LMA Capital Chapter Annual Half-Day Program Review

This article was written by Jean Katz, Jenna O’Connor and Martha Hess.

On October 23, the Capital Chapter hosted its annual half-day program at the Grand Hyatt.  The program, which was moderated by ShiftCentral’s Mark Young, was divided into three sections: Your Next Level, Dollars & Sense, and It’s All About the Client.  Based on the format of the popular TED Talks, each section featured three 12-minute presentations by three speakers and concluded with a short discussion between Young and the presenters and an opportunity for Q&A.  The event also showcased the half-day program’s valuable sponsors:  Associated Luxury Hotels International, Colonial Williamsburg, Herrmann Advertising, Leadership Directories, Noble Pursuits, Saturno, and Soundpath Legal. 


Below are short summaries of each presentation highlighting key points and takeaways.  

Your Next Level 

Having Presence - All the Time and Everywhere

During this talk, Marsha Redmon, founder of Marsha Redmon Communications, discussed how people can convey “presence” in their job.  “Everyone has presence in some aspect of their life.  Take that presence and confidence to situations where you aren’t projecting presence,” she said. 

In projecting presence, Redmon offered four key points:

  • Intention:  Use intention in approaching every situation.  Keep a vision in your mind of how you want to be perceived by others.  Practice your “power pose” before a meeting so that you go into it feeling confident.
  • Feel it:  Be aware of your posture, your gestures, and the intonation of your voice.  Marsha noted that people with lower pitched voices are often perceived as smarter, more authoritative, and more trustworthy.  Women should use the lower natural range of their voice.
  • Pause: When it’s your turn to speak at a meeting, take command of the room by first pausing and waiting for everyone to look at you before proceeding.
  • Be bigger:  Bring energy to every situation.  Strive to be bigger in your firm, in your life, and in the world.

The Right Ways to Respond When Things Go Wrong

In his presentation, Jim Moorhead, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP and the author of The Instant Survivor, told the true story of Tilly Smith, a 10-year-old who saved the lives of one hundred people in 2004 when she recognized the signs of an approaching tsunami and warned her family and other tourists to leave a Thailand beach.  Moorhead went on to share some of his expertise as the co-chair of Steptoe’s crisis management practice.  When faced with a crisis, one should first consider:  What is the real threat?  How could it get worse?  What are our goals?  What is the end game?  Next, write down the answers to these questions on paper immediately to help in setting a game plan. 

Moorehead also said that in order to establish yourself as a problem solver, keep in mind that “fast is better than slow, but slow is better than wrong.”  Further to this point, he offered the following quote from General Douglas MacArthur that, although given in the context of war, can be applied to most crisis situations:

"The history of the failure of war can almost be summed up in two words: too late.

  • Too late in comprehending the deadly purpose of a potential enemy.
  • Too late in realizing the mortal danger.
  • Too late in preparedness.
  • Too late in uniting all possible forces for resistance.
  • Too late in standing with one’s friends.”

How to Evaluate the Best Next Career Step

Steve Nelson, Managing Principal at The McCormick Group, spoke about how legal marketers can best asses their next career step.  Although there are many factors that can be in play when planning a job shift, he highlighted the following considerations:

  • Ask yourself:  Where do I see myself in the next 4-5 years?  Where does this take me?  Should I seek a lateral move or a promotion?  Am I learning skills now that will be useful in the years ahead? 
  • Is my supervisor a mentor?  Are they respected by the leadership of the firm?  Do they have the power to get things done in the firm?
  • How much turnover is there at the firm and, more specifically, in the marketing department?  What explains this high (or low) turnover?
  • What is the partner compensation structure at my firm?  How much credit is given to origination?  Often, the culture in firms which put a high value on originations is very competitive, and it can be difficult to get lawyers to cooperate with marketing initiatives.


By Jean Katz, Client Relations Manager, Covington & Burling LLP for the November/December 2013 Issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.



Dollars & Sense

Measuring ROI Through Big Data (You Already Have)

Timothy B. Corcoran, Principal at Corcoran Consulting Group, spoke about ROI. According to Corcoran, ROI should be considered a relative measure, not an absolute measure.  In other words, a project doesn't have "good" or "bad" ROI by itself, it's only by comparing the ROI of one project to another that we determine which is a better use of time, energy and resources. If it were an absolute measure, a firm could agree that ALL projects that generate a profit are a good idea, but the reality is we can't do everything unless we have unlimited resources.  

Corcoran suggests we try measuring things like:

  • A white space analysis: how do your top clients rank versus where you are currently doing work for them?  Where are the gaps?
  • External data supporting internal data: what practices have a larger profit?  Which clients are in growth mode and have the most potential?  He even suggested (gasp!) that sometimes it’s okay to not allocate marketing resources to all practice groups equally
  • Identify and repeat efforts that win business: create a process for marketing/business development efforts and ask attorneys to track which stage they are on with a prospect when heading to a lunch or meeting. For example:
    • Stage 1: Initial Contact
    • Stage 2: Fact Gathering
    • Stage 3: Needs Analysis
    • Stage 4: Proposal
    • Stage 5: Close

Some firms, or practices, might have 7 stages, or 4 stages. But whatever you decide are the necessary steps, it's important to understand the logical progression of an opportunity through those stages. Not all lunches are created equal – it's not about the frequency of the tactic, it's whether that tactic will advance an opportunity from early stage to closing the deal.

  • Track your time carefully and measure it against the firm’s strategic plan: work with management to track where the marketing department is spending most of its time, and start to accelerate your contribution with the groups and departments that are seeing the most ROI for the firm; start thinking about the BUSINESS of law, which is exactly what CFOs and their clients are doing.
  • Events ROI: don’t base your success on how many people showed up or did not show up; instead, track the probability of business from a prospect who shows up to X events and receives X newsletters in a year. We may find that we can improve our probability of landing a new client or new engagement by studying what combination of tactics is associated with successful wins. It might suggest that a coordinated series of marketing tactics will generate better results than pursuing one-off tactics and hoping for the best.

Rethinking the Future of Law - How We Got Here and Where We're Going

Nicole Manara, Practice Manager at Axiom, spoke about the newly emerging alternative models for law firms and the difficulties in reducing cost while improving service, quality, and in-house counsel satisfaction.  This is increasingly difficult to achieve while attempting to stick to the current model of law firm staffing and compensation.  She suggested that in order to do this, firms must consider the following:

  • We have to get away (as an industry) from being so focused on WHO is doing the work (the credentials, the name of the firm, where you went to law school); there is work that is best done by HOW it is done (via technology, process, etc.) and by looking at this from a different viewpoint, we can break the stalemate
  • Putting disruption into motion: break down the body of work that you have on any given day and break them into exceptional events, experience events and efficiency events and allocate the work accordingly
  • When you can allocate the work by aligning the kind of work with the correct person, the client experiences a 50% savings
  • She quotes Richard Susskin in stating, “I believe that lawyers, in order to survive and prosper, must respond creatively and forcefully to the shifting demands of what is a rapidly evolving legal marketplace”

Kick Your Content Marketing Distribution Strategies Into High Gear

Linda Pepe, Director of Marketing on leave from Mintz Levin, spoke about the art of selling your firm through information, better known as content marketing.  She discussed her firm’s robust content marketing strategies and the reach and results they have seen (including 2012 results of over a MILLION trackable article views as well as earning the #1 firm readership on JD Supra.)  She advised that we keep in mind:

  • Writing about a topic that is relevant across industries can lead other reputable sites to pick up your content and repurpose it, allowing you to reach an entirely different and broader audience than originally intended
  • Use as many distribution tools as you possibly can. Some of the tools she uses are JD Supra, Lexology, Mondaq, and The National Law Review, along with sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+
  • Clients are demanding that we embrace content marketing: 55% of corporate counsel make hiring decisions based on blog posts
  • Try to remind your attorneys to write in a conversational tone, and ensure that it is the attorneys themselves doing the writing (not the marketing department); we can edit lightly, but don’t write for them or it defeats the purpose
  • The future of content marketing is in video; clients can learn about your practice, get a feel for if they want to work with the attorney, and generally speaking, people have less time to read articles and can process a short video clip faster for immediate gratification
  • Mintz Levin has seen a huge jump in views for video on their YouTube channel and JD Supra: they had 32,000 video views in the first two weeks after posting a series of hot topic, short form videos


By Jenna O’Connor, Director of Marketing, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP for the November/December 2013 Issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.


It’s All About the Client

What Clients Say Versus What Clients Mean . . .

Tea Hoffman, Chief Strategy Officer at Parker Poe, spoke about how knowledge is power and that a large part of client service involves knowing one’s clients, their business and what they really want and need. She discussed the importance of understanding a client’s expectations before the engagement letter is signed, so you know if you can meet those expectations. Good client service involves not just meeting client expectations, but exceeding those expectations.  

According to Hoffman, there can be a disconnect between what a client says and what a client really wants, which can result in the client being dissatisfied if the client’s expectations aren’t met. Hoffman provided six examples of things clients say and what they mean.

  • “I want to control my legal costs.” Clients want their lawyers to proactively keep them informed about legal costs, before they get the bill, as their jobs depend on controlling costs.
  • “I want you to understand my business.” Clients expect you to know their business and industry, their competition and what keeps them up at night so you can help them anticipate their legal needs.
  • “I want you to listen to me.” Clients don’t want to hear the keyboard clicking in the background while you are on the phone or see you checking your phone/blackberry during a meeting. “Clients want to be heard.”  
  • “I want you to be a trusted advisor.” Clients really want someone to collaborate with them and come up with win-win solutions to their legal problems
  • “I want you to be responsive.” Clients want their lawyers to return their calls and emails. They want someone they can contact if their lawyer isn’t available. They want their lawyer’s cell phone number and phone number so they can reach them when they have an issue at an odd hour.
  • “I want you to be efficient.” Clients want their lawyers to be effective first and efficient second. Using a paralegal or junior associate can be efficient and cost the client less, but if it means the client gets less the client will give up efficiency in favor of effectiveness.

Your Reputation: How to Manage the Only Thing That Matters

According to Jim Durham, Founder of Jim Durham Consulting, “the only thing that matters is vision.” Quoting from Stephen Covey, Durham said that with business development one should, “begin with the end in mind.” Durham said that many lawyers spend most of their business development time and efforts on activities that involve indirect client interaction (the left side of an effectiveness curve) when they should be spending time on activities that involve direct client interaction (the right side of an effectiveness curve). He said value to clients is what they get minus what they paid (“Value =WTG - $”) and that value comes from doing more than what you were simply hired to do. According to Durham there are four ways lawyers can provide value to clients: help in-house counsel make or save money, sleep more or look good to their CEO or board. He said that successful lawyers and marketers exhibit the following key attributes:

  • “Be accessible and responsive to clients and contacts.
  • Stay in touch with clients, even when not working on a matter.
  • Personalize your client relationship to some degree and have an awareness of the problems and issues in the client’s business.
  • Deliver - Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.
  • Project confidence.
  • Engender a sense of loyalty - that you will be there for them; adopt their concerns.
  • Work hard.”

Client Engagement and Partnership, Survival of the Strongest

Joe Calve, CMO at Morrison & Foerster, spoke about how the new normal is upon us and we must adapt to these changes. He gave examples of well-known companies that were market leaders and true innovators until suddenly they weren’t leaders or were obsolete because they read the writing on the wall too late.

Calve said law firms face the question of how to differentiate their firm and that clients have a hard time distinguishing between firms. He spoke about how Morrison & Foerster has used its yellow rubber duck and its nickname “MoFo” to distinguish the firm. He said that clients can play a significant role in helping firms gain recognition, as in-house counsel talk to one another and provide each other with recommendations about outside counsel. Social media has lowered the barrier to marketing, but firms still need to determine how to get others to talk about and promote them. Calve talked about the importance of knowing one’s target audience and gave an example of the firm Mishcon de Reya in London which knows its audience and has been effective at differentiating the firm.


By Martha Hess, Senior Business Development Manager, Bingham McCutchen LLP for the November/December 2013 Issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.

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