February 2006

Thanks (I think) to my friend Dan
Hull
for tagging me for the “4 Things” series of questions.  Kind of fun to
think of all of them except for figuring out 4 people to tag at the end.  Here
goes!

Four Jobs I’ve Had.

1.  Overhead crane operator at General Motors plant  2.  Paralegal at
Kirkland & Ellis  3. Truck loader at General Cold Storage Warehouse 
4.  Writing Instructor at Michigan Law School

4 movies I can watch over and over

  • Kill Bill 1 and 2
  • The Quiet Man
  • The Godfather
  • Caddyshack

4 TV Shows I love To Watch

  • Seinfeld reruns
  • The New Yankee Workshop
  • Monday Night Football
  • ER

4 Places I’ve Been On Vacation

  • Hiking in the Canadian Rockies (Banff)
  • Istanbul
  • Ireland
  • San Diego

4 songs playing in my head

  • Walk The Line (saw the movie, the song stuck)
  • Heart of the Matter (Don Henley)
  • You’re still the one (Shania Twain)
  • Don’t Know Much (Ronstadt and Neville)

4 favorite dishes

  • Macademia crusted Halibut with bananas  (Peohe’s, Coronado Island)
  • Broiled asparagus w/ blue cheese (Barbara Lamb)
  • Pan fried Lake Michigan perch (me)
  • Maggiano’s Chopped Salad

4 websites I visit daily

4 books I’d grab in an earthquake

  • Trinity
  • Something by CS Lewis
  • How to survive an earthquake
  • The Bourne Supremecy

4 places I would rather be

4 Bloggers I’m tagging

   

Greetings from Tucson, Arizona, where it is sunny and a delightful 68 degrees.  By contrast, Chicago, which I left on Friday for this brief vacation, had a high of 8 degrees on Saturday, and a low of -7 degrees.  Brrrrrrr.

As someone who is constantly “searching” (in my case, for perfect client service), I thought it would be useful to search for a common theme underlying what we do.  I asked my son for help.

Searching-small We tried other tools as well.

Magnifying-glass    Here’s what we learned. 

Our blawgs are about Ideas.  We share our ideas with clients and others in order to stimulate thought and dialogue.  The discourse that follows strengthens our ideas.  With that, here are some blawg posts that reflect creativity, thought, provocation, stimulation.

Let me begin by mentioning two people I spent time with this past week.  Gerry Riskin, author or Amazing Firms Amazing Practices provides a global perspective on the diversity challenge faced by law firms around the world.  Michelle Golden, who writes Golden Practices, provided some great career advice for marketers.

Matt Homann at the [non]billable hour is the source of two terrific posts, one direct from Matt and one from his guest blogger Ron Baker.  In his own right, Matt provided a Great Client Brainstorming Tip.  Matt’s guest blogger Ron Baker authored a very provocative post positing that Attorneys Aren’t Knowledge Workers.  Or are they?  Kudos to Matt for extending the invitation to Ron Baker, a giant in the area of Value Billing.

While almost every post from Dennis Kennedy prompts a great deal of thought, his retrospective look at blogging “What Would I Do Differently If I Started Blogging Today?” provides lessons for bloggers of levels of experience. Taking from from the blawg world to the real one, Ernie the Attorney continues his posts on the difficult road to recovery for his beloved New Orleans with the good news that the Jazz Fest is going forward in late April and early May. Every time I read Ernie’s first hand accounts of the city’s recovery, I am reminded to count my blessings.

The Greatest American Lawyer continues his challenge to orthodoxy with his post on integrating skype into his arsenal.  And my friend Dan Hull who authors the aptly named What About Clients continues his periodic challenge to all of us to write better.  Dan also had a wonderful post on negativity in the profession, engagingly captioned Law Profession Negativity In All Its Forms, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Half Full Cups, DefendantsJS Logan with some nice insights on customer satisfaction .

In his Legal Marketing Blog, Tom Kane weighs in this week with some additional thoughts on the very important topic of client satisfaction interviews.  It is such an important topic that every entry that makes you think about it is very important. Nathan Burke asks us to consider whether our law firm web sites inspire client confidence in a terrific lawfirmblogging post. Kevin Thompson at Cyberlaw Central raises a truly profound question about detecting the tone of our emails, a question of great significance to client service. In that same vein, mediator Diane Levin, author of MediationNewsOnline, asks us to look at our emails in her post Architect or Arsonist: using email to build not burn bridges.  And on a macro level, Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq. asks the extraordinarily provocative question “Do You Have A Chief Strategy Officer?” In a compelling manner, he then analyzes the importance of being able to answer that question affirmatively. Bruce also weighs in with the must-read post What P & G Teaches.  The story reveals how business is changing the internal value placed on managers competing with one another and focusing instead on the value of collaboration.  In the eat-what-you-kill world of law firm compensation, the moral of the story should challenge convention.

David Maister, new to the blogging world but long a leader in the world of thinking, posted a reprise of something he wrote a while ago, but timeless and inspiring. The post in his Passion, People and Principles is entitled, simply, The Managing Partner’s Speech.  Many of us would love to work for a partner who was able to give the speech genuinely.

In the world of ideas from the substantive law arena, check out this post from the Health Care Law Blog asking “Should Consumers of Health Care Have More Rights To Protect Their Medical Information? ” Tough question. (By the way, kudos to Bob Coffield for his work as host of last week’s Blawg Review).  From The Trademark Blog comes this analysis of how Opposition to DYKES ON BIKES Opens A Pandora’s Box in that realm. Also in the trademark world comes this from Likelihood Of Confusion: Trademark McCrisis? (Or McArabia).  Kevin Thompson of Cyberlaw Central provides this summary of an important cyberlaw case in Domain name dispute: Digital Telemedia, Inc. vs. C.I. Host, Inc.   The case involves a recent domain name dispute where the Plaintiff lost its bid to have a domain name transferred on a summary judgment motion.  It’s interesting because one of the Defendants has prior common law rights, but the actual use of the domain name may still have been infringing.  Professor Stephen Bainbridge asks a question most CEOs hope is answered affirmatively–Is SOX Unconstitutional?–in his Professor Bainbridge.com.

The general world of blogging is chock full of ideas.  Check out this post in Scobleizer about search engine lies.  The title is way cool:  Brrreeeport crazy and more search engine lies.  Thanks to last week’s host Bob Coffield for submitting this, along with this comment:

I thought you might want to mention Robert Scoble’s interesting experiment using Technorati tags and a fictitious term “Brrreeeport”. It shows how one person can impact the way search is done on the internet. It has been the top search/tag on Technorati all week long. Also you might want to include a reference and a technorati tag to brrreeeport in blawg review since it will then get picked up and get some air time online. I’ve gotten a number of hits to my blog just by posting the quick post that is attached to this submission.

In the food for thought, weirdness category, check out this post from f/k/a.  I, for one, do not ever want to be “weird tagged.”

Its always nice to end with a question, so I look again to JS Logan. Check out his post Making Sense of What, Why, And How.  Which of those questions is most important?

Finally, a thought about US–the blawggers of the world.  I read many, many posts to prepare this review.  My reaction?  Wow!  There are an awful lot of smart, thoughtful people out there.  My emphasis is on the smart and thoughtful, but check out this post about the “lot” part of my reaction–from Bill Gratsch at Blawg.org.  Now look at the future in this Concurring Opinion post. The quality of our ideas will be a significant factor in the future of blawging.

Ideas, the spice of life.  So long from sunny and warm Tucson.  In a couple of hours, I’ll be back in the cold Windy City.

 

  One of the really cool things about blogging is developing an electronic relationship with someone and then finally getting to meet them.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I had the great fortune of spending this past Saturday with Gerry Riskin.  Today, I was able to finally meet the incomparable Michelle Golden, author of Golden Practices.  We had a great time talking about our shared interest in value billing as well as a host of other marketing issues.

I have always read Michelle’s posts with great interest.  Her recent posts on The Profitability Problem and Profitability Through Pricing are terrific examples of her blogging contributions and reveal a depth of thinking that makes Michelle so enjoyable to engage in discussion.  Our short visit at O’Hare was my great privilege.

Just wanted to let everyone know that the American Conference Institute is hosting the Cross-Industry Summit on Law Firm Marketing Leadership at the Westin New York at Times Square on May 15-17.  The event is designed to provide strategies to facilitate firm wide collaboration for client development and retention efforts.  The agenda is posted here

Because ACI was crazy enough to invite me to speak, I am able to offer this great offer:  If you would like to attend, you can save $200 off the registration price simply by quoting “Keycode 893L06.S” when you call 1-888-224-2480 or register on-line.  Seriously, I think the program will be excellent and I hope to see many of you there.

Check out this post by Tom Collins at morepartnerincome.  Tom refers to an article by Bob Burns at Brouse McDowell in Akron, Ohio.  Bob is a former inhouse attorney and has both selected and been selected, so he knows of what he speaks.  The article says  “I believe that a business should consider the ‘Five C’s’: (1) competency; (2) capacity; (3) commitment; (4) communication; and (5) cost.”

You can see the entirety of Bob’s article
here.  Thanks to Tom for sharing it.

With thanks to Robert Ambrogi  for the heads up, I wanted to suggest you take a look at the web site of Exemplar Law Partners.  The first page of the web site states an unequivocal position on hourly billing.  “No hourly bill.  No hourly bull. Exemplar is the first corporate law firm in the nation to exclusively adopt a fixed price model designed to align our interest with our customers while enabling businesses to better manage their legal budgets.”

I don’t know these folks (and I can’t find out who they are on their web site), but I hope they make millions.  I applaud them for a forward-thinking approach to client relations and wish them well.  If they succeed, others will follow.

Riskin

“When Gerry speaks, he reaches parts of your mind that you have never used before.”   Sue Stapely, Barrister and Solicitor, London

“I don’t know Sue Stapely, but she is a master of understatement.”  Patrick Lamb, Attorney, Chicago

My partner Jim Rubin is a brilliant lawyer.  He that rare combination of extraordinary intelligence and killer instincts, and he has used these traits, plus a willingness to outwork his opponent to build a world-class practice representing insurance and reinsurance companies in reinsurance disputes.  Chambers found him to be one of the very best reinsurance litigators in the country.  Jim Rubin does not suffer fools lightly, and he give compliments like he was tossing around man-hole covers.  I write this, not to promote my partner (he most certainly does not need my help in that regard) but to create context for his evaluation of the retreat Gerry Riskin led yesterday for our firm.  At the end, and in front of all our lawyers, Jim said “Gerry, I can’t thank you enough.  In the 15 years we have been doing these retreats, this was far and away the best we have ever had.” 

Gerry hit the ball out of the park.  He drove the ball 380 yards down the middle of the fairway.  He beat Kobe one on one.  Pick whatever metaphor you will, Gerry was at the top of his game and he wow’d us.  Its not just his content, which is exceptional.  To me, two things made Gerry extraordinary.  First, Gerry’s level of preparation was intense.  He had spoken to a number of my partners in great depth before Saturday, so he had his fingers on our pulse, our practice, our concerns.  And his material was tailored to us like a fine, custom-made suit.

The other thing that made Gerry’s presentation so exceptional was his manner of presentation.  He presents his points in small steps that make it easy for you to walk with him, and before you realize it, you’ve arrived comfortably at precisely the destination Gerry planned for you to be, and you marvel at how comfortable the trip turned out to be.  If he had simply announced that people needed to be at a certain place, few would have made the complete trip and it would have been nowhere near as engaging a journey.

For us, the issue we focused on were marketing, both the whys and the hows.  But I can’t imagine a topic on which Gerry would not excel.

On a personal note,  I had the opportunity to spend some time with Gerry and at the Marketing Partner Forum and even more time yesterday after our retreat.  A great retreat leader, teacher, etc., he is even a better person.  Just an outstanding guy with a great sense of humor.  As Humphrey Bogart said to Claude Rains at the end of Casablanca, “I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”  It will be my great fortune if it is so.

Gerry Riskin is a renowned blogger(Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices) and internationally sought-after consultant to professional service firms (through Edge International). I’ve had the great fortune to meet Gerry Riskin, spend time with him in conversation, hear him present to a large audience, exchange emails and blog entries, but I have never heard him lead a small group discussion. That’s about to change.

My law firm, like many others, holds annual retreats.  Ours for 2006 is this Saturday, and we had the enormous good fortune to be able to land Gerry to lead the retreat.  Having seen him in other venues and heard some much about him, I am really excited about getting up early this Saturday!

A number of us have been having a discussion about branding, summarized here and here.  Against that backdrop, I started reading Lovemarks, by Kevin Roberts.  Roberts is the “Worldwide CEO” of Saatchi & Saatchi.  He is the originator of the concept of “lovemarks,” described on the Saatchi web site as:

Lovemarks are brands that inspire loyalty beyond reason. People love them because of what they are, not because of what they do. Their appeal is emotional. Companies may own brands. But Lovemarks are owned by the people who love them.

An example of a brand that inspires loyalty beyond reason–Harley Davidson.  Tom Peters uses a slide showing what percentage of owners of a product would tattoo the product brand onto their body.  For Harley, its almost 19%.  This is an example of a strong brand.

Since my friend Dan Hull began this discussion and continued it further, noting that “most of us already have a distinctive and valuable ‘look’,” I have to ask Dan how many people he thinks have the Hull McGuire logo tattooed on their bodies?  No fair counting yourself. 

Gettinginked

 

“That’s H-U-L-L-M-C-G-U-I-R-E.” (Thankfully, Dan has shown himself to have a great sense of humor.)

Seriously, does anyone love their law firm and its brand enough to have the name of
the firm permanently inked onto their body?  If we ever find that
person,  or rather that law firm, then we can hear from somebody who knows about branding for law firms.  Until then, I think I’m going to cast my lot with the people from the “real world” who are able to inspire others to ink their bodies with a brand.