legal updates, blogs and tweets.
I would encourage you to these over after the session ends and explore some of these options as well as many other third-party apps, including Martindale’s Lawyer Ratings, Amazon’s Reading List and the hottest social network, SlideShare Presentations.
Now, I am going to assume that most of you have already built out your profile. Let’s face it, LinkedIn has been around for 10 years—as a matter of fact, it was founded in Reid Hoffman’s living room in 2002. If you haven’t built a profile, then now is the time. According to Lisa’s Rule of Law Firm Technology, if the technology has been adopted in the general culture for 10 years or more, then Law Firms can safely bring it into the walls of their firm.
So let’s move on to the next “P”.

Placement

Now placement with regards to online activity is probably the most esoteric concept for people to understand since it is has no physical reality—it is all about virtual presence. So let’s look at it another way.
We know the basic marketing principle behind placement is which shelf in the grocery store that you want your box of cereal to be—optimally, at eye-level.
Well, the same holds true for LinkedIn. So LinkedIn’s goal is to be where the eyes are.
So what is LinkedIn doing to help you make this happen? LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner (3:10) explains that “when you meet someone in a professional context for the first time, one of the first things you do is exchange business cards—you exchange professional identities. We have learned that the more our professional identity is out there, the more potential opportunities accrue to us.”
“Whereas if you were to meet someone in a personal context or in a social exchange—say that you go to a party and meet someone for the first time—it’s very rare that you would say, “here’s my home address and my cell phone number.”
“So there is a difference with regards to the context.”
“So that the more that people can put their professional identity out there—in LinkedIn’s case—it’s your profile—you update your profile. The fresher and more relevant your profile information, the more likely it is to be search-engine optimized. So when someone does a search on a major search engine for your name or someone like you, your LinkedIn profile is going to show up at or near the top of the results.
That’s an incredibly valuable piece of digital real estate because you get a chance to represent your experience, your skills and, most importantly, your ambitions. And that’s how opportunities accrue to people and the more they see these opportunities, the more engaged they become. Not only with their profile, but with their network, sharing information and knowledge within a professional network.”
So that leads us to search-engine optimization. Simply put, you want to make sure that you are on the first page of any search engine result. So, say for example, you perform a search for Minneapolis trademark attorney, you make sure that you or your firm’s name shows up in the search result.
I’ll give you an example, we at Fulbright have worked really hard to make sure that all of our attorneys show up on Google’s first page if you do a search for them.
So for instance, Ronn Kreps’ firm bio is number one, followed by his LinkedIn profile. That’s the way we like it at Fulbright and we built our web site with this purpose in mind.
So how do you make  sure that your LinkedIn profile is search-engine optimized? Make sure that you are building your profile with your target audience in mind. One common mistake that I see, is that profiles are built to an internal audience. They write things like so-and-so is a “practice head” or so-and-so “leads a department”.  
If a GC or a business owner is looking for a lawyer, they are not necessarily looking for practice heads or department leaders; they are looking for law firms, attorneys or lawyers. So make sure and use these kinds of words liberally in your profile. There are a number of locations in your LinkedIn profile to plug these words in: your summary, your experience, your organizations.
Another way to search engine optimize your profile is to update it regularly. You might want to calendar a 15-minute task once a week to make sure and update your profile with fresh content. Which leads to the next “P”: Promotion.

Promotion

Now, most attorneys don’t like to talk about promotion. They start getting nervous about advertising rules and ethics. Which they should.
But there is also this knee-jerk reaction to any form of marketing that go back to a time when lawyers could just hang out a shingle in their home town and wait for work to come in.
Well, those times are gone.
In 2011, the ABA reported that there are over 1.2M lawyers in the United States (ABA). In Minnesota, there are just over 23K—with a population of roughly 5.3M people, that’s 1 lawyer for every 227 people.
According to a 2011 New York Times article, 888 folks had passed the Minnesota bar. Legal services has become an increasingly competitive market place. I still remember when the first commercial by a lawyer came out in Texas. I was a freshman in college and was sitting in the dorm’s TV lounge when a whole room of college kids began booing at the screen.
Now, it is just a fact of life.
Plaintiff and criminal lawyers have seen the advantage of this and have plowed full steam ahead. Bigger defense firms have been much more reticent but as they get squeezed out of more and more market share by other law firms, they are beginning to take legal marketing more seriously.
So how can you use your LinkedIn profile to help promote you and your law firm without violating any ethical rules? In short—a disclaimer.
Make sure and study your ethical rules with regards to board certification and make sure that you put appropriate disclaimers to ensure that you are not creating any expectation of a attorney-client relationship. Those are the most basic of guidelines. – by the way, this particular disclaimer is pretty interesting. It is from a 2009 30-minute fan film called the Hunt for Gollum, which is based on the appendices of the Lord of the Rings.
But, in all seriousness, there is no need to fear posting on LinkedIn. My general rule of thumb—which I got, by the way, from the general counsel of the European Newspaper Financial Times—don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t put in a business email.
So let’s get back to promotion.
Do you know what the most under-rated tool is on LinkedIn?
The status update.
I bet you thought I was going to say groups. Well, as you will soon see, this will factor into this ubiquitous but under-utilized tool.
Let me give you a good example.
One of our lawyers just finished writing an article. He wants to get it published—every single lawyer that I know wants to get their article in a law review journal or a legal periodical. Fair enough; there is a merit to that desire. It legitimizes you, it gives you some street cred.
But I would argue that these publications do not get in front of your target audience. Remember, people that might retain your services may or may not be readers of these types of publications.
And in this day and age, who has time to read?
Everyone is increasingly relying upon Kindles, iPads, search engines, keyword results, scraped content, Law360 emails, other emailed newsletters and the like.
So how do you take advantage of that?
A few simple steps:

  1. If the magazine has agreed to publish the article, immediately list it on your LinkedIn profile with a link to the online publication. If the publication does not have it published online, then make sure and it get it online somewhere. Fulbright regularly post our lawyers’ reprints to our firm’s web site.
  2. Once the article is on the web, post a status update on your LinkedIn profile. This automatically sends a notice to all of your contacts that you have just written an article. This is reaching your first degree relationships.
  3. Next, post a status update on any group that you belong to. This will send a notice to all of the group members that you’ve just written an article—this is reaching your second and third degree relationships, or people you don’t know but who have similar interests and who you’d like to get to know.
  4. Next, advise the site administrator of your firm’s LinkedIn profile so that they can post it as a status update on the firm’s LinkedIn page. Faegre & Benson is doing a good job of this.
  5. Lastly, If you have access to any other social media pages like Twitter, Facebook, etc., make sure that this same information is sent out to these sites.
So, theoretically, an article written by the attorney that I mentioned to you in my earlier example has now has gotten in front of: 43,000 hard copy readers + 100 LinkedIn contacts + 250 members of LinkedIn Group 1 + 100 members of LinkedIn Group 2 + 4,000 LinkedIn Company followers + 2,000 Twitter followers.
And the biggest difference between those hard copy readers and the LinkedIn connections?
What is the likelihood that someone will tear out your print article and mail it to a colleague versus someone pushing the Forward/Retweet button? It is so much easier to do it electronically—it makes the person forwarding the article look smart and, ultimately, it makes you look smart.
There is just not enough good content out there. The web is starved, hungry for fresh content. That’s what keeps the beast going. So if you are speaking, writing, meeting, talking, going to meetings, why not get all the mileage you can get out of your activity by providing status updates?
By putting your select, well-positioned and strategic updates online, you are positioning yourself as an expert in your field.
I call it the “Cocktail Party” strategy.
We have all been at those cocktail parties where someone walks in and just seems to take over the room. They know everyone, everyone knows them and now they know that the party just got good and now, we are all in for a good time.
Well, you can be that person. But you can’t do it if you aren’t at the cocktail party. Heck, if you aren’t on LinkedIn and participating, you don’t even realize that there is a party going on.
I know of entire reputations that are made simply by being online. I have watched, first hand, entire reputations built on the web. Take 3 Geeks, for example. My friends Toby and Greg have turned themselves into Legal Technology rock stars by simply churning out their blog, tweeting good content and developing online relationships.
And the do think that the movie Julie & Julia was about cooking? No. It was about blogging. A girl decided to blog about her daily attempt to cook one Julia Child recipe a day. It was about blogging, not cooking.
And I have seen this happen over and over again in other industries: cooking, make-up, music, entertainment. And young lawyers are making their names known by simply connecting to one another online.
What don’t see are the behind the scenes interactions that aren’t on display online. Toby, Greg and I are constantly getting phone calls, emails, and lunches about going to conferences, doing product reviews and writing CLE programs.
Which leads to the final “P”—price.

Price

Now, traditionally, price is the value that customers assign to the product. Both offline and online, this is a tricky proposition.
In pricing, there is perceived value, the reference value and the differential value.
What does this have to do with LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is free, so why do you have to worry about this?
Well, I think that the better measurement for LinkedIn’s spend is not money but time.
In today’s online economy, I measure not how much money I am spending online but how much time I am spending online.
Everyone hates the onslaught of emails.
My prediction is that everyone is going to get a clue and start pulling the plug on their lives. We will see more unplugged vacations, more unplugged retreats, more unplugged spaces.
We are seeing it in movie theaters and business retreats. Vacations that are off the grid are becoming more and more desirable.
And consumers are becoming savvier about Groupon’s daily deals and walking away from these fire sales.
We are learning, one by one, how to be more thoughtful about how we spend our time online. So it is about striking that balance between how much time we want to spend online and how much of our contact’s time do we want to take? We don’t want to exhaust our contacts and wear out our welcome.
So let us consider the contact’s perceived value of your status update. Everyone is always quick to say, “I am not getting on X, Y or Z social network, why should I care what so-and-so had for lunch?”
Agreed. We don’t want to read about that sort of drivel nor do we want to contribute to it.
Our updates, then, should be meaningful and pertinent to our audience.
That means that we should be carefully selecting and culling our contacts list and providing them with meaningful content that could make a difference to their business.
So don’t think about your contact list in terms of sheer volume.  Instead, look at them as providing you with potential revenue. Now this does not mean only having relationships with GCs. It also means developing relationships with people who influence or come in contact with GCs. Do not be so single-minded to think that only lawyers know lawyers.
One of the best stories that I have about this is about one of our IT guys. Back in 2005 we were chatting when I found out that his daughter was an assistant GC at CountryWide. You know I beat a path to our subprime practice group! And don’t forget the summer interns—sure they may not have taken the job with you and may be working at a competitor. But that won’t stop them from moving to other jobs and possibly going in-house at some point in their career.
This just goes to show how your status updates can become valuable to your contacts because, they in turn, can use that information and Pay It Forward to their contacts.
The reference value is about how your status updates stack up against your competitors. If you aren’t making any updates, your competitors are winning that particular race. If you are making updates and no one else is, as Charlie Sheen would say, that’s WINNING! If you are in a competitive market, then you need to be hitting it hard and matching your competitors update for update.
The differential value is about how your updates differ from the competition. Are your updates short, forward-friendly and links easily accessible? Is the content inviting other to forward?
By the way, did you know that if you say “please forward” or in Twitterese, “please RT”, you stand an 80% chance of being retweeted than if you don’t? It just goes to show you: It never hurts to ask.
And include a link, be it a photo, an article, a video. And the link should be shortened so that it will maximize your space. There are all kinds of shortners out there: Tiny URL, Bit.ly are just two.
So in the in end, the price that your contacts pay is the time that they spend reading your updates. Make it worth their while.

Conclusion

So LinkedIn is just one tool in your online arsenal. I hope this whets your appetite and encourages to try other online tools—Twitter is another great online tool that integrates very well with LinkedIn.
In fact, you can now use #IN at the end of a tweet and it will automatically repost your tweet as a LinkedIn status update, but only if you if have your Twitter profile tied to your LinkedIn profile.
Finally, as it’s explained in the famous “ignore the blond” scene from 2001 movie, A Beautiful Mind, (2:02) real life economist John Nash says, “Adam Smith said that the best result comes from everyone doing what’s best for himself. Incomplete. Incomplete, ok? Because the best result would come from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself and the group. Governing Dynamics, gentlemen, Governing Dynamics. Adam Smith was wrong.”
This movie was based upon a 1998 Pulitzer prize-nominated book of the same name. In 1994, Nash ended up winning the Nobel prize for his revolutionary work on game theory. This game theory was the mathematical method for analyzing calculated circumstances that would end up playing an instrumental role in online algorithms for  games, markets, auctions and peer-to-peer systems.
All of which led to the development of sites like LinkedIn.
“The best result will come from everyone in the group doing what’s best for himself and the group.”

After attending a 4-hour grammar class–yes, I know, I am a geek–I was heartened to witness that there are those still out there who are positively impassioned about punctuation.
The class erupted in a thirty-minute discussion on–get this–how many spaces should follow a period.
Good grief.
You would have thought we were talking about which soda as better: Pepsi or Coke. No fewer than thirty-five people weighed in on the matter. These were their thoughts:
  1. If you are typing on a typewriter (and, really, who does this?), it is two spaces.
  2. If you are tweeting, it is one space–if you have even written a complete sentence, that is.
  3. If it is a legal document, it is two spaces.
  4. If it is a mobile device, most phones automatically make it a period followed by one space, if you enter two spaces.
  5. If it is web copy, it is one space.
Finally, after nearly coming to fisticuffs, the consensus was to use one space after a period.
Geez. You woulda thought it was the Grammargeddon.

Interested in all things digital? Well, if you didn’t know, for the first time in its history, the 9th annual D: All Things Digital is going to be streaming its sold-out conference. Kicking off the conference will be Google exec Eric Schmidt, who will step up to the mike at 6:15 PDT. Netflix CEO and Founder Reed Hastings will speak tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. PDT. Featured speakers include Hewlett-Packard CEO Léo Apotheker, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, DARPA director Regina Dugan, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows division.

Are you starting to think that your e-newsletter is looking a little tired? Interested in adding some social media features?
Here’s a quick guide on what to consider when undertaking a redesign:
  1. Look at your current newsletter and identify what’s lacking. If you are working with a committee, ask each person to come to the brainstorming session with a current newsletter marked up with their suggestions. At this stage, all ideas are welcome and all will be considered.
  2. At the first meeting, review all suggestions then talk about big-picture goals:
  1. over-all look and feel
  2. new functionality
  3. high-level goals (broader content, broader reach)
  • At the end of the first meeting, task each member to bring back at least 1 example of a newsletter that they admire. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a legal e-newsletter. Want some inspiration? Go to the PRSA Silver Anvil Awards site or LMA Awards site.
  • At the second meeting, finalize design, content.
  • It may take a few more meetings, depending upon how detailed you want to get. But remember, when breaking up your goals, make sure that they are SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed.And make sure to measure the success of your redesign. Take a benchmark of your current newsletter so you can see how well your new design works and whether you may need to tweek it. Track results too, to demonstrate a real ROI. The great thing about e-mailed newsletters is that they are web-based and fluid so they can be easily updated from issue to issue.

    I was thinking about this very question today.

    Why couldn’t a law firm offer a Groupon for their services? Why not indeed?

    It is not so disimilar from offering alternative fees.

    I had recently read about a women-owned firm who were offering flat-fee services for divorces, custody battles and the like.

    Why not a Groupon?

    I can see it now: 50% off Legal Services: $100 for $200 worth of Family Law Services.

    I challenge someone to do this and report on the results.

    What’s the worst thing that could happen?

    This question springs from a basic question that I ask every vendor that is trying to sell me their product. I always ask “What is one of the best things that your product does, and your clients don’t seem take advantage of it?” It usually stumps them for a moment, but then a light bulb goes on and they suddenly point out a feature that is build in that would help the end user out, but they can’t seem to get the end user to take the time to use it. It also shows me if the person selling the product actually uses it. Think about what it is that you or the group you represent has a talent for, but you just can’t seem to get the rest of your firm to see that they need. Is it because it isn’t as great a service as you think, or it needs to be marketed better, or is it that it is over the heads of those that would benefit from this service?

    We have answers from the Alternative Fee, Competitive Intelligence, Information Technology, Internet Marketing, and Law Library perspectives this week. Below this week’s answers is next week’s question that deals with what will be the next thing that will get “efficiencied”.
    The Alternative Fee Perspective

    It’s not just the thing I do very well, it’s my highest and best use
    Toby Brown

    Most lawyers come to me as the AFA guy asking for the “silver bullet” AFA they can put in an email and fire off to clients. I always tell them there is no magic AFA and that the real magic comes from talking to clients about fees. My highest and best use is helping them understand this magic and then assist them in sharing it with clients.

    I understand lawyers’ resistance to talking with clients about fees. Talking about price is the most challenging part of any sale. And for a technician it is very intimidating, especially a technician with core skills in representing a client’s best interest and not their own. Price conversations and negotiations feel too much like representing their own interest against a client’s. In reality, discovering the right type of AFA at the right number IS representing the client’s best interest – and your own.

    This resistance means lawyers will go to great lengths to avoid talking about fees. It means that instead of helping them with this task, they ask me to create spreadsheets, analyze past billings and draft RFP response language. All of these efforts have value, but nowhere near the value of talking to clients directly about fees.

    To make matters worse, the clients are too often cut from the same cloth and take the same path. This is something new and different for them and outside their comfort zone.

    Getting my clients to see the value in this skill remains my highest focus. So keep your fingers crossed for me.
    The Competitive Intelligence Perspective

    If an Unmarketed CI Analyst Falls in the Woods… Does He Make a Sound?
    Mark Gediman

    I find that most of the services we provide no one asks for, due mostly to the fact they don’t know we can do it. This is a key reason why we find it necessary to continually market our services. A great example of this is Competitive Intelligence (CI).

    For many reasons, I find that law firm librarians are uniquely suited to CI. We know our audience (the Attorneys), which makes it easier to target the information they need and present it in a way that they are used to. We do analysis on a daily basis (“this case is on point because…”). Putting the two together should be easy, and it is.

    Before we rolled this out as formal Library service, I offered it to our marketing director and any attorney I could. When asked to do a background or news search on a prospective client, I would ask if the attorney would like a briefing pack done. When they gave me a blank stare, I would show them a sample briefing pack. 6 times out of 10, they would opt for the pack. Then, over time, I would start to get calls from Attorneys who wanted what I gave to So-and-so. I also would bring it up whenever I was found myself with the elevator with a partner or presenting in an new attorney orientation. After the requests reached a certain critical mass, I met with our Executive Committee about making this a formal institutional process. I still present on this at practice group retreats. I reinforced this with regular reports on the types of requests coming in and the success rate for new clients we assisted with.

    No matter how well you do something, no one will ask you to do it if they don’t know about it. This is a principle firms live by and is equally applicable to your clients inside the firm. Market yourself and market your department’s services if you want people to see the value in what you do. They will never “just know.”
    The IT Perspective

    Dancing Geek to Geek!
    Scott Preston

    One thing that provides value to the firm but is rarely utilized is having the firm’s IT leaders sit down with the client or potential client’s IT leaders to discuss how best to leverage technology.

    Looking for opportunities to differentiate one law firm from another is becoming more important as we see continued pressure on pricing and we hear more and more about the commoditization of many types of legal work.

    “Being able to demonstrate efficiencies like improving work flows, streamlining processes, better leveraging institutional knowledge and demonstrating to the client that your firm has the technical prowess to bring this all together in an effective manner is going to become a key differentiator among law firms.”

    What better way to demonstrate such prowess than to have your IT leaders sit with the client’s IT leaders to discuss how technology can be used to improve the relationship? I have had the privilege to do this on a few occasions and it has always been very enlightening and useful to both sides of the conversation. Generally speaking, most of the clients are very impressed with the level of detail and understanding that law firm IT leaders (and their organizations) possess. In the e-discovery practice, we do this quite frequently as we help guide the client through the hurdles and pitfalls of e-discovery, but those are limited engagements and usually very targeted on collecting information.

    “By aligning the law firm’s IT leaders with a client’s IT leaders you are building a bridge by which the two entities become more closely tied, creating a more effective relationship.”

    We have known for a long time that attorneys do not feel comfortable talking about technology with their clients. We know that clients are focused on improving legal processes or at the very least controlling their legal spending. And we know how much Geeks like to be Geeks, so why not bring this full circle and let the Geeks demonstrate how in tune they really are to the business needs. Your client will thank you, the attorney will thank you and hopefully you will learn something along the way.

    The Internet Marketing Perspective

    Surfing on the Edge
    Lisa Salazar

    Internet marketing can do a whiz-bang job at competitive intelligence. With handy little web tools and savvy spreadsheet skills, we can make short work of analyzing our competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.

    And because we spend so much time surveying the webscape, we are experts at developing strong User Experience Design. In the business since its inception, we know what works and doesn’t work on the web and are always looking for the next new thing. It was funny–yesterday Google had a fun, playful logo that swung around with the movement of your mouse. None of my Facebook friends knew what to make of it until I explained how HTML5 worked.

    The web has grown so fast and so hard over the last fifteen years that it is a constant challenge to stay out front. One of our team’s strengths as leaders in technology is to educate others on all the cool tools that can be adapted for business purposes.

    The Law Library Perspective

    In Need of a Search Expert? Who You Gonna Call?
    Greg Lambert
    It may sound obvious, but one of the best things that librarians and legal researchers are good at is effective search strategies. We really own anything related to Boolean searching, and understand proximity searching perhaps better than any other profession. We know how to adjust words and phrases based on the information provided, and tend to notice when results don’t look ‘quite right’, and adjust the search strategy to fit the structure of the data we are culling. Despite all of this expertise, where is the librarian or legal researcher when lawyers, clients and electronic discovery professionals are meeting to discuss how they are going to find those “smoking gun” documents? Usually sitting in the library blue-booking a brief.

    Until someone waves an “e-discovery magic wand” and designs a better way to search documents, we’re still relying upon text and phrase searching to help identify potential documents to be used in litigation. Although the attorneys may understand the legal concepts — the clients may understand the business language involved — and the e-discovery consultants may understand the process of getting everything ready for review — none of them bring the understanding of effective search strategies like a librarian researcher does.

    When it comes to searching for needles in haystacks, no one beats the skill of a librarian researcher. So the next time you’re going through your third strategy session on how to cull those documents… why not give that librarian or legal research down the hall a call?

    Next Week’s Elephant Question:

    What do you think is going to be the next legal work process that will get ‘efficiencied’?

    Meaning as we look to make thing more efficient (in the aspirations of making them effective…), are there certain things that you just know are in the cross hairs of the efficiency rifle?

    We are “borrowing” this question from a comment that Ayelette Robinson made on a last week’s elephant post (she was warned we were doing it!!) 
     
    Do you think you’re up for the challenge? If you want to contribute to next week’s post, just shoot me an email and we’ll work out the arrangements.


    When does your firm’s culture trump potential innovations you want to put in front of them?

    Idea came from a quote in Craig Roth’s Knowledge Forward post, Technology After Culture? Not in a Million Years.

    So basic technology evolved before the basic social construct – the family?  No wonder I still encounter people spending all their time optimizing technology only to find that organizational structure and culture sink their projects. 

    The purpose of the Elephant Posts is to ask the same question to professionals from different legal fields, and to encourage guest bloggers to come on 3 Geeks and contribute with a short answer. The idea behind keeping the answers “short & sweet” is to give the reader an opportunity to fill in the blanks, or continue the conversation in the comment’s section (hint, hint!!) This week, we’re taking this question and applying it to Alternative Fees, IT, Library and Records management perspectives. Next week’s Elephant Post question is listed at the bottom of this post.

    The Alternative Fee Arrangement Perspective

    Culture Rules – But AFAs don’t care
    Toby Brown

    One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard related to KM was that culture always trumps technology.  The director of KM for ConocoPhillips had a slide showing the Pacman of Culture devouring KM.  His point was that any KM project that ran counter to culture was doomed.  This visual has long echoed my experience at law firms.  Culture is like mud in these places.

    That being said – when it comes to alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), culture shows its weakness.  Law firm culture is not compatible with an AFA world, since that world is all about change.  That change is unavoidable and sweeping its way across all practices.  Clients make demands – law firms respond.  AFAs  have a certain power over culture.

    What’s interesting is the next layer beyond AFAs.  Here I find an odd, ever shifting battle between culture and change.  For instance, everyone is clamoring for the ideal budget tool (relative to their practice).  Why can’t we just pull that info from the billing system?  Well … we don’t capture the billing information in a way that allows this.

    Here attorneys want something desperately, but will only get their question answered if they throw-off the chains of culture and actually make some changes.  That doesn’t go over well.  In the interim there is a lot of gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair.  “There should be a  button we can push that will simply create a budget!”  As they walk down this road, logic takes over and culture is thrust aside.  At some point they see the absurdity of culture’s drag on progress – toss it aside and start making better choices.

    I wonder how long this will last.

    The Information Technology Perspective

    Rip Off That Cultural Band-Aid
    Scott Preston

    Culture is going to win every time unless the need for change or innovation is clearly communicated and understood.  Human nature craves predictability, consistency and familiarity.  This is true our entire lives.  Some tolerate change more than others but only to a certain degree and the older we get the less we are willing to tolerate change.

    Amazingly, it often seems more difficult to make incremental innovative shifts (the phased approach) than to make one big shift, as though there is only so much tolerance for change big or small.  This is the “rip the band-aid off” approach.  Yes it hurts, but the pain quickly dissipates and then we get on with business.  Tolerance for change usually correlates directly to the understanding behind the need for change.  Firms with good communication from management tend to accept innovation more readily because there is an understanding of the direct benefit.  Firms that lack good communication from management continue to look for the magic button to solve the problem.  Why?  Because they don’t want to feel the pain without seeing any direct benefit.

    Internet Marketing Perspective

    No Innovation, No Sale
    By its very nature, if Internet Marketing isn’t innovative, we won’t make the sale. I have to constantly push the envelope to make sure that our message is delivered. This often means I am counter-culture and at cross-purposes. Especially at a law firm.
    But I keep pushing, keep trying, keep asking, keep fighting the good fight. Eventually, I get a toe hold. Then, great things can start to happen.

    The Library Perspective

    Culture vs. Change…  Or Culture and Change?
    Mark Gediman

    Most people think that the tension between the Firm’s culture and the change needed to remain competitive is one of the few constants in law firm governance.  I disagree. I thought about ending here but didn’t want to face the Wrath of Lambert (Yes, it is a little known fact that he is a distant relation of Kahn Noonian Singh).

    In my career as a librarian, I have worked for both corporations and law firms. Law firms have always been for me the greatest challenge.  Only in a law firm do you work with and affect the shareholders on a personal level.  If you start with this in mind, any change can be implemented as long as it is presented in the right way. You need to show the shareholders that it will save them money while still giving them what they need in a usable format and in a close approximation to the way they are used to getting it to have a good shot at success.  My library research portal came about with this in mind.  I was given a mandate (reduce the print collection by moving materials online) and needed to implement this in the culture of a 120 year-old firm.  The only way I felt I could do this and justify the firm’s online investment was to create something that replicated the Attorney’s research process as closely as possible.  I used the Middle- and Senior-Level partners to vet this concept with the idea that an acceptable product to them would be accepted culturally on a large scale.  Addressing their problems and challenges also gave them ownership in the final product.

    Culture to me is merely the framework any change or innovation must take place within.  The changes don’t change the culture, they modify how people work within the culture.  Culture does evolve over time but at a glacial pace.  Any changes that are being implemented must keep that in mind or they are doomed to failure.

    The Records Management Perspective

    When CYA gets in the way…
    Janice L. Anderson (Former Records Manager, Corporate Legal Dept.)

    While sitting eating a delicious bowl of curry with Greg, Toby and Scott, I listened to the three of them discussing document management and the challenge of records retention implementation.  I realized they were discussing putting into action something that I worked on 5 years ago in the legal department for an oil and gas corporation.   Who knew that we were so ahead of the game?

    When you question how the culture of a firm may override the innovation you are trying to implement, I cannot think of a stronger example than the culture of Cover Your Butt.  While trying to roll out a retention policy to a large corporation, we continually ran into folks who did not want to shred a document when they were no longer  legally required to hold on to it.  We always, always were given, “but I may need to cover myself in the future.”

    When the climate of a firm puts an employee on the defensive, they do not trust that removing the proof of their work ethic won’t come back to bite them.  Companies store more documents than they need, ignoring the costs of storage, the space on servers, the boxes and boxes of evidence available for discovery.  But their backsides are padded and safe.

    Next Week’s Elephant Post Question:


    When Does “Great” Get In The Way Of “Good”?
    The idea behind this question is whether the pursuit of perfection causes a paralysis in actually getting something accomplished, or as Scott eloquently puts it – “Don’t over think it, stupid!!”

    We’ll be out recruiting for guest bloggers this week, so if you want to grab a piece of the elephant and give your perspective on this question, please feel free to email me for more details.

    The Elephant Series Brainstorming over beer – we came up with a new blog concept and we’re calling it The Elephant. The concept is tackling a topic from multiple points of view. On the first pass, these POVs will come from our stable of bloggers. But then the real fun will come engaging others POVs for the dialogue. Too often in our industry these dialogues appear in separate venues and never cross paths. We want to force that path crossing in a grand way. We are calling it The Elephant for two reason:

    1. The Elephant in the Room
    2. The Story of the Blind Men and the Elephant

    Which means we’ll get to hear from each blind man and/or woman and hopefully end up with the complete picture. And we hope to pull the covers off of many elephants in the room that have been standing there far too long – un-noticed. Participation is key to this dialogue, so please provide your POV on the topic. You can do so via the comments section. Let the games begin! First Elephant Question: Is It Better To Get It Right Or Do It Right? This question is really founded in the value of process. Should we follow a process to insure the right or best result, or is the right result good enough on its own? The Alternative Fee Arrangement (AFA) Perspective Pricing as an Art and Science – Where’s the Line? Toby Brown From my perspective running alternative fee deals – ‘getting it right’ weighs in at 90% in this debate. But right now I appear to be living in the wild wild west. Too much order in terms of process would leave me behind. In my role, I need to deliver answers now, not after driving requests through a drawn-out formal process. I do need access to the right information at the right time. But following a rigid schema right now would lead to getting it wrong. Not something I have time or the patience for. However … the writing on the wall has “Process” in bold letters. My biggest challenge is finding any tools or system around to handle any process. Normally I’m the guy who chafes at random spreadsheets, used to avoid a database. But in this world I am forced to use them. My bottom-line: Getting it Right is all that counts right now. But vendors …. please, please, please – I am begging you to get some reasonable AFA and LPM process tools on the market soon. The Information Technology Perspective Process with Schmucks Scott Preston Measure twice and cut once – is this process or knowledge? It takes longer, but the results are consistently better and consistently better results is what process is all about, but caution is based on knowledge and experience. The typical IT person is process oriented, this is very important when you are maintaining complex systems, especially as IT is being asked to do more with less. But doing more with less often calls for creative thinking, and focus on process can fly in the face of creative thinking. When looking for a new solution, ask this question. Is this a one off solution or one that will happen again? The more the solution needs to be repeated the more time needs to be spent on automation (repeatable process). When working on new solutions you will frequently hear me talk about “turning the problem on its side” – meaning, let’s look at this from another angle or approach the problem in a new way. This concept is part of my nature. I’m a jazz musician by training and jazz musicians are all about learning the rules and then breaking them. So, don’t let process stunt your creative thinking, break a few rules and learn from your mistakes. The Library & Information Services Perspective Process, Schmocess!! Question Asked… Question Answered is the new process! Greg Lambert In these times of running a research shop with bare-bones operations, researchers don’t have time to “teach a man to fish” anymore. These days it is a process of question-in… answer-out rather than going through the process and explaining to the person where the resources are located, how to navigate or search that resource, and what alternatives are out there that may also hold the answer to the question being asked. It makes for job security for librarians and researchers, but it also creates a terrible process and is counter to what librarians and researchers are really good at… and that’s teaching others how to find answers, while at the same time providing them the answers they need. The process definitely isn’t where it needs to be, but bare-bones operations call for bare-bones processes. The Competitive Intelligence (CI) Perspective Dealing with Cloudy Crystal Balls and Out of Date Tarot Cards Zena Applebaum Good competitive intelligence (CI) is in itself a process that is constantly evolving in an effort to get it right while doing it right. Taking the time to do it right only works in cases of extreme clairvoyance, where you know what the answer to the business problem is going to be so you can design a process around finding that answer. Unfortunately, CI doesn’t really work that way and most of CI practitioners’ crystal balls are cloudy and our tarot cards are out of date. So we have no choice but to dive in and try to get it right first; allowing the process to form in the background. As each new question or assignment is taken on, the process gets refined to become more “right” often resulting in greater efficiently and a better understanding of the scope of the problem/solution. Interestingly, the process that will be used to answer the question can often inform the intelligence that will come out. For example, using an environmental scan (the process) to identify a key competitor (the answer) in a market place may actually create several more questions requiring a different set of processes and still not lead to a “right” answer. But you wouldn’t have known to ask those new questions if you had not first jumped right in. So for CI people, the answer is first attempt to get it right, and then attempt to nail down a process. Which works until a new question comes along and the now refined process doesn’t work…. The Internet Marketing (IM) PerspectiveIt’s Big Picture, BabyLisa SalazarIM is all about process. We design, post, link, count, analyze, go back to the design, refine, post, …You see where I am going. IM is all about metrics. Lots of folks get stuck at the design phase and get hung up on the little picture (pun intended). What many folks fail to see is that IM should be a process if it is done well and it is done right.