Lawyers do not have to do all the marketing and business development by themselves. They can and should involve their staff as much as practicable.

Early in my in-house marketing career I got as many non-marketing staff as possible to help with marketing, since I had no departmental staff to speak of. I cajoled and otherwise drafted as many as I could, including our librarian (research and as a source of firm data), paralegal (newsletters – design and drafting), receptionist (mailings), copy room (organizing, copying and binding proposals), to name a few. It sure made my job easier and I was more effective by not trying to do it alone.

I continue to be amazed how few law firms engage their non-marketing staff in the firm’s business development efforts. Actually, if you think about it, your staff is already involved in your firm’s marketing whether you want them to be or not; and whether it is in the firm’s best interests or not. If the staff has contact with clients, prospects and referral sources, which certainly receptionists, secretaries and paralegals do, they can help or hurt the firm’s reputation by how they relate to outside contacts. If the secretary is rude with any contact (god forbid a client) or the receptionist blows off a caller (hint: pet peeve to follow) by sending him/her directly into voicemail without another word, for example, such contact (or lack thereof) can be very damaging. Even how staff members act in public can reflect poorly on the firm, believe it or not.

So it behooves law firms to provide staff with some marketing training, or at least guidance on how they should behave toward those they encounter in their role with the firm.

Moreover, the staff can play a greater role than simply treating clients and prospects well, and behaving in public. They can, if instructed and then empowered by their lawyers, actively contribute to the firm’s marketing efforts. A few simple suggestions on how non-marketing staff might get involved include:

• Tracking Google alerts for info about specific clients and others,
• Remembering important client facts and dates (anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, etc.),
• Scheduling marketing activities for their lawyer(s),
• Keeping mailing lists up to date, and
• Suggesting regular interaction with their Outlook contacts.

If you respect your staff, encourage them to be an integral part of the team, and reward them for taking a bigger role in the firm’s success, you may just find that they can add considerable value to the firm, beyond their regular duties. 

Results! Let’s face it… why take on a business development initiative if it doesn’t produce results? What’s the point? Results include everything that gets you close to: increased visibility, increased credibility and increased business development. These are the bricks that create a solid foundation for your practice to grow.

It is my privilege to work with smart, committed lawyers… the key word here is COMMITTED. These lawyers have produced results because they are committed to growing their practice. Business development is not just something they do occasionally. They work on it every day, every week, every month. And we meet once or twice a month to monitor their progress, address issues and uncover new opportunities. I would like to share a few of the results that my clients have produced in 2011…

1. Doubled her revenue over the previous year (and plans to double it again in 2012.)

2. Became comfortable with blogging; found their blogging voice, followed through on their commitment to a schedule AND generated business.

3. Found passion in a new area of the law and is developing their practice around it.

4. Was recognized by his firm to be one of the firm leaders in his practice area.

5. Appeared on TV talk and news programs more than 6 times this year.

6. This lawyer stopped saying "I’m not good at networking!" Now realizes that she is GREAT at developing one-on-one relationships. She no longer dreads it but gets excited to have lunch with a referral source.

7. Was elected President of a local bar association… we created a plan and focused on winning.

8. Turned a casual agreement to have a conference call with a major player in a major out-of-town organization into a face-to-face meeting. Flying to Washington D.C. resulted in a deeper relationship that could not have been possible on a conference call.

9. Placed an article with a bar publication and positioned herself as "easy to work with, reliable and fast". Now she’s writing a regular column.

10. Named a "Lawyer To Watch In 2012."

11. Reached the 1st page of Google when one searches terms associated with their practice area.

12. Several small firms have forged relationships with other like-minded firms for the purposes of business development. Work is now flowing.

13. Made a firm commitment to business development… EVERYONE contributes in his or her way. Yes, EVERYONE from receptionist to managing partner.

These results could be YOURS! Commit to doing something every single day. Stay focused. Find your mentor, accountability partner or give me a call. In 2012 what do you want to achieve?



Imagine working to your strengths… while your team is working to THEIR strengths. That is precisely what I had the pleasure to ignite…

I had the privilege to work in Victoria B.C. again last week with a team of really committed lawyers and staff. It was a re-branding launch. What made it note worthy is the fact that we based the new brand on the strengths of the entire firm… YES… the ENTIRE firm! I had the entire firm (from receptionist to managing partner) take the Strength Finders test and we built the new brand using the results of the tests as our filter. The results are amazing. It is a commitment to who they are… not marketing language as to their unique capabilities. And as we revealed the package I could see how it was resonating with the entire team. It is not a positioning statement they have to embrace… it is a positioning statement that represents who they really are… very different!

After the reveal… I had the pleasure to introduce Cindy Pladziewicz. I invited her to join me on this assignment because she is a lawyer and a clinical psychologist that is an expert in strength psychology. What an incredible session we had… everyone was able to gain more clarity on the unique strengths they bring to the team and the combination of everyone’s strengths revealed a truly unique law firm. 

The next few days I worked with each lawyer and their assistant to solidify their business development plan for 2012. The great advantage was having their assistant part of the plan… and we explored ideas to make sure their lawyer had the support they needed to accomplish their 2012 goals.

This process was great and a natural for this very unique law firm… but let’s make sure we recognize just how unique…

EVERYONE in the firm participated in the Strength Finders research we did to capture the true essence of the firm. Typically firms focus on  business development in a silo fashion with only select groups participating in any given initiative.

A TEAM APPROACH… each lawyer AND assistant brainstormed together in order to come up with their 2012 plan. Usually it is the lawyer alone.

As I said in the opening… Imagine working to your strengths… while your team is working to THEIR strengths. NOW… you can see it is possible for this unique law firm and it will be a pleasure coaching them every month to ensure they reach the business development goals they envision… I will keep you posted.


Are you marketing or are you developing business… DAH! Marketing IS supposed to develop business and so is client service and so is delivering excellent work product on time and under budget.

In my book there is no separation… all these activities are done in order to get more work. And everyone at every level in the firm should be responsible for developing business to some degree. Now, I know that sounds a little radical… but think about it. There is no work to be done… no rent gets paid… no supplies are needed… no briefs need to be written… if there is NO business development! So why should business development be relegated to the very few within a firm? In my opinion it shouldn’t.

TEN business development activities for many people at many levels in a firm…

1. Be welcoming… answering the phones quickly and in a friendly manner.

2. Return phone calls and emails… on a timely basis.

3. Do what you say you’re going to do… your integrity is at stake.

4. Visit a client without charging them… demonstrate your commitment.

5. Show kindness at all levels… being nice to the receptionist is as important as being nice to the president.

6. Take pride in your work… and tell people you know that your firm does great work.

7. Sending handwritten notes isn’t just for the rainmakers… a personal note goes a long way.

8. Say HELLO… you never know whom you may meet.

9. Be happy… yes, no one wants to be around a grouch.

10. Say THANK YOU often… make your mom proud!

Is this list in your firms DNA? If not… start by being an example. Remember… it’s all about business development!

Black Pearl: I’ve mentioned this one before and in this conversation bears repeating. Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard.

Some people wait to be invited, appointed, begged or cajoled into signing up for a project. They sit in the back of the room hoping they won’t be called on… does it sound familiar?

What most people don’t realize is there is far more to gain when you take responsibility for a project. Some people see this crystal clear. What sets them apart? Here are a couple of examples…

Last week I was working with a client in British Columbia, Canada, and it was so enjoyable that when I returned to Miami I had the feeling that I was coming home from vacation. Yes… VACATION! Why? Because I had the most fabulous time working with a team of TRULY engaged people. Lawyers AND staff, that volunteered to spearhead initiatives… a team that saw clearly that business development is EVERY ONE’S priority. NOBODY was sitting in the back of the room hoping they wouldn’t be called on… they were contributing ideas that could move business development forward and create RAVING FANS of the clients they already have. How can you make this happen around you?

Hire like-minded people with positive attitudes… that see possibilities… not impossibilities.

Recognize that everyone from receptionist to top lawyer is equally as important to the success of your firm.

Care… yes care about what every team member has to contribute. That doesn’t mean you have to act on every idea… as a colleague of mine says… everyone has to love every idea for 5 minutes. (This is a powerful concept, try it.)

At the other end of the spectrum is an individual lawyer that I coach and it just so happened that he was my first appointment when I returned from "VACATION" in Canada.

He is a young partner in a national firm who has made a commitment to business development and creating a focus for his practice like no one I have ever seen. In about a month here are some of the things he has accomplished…

Created a handout for this new focused practice… defining what it is and how it will help their existing clients. He also listed colleagues in other offices that have experience in the area.

Made a presentation to the partners of his firm in the local office, distributing the handout.

Revised his on-line bio to reflect this initiative.

Joined a committee of the ABA and has taken on a leadership role which he will undertake at an upcoming conference.

Requested and been granted a slot at the upcoming firm retreat to make a presentation.

His new blog is in the works and he has already written several blog posts.

Made a proposal for two speeches and will be contributing an article for the local Bar.

These are just a few of his accomplishments. Would you say this guy is committed? Absolutely! He could have come up with lots of reasons why this couldn’t work… but no… he found all the reasons why it COULD work! He is making it happen in a big way.

What sets these people apart from others? It’s passion and commitment, with a drive to succeed. And taking on responsibility to contribute to the greater good of the team. What do they get out of it? They will all learn much more by taking on the responsibility and gaining hands-on experience. THAT my friends is invaluable.

So… I ask… are you sitting in the back of the room hoping YOU won’t get called on? Stand up and take on responsibility… it will pay dividends. I can hardly wait to see what these people will accomplish in a year’s time… and I am honored to have the privilege to work with them.

Just because you keep bios in a consistent format doesn’t mean they have to be carbon copies. Play to your strengths but stick to your brand.

This week we asked: Are your firm bios consistent?

1) Yes – 45%

2) No – 55%

My Thoughts: More than half of you were not convinced that your firm bios were truly consistent. Time to change that. Even in smaller firms, keeping bios in the same format looks more professional, more branded and more cohesive.

The best way to ensure that bios look uniform is to charge one person with the task of organization and upkeep. Be it a marketing director, administrator, secretary or even receptionist, identify someone to take charge of the project and keep it on track.

Tip #1: The first step in a revamp is to create a questionnaire (click here to download ours) and use existing bios to fill in the information. Then send those questionnaires back to each individual attorney so that they can fill in any blanks or update outdated information.

Tip #2: Pick a format and stick to it. In what order do you want to present the information? Will you put dates on Bar Admissions? Undergraduate information before JD or vice versa? Will you separate membership listings in charitable organizations from professional organizations? All questions you should consider.

Tip #3: Look at your head shots. Do they look like they were photographed by the same person? Are they outdated? If you answered no to the first question and yes to the second you may want to look into investing in some new photos. Never underestimate the power of a strong head shot.

Black Pearl: Just because you’re an accomplished attorney it doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of humor. Not all attorney bios are as serious as you may think. While you don’t have to take it as far as this guy (, there are small ways to incorporate a sense of personality. My team and I came across D.C.-based Beverage & Diamond by accident and were impressed and inspired by their “Professionals” section. Take a look at the way they used photography to punch up their bios while still remaining, well… professional. (

Shifting your perspective can open up a world of change…and possibly affect your bottom line.

This week we asked: How easy it for clients to do business with you?

1) Very easy – 24%

2) Easy – 28%

3) Difficult – 0%

4) Very Difficult – 0%

5) I’ve never thought about it – 48%

My Thoughts: Nearly half of you had never even considered this question. But now that your attention is here, it’s something to consider, correct? As Jay Fleischman writes in the piece I mentioned Tuesday:

It’s been said that your role as a business owner (and yes, you are a business owner if you run your own law firm) is to make it as easy as possible for people to do business with you.  You need to grease the wheels and create a friction-free experience for the potential client.  When you fail to do this, you run the very real risk of losing business – sometimes, without even knowing it.

Fleischman goes on to suggest five practical ways to make your client’s lives easier:

1. Make sure there are magazines in the waiting area– and that they are geared towards your client base.

2. Ensure your retainer agreement is easy to read and understand.

3. Make sure you have a warm, friendly receptionist.

4. Minimize the amount of work your client has to do.

5. Make sure that your clients can count on you to answer their phone calls- or return them in a timely fashion.

What I like about the piece (link below) is that all of the advice is so simple. It echoes many of the themes we’ve discussed here (market focus, personalization, availability, customer service) but truly applies them to the everyday nuances of running a law office. They are simple, highly effective changes you can make immediately that will make your business life easier by making your client’s experience easier.

Black Pearl:
Here’s the article, entitled “5 Ways To Reduce Friction In Your Legal Marketing Efforts.” Read it, consider the changes suggested, and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

The cornerstone of your brand is your firm name. If you don’t have name recognition… what do you have? Is yours memorable or is it a mouthful? Is your receptionist the only one that gets it all out, and it’s so fast that no one really understands what she said?

Over the next day try this test: tell five people your firm’s name. A day later ask them to recall it in its entirety. If they can’t remember… you know you have work to do.

This week’s question is: How many partner names are you using in your firm name?


How many partner names are used in your logo ?(survey)

As I mentioned in my last post about making the non-marketing staff a part of the firm’s business development efforts, Stacy West Clark’s article on that point gives some suggestions on how to accomplish that with at least two groups of staffers.

But first, the lawyer’s role. Educate those who work for you as to:

  • How you want clients treated and informed (getting to know them, phone procedures, what to say when you are unavailable, and reaching out to key clients),
  • Tracking Google alerts for info about specific clients,
  • Remembering important client facts and dates (wedding date, birthdays, etc.),
  • Scheduling marketing activities,
  • Keeping mailing lists up to date, and
  • Encouraging questions about cases, referrals sources and the like.

Legal assistant’s role:
Carrying out all of the above per your lawyers’ instructions. Additionally, be proactive in asking your lawyers about marketing goals, important cases; and staying abreast of the firm’s web site, your attorneys’ bios, and important information about existing clients and referral sources, and most importantly, developing (professional) friendships with clients.

Receptionist’s role:
I facetiously said in one of my earlier posts, and have suggested in my speeches for years, that tellers should be the highest paid people in banks, since they have the most direct contact with the money people (customers). Likewise, a law firm receptionist should be the highest paid staff person, because he/she has the most contact with clients (by phone) and with visitors of all kinds. As such, the receptionist can have a profound influence on how the firm is perceived. Put another way, a receptionist person can have an extremely positive or negative impact on the firm’s brand. I can (and do) tell horror stories in this area.

Just some of the important attributes of a good receptionist include:

  • Professional attire and grooming,
  • Enthusiastic and warm in answering the phone and greeting visitors,
  • Remembering and addressing clients by name, and
  • Caring about the firm’s clients and showing it.

All staff members can play an important role in a firm’s business development efforts. Just think of the many ways they come in contact with clients and the world outside the firm. Each is an opportunity to advance the firm’s brand or to damage it.

For some of my other posts on staff involvement in marketing…. 

Continue Reading Staff as Part of Marketing – Continued

It continues to amaze me how few law firms engage their non-marketing staff in the firm’s business development efforts. The funny part is that these staff members are involved in marketing your firm in one way or another, if they deal with clients, potential clients or the public at-large. These contacts, whether intended or not, can end up being for the good or bad of the law firm.

So, why not train and focus these staff encounters for the best possible results? It’s not that difficult.

My friend Stacy West Clark has a terrific article on empowering your staff to help increase client business  in The Legal Intelligencer and on’s Small Firm Business online. In fact, there is so much good stuff there that, for the sake of brevity, I’m going to cover the article in two posts.

Today, I’ll cover her initial advice, and next time how the lawyers, their assistants and even the receptionist can contribute to the firm’s marketing.

Her opening paragraph is one of the more succinct recipes for great client relationship building I have heard:

“The components of great service include understanding the client’s business, being incredibly responsive, communicative and accessible and looking for opportunities to make the client’s life and business world better.”

Stacy then points out that the lawyers do not have to do this alone. The team includes your “secretary, messenger, file clerk, receptionist, human resources manager, office manager, librarian,” et al.

And she states:

“The sooner you empower your staff to deliver outstanding client service, the sooner your revenues will grow. Staff who are involved in and educated about the marketing effort have higher morale and lower turnover and treat clients better.”


Next time: Stacy’s ideas for starters on how to get staff members involved.