Archive for April, 2008

Akin Gump Makes a Plum Choice

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

A few days after posting Plum Lucky Lawyers Probably Advertise in Color, I noticed that Akin Gump’s newest home page incorporates this very berry hue.  Maybe Madison Avenue proposed the color–or perhaps a trend-savvy AG lawyer. Regardless, kudos to the firm on its plum choice.

Plum Lucky Lawyers Probably Advertise in Color

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Which colors appear in your law firm ads? Grey?  Probably. Plum? Probably not.

Yesterday’s New York Times explored the current wave of popularity for plum.  As described, corporations both big (American Express) and small (PlumChoice Online) are incorporating berry-tinged hues into their products and advertising. Experts describe the color plum as everything from zesty and distinctive to regal and sophisticated. Madison Avenue has gone plum crazy for plum.

Madison Avenue–but not law firms.

While walking in an airport yesterday, fresh from reading the Times’ plum-focused pontification, I spotted a large but dreadfully boring law firm billboard. Not only did the ad’s taglines mix metaphors, but the ad sent its incongruent messages in black and white. Stark black and white–no other colors.

Why do so many law firms stick with conservative colors like grey, white, black and beige? Not that I’m recommending plum per se, but I do suggest that lawyers step out of their comfort zone and create zippier, more colorful ads. Too many law firm ads (and websites) look, feel and sound exactly the same. They are not memorable, and clients can’t tell the difference among them.

Many lawyers hire me to help distinguish their firms in the crowded international field. All to often, the lawyers and firms do not stand out from the rest. And very often, the law firms’ advertising is too boring.

Snappy advertising in an attractive and interesting color palate communicates that a law firm is innovative–and it makes prospective clients take notice. 

So, will law firm ads ever include unusual colors–like plum?  Who knows? One day, a lawyer may dare to advertise in plum–and become the plum luckiest lawyer of all.

More Thoughts About Kissing Your Clients

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Thank you to everyone who has emailed me their thoughts on my March 28 post discussing when and whether to greet clients with a kiss. As one lawyer pointed out in her email to me, the geographic location may determine which greeting is appropriate:

“Whether it’s one, two, three [kisses], more or none, always creates that hesitation when greeting for the first time.  Or, it gets even more confusing when you meet the same non-US person in a different country and the rules change again.  When I … spent several weeks every month in the Netherlands, the 3 kiss was the standard with my boss, colleagues and clients.  But when they came to the US, depending on the setting, we would switch to one or a handshake!  Or, when meeting legal colleagues at meetings in the US from different countries, I would have to remember their standard – 3 for the Dutch, 2 for the Argentinians, 1 for the Mexicans, etc.”

Confusing? Perhaps–but at least interesting! As globalization spreads and customs blend across the borders, might a “standard global greeting” evolve?  Let’s hope not.  If that happens, life will certainly be less exciting.

Don’t Block Your Brand

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Last week’s meeting of the ABA’s Section of International Law offered a lot of interesting sessions, including one on the importance of branding. Life and career coach Diane Costigan led the session, discussing how to define a lawyer’s brand (his/her reputation), and how a lawyer can improve his/her brand (take responsibility for mistakes and work hard, among other things).

Diane also discussed “brand blockers”, which are behaviors or traits that block the positive parts of a lawyer’s brand. She listed stress, disorganization, poor communication skills, and time management problems as some of the most common brand blockers.

Of course, poor judgment and resulting faux pas can also block a brand. Diane regaled the audience with stories of some of the most notorious summer associate faux pas–from the sublime (accidentally hitting “reply all” to a corporate department email, and complaining about the boring corporate department attorneys) to the ridiculous (drinking too much at a recruiting party, jumping naked into a river thereafter, and then resisting arrest).

Even lawyers who are well past the summer associate years can block their brands; they, too, must ask themselves, “Am I engaging in behaviors that “block” the good aspects of my brand? Do any of my habits sabotage my reputation–and thus my professional success?”

Many lawyers don’t realize how their unflattering personal habits (like sloppiness, tardiness, and procrastination) really do negatively impact their professional reputation.  Even their behavior outside the office can negatively influence their brand.

During the session at the conference, I shared a story of one talented lawyer who sabotaged his success by behaving like a jerk outside the office; as an overly aggressive parent who yelled at referees during his children’s soccer games, he unwittingly lost the respect of the other parents–many of whom were prominent leaders in his community–and potential clients.  This lawyer had to be coached about how to dilute his negative brand as a “jerk” and regain the respect of his fellow professionals in the community.

Do you know whether you are engaging in brand blocking behaviors?  To find out, and as discussed in my prior blog post, ponder what would your clients say about you? Try this simple exercise for some answers.  Email more than a dozen clients, colleagues and co-workers and ask them to reply honestly with 5-10 words or phrases–positive AND negative–that describe you. The feedback may be enlightening–and you may uncover some big brand blockers that beg to be discarded.

Americal Society of International Law Conference on Politics of International Law April 9-12 in Washington

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

For more details about this annual gathering of international lawyers, go to: