Archive for December, 2006

International Lawyers Need the Right Foreign Language Translator

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

The International Herald Tribune explores the ups and downs, and importance, of choosing the right foreign language translator for the job.  As you know, this can make all the difference in a project’s success–or failure.

Lawyer License Plates as Marketing Tool

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Looking for a marketing edge?  Peter Lattman’s Wall Street Journal Law Blog post today titled Lawyer Vanity Plates discusses the custom “ECOLI” license plates ordered by a personal injury attorney. Now there’s a unique way to market your practice.

For transnational  lawyers, how about ordering custom plates with:

INTL LAW

TRANS LAW

CAFTA or NAFTA

Email me more ideas please and I’ll post them!

Jumpstart 2007: Lawyers’ Goals for 2007

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Many lawyers use the lull after the year-end crunch to take stock of their careers and personal lives. Here are some questions to help you evaluate your life, make change as needed, and jumpstart 2007.

CAREER

1.  Are you happy in your current position?  If not, what would you like to change/improve? 

If you are dissatisfied but can’t articulate why, try ranking your job satisfaction, from greatest to least, in the following areas:  income; hours worked; quality of work; quantity of work; camaraderie among co-workers; office attributes (location, environment, technology, support staff etc…); mentorship; other job perks; opportunities for advancement; and status.

2. Once you determine which aspects of your job are least satisfactory, articulate one-three steps that you could take to improve your job in each of such area(s), such as: taking to managing partner, purchasing new technology, learning new communication strategies for support staff, exploring career alternatives etc… 

3.  Even if you are happy with your career status, what can you do to take your career to the next level?  Being as specific as possible, articulate three things that you can do in the short-term, and three in the long term, that will enhance your career, such as: 

(a)  write an article about [specific topic] to showcase my expertise in [area of the law]      

(b)  develop specific plan for growing international part of my practice, with goal of bringing in [ten] new foreign clients by next summer

(c)  learn and implement new strategies for delegating work to  secretary/paralegal/associates so that tasks get done

(d)  develop specific personal branding strategy to attract more “ideal” clients, and spend 20% of weekly work time on rainmaking

(e)  talk to a professional about alternate careers for lawyers

4.  What do you need to do to move forward?  For example, do you need to hire a lawyer coach, a consultant, new staff, or other people to assist you?

PERSONAL LIFE

1.  Rank your satisfaction in the following areas of your life from greatest to least:  health; family and home environment; social life; spirituality; finances; and intellectual/personal growth.  

2.  Identify one-three steps that you could take to improve any of the areas with which you are not satisfied.

3.  Describe an enjoyable day.  Identify one-three specific steps that you can take to make sure that more of your days (or parts thereof) are enjoyable.  What do you need to add to your life?  What do you need to say no to, or discard?  (This can include people, habits, negative thinking, as well as possessions.) 

COMMITMENT

Look at the action items articulated in response to the questions above.  Write the “next steps” on your calendar, being as specific as possible.  Commit to taking those action steps. Implement a reward system through which you reward yourself for taking action (through a healthy, enjoyable treat) and penalize yourself (in a painful but non-harmful way, such as by sending money to a political candidate you despise) for failing to move forward by the agreed upon date.

JUMPSTART 2007!!!

Charitable Gifts in Honor of Clients

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

During the holidays, lawyers look for creative and meaningful client gifts.  Some lawyers give charitable donations in a client’s name as a gift. If you do so, consider making a gift to a charity:

1. Of your choosing.  If you opt for this, you are sure to pick a worthwhile charity that you value.  However, if your goal is to make the gift meaningful to the client, designate your charity carefully lest you designate a charity that doesn’t appeal to the client.

2.  Of the client’s choosing.  The clear advantage of this option is that the client can designate a charity meaningful to the client. This will be a gift that he or she will remember and appreciate. If you give the client a lot of discretion, however, the charity selected may be one completely opposed to your beliefs (for example, a political or religious charity opposed to your values).  Moreover, in the international context, you may need to vet the selected charity carefully lest you inadvertently send money to a charity being monitored by the government.  Finally, if you have a lot of clients, donating to a wide range of  charities may be administratively cumbersome.

3. Of the client’s choice, selected from a designated list. The clear advantage of this option is that you control where your money goes, but you still let the client have a range of choices.  This approach can also enhance your personal branding strategy.  For example, if you want to emphasize your firm’s commitment to international work, list a variety of international charities from which the client can choose.  You can even offer charities that work in your own field; an international environmental lawyer, for example, might let the client choose from a list of charities that address global warming and other environmental issues.  Doing so will reinforce your “brand” by showing your interest in and commitment to that field.

Business Development for Lawyers book review

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

 

Here’s my review of Business Development for Lawyers which was just published in the November/December 2006 issue of The Houston Lawyer.

 

Business Development for Lawyers:  Strategies for Getting and Keeping Clients

 

By Sally J. Schmidt
ALM Properties, Inc., ALM Publishing, a division of ALM Media, Inc., 2006
306 pages, r
eviewed by Janet H. Moore

 

 

 

Although many lawyers think of marketing and business development as interchangeable, author Sally Schmidt explains how they differ but also how they can compliment each other. Her new book, Business Development for Lawyers: Strategies for Getting and Keeping Clients, suggests many techniques that lawyers can use to cultivate more clients. For example, the book details how attorneys can best position themselves and their practice by showcasing their expertise and reinforcing their value.

 

The book also explains how to identify referral sources, make client pitches more successful, and ask clients for their business and close the sale. Even the most awkward networker will find some useful suggestions for turning social gatherings into business development opportunities.

Attorneys will appreciate her tips for building client loyalty and handling difficult clients including freeloading prospective clients who call for complimentary advice but never actually retain a lawyer. Although some of the book’s concepts parallel those presented in other rainmaking books, Ms. Schmidt’s clear explanations and bullet-point suggestions make the book a user-friendly and informative guide.

The book also reinforces many crucial points that lawyer coaches and legal marketers regularly emphasize, like the importance of communicating with clients regularly, and tailoring how legal services are rendered to individual client’s needs. Lawyers often fail to understand that, in many cases, how the service is provided is as important to the clients as the service itself, explains Schmidt. (p. 118)

In places the author references interesting studies like one Harvard Business School study about the characteristics of talented salespeopl without footnoting the source; it would have been nice to have this reference for future follow up. However, this does not seriously detract from the book and its positive, proactive business development advice.

Janet H. Moore, JD, provides executive coaching and consulting for lawyers through International Lawyer Coach, Inc. She is a member of the editorial board of The Houston Lawyer.