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Blawg Review #131

post # 454 — October 22, 2007 — a General post

It is a great honor and privilege to be invited back to host the Blawg Review again. I did so previously for the Blawg Review #76.

The Blawg Review is designed to be a collection of posts on blogs relating to the law. In making my selection, I have focused on issues relating to the business of law, rather than legal matters (which I am not qualified to judge.)

Let’s begin with some MARKETING blogs.

Charon QC …the blawg has an absolutely amazing post about marketing at the UK firm of Eversheds, which talks about the need for “Innovateers, Knowlivators, Logithiser, Performibutors, Proactilopers, Professionaries, Prioricators and Winnowmats.”

Intrigued? Go check it out – it’s worth it.

Dan Hull, at What About Clients? has a good post summarizing the key elements in winning high-end clients.

Michelle Golden, president of Golden Marketing is also an active member of the VeraSage Institute, which is committed to abolishing the billable hour. She reports on the advice given by another consultant on how to implement a value-pricing approach.

Susan Cartier Liebel at Build A Solo Practice, LLC offers tips on how to build a practice. I was surprised, to put it mildly, that she was passing on “classic” sales advice with questions like: “Is the prospect pre-qualifed? What is their motivation to buy your product? Always conclude with a call to action.”

I had hoped we had moved on beyond such traditional sales advice in our understanding of how professionals get hired. See, for example, (my co-author) Charlie Green’s blog for an ongoing discussion of an alternative approach — trust-based selling.

To be fair, there’s a lot of otherwise good stuff on Susan’s site. See, for example, this post:

Lori Herz, on her blog Write for Clients talks about Customer Experience Management (CEM). Evolving in tandem with the new experience economy, the CEM model considers a customer’s relationship with a service or product from the vantage point of user experience. As she notes, people tend to translate their consumer (or, I’d note, professional service) experiences into stories that they quickly share with others.


Now, let’s turn to the topic of LEADERSHIP.

The ever-stimulating and readable Bruce MacEwen asks whether “transformative change” is on your agenda. As he notes, it’s probably in your future, though, regardless whether it’s made it onto your agenda. Relying heavily on McKinsey research MacEwen offers relevant advice on how one can successfully drive radical change within an organization. He takes us through the steps of aspiration, leadership and engine (or ideas) and process.

Tom Collins, at More Partner Income, reacts to Bruce MacEwen’s post with some thoughts of his own on “The Right Way to Manage Change in the Law Firm.”

As I also try to stress in my new book, Strategy and the Fat Smoker, Tom points out that the benefits of change are not immediate and do not follow a smooth linear line of improvement. He tells us that the magic ingredient is “KASH”. KASH stands for new Knowledge which, when combined with the right Attitude, results in new Skills, which, through use, become Habit.

Another of my favorite legal bloggers, Arnie Herz at Legal Sanity, quotes an executive coach in posing an interesting and, perhaps, daunting question for law firm leaders: If you lost your title, position and power tomorrow, would others still support you and want to work with you?

Actually, that’s not a bad question for any trusted advisor who provides client counseling advice to ask himself or herself!

Another former co-author of mine, Patrick McKenna, has a checklist of questions to self-assess your leadership, including: alignment; engagement, retention, innovation, collaboration, talent, productivity, agility, responsiveness.

Katheryn Hayes Tucker, asks whether the General Counsel job could be a route to a CEO position. She cites Delta Air Lines’ new CEO, Richard H. Anderson, the former Texas prosecutor who started in the airline business as an in-house lawyer with Continental Airlines and then became general counsel at Northwest Airlines Inc. before moving up the ranks to CEO there. She also mentions Home Depot’s CEO Frank Blake, a former GC at General Electric and Former Coca-Cola Co. GC Deval Patrick, who is now a chief executive of a different kind: governor of Massachusetts!

Brian Sommer is a former Accenture partner whose blog, while it does not explicitly address law firms, is essential reading for those tracking the latest thinking in managing professional businesses. In one of his latest blogposts, he interviews Beth Carvin, CEO and President of Nobscot Corporation. Her firm has software that allows workers to request and find potential mentors and mentees within their own firm.


Some ECONOMICS issues are touched on by these posts:

Peter Lattman at The Wall Street Journal Law Blog provides a link-heavy blog covering a lot of stimulating territory, including whether deal-making attorneys earn enough money, and the ongoing debate about whether (for example) Goldman Sachs should be allowed to buy Simpson Thatcher. If you want to track the latest chat about money-making in the law, this is a good place to start.

A recent ruling blogged by Joseph Palazzolo on the Legal Times blog hits contingency fee-based firms where they’ll feel it. From the case: “A client may discharge his attorney, with or without cause, and such a discharge will not constitute a breach of any agreement between them,” Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote. “This rule is admittedly harsh to attorneys, especially to those who provide services under contingent-fee agreements, for they bear a substantial risk.”


A couple of BLOGS ABOUT BLOGGING are worth noting.

When it comes to corporate blogging strategy, some corporations, even cutting-edge ones, are more conservative in their approach. Kevin O’Keefe focuses on Google and describes how its blogging strategy may be a good model for such conservative firms, allowing them to participate in the blogosphere without getting in over their heads. Every product team at Google has a blog but their focus is strictly PR, not to give rise to a conversation on the blogs, none of which allow comments. Law firms may also want to follow Google’s lead on the use of blogs in place of press releases.

Daniel A. Schwartz at the Connecticut Employment Law Blog discusses his decision not to publish a blogpost rather than risk disrupting his firm’s relationships with a client. That leads to a discussion of proposed blogging principles in a law firm.

A warm blogosphere (blawgosphere?) welcome to the renowned Ellen P. Goodman, making her first ever blogpost at Balkinization.

She shares a few thoughts about the need to radically reform our system of public service media for the digital age. She explores the question of what media regulation might mean in a networked environment, and concludes that traditional broadcast regulation, which assumes content scarcity and captive audiences, is of limited use today in achieving the kinds of democratic values that were advanced 40 years ago in Jerome Barron’s important article Access to the Press: A New First Amendment Right.

Professor Daniel Solove at Concurring Opinions has a really interesting discussion of “Who, Exactly, Is a Journalist?” The story is about Howard Bashman, who calls himself a “member of the news media,” yet who also happens to be a Pennsylvania attorney who also operates a blog. Does readership define a journalist? Does receiving money for writing make one a journalist, as Bashman does?


On the HUMAN INTEREST topic, Rhonda Muir at Law People reports on a story in Inside Counsel. She quotes John P. Donahue, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Rhodia Inc., as saying “We evaluate ‘courage’ as a behavioral characteristic of our lawyers, and we link this evaluation to compensation. Rhodia has “embraced professional objectivity of its in-house lawyers as a core value” and Donahue wants to make sure that “our lawyers can deliver bad news to clients,” with whom they are often closely aligned.

Rhonda notes that Hospital administrators contend that a ratio of 1 conflict avoider in 4 employees results in a “dangerous workplace” — think: “I don’t want to get so-and-so in trouble over reusing needles” or “Maybe she’ll start writing down dosages after she gets used to our procedures”. Left to their own proclivities, lawyers’ much higher rate of avoidance than hospital workers risks being just as dangerous.

Then there’s the story about 18-year-old Kathleen Holtz, who, if she passes the California bar, will be the youngest lawyer in the Golden State, and quite possibly the nation. L.A.’s TroyGould has hired her as an associate, and she’s reportedly doing great.


And that’s it for this week!

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues. Also they are hosting the Carnival of the Capitalists this week, so don’t forget to go check it out.


Susan Cartier Liebel said:

David, Thank you for including me in your terrific blog and Blawg Review #131. As you pointed out, this particular blog post is very procedural. I am dealing primarily with new (young) law students who are both frightened and repelled by the word ‘sales’ because they lack both comprehension of the ‘know you, like you trust’ heart of service as well as actual procedural elements. This post was a bare-bones procedural complimentary post to far more extensive discussions posted previously regarding the heart of service and why clients will create relationships with some providers of services over others. You have to walk before you run, right?

posted on October 20, 2007

Daniel said:

David: Thanks for the reference in the Blawg Review and more importantly, thanks for providing a link to some other great posts for the week. Looking forwarding to reading more.

posted on October 22, 2007

Dan Hull said:

David: #131 is very classy and very nicely done. Thanks for the mention, sir.

posted on October 22, 2007

Stephen M. Worrall said:

Great Blawg Review. I also enjoy Susan Cartier-Leibel’s blog and appreciate the alerts on the others mnetioned.

posted on October 22, 2007

Lori Herz said:

Hi David,

This is a great roundup of posts. I always enjoy your commentary and appreciate the introduction to some new-to-me blogs/bloggers.

Thanks for linking to Write for Clients and legal sanity. I’m honored. In case you want to verify it on your end, I’m getting a 403 message for the link to my WFC post.


Lori Herz

posted on October 22, 2007

Michelle Golden said:

David, many thanks for noting my blog in your BlawgReview. And many more thanks for pointing me to some new-to-me blogs like those of Ms. Tucker and Mr. Sommer.

Excellent stuff!

posted on October 28, 2007

Charles H. Green said:

David, good content and provocative comments, as usual. Makes for a lively and thought-provoking blog. It led me to a few postings I would never have caught, many thanks.

Thanks also for the kind note on my own work on trust in selling.

posted on October 28, 2007