Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hiring Laterals With an Eye on Business Development

The selection of lateral partners has long been the exclusive domain of lawyers. Not only are lawyers best able to evaluate the legal skills and reputation of another attorney, but determining with whom you would like to practice law in a partnership is an intensely personal choice. It's no surprise most firms keep lateral recruiting a lawyer driven and managed process.

But should they?

Innovative law firms are increasingly bringing other disciplines into the lateral recruiting, selection, due diligence and integration processes. In particular, business development professionals are being embedded throughout the process. Firms are using their marketing professionals to assess a candidate's business development acumen, evaluate client portability, pitch the firm more effectively and develop more strategic integration and marketing plans.

"Embedding us early in the process improves the ROI of the lateral because they start their plan the day they begin at the firm and it puts us 25 steps ahead," said David Kaufman, director of regional sales, U.S. and international offices for Nixon Peabody LLP. "It radically improves the integration process."
Business development professionals are also being called on to assess the business development strengths of candidates. Should a lateral's client not port over, firms want assurances that the lateral has the business development skills to build a new book of business.

"Attorneys tend to focus on the legal skill sets of attorneys and how they will fit in to the practice," said Keith Solar, San Diego office managing partner for Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney PC. "Our [business development] folks add value to the process by figuring out who really knows how to develop business."
Some firms, unhappy with the results of their lateral recruiting efforts, have even turned to marketing to re-engineer the entire process. That's what Mintz Levin did and the results have exceeded their expectations. Tapped by the firm's managing partner, Amy Fowler, Mintz Levin's chief marketing officer, mapped and examined the process starting from their relationships with recruiting firms and working through to the lateral's integration into the firm.

She found a need to deepen recruiting firm relationships, improve communication with the recruiters and tighten up the interviewing and integration processes. The changes she and Shannon Davis, director of legal recruiting, implemented include a mandatory lateral office tour facilitated by a dedicated business development manager, redesigning the interview process to ensure each attorney has a specific role in the interview and reorganizing the marketing group to better support laterals.

To manage the process, Fowler created a lateral recruiting committee made up of herself, the office managing partners, the firm's chief operating officer, the director of recruiting. The committee oversees every aspect of the process from interviewing and selection to managing any challenges that arise during the integration process.

Asked why the lateral recruiting committee was made up of office heads and not practice group leaders, Fowler's answer revealed the deep understanding she and the firm have gained in supporting lateral integration.
"We have a firm strategic plan and it includes the target list of practice experience we are looking for," she offered. "But the laterals will be working and socializing most closely with the people in their office. Having the buy-in of the office managing partners early on really helps ensure there is support for that lateral in that office. It makes a big difference."

One critical aspect to the recruiting process is the lateral's business and marketing plan, the development of which is also starting earlier in the process. David Salisbury, West Coast director of business development at Mintz Levin, interviews every candidate in the western region to assess the lateral's business development skills and build an individualized marketing plan for each lateral.

"Not only have we become pretty accurate in being able to assess a candidate's business development abilities, but the deep dive we do in our interviews helps us map out an integration and marketing plan that makes the best use of the laterals time during their on-boarding," Salisbury said. "It's on their desk the day they start."
Interestingly, the plan emphasizes the opportunities inside the firm for the lateral versus an emphasis on which clients of the lateral the firm can serve.

"We feel that offering opportunities with our clients for the lateral first builds trust," Fowler said. "We think it helps us start the relationship out on the right foot. It has the added benefit of helping us identify the work that the lateral can do while they are trying to port over their clients."

Several firms acknowledge their business development professionals as assets in selling the firm to laterals. But innovations in lateral recruiting include tapping outside expertise as well. Some firms are turning to outside consultants to re-engineer their recruiting program, solicit a third party's opinion on the portability of the candidate's client book, develop integration plans and hire business development coaches to work with laterals throughout the integration process.

This focus on lateral integration may be having the desired effect for both laterals and law firms. A 2014 Major, Lindsey & Africa survey of lateral partner satisfaction found a strong correlation between integration efforts and lateral satisfaction. Compared to the results of MLA's 1996 survey which found law firms were less than effective in four out of the five areas of integration, lateral partners now view their new firms as having been effective in integrating them along all five measurements of integration.

This column originally ran in The Recorder December 4th, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

General Counsel Panel Notes from the ALM Western Law Firm Marketing Leaders Forum 2014

I've never sat through a boring General Counsel Panel. And this one proved no different. In fact, this might have been the most exciting panel discussion I've witnessed- complete with spunky debates between the audience and the GCs around a  variety of topics including AFAs, diversity and client interviews. Many thanks Molly Miller and ALM for organizing a terrific marketing conference with an outstanding speakers and topics.

General Counsel Panel:

Panel Moderator:            
Molly Miller, Vice President & Publisher, Chief Content Officer, ALM, The Recorder and 

Panel Participants:          
Michelle Fang, General Counsel, Stub Hub, Inc.
MeMe Jacobs Rasmussen, Chief Privacy Officer, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Adobe Systems incorporated.
Mark Tellini, Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

Q: What do you consider the most valuable attributes of your primary outside counsel?

A. They know my business and where it is headed. They maintain personal relationships and are pleasant and congenial. They demonstrate mutual respect with our in house attorneys. This is really important. You'd be surprised how often this doesn't happen. And of course, they have to be brilliant lawyers. But those are the table stakes to work with us.

Partnership. It's all about being good partners. That means they anticipate our needs and challenges. They present solutions that make the most sense economically for us. They are sensitive to the internal dynamics and politics and work well together with our in-house lawyers. They don't take over a matter and go away only to report back when it's resolved. They "co-manage" the matter with us. They work closely with us. If they don't they probably won't be working with us long.

I agree. They have to understand our business and what others are doing in our industry- how others are handling the issues. They have to understand technology, too. They should be creative about their fees. They need to be practical though. We don't want to hear about some outlandish risk that has little chance of materializing. We don't have time for that nor do we want to pay for this type of 'turn-over-every-stone' type of analysis. Just give it to us straight. They need to be knowledgeable about our business. Training outside lawyers is a huge drain on in house counsel. The more you can get up to speed and understand our business, the better.

Q: RFPs have become a way of life in law firms. What are some ways that law firms can stand out and win your business in this process?

A: RFPs are basically a healthy way to keep outside counsel honest and hungry. The ones that shine in the RFP process are the ones that have thought through the strategy of a case, how to respond to publicity, etc. They give free advice. In fact, we approach the process from the standpoint of getting as much free advice as we can about the issues involved. I assure you, it is always well spent resources or bandwidth.

The interviews are the most important part for me. I listen to how people think about an issue. We had one guy who clearly didn't know our business well enough but I really liked the way he thought. I told my people to find a smaller issue we could give him so we could check him out better. But I couldn't go with him on this issue. He just didn't know enough about the issue or our business. We won't bring anyone in for an interview that we wouldn't hire. So if you get invited, go for it. Knock us out with what you know about us and the issues. And present a solution for us. That's what will win the work. Learn about our business 'off the books'. Don't learn it on our dime. But come in informed and knowledgeable. You can always tell who has done their homework.

I agree. Get to know the case before you come in. Review the briefs, talk to local counsel, offer to provide value to us that we may not get elsewhere. Be creative. And always speak well of the other firms. You never know what relationships are in the room and it just makes you look really bad if you denigrate either your competitors or incumbent counsel.

Q: What kinds of things have firms done wrong?

A: I hate memos. I hate paying for memos. I hate seeing research memos on the bill. I hate large blocks of associate time on memos, especially when I haven't asked for a memo. Get the point? And if the associate is doing the memo and it makes it to the bill because the relationship attorney didn't know he was writing the memo and it is not written off before I see the bill, that makes me even more angry.

I get upset with communications to my boss or my boss' boss. Those communications shouldn't come from you. As the GC I need to manage the message to my business folks. You don't know all that's happening in the company so you can do more damage sometimes than good if you don't run it through me. Trust me I'll give you credit. But I need to know about it before it gets to the business folks.

It's incomprehensible to me that an outside lawyer would talk to the business people without the GC knowing. That's a firing offense. We're 'whisperers' in the company putting context around the issues at hand. It's an important part of what we do.

Unreasonable expenses tick me off. Billing out of proportion to the matter at hand. If I have a simple question, I want a simple answer. If the answer is not simple, I want you to explain to me why it is not before you run off and research a lengthy answer.

Q: How should law firms approach you for more business?

A: Well, nagging for business won't work. It is irritating. You do good work and you'll get more work. Just because you happen to be in town doesn't mean I have to meet with you. Give me a way to decline gracefully. If you want to meet with me, bring me something of value. Tell me something I need to know or should be watching out for. Don't ask to meet to introduce your tax counsel, for instance, just because you're in the neighborhood. Especially when you know perfectly well we're happy with our current tax counsel. Ask if we're interested in meeting him or her and tell us why we should want to meet them. Now, if your guy handles tax issues for others in our industry and has a way for us to change how we're doing something that's useful, then yes, I'll make time to meet.

Q: We saw research indicating more work is moving in house. How do you decide which work to take in house?

A: Basically, when the cost benefit tilts in favor of taking it in-house. But there are other factors. We want to be able to scale up and down quickly or be flexible in handling our case load, so there's more to it than that. But essentially there's a point at which it's simply cheaper to do the work in house.

You can tell the firms that are customer service oriented. Some firms are really arrogant. Cost structure is a 'gating' issue for us. The New York firms have much higher costs, so where we can, we take that in house. But experience is the first consideration. If the expertise is with outside counsel, we keep the work there.

Q: How important is diversity to you in the selection of outside counsel?

A: To be honest, the quality and value of the work is most important. I've had situations in which I was assigned an attorney because the firm thought we prioritized diverse attorneys on our work. We ended up with a bad fit for the matter and that caused more damage.  The attorney simply was not well versed enough in the issue. It was a mistake on the firm's part to put them forward. I want the best you can offer me and secondly I look for diverse candidates for the work.

Q: AFAs have been discussed for some time now and most firms have a handle on fixed budget or project fees. But what has been your experience in shared risk fees? And if you have had success, how were they structured?

A: We haven't had much experience in shared risk fees. One reason is that I got bit by one that my predecessor negotiated and now I am hesitant to negotiate them. The AFA I am referring to included a $1.5 million success fee on a case that was a bet the company case. The problem was that that success fee was not budgeted and pulling $1.5 million from some other place in the budget was really a challenge. I'd rather just pay as I go.

We went through a convergence process and included AFAs as a requirement of the RFP. We saw a few firms drop out as a result but also saw some rather interesting arrangements. One of which was a collared fee arrangement but we haven't tried it yet.

Q: We are seeing the rise of pricing professionals. should these people be in the room at a pitch to you?

 A: The relationship attorney and the subject matter expert should be there. I really don't see the need for a pricing person to be there or the CIO or whomever. But whomever is there, they need to be able to speak intelligently about our business and the matter at hand. 

Q: How do you feel about client alerts and other information sent to you by law firms?

A: These can be a real irritant. I moved from patent law to another area of the law but I still get patent alerts. I wish firms would regularly clean up their distributions lists so I get the info I requested. One firm I work with sends me an e-mail to check which publications I want to continue to receive or whatever. That's fine. It's actually helpful to me.

Some firms just regurgitate information and push it out to us. There's usually not much more in the client alert than what I read in the papers. That can be a real problem. Firms need to get better at intuiting what is important to us and the company. Show us what you know and how it addresses what we need. If you do this, you'll stand out. Believe me!

Q: what about the privacy issues related to these client alerts- like being able to see that you opened the alert, sent it to others, etc. How do you feel about that?

A: Well, privacy is pretty important to our business so I may be a bit partisan on the subject. If you know how things work on the Internet, privacy is really not an issue. I know it creeps some people out to visit a website and then see an ad for that product teed up on your Facebook profile but to be honest, it's really how things are going to be and people should just get used to it. The fact of the matter is, I value my time above my privacy.

Q: What about client interviews? How do you feel about law firms hiring third parties to conduct client satisfaction interviews?

A: Why doesn't the lawyer just ask how they are doing?
Q: I think the idea is that they will get more objective feedback if you are interviewed by someone outside of the firm.

A: I prefer to hear from the lawyer. I guess I understand the rationale but maybe I'm unique, I tell it like it is.

Q: When was the last time a lawyer, off the clock, asked to sit down and find out how they are doing? See? That's the problem. We'd all like to have the open, frank conversations but they just don’t happen.

A: You may be right. I guess it makes sense to me for the firms that are marginal or not doing so well. But if they are performing well, they will know it. I keep giving them work.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Business Development Questions All Laterals Should Ask

Many of the questions laterals should ask of a prospective new firm are obvious and include concerns regarding compensation, client and practice fit and the firm's culture. But an important and often neglected area of discussion is how well the firm is organized for, and committed to, business development.

All firms say they are committed to business development. But on deeper inspection, many firms do not invest in and support it at the level necessary to compete successfully in today's intensely competitive legal marketplace. Understanding the degree to which a firm supports business development should be a key consideration in the lateral's decision to move to a new firm.

There are no hard and fast rules for the types and amounts of investment that should be made in law firm business development. But a discussion regarding the scope of activities, the resources available and how deeply business development is embedded in the culture of the firm will go a long way to revealing the likelihood the firm will remain competitive over the long run. Here are two main areas of inquiry to address, along with the questions you should ask your prospective employer.

1. Determine if the firm is well equipped for business development.

Budgets: You want to determine how the firm allocates dollars for individual and group business development initiatives. What is the approval process? How are decisions made for the amount of money available for budgets and individual initiatives? How are client-development investments evaluated?

Technology: Here the goal is to discover what kinds of research tools are available. Does the firm have a client relationship management, or CRM, system? Does the firm have client financial analysis software?

Planning: Find out how much planning is done in the firm. Does the firm have a strategic growth plan? A marketing plan? Practice group plans? Industry plans? Top client plans? Individual attorney plans? Is there a written integration plan for laterals? How often are these plans updated and how are the plans managed?

Support Staff: You need to know what kind of backup you'll have before you move. Does the firm have professional business development staff, as opposed to just marketing staff? Are they assigned to practice areas, industry groups or client teams? How involved are they in each attorney's practice plan?

Training: You want to know what types of business development training are offered and how often. Does the firm provide access to business development coaches? Does the firm maintain a library of business development literature and guides?

Public Relations: An important consideration is if the firm provides PR and media relations support. How is that service accessed? Is the support in-house or provided by outside experts? Does the firm primarily focus on local, regional or national media, or all three? Does the firm target its clients' industry trade publications as well as legal journals?

2. Find out if the firm is demonstrably committed to business development.

Communications: You want to know how well the firm communicates internally about business development opportunities, successes and failures as well as upcoming pursuits. Do meetings in the firm regularly feature updates on business development and marketing, new clients, new matters and practice group updates? And importantly, are the business development professionals in the firm participating in the major strategic decisions of the law firm?

Client Interviews: First, you want to determine if the firm conducts client interviews. Who conducts them? Are comments shared only with the relationship attorney or are those comments shared broadly in the firm? Does the firm conduct post-mortems on RFPs? How are those results shared?

Client Teams: You should ask if the firm has client service teams in place. How are the teams organized and how effective are they? Who selects which clients will have a team? Who determines the team members? Are there incentives or rewards for managing client service teams separate from origination or other compensation metrics?

Social Media: Evaluate the strength of the firm's social media presence. Does the firm have active blogs? How are those blogs promoted, maintained and supported? Does the firm encourage use of social media like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook? How many of the attorneys have LinkedIn profiles and how many are actively using LinkedIn and participating in groups?

Content Marketing: You should know if the firm encourages the development of thought leadership, not just client alerts or newsletters. Does the firm provide support for content creation including ghost writers or hours dedicated to associate research time? Does the firm use a content distribution service such as JD Supra? Does the firm distribute its materials through a variety of channels, in addition to its website, like through blogs or micro sites, through LinkedIn, by email and through content distributors?

There are several other areas to evaluate to better understand the firm's commitment to business development. Look at charity and community involvement, advertising and sponsorships, events and client entertainment.
Generally, the size of the firm will dictate the resources available. But size has little to do with the depth of the firm's commitment to business development. A deep, embedded commitment to supporting every attorney's practice is what laterals should be looking for in their new law firm platform.

This article originally ran in The Recorder on November 4, 2014  

Eric Dewey is managing principal of Group Dewey Consulting, focusing his practice on business development coaching and lateral acquisition support services. He writes the Lawyer Up! blog. He is based in Northern California and can be reached at or 502-693-4731.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Linked In Basics in Ten Easy Steps, Part 4

This is the fourth in a four part weekly series on using Linked In for business development.
8. Seek Out Business Development Opportunities:
LinkedIn tracks who has viewed your profile.  You can find this on your Profile page on the lower right hand side.  Review this regularly to look for possible referral sources, connection opportunities, or reasons to contact someone.  If you've recently met with or pitched someone, you'll often find them or a company representative show up as having viewed your profile.  Sometimes who viewed your profile is a precursor to the posting of an RFP. If you have no connections to the person viewing your profile, you may not be able to see all of their information without paying for LinkedIn's premium service.  There are several packages at various monthly price points that you might choose.  Once you've clicked through to find out who's viewed your profile, you can find upgraded costs by clicking the yellow "Upgrade" button. You can quit the service at any time so don’t worry about having to sign up for a whole year. Sign up on a month to month basis and see if it provides value and see whether or not you use the premium service on a regular basis.
9. Check your privacy settings.
Determine how you want to be found and viewed. Turn off activity broadcasts when you are in edit mode so you don’t bombard connections with every change you make to your profile. But don’t forget to turn it back on. Set who you want to see your activity feeds to everyone, your expanded network or just your first degree connections. Review what you want people to see when they view your profile. Make sure you include an e-mail address that your connections can access. Restrict who can see your connections to only your connections. Consider turning off the feature ‘viewers of your profile also viewed these other profiles’. The benefit of this feature is being able to see who you are being compared to. The downside is that it gives those viewing your profile other suggested profiles to view thereby increasing competition.
10. Distribute content through Linked In
I promote a writing style which makes content easier to re-purpose and distribute called ‘140, 1, 4.’ The content should be written in the form of a pyramid in which the essential information or some compelling proposition is stated in the first 140 characters. Then, write a complete overview about the topic in the first page being careful to address all the major points of your proposition within that one page. Then use the following four pages to elaborate on your point. This will give you a strong, ‘tweetable’ proposition to distribute through linked In, Twitter and other channels, a one page summary for the time constrained reader and a more in-depth analysis for those willing to read five pages of material. Be sure to embed white papers, client alerts, blog posts and publications in your profile.
Linked In will likely become the CRM system of choice for the global business community. Putting your best foot forward by having a thorough and well written profile is critical. And the sooner you get the basics done, the sooner you can begin to master its powerful features and utilize it for business development.
If you'd like help using Linked In for business development, contact Eric at You'll find that I am an eager resource and that it costs nothing to talk.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Linked In Basics in Ten Easy Steps, Part 3

This is the third in a four part weekly series on how to use Linked In for business development.
5. Join and Participate in Groups – Or Start Your Own:
Search for professional organizations not only that you already belong to, but also look for ones your potential clients take part in.  Join groups in which your peers, colleagues and competitors are also members.  Join your college alumni group.  Most groups often have discussion boards or threads where members pose professional-related questions.  Join the discussion if you have a bit of expertise to offer.  Or start your own group to focus on issues, post articles, start discussions, take questions, etc. related to your practice. Add value to the group on a regular basis by starting discussions, commenting on discussion strings or sharing information. Where possible make introductions between group members and others in your list of connections or suggest groups to connections who might benefit.
6. Increase Your Search Visibility:
You’ll want to make sure that people interested in the type of law you practice can find you.  If you make your profile page public, search engines like Google and Bing will index it. Take the time to optimize your summary, using your full proper name versus “I” or “me.” You might also want to enter links to websites you want to highlight, like a personal blog or the firm’s website.  Incorporate keywords and key phrases throughout your profile that potential clients look for.  Think about what are the critical terms and phrases used in your practice area and industries. What key words would your potential client be likely to search for?  These are not necessarily legal terms, but the terms that your clients would use instead.  The more of those you include in your profile, the more likely you are to be found by potential clients.  Place these key terms throughout your profile: in your background information, your summary, your title, and your skills & experience. 
7. Interact and Engage Your Audience:
"Recommend" your connections.  When you write a recommendation for someone or endorse specific skills, they often times will do the same for you, adding to a more complete professional profile.  However, be careful to only endorse those with whom you have worked or have deep knowledge of their capabilities. The quality of endorsements reflects much more powerfully than a large volume of endorsements.
On your home page, your connections share news and information.  You can easily engage your audience by re-sharing with your own connections any posts by others that are relevant to your industry.  Share news items, awards, and articles posted about you on the Firm’s website by linking to that page.  Likewise, comment on or "like" the news, information, and commentary shared by your connections.  More points of contact make you more recognizable and "top of mind" as an expert in your field for future business development opportunities. 
If you would like help using Linked In for business development, contact Eric at You'll find that I am an eager resource and that it costs nothing to talk.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Linked In Basics in Ten Easy Steps, Part 2

This is the second in a four part weekly series on the basics of using Linked In for business development.
2.  Personalize Your URL:
You have the option to claim your name as part of your LinkedIn web address, rather than a standard web address with a long list of numbers at the end.  Find this under the Edit drop-down menu on your profile home page, click "Manage your profile settings" then find "Customize your public profile URL" along the right side, as shown here.
Example: ""
3. Connect with your Colleagues and Business Contacts:
Take time each week, each month, etc.  to update your LinkedIn Contacts.  On your Home page, you will see People You May Know on the right side of the page.  If you've kept your profile updated with affiliations and groups you belong to, LinkedIn will better be able to suggest people with whom you should connect.  The more experiences you add, even non-work related experience, the easier it will be for LinkedIn to connect you with others within those networks.
Add your colleagues at the firm, along with your professional network outside the firm.  Add new contacts you meet at networking or social events.  LinkedIn is one of the most searched professional sites online.  Just as our in-house CRM shows who knows a specific contact, LinkedIn also shows who you already know that may know a business contact you are trying to connect with, and that can lead to a touch point to facilitate an introduction.

Or vice versa: contacts may find you can help facilitate a business introduction for them.  If you find you need to delete a contact, you can remove them under the Network – Connections tab.  It’s worth periodically culling out connections that don’t augment your profile in some way. Often times, others will attempt to connect with you just to increase the number of connections they have believing that large networks gain them higher rankings in search results. However, the behavior of searching on LinkedIn is really through the process of searching ‘degrees of separation’. Knowing this, it is more important to ensure that the connections you have are of the best quality, have similar good quality connections, are meaningful and offer the potential to help someone out in the future.

4. Add Recommendations:

An easy way to enhance your reputation is to obtain recommendations from quality, well regarded sources. These recommendations add up to social proof that you’re a professional others can depend on. The best way to get recommendations is to ask for them. The Request Recommendations tool is simple to use, but take the time to edit the default message by tailoring it for your audience.  Access this thru your Privacy & Settings page.  Do this sparingly. Target those who have direct experience with you and your work. For connections or clients that you have not spoken with recently, include a point of reference to jog their memory in your note.  As for the message itself, be short and to the point. A good way to start your message is to acknowledge how much you value their opinion.  Start writing recommendations for others you know as well, and you may find many will reciprocate.
If you'd like help using Linked In for business development, contact Eric at You'll find I'm an eager resource and that it costs nothing to talk.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Linked In Basics in Ten Easy Steps, Part 1

LinkedIn is where your clients, business associates, referral sources, and prospective clients are networking.  Media Post reports nine out of ten (88%) business executives use LinkedIn ‘often’ or ‘very often' and 73% said LinkedIn is their favorite network for social networking.  As of September 2014, there were more than 47,700 profiles on Linked In with the words ‘General Counsel’ in their current title. Another 7,700 profiles have the words “Chief Legal Officer” in their current title. The business development benefits of LinkedIn are numerous, including:

  • Find who you know that can introduce you to who you want to know.
  • Demonstrate the depth of your knowledge, relationships, clout and experience through the quality of the people in your network.
  • Use it as an unobtrusive way to stay in touch with people in your network.
  • Stay informed of important career changes for people in your network.
  • Share your knowledge and expertise with potential clients outside of your network.
  • See who has viewed your profile to provide you with a potential early warning of clients considering you for their projects.

1.  Create or Optimize Your Profile:

If you don't already have a LinkedIn profile, the site does a great job of guiding you thru the process of completing a new profile. 

Create your new account by adding basic info: name, job title, company.  Then follow the prompts to choose to add email contacts, follow "Influencers", Companies or Group, or skip these steps and go straight to editing your profile.  

Start editing your profile by answering the question prompts in the blue box, like in the picture below.  This will take you thru your education, previous employment, skills, and job descriptions.  It will also ask you to add a photo.  Please contact the Marketing Department if you do not have a copy of your professional photo from our website.

If you already have a profile, optimize it.  LinkedIn guides you thru improving your profile with the click of a button – you will find a prompted series of questions in a blue box at the top of your home page.  This will ask you to fill in a series of questions where it finds missing or incomplete information in your profile.


Make sure your headshot is high quality, with good lighting and ultra-sharp focus. LinkedIn is not the place to run a casual snapshot. You not only are representing yourself, but the firm as well.  Your personal page is (or should be) connected to the firm, so you want to make sure it reflects the most professional image possible.  If you have a professional photo that is displayed on the firm’s website, ask to use that photo on your linked In profile.

Professional Headline:

When you add your employment information, your profile's Professional Headline will automatically default to your current job title. You can edit your headline to be more descriptive of your practice, or specific areas of expertise, but don't make it hard to understand. This headline is listed with your name everywhere you appear on LinkedIn, so make sure it describes you and includes the company.  Example: "Senior Intellectual Property, Copyright and Trademark Attorney" rather than "Attorney” or “Partner”.


Use the summary as a place to answer a simple question — Why do you do what you do?  Why should someone hire you?  Think of your summary as the human element of who you are, the backstory to everything you’ve done so far.


A new feature of LinkedIn is the Add Sections tool— a way to modify your profile with additional details about your qualifications from other online sources.  You have the ability to add content from Twitter, and WordPress, etc.  Give your LinkedIn viewers a well-rounded sense of your digital presence.
Want to know how to use Linked In to capture new clients? E-mail Eric Dewey at

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Assessing the Client Bonds of Lateral Candidates

Note: This article first ran in The Recorder, an ALM publication, on October 8th, 2014.

The promise of new client relationships is driving the vast majority of lateral partner movement today. Lateral acquisition is a primary growth strategy for many law firms. But both the new firm and the lateral are often surprised by how few clients actually move to the new firm.

It's easy to assume a lower rate platform or expanded capabilities will attract clients to the firm. But the depth and scope of the relationship are the strongest predictors of movement, especially among practices which are more commoditized.

For most practices, assessing the depth of these relationships is an important, though infrequent, part of the due diligence process. Short of asking them directly, how can you predict which clients are likely to port over to the new firm?

There is no way to guarantee a lateral's clients will move. But a series of questions can help suggest the quality of these relationships and the likelihood that the client will move with the lateral candidate. This analysis assumes that the attractiveness of the firm to the lateral's clients has already been positively answered, and the new firm offers a price or platform advantage for the client. But because price and platform advantages alone don't reliably predict client portability, a deeper dive into the strength of the relationship between laterals and their best clients is warranted.

Questioning the quality of the relationship falls into five main categories: relationship dynamics; business reach; practice importance; incumbent firm reach; and competitive alternatives.

Relationship Dynamics
The dynamics of the relationship is a strong predictor of whether clients will likely move with a lateral. This line of questioning should seek to understand the duration of the client relationship, the volume and consistency of work over time, how and where the relationship began and the social activities and personal relationships between the attorney and each client contact. Frequent, non-business related social activities can indicate relationships which both parties will likely avoid disrupting.

Business Reach
This line of questioning attempts to understand the reach into the business the lateral has built. Does the lateral have only one person he works with at the company or are there multiple relationships with a cross-section of lawyers and business managers. Laterals with strong company ties tend to have multiple relationships with several non-lawyer business leaders in a company. This makes these relationships not only enduring, but provides the attorney with better and more accessible information about the company. This is also an indication the lawyer is an adviser to the company, something most company leaders are reluctant to lose.

Practice Importance
Understanding the importance the work the lateral does for the company is the third line of questioning. How strategically important is the legal work to the core drivers of the company's business? Special care should be paid to ensure the analysis is from the client's perspective, not the attorney's. This line of questioning can reveal not only the importance of the work to the company but illuminate how well the attorney understands the client's business. The more strategically important the legal services are to the company's success, the more likely the client is to travel with the lateral.

Incumbent Firm Reach
Companies that use multiple practices of the incumbent firm—the firm from which the lateral partner is leaving—and have multiple relationships with other lawyers in the incumbent firm are far less likely to move that work. In this line of questioning, the objective is to quantify the types and depth of relationships that others in the incumbent firm have with the client company.

The questions should attempt to understand the import and export of work in and out of the lateral's practice within the incumbent firm, as well as the diversity of the various practices used. Client companies that use multiple, diverse practice areas of the incumbent firm and with whom there are relationships with attorneys in the incumbent firm are generally less likely to move.

Competitive Alternatives
Lastly, how many other law firms does the company work with and in which areas of the law? Are there firms well positioned to take on this work? Does the company have in-house counsel? If so, what is the level of experience and expertise among the lawyers in the lateral's practice area?

This line of questioning is intended to understand, from the client company's perspective, the attractiveness of alternative providers for the work. From this analysis, a firm can begin to answer the question, "What will the client gain or lose with a move to a new firm?" This analysis should be performed for each of the key clients in the lateral's book of business.

Client companies with long and strong relationships who are relying on the lateral for strategically important work, who know multiple people in the company, who serve client companies in a narrow or limited number of areas and who have little competitive pressures on the relationship are most likely to move with the lateral to the new firm.

Need to improve your assessment of a lateral's client book? Call Eric at 502-693-4731. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Making Strangers into Client Bedfellows

One of the most difficult tasks in business development is the challenge of starting a brand new relationship with a total stranger. Figuring out who you’d like to talk to is easy. But figuring out how to get their attention and talk to you is quite another thing. This is often a major stumbling point and a mental obstacle that can inhibit business development progress.

A Crack with One Whack?

In developing relationships, it’s helpful to adopt the mindset that you are not going to ‘break the ice’ in the first attempt. Instead, it’s more like chipping away at the ice over time using small but substantive gifts of information, resources, insights and connections as your ice picks. The trick is to present relevant, timely and valuable offers that position you as a true resource and selfless giver.

While we all would like to make one call to a prospective company, crack the ice and get a meeting, it rarely happens. Studies show that it takes multiple approaches to generate interest or build a sense of reciprocal obligation in your prospect. Many professionals quit the process after only one or two outreaches. Yet, it can take as many as eight to ten approaches before you generate a serious discussion. That’s without providing value in your approach. Add relevant, timely and valuable offers to your outreach and the number of initiatives to get a response falls dramatically. But it’s still more than one or two.
I like to follow a rule that’s something similar to carpenter’s advice, ‘measure twice, cut once’. Provide value twice before testing for reception to your services. For most business people, two gifts can usually get someone on the phone. But don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t. It can take numerous outreaches to generate an initial discussion.

Added Value Marketing

What types of value can you provide? Here’s a list of some ways in which you can provide value and generate interest in a conversation with you.

  • Offer to co-author an article or interview the person for an article you write
  • Provide audits or checklists of risk avoidance issues
  • Send informative articles, client alerts or white papers (these are best if customized to the particular needs of the business or its industry)
  • Introduce to people in your network of connections
  • Provide information of competitors and alternative providers
  • Conduct proprietary research and analysis and provide executive summaries of the findings
  • Provide executive summaries of industry trends and the likely trajectories of those trends
  • Provide potential business leads
  • Use the target company’s products or services and provide testimonials of the quality

Researching the company and thinking creatively about their needs, risks and objectives can reveal additional ways to provide value. Focus on the companies and contacts in which would be the best fit with your services. The develop a strong understanding of the business, write out a plan to provide value to that business and set out a schedule on your calendar to deliver on your value creation plan. This process, done consistently with appropriate targets, will generate new work from strangers.

Monday, September 29, 2014

maximizing Conferences and Seminars, Part 4

This is part four in a four part series about ways to make the most of your attendance at a conference.

Step 3: Follow up after the conference

If you had a good conference, you most likely came home with several dozen business cards or names of individuals with whom you will want to follow up. Initiating contact within the first week or two is important. Plan your schedule to be able to accomplish this. Any longer than two weeks and people’s memories begin to fade. The glow of meeting you will have worn off.

You’ll also want to follow up with those that you were unable to connect with at the conference. Plan time to send notes to these individuals as well and send a nice note apologizing for not connecting with, offer your insights on the conference and offer to meet them at a future date.

Lastly, add the new contacts to your address book and plan out on your calendar when you will reach out again to them.

Everyone in the firm should benefit from the knowledge that you gained at the conference. Write a brief summary of the most important information gleaned from the conference and share it with others in the firm. In addition to key learnings, share the names and positions of the people you met at the conference. Often times, others will know the people or companies you met and new opportunities will develop through these conversations.

A successful conference takes effort. But those that put the time into it will more likely reap the rewards.

If I can help you get the most out of your event attendance, give Eric Dewey a call at 502.693.4731. You'll find that I am an eager resource and that it costs nothing to talk.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Maximizing Conferences and Seminars, Part 3

This is part three in a four part series about ways to make the most of your attendance at a conference.

2. Make the most of your time at the conference

Attending a conference is not a vacation. It is work. In fact, if you execute your conference experience correctly, you’ll find that you are more tired and mentally drained than you get during a normal work day. At a conference, you are constantly ‘on’. That takes energy and discipline to stay focused like that for 10 – 15 hours a day for several days in a row. So be sure to eat healthy foods in moderation, get plenty of rest and don’t drink too much while at the event.

Arrive early and stay late

Arrive early and be prepared. Have a way to take notes, bring business cards, an extra pen, mints, the conference schedule and attendee list, your name tag or badge, and anything else you think you might need during the day. Getting to sessions a few minutes early enables you to get a good seat, speak to others beforehand and sometimes get time with the speaker before they go on.

Stay off the smart phone

You can’t meet people if your head is buried in your iPhone. Studies show that most people check their phones about every 6 minutes. Look around the room during a presentation and you’ll see just how tied to their phones most people are. But the time that you spend on your phone is time that you are not spending making new connections. Sure, there are times when you have to take the call or answer the e-mail. But these are really pretty rare instances. Set up your out of office message to explain that you will only have period access to your e-mail and then live by that. Check your e-mail no more than three times a day. 

Introduce yourself effectively

When you meet someone for the first time, greet them with a smile, look them in the eyes and show genuine interest in meeting them. Avoid talking about yourself until you are asked. And even then, keep it brief. The less you say about yourself and the more you ask about them, the more curiosity is built to learn more about you. Ask easy questions that anyone can answer. Listen to learn what they like, where their interests lie, which aspects of the conference is most intriguing to them and why.

Socialize with people you don’t know

At all types of events, its human nature to gravitate toward those you know well or in whom you have things in common. Resist the temptation to (what one of my managing partners used to call) “clump with your buddies.” One of the greatest values of a conference is the opportunity to meet people you might not otherwise have the opportunity to meet. These opportunities don’t come along often so make the most of it. Go out of your way to strike up conversations with strangers.

Make the effort to initiate conversations

To establish a new relationship, you have to find common ground on which to start building the relationship. You don’t have to find someone that like your hobby of skydiving. Simply being at the same conference is enough common ground to start a relationship. While you are mingling in the halls or prior to the start of the presentation, is the perfect time to initiate meeting someone.

Be matter of fact and ask simple questions that anyone can answer. Did you travel far to get here? Is the hotel what you expected? Is this weather a break from what you have at home? Once you’ve broken the seal, offer something of value such as an interesting session you attended, news of a recent development in the industry or the best ideas that you plan to take back to the office.  Watch their body language and be prepared to exit the conversation politely if they don’t appear interested. Follow the flow of the conversation and stay focused on what they are saying.

Stay in the flow of traffic.

People who hang out in the corners send a signal that they don’t want to engage with others. It’s not typically true, but people who are not proactive connectors won’t approach someone standing by themselves. If you see someone standing by themselves, do yourself and them a favor and approach them and start a discussion. Everyone is there for the same reason and most people will appreciate the chance to talk to someone and not look like they are by themselves.  If you have time to kill, stand near the food or beverage tables or where people are congregating.  Gravitate toward where there is activity. This is where you’ll also most likely find natural connectors.

Introduce others

Adding value to a new relationship leaves a strong impression. One way to add value is to share your network with others. You never know how others will benefit from knowing one another. More often than not, especially at conferences, people you introduce will benefit from the introduction. If they do, you will as well. Make an effort to invite others into your conversation, introduce them to one another and mention how you know each other. If you can, mention something interesting about both people, whether it is personal or professional. Often, other will find something in common and it can provide energy and interest for the conversation to develop.

Watch body language

Before approaching a group, be sure to check out their body language. Groups of two or three who are facing each other may be in a private discussion. If they have a more open stance, they are in a casual discussion and will typically welcome another person to the conversation.

Take notes

If you are good, you’ll meet dozens of people during the conference. Recalling the particulars of the conversations you had, their interests, information on their family or other key information will be difficult in the days after the conference if you don’t take good notes immediately following your discussion. Always ask for a business card and write notes on the back of the card. For some that you meet, you may even feel comfortable writing a note while speaking to them. It’s flattering. It shows that you value having met them and want to continue a relationship. Record as much information to make a future contact easier nad show that you were listening.

Be present and listen

Once you have engaged in conversation with someone, be ‘in the conversation’. There’s a lot of activity at conferences and most people have a tendency to keep one ear on the discussion and one eye on who is walking through the room. This sends the impression that the person you are talking to is not really that important. And it is off-putting. You will set yourself apart by being present in the discussion, looking them in their eyes and truly listening to what the other is saying.

If I can help you get the most out of your event attendance, give Eric Dewey a call at 502.693.4731. You'll find that I am an eager resource and that it costs nothing to talk.