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Using the Billboard Effect To Develop and Obtain Employee Buy-in on the Leaders Vision
How “Only” Can Make or Break Your Marketing Effort
How to Get More Law Firm Reviews Online
5 Lessons for Law Firm Marketers From HubSpot’s INBOUND 2017
Boost Productivity by Slowing Down a Little
Overcoming Fear of Success Through Ethical Safeguards
Megan Zavieh Are You a Networking Rock Star or Rookie?
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TABLE OF CONTENTS 6 Using the Billboard Effect To Develop and Obtain Employee Buy-in on the Leaders Vision
by Jeff Wolf
8 Are You a Networking Rock Star or Rookie? by Steve Fretzin
EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER Brian Topor EDITOR Wendy Price CREATIVE SERVICES Skidmutro Creative Partners CIRCULATION Angela Watson PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Griffiths STAFF WRITERS Dan Baldwin Jennifer Hadley CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS Jeff Wolf Steve Fretzin Stefanie Knapp Trey Ryder Aaron George Megan Zavieh Bull Garlington
10 Five Lessons for Law Firm Marketers From HubSpot’s INBOUND 2017 by Stefanie Knapp
14 Kalfayan Merjanian, LLP, Newport Beach Helping Clients Navigate a Challenging Legal System
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Using the Billboard Effect to Develop and Obtain Employee Buy-in on the Leader’s Vision by Jeff Wolf
arren Bennis, acclaimed scholar, author and advisor to corporation presidents, said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Well expressed, but it’s easier said than done. What’s needed are practical steps to develop a communicable vision coupled with practical steps to achieve employee buy-in. Notice that I emphasized the word practical, because unless the leader’s vision is easy to understand, believable and clearly stated, even the most imaginative vision will become just another page in the employee manual gathering dust. Let’s first define “billboard effect” and how it translates into developing a workable vision that achieves employee buy-in. A billboard is the visual image of the leader’s vision. In few but meaningful words it paints a picture of what the company and its people stand for and what it wants to achieve. It is future-oriented and describes where the company expects to be tomorrow and from there onward. Next, let’s examine steps in developing the vision, then steps in getting the organization’s people to buy into that vision.
Developing the Vision • Highly effective leaders have big ideas. Small ideas are okay, but they’re not transformative. Big ideas help companies and employees face the challenges of tomorrow. This is no better expressed than Robert Kennedy quoting George Bernard Shaw: “Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were, and say, ‘Why not?’” Companies with leaders who have the imagination and drive to adopt big ideas are the Apples and Googles and Ubers of tomorrow. Those big ideas are nurtured by leaders who make 6 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
astute observations of their companies and their industries, and then reflect and decide what visions need to be in place to handle tomorrow’s problems and opportunities. • Reflection is the stimulus that leads to big ideas, but leaders know that clear and careful expression of their visions must be committed to writing. The process of writing clarifies visions such that they can be robustly expressed in words that command the organization’s attention. • With the visions now distinctly articulated, leaders can construct and post billboards throughout the organization and express their visions during talks with members of the organization. These billboards, reduced to clear maxims, concisely reflect those visions. For example, “Our company will take whatever measures needed to assure that product quality satisfies our customers ... or we will return their money without question.” That is both clear and unambiguous. And it sets the stage for transformation of the organization to achieve that vision. • Leaders should be prepared to tweak, modify, even change vision statements when those visions aren’t producing expected results. When it comes to visions, nothing is set in stone. The mark of a highly effective leader is the willingness to forgo ego and do what is right for the organization. The best of leaders prepare alternate plans.
Buying Into the Vision • I would argue that the very first prerequisite for employee buyin is to simply listen to what employees think and say about their jobs and the company’s direction. Keeping an open
ear is crucial. And don’t get distracted by their complaints. Remember that engaged employees, those who really care about the company, expose many of the organization’s problems and lost opportunities through complaints. This is a great chance for leaders to make positive changes based on worthwhile employee suggestions. • I would become suspicious if employees don’t gripe. That means their voices are being throttled, and that is the absolute worst situation of all. • Employees need positive reinforcement. They won’t buy into a faulty vision, one that is not productive. That implies going beyond the stage of encouraging them to speak freely. It means measuring how successful the company’s vision is working. Take the quality example mentioned before. How are employees (or managers, for that matter) going to know how successful their efforts are without measurable feedback? That means providing them with yardsticks of performance. It entails, in this example, weekly or monthly reports on rejects, scrap, customer complaints and customer returns, with as much data as possible reflecting individual employee performance.
• Additionally, to combat what I call “vision tedium,” employees need to know how effective the company has been pursuing its vision long-term. Quarterly and annual postings will tell the tale along with periodic meetings with employee groups. • Leaders should put in place a follow-up procedure (possibly an annual review) because employee buy-in of vision is not a one-time event. Constant follow-up is required to assure that employees remain engaged, informed and responsive to emerging problems. One of the difficulties of either a mature or growing organization is that leaders stop emphasizing company priorities and changes in priorities. They may delegate vision just as they delegate tasks, but the two are not equal. Vision remains both the prerogative and responsibility of organization leaders. Now is the time to enhance the leadership skills of the leaders in your organization. n Jeff Wolf is one of the most highly sought-after executive coaches in business today, is an international bestselling author and known as one of America’s most dynamic speakers. As a management consultant he works with people, teams and organizations to achieve maximum effectiveness.
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Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017 7
Are You a Networking Rock Star or Rookie? by Steve Fretzin
If you’ve read my book The Attorney’s Networking Handbook, you probably know that I am a big fan of effective networking. I use the word “effective” because networking done improperly is just a huge waste of time. There are so many dimensions to networking that we can’t possibly cover them in one column, so I thought it would make sense to have you take my networking skills test to better identify where your strengths and weaknesses are, so that you can work to improve upon them. Take sixty seconds to rate yourself on a scale of 1-5 (5 is always) and then we will review ways to improve each focus area. Enjoy! Question #1: When at a networking event, do you focus 100 percent on the person who is speaking with you? (1-5) Question #2: When at a networking event, do you ask questions to identify how you can help someone else? (1-5) Question #3: When at a coffee meeting, do you identify one or two ways you can help or add value for the other person? (1-5) Question #4: During a one-on-one coffee meeting, do you help the other person identify contacts that would be beneficial to you, versus shying away from this task? (1-5) Question #5: After your first successful meeting, do you regularly follow up with your best contacts to keep the momentum going? (1-5) Okay, now rate yourself and total up your score. If your total was 5-10, you have a lot of work ahead to improve your effectiveness. If your total was 11-17, you have minor adjustments to make. If your total was 18-25, you are doing terrific, but there are always new things to learn, so you don’t get over-confident. To get you started on the right path, here is one solution to each issue: Suggestion #1: When at a networking event, focus 100 percent on the person who is speaking with you. Don’t push your card at them, and stop worrying about impressing people with your canned fancy infomercial. Instead, ask a few relationship-building business questions to get your new friend talking. For example, if she’s an accountant, how about asking, “What do you enjoy about accounting?” or “How did you get into that line of work?” I’m sure there’s a story behind their career and discussing it is a great way to build rapport. Suggestion #2: When at a networking event, ask questions to identify how you can help someone else. Once you’ve built the rapport as suggested above, ask “What should I be listening for in a good referral for you?” There are two amazing elements to this question. First, you are being thoughtful 8 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
to them and possibly helping them in their business development efforts. Second, you are NOT committing to providing referrals to this person—yet. Asking isn’t offering, which is important because you’ve only just met this person and shouldn’t be providing referrals yet anyway. It may be too soon. Suggestion #3: When at a coffee meeting, you identify one or two ways you can help or add value for the other person. Now that you know this person better, you want to demonstrate that you have something to offer. If you’re listening intently to your new friend, she should be cluing you in on whom she is looking to meet. Take some notes and identify someone worthwhile for her. Suggestion #4: You help the other person identify people that would be beneficial to you, versus shying away from this task. This is the one step that good networkers forget. They make referrals, which is terrific, but forget that people need to be led or coached to help you. Take the lead and help her to help you. Work cooperatively to identify one or two good referrals that would work for you. In addition to walking away from the meeting with some traction, you are also able to test out your new friend to see if her follow-up skills are up to snuff. A win-win! Suggestion #5: You regularly follow up with your best contacts to keep the momentum going after the first meeting was successful. Another major mistake good networkers make is not staying tightly aligned with the referral partners who you’ve had success with in the past. It’s either a hit-and-run, where you’ve gotten something and moved on, or you’re just busy and forgot that this person has value to you and your business building efforts. Make a list of your best strategic partners and follow up with them monthly to ensure they stay with you long-term. The reality is that without some process, thought and methodology behind networking, it can be an unbillable nightmare for any attorney. The next time you’re out networking, try to follow a few of my guidelines and you'll see the improvement in your skills. n Steve Fretzin is the Chicago area’s premiere business development coach and marketing trainer for attorneys. Fretzin is driven, focused and undeniably passionate in his pursuit to help attorneys reach their full potential. He has redefined the business development experience, transforming hundreds of attorneys into top performers. His clients are thrilled because of the growth that happens after completing his program. A typical client should expect to double or triple their book of business within 12-16 months of working with him. Learn more at Fretzin.com.
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5 Lessons for Law Firm Marketers From HubSpot’s INBOUND 2017 Conference
by Stefanie Knapp
I know some folks within law firms are wary of attending marketing conferences outside of legal but I’ve found that, with the right conference and an open mind, you will come away even more energized because not only can you see what’s happening outside of our industry, you can also see how to actually implement fresh ideas at your own firm. Last week, I was lucky enough to attend INBOUND 2017 in Boston, a huge event focused, of course, on inbound marketing. From the speakers to the session topics to the service partners and the amazing people I met, it was one of the most inspiring conferences I’ve attended. I came away excited and armed with new ideas to implement immediately. As I look back on my many, many tweets (aka my notes) I found five big themes that were discussed at the conference:
1. Invest in video Video is projected to be 82% of internet traffic by 2020. Many firms are now producing videos, but many more are still struggling to get started. Here are a few tips: • Decide if you’ll outsource the video or shoot in-house. If you’re going to shoot the video yourself, the “best” video gear is the gear you can afford, said George B. Thomas, Inbound & Brand Strategist, The Sales Lion. There are great options at all price points. • Struggling for video topics? Ask your lawyers about the top questions they get from clients. Turn a recent written article into a short video highlighting the key points. Film at one of your events where you can interview speakers and attendees. • Get it out there. Publish your video on your site and YouTube and JD Supra. Create short snippets to post on your social media networks. Put thumbnails that link to the video in your emails.
2. Create an environment for courageous creativity “Everyone has the potential to be creative. Remove the blocks. Make it okay to make mistakes.” —Edwin Catmull, President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
10 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
Unfortunately, in law firms a more common experience is illustrated in this cartoon shared at the conference by Adam Grant, organizational psychologist and Wharton professor. Find ways to cultivate creativity within your team and turn those ideas into real results: • Provide an open forum on a regular basis where anyone can share their ideas without having to take into account budget, personnel or any other potential barriers. • Go to people outside of your department, but who know enough about the topic, and pitch them your idea. They’ll be able to provide more objective feedback. • Take an unfamiliar idea and make it familiar. Grant said that no one understood the first Lion King movie pitch. It was explained as Bambi in Africa. Someone reframed the idea as Hamlet with lions. The movie was picked up and became the highest-grossing film of 1994 worldwide.
3. P rovide clients information when and how they want it “Messaging is the biggest change in our industry since social media” —Kipp Bodner, HubSpot Chief Marketing Officer. A number that was thrown out a lot over the four-day conference was 1.3 billion—the number of people using Facebook Messenger each month. And that’s not all personal communication—two billion messages are sent
between people and businesses each month, according to Facebook. HubSpot recently conducted a survey and found 71% of respondents were willing to use a messaging app to get assistance. We live in a culture of instant gratification and our clients are no different.
5. Test. Analyze. Optimize. Repeat.
• Provide clients and potential clients options for communicating with your firm in the way that they want to communicate with us—email, phone, and, yes, even chat. • Offer a messaging option on your site, either live chat or bot. It not only provides the immediacy that your clients want, but would provide additional data that you could use to sell to these clients and potential clients.
We have more data available to us than ever before, but we need to analyze that data, test new ideas and then optimize to achieve the best results.
4. Take a look in the mirror. “You can’t think in new ways if there isn’t diversity of perspective and experience.” —Elaine Welteroth, Editor-inChief, Teen Vogue Welteroth challenged the audience to look at the makeup of our own organizations. Does it reflect who we want to speak to? If not, that’s where we need to start. • Evaluate who at your firm writes articles and speaks at events. Are there opportunities to get other voices involved? • Create cross-departmental teams to tackle issues within the firm. Include employees from all levels.
“We have, mathematically, a better chance of dying in a plane crash than clicking on a banner ad,” —Jeff Rosenblum, Founding Partner, Questus
• Look at the top 10 pages on your website and optimize them for conversion. • Examine the best times to send your email. Currently, we have to do this for our entire list, but soon using AI there will be ways to automate sending emails to the best times for each individual contact. • Experiment with paid distribution and advertising. Discover the channels that work for your firm and double down on them. n Stefanie Knapp is the online marketing manager for Allen Matkins, a Californiabased law firm serving the real estate industry. Stefanie manages the firm’s online communications initiatives, including the firm’s website, videos, email marketing, blogs, and social media campaigns. Prior to joining the legal marketing profession, Stefanie was an award-winning reporter and editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal. She holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Syracuse University and an M.B.A. from UCLA Anderson School of Management. This article originally appeared on JD Supra.
Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017 11
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2017 2014 “We bring the same power, resources, experience, and novel approach to every case we handle. Our attorneys have successfully prosecuted and recovered more than $1 billion dollars across our various practice areas. We approach and pursue each case with the expectation of a jury trial which allows us to aggressively prosecute our clients’ cases to their full potential,” says Ralph Kalfayan, Managing Partner, San Diego at Kalfayan Merjanian, LLP. The firm serves clients throughout California in multiple practice areas.
Kalfayan Merjanian is a one-stop shop for victims of accidents, offering experienced representation in such diverse areas as: automotive accidents, assault and battery, boat accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian, physical trauma, products liability, slip-and-fall, traumatic brain injury, premise liability, trucking accidents, and wrongful death. Kalfayan Merjanian even has former insurance defense attorneys who now work on the plaintiff’s side at the firm. “We see client representation as one part of the healing process, a significant part, of course, but only one element of many. We work just as hard to assist our clients in the total healing process,” says Vic A. Merjanian, Managing Partner, Newport Beach at Kalfayan Merjanian, LLP.
Businesses and consumers can fall victim to unlawful antitrust practices. They deserve not only fair business practices, but restitution for damages, which most often requires skilled and experienced legal representation. The typical types of antitrust violations the firm handles include: agreements in restraint of trade, monopolization and oligopolization, price fixing, and unlawful tying arrangements (forcing the purchase of a second product or service to obtain the desired product or service). The firm has extensive experience handling these matters in state and federal courts.
14 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
© christopher TODD studios
Kalfayan says, “We’re attorneys but we are also business people, and in fact, business owners, also owning other businesses in addition to the law firm. We handle the small details, but within the context of the big picture. We stay ahead of the game by anticipating and overcoming the challenges blocking a client’s success.” The firm’s unique financial accounting background allows their attorneys to understand a client’s business needs and how to best represent those interests in today’s equally challenging legal environment.
Representation areas covered by the Kalfayan Merjanian team include: false advertising, unconscionable pricing, charging for services that were never provided, cellular telephone disputes, rental car disputes and other areas of consumer law.
Partnering in Success “We formed Kalfayan Merjanian to help clients in specific practice areas navigate the challenges of a complex legal system. Having had several friends and family members directly involved or injured by having their legal rights trampled upon, we wanted to pursue justice on their behalf and also for all
Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017 15
© christopher TODD studios
the other people in the same situation but who may not have the resources or guidance to know how to proceed with their recovery,” says Merjanian.
Ralph B. Kalfayan, Esq. – Managing Partner, San Diego The firm was founded in 2013 by Ralph B. Kalfayan and Vic A. Merjanian and has grown to include approximately two dozen full-time attorneys and staff. Kalfayan earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, graduating with honors from the University of San Diego in 1982. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1985 from University of San Diego School of Law. He joined the law firm of Borton Petrini & Conron in 1988 and became a partner in 1991. His major practice area was business litigation including real estate disputes, general commercial litigation, corporate work, partnership work, tax litigation or consulting work, contract disputes, and large acquisition work. He is an experienced trial attorney and has handled a number of civil trials before a jury and several major appeals. Kalfayan was selected to the 2017 Super Lawyers list, an honor bestowed
16 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
on those lawyers who exhibit excellence in their field of practice. Only five percent of attorneys in San Diego receive this distinction. One noteworthy article Kalfayan co-authored with Merjanian is called Ensuring Access to Affordable Medication: The Supreme Court’s Opinion in F.T.C. v. Actavis, Inc. which appeared in the Summer 2013 edition of The Journal of the Antitrust and Unfair Competition Law Section of the State Bar of California Vol. 22, No. 2. The article was subsequently cited by courts. In August 1993, Kalfayan became of counsel to the Law Offices of Krause & Kalfayan, and in January 1994, became partner. In January 2013, Kalfayan co-founded the firm of Kalfayan Merjanian where he is presently a managing partner. “We wanted to help people. Our friends and families have been deeply touched by legal issues, whether it’s relating to business transactions, injury, or the consumable products they rely on. We have personally seen the struggle caused by injustice. The day-to-day hurdles that should not exist in our society. We have made it our mission to help people navigate struggle so that they may have the best chance to thrive as individuals and as contributors to society,” he says.
From left to right: Daniel Wallengren, Brim Leal, Jessica Alonso, Amelia Lewis, Marcella Sanchez-Villa, Serene Nasser, Vanessa Cardinale, Michael Stodolka, John Shaver, Ralph Kalfayan, Vic Merjanian, Ed Merjanian, Radcliff Misseri, Selena Sharpe, Ryan Khalili, Lindsey Umagat, Eduardo Juarez, Amairani Salmeron, Ashley Fattah, Ava Vahdat
Vic A. Merjanian, Esq. – Managing Partner Merjanian received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from University of California, San Diego with a 4.0 major GPA and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego, School of Law. He served as co-founder and editor-in-chief of the inaugural edition of The San Diego Journal of Climate & Energy Law, the nation’s first student-run climate change and renewable energy law journal. He is the founder and managing partner of Kalfayan Merjanian LLP’s Newport Beach office. His primary practice areas include antitrust, business litigation, civil litigation, and personal injury. His affiliations include the American Bar Association, the Orange County Bar Association, the San Diego County Bar Association, and the Armenian Bar Association. He is admitted
to practice before all courts in the State of California and before the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California. Merjanian serves as a Board Member of the Board of Directors for Two Wings, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, mentoring and life coaching to empower at-risk youth and survivors of sex trafficking. Previously, he served as a co-founder and leader of a community group in San Diego dedicated to assisting the families of deployed military personnel. He is also a member of Surfrider Foundation. He is fluent in Armenian and is also proficient in basic Spanish and has classical training in piano, music theory, and guitar. “My partner and I worked together for several years. As we continued to work together, our mutual respect and admiration of each other continued to grow. At the same time, more and more opportunities came our way to help people through our legal services, and outside of legal services in the other companies we own together. It was a natural transition, or rather growth and evolution of what we already had,” Merjanian says.
Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017 17
© christopher TODD studios
Aggressively Innovative Kalfayan Merjanian is aggressive in exploring and adapting new ideas and new technologies. Several years ago the firm implemented electronic and paperless practices while these methods were still budding. The process allowed the attorneys and staff to communicate more effectively and efficiently with clients, provide them better access to materials relating to their cases, and at fast and reliable speeds. The firm has begun rapidly expanding with referrals in the areas of Uber- and Lyft-related accidents. These cases pose many interesting legal issues and the firm’s attorneys have become adept at navigating the complex fact patterns and insurance and liability quandaries found in such cases. “We have continued to evolve our practices to provide the latest and greatest to our clients. Our firm continues to practice heavily in our primary practice areas but constantly grows and evolves as our clients request additional services and our commitment to innovation is an extension of our continuing efforts toward client satisfaction,” says Merjanian.
Hitting the Legal Home Runs The Kalfayan Merjanian team is composed of litigation attorneys. All cases are handled directly by those attorneys with secondary support from an experienced support staff. Team members “roundtable” cases with the entire firm every week to provide multiple perspectives and legal approaches for each case. Management encourages building strong relationships and maintaining open and thorough communication as some of the best tools for achieving success for their clients. “A fun way we foster this is by meeting with any new potential client in
18 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
our conference rooms and usually enjoying some chocolate or gelato with them as we learn more about each other and explore their case. Sharing a snack and having a more casual sit down provides a great venue to spring board off as we then begin representation,” says Merjanian. “On average, our litigation attorneys are able to obtain recoveries three to five times higher than the top offer at competitor firms on the same case once they’ve been referred in to our office,” he says. For example, the firm’s most memorable case was the In re Cipro antitrust litigation in which the firm’s attorneys filed the first consumer class action case in the State of California against generic and brand name companies for manipulating the price of Cipro. The case resolved after sixteen years of litigation and a trip to the California Supreme Court. The settlement was one of the largest settlements for California consumers in a reverse payment antitrust case in State court, says Kalfayan. On the other end of the spectrum, the firm receives and routinely resolves personal injury or business litigation cases pro bono when clients are severely injured but recovery options are limited. A client wrote, “I’ve talked to Vic many times about legal issues and he’s always provided good advice and valuable insight.” n Contact Vic A. Merjanian, Esq. & Ralph B. Kalfayan, Esq. Kalfayan Merjanian, LLP 500 Newport Center Dr., Suite 950 Newport Beach, CA 92660 www.rkvmlaw.com
How “Only” Can Make or Break Your Marketing Effort by Trey Ryder
ne critical function of marketing is to emphasize how you differ from other lawyers. And if you want a substantial marketing advantage, identify your unique characteristics. Really, this isn’t hard. After all, no two attorneys are exactly the same. No other attorney in the world has exactly the same education as you. No other lawyer has served the same clients— or handled the same cases—as you. No other lawyer has taken the same continuing education classes as you. As a result, no other lawyer will make decisions exactly the way you do. Whether this makes you liberal or conservative, aggressive or passive, the point is this: Every bit of knowledge and experience that you absorb affects how you provide advice and services to your clients. Your advice and services are not like those provided by any other lawyer. This uniqueness is one of your major competitive advantages. Important: Competitive advantages and disadvantages are determined only by what is important to your prospects and clients. For example, if you’ve been in practice 20 years, you could conclude that time in practice is a considerable competitive advantage. But if your prospects don’t care whether you have practiced for 20 years or 5 years, it’s no advantage at all, at least not to that group of prospects. So when you identify a competitive strength, make sure you look at that advantage through your prospects’ eyes, because theirs are the only perceptions that matter. Your marketing materials and presentations should clearly state how you differ from all other lawyers and all other law firms. The best exercise is to write “only” statements because they identify how you are unique. Write as many “only” statements as you can, relating to key subjects that are important to your prospects:
• Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) that handles legal matters for (Fortune 500 Corporation) in (state).
• Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) that offers clients a money-back guarantee.
• I am the only lawyer in (city or state) who has earned (specific academic honors). • I am the only lawyer in (city or state) who practices in (area of law) and who is a former superior court judge. • I am the only lawyer in (city or state) who has practiced law for at least 15 years in (whatever area of law). • I am the only lawyer in (city or state) who practices in (area of law) and is a professor at (law school). • Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) that the state attorney general uses for outside legal counsel.
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• Ours is the only tax department in (city or state) that has a former state revenue director as a partner. • Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) that has three former supreme court justices as partners.
Experience and Success • I am the only lawyer in (city or state) who has won five medical malpractice cases, each with verdicts over $10 million. • I am the only lawyer in (city or state) who has won a judgment over $100 million. • I am the only lawyer in (city or state) who has won four judgments over $50 million. • Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) that has never lost a case involving (subject). • Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) whose partners write ongoing columns for the (state bar or other publication). • Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) that has won four employment law cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
How You Serve Clients • Ours was the only law firm in (city or state) to receive the state bar’s award for excellence in client service. • Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) that offers legal services in (two key practice areas). • Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) that has 15 certified specialists in (an important area of law). • Ours is the only law firm in (city or state) that has offices downtown and in all of the major suburbs.
Summary: The positive ways you differ from other lawyers are your competitive advantages. When you bolster those advantages by adding the word “only,” you elevate your marketing to a higher plane because you identify unique competitive advantages that no other lawyer can match. n Trey Ryder has designed education-based marketing programs for professionals and businesses of all types. Today, Trey shares his marketing method with lawyers through a wide range of publications. In addition, he writes and publishes his free e-zine, The Ryder Method™ of Education-Based Marketing. And he maintains the Lawyer Marketing Advisor at www.treyryder.com.
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How to Get More Law Firm Reviews Online by Aaron George
ith all the stories we hear of identity theft and security breaches these days, it can be tough to build trust with prospective customers online. One of the best ways to do it is with social proof and testimonials. People want to know that others just like them have had a positive experience using a product or service before making a purchase. In fact, according to a ZenDesk survey, almost 90% of people reported that they have been influenced by online customer reviews when making a purchasing decision. For this reason, it pays (literally) to get as many good law firm reviews as possible on major websites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Avvo. In this post, we’ll provide some helpful tips about how to get more law firm reviews online so you can capitalize on this growing trend.
Positive Law Firm Reviews Will Help Build Your Brand Your brand is not defined by what you say in your marketing messages, or what you want people to think about you. It’s defined by the experience customers have working with your business, and what they say about it. Many lawyers hate the idea of having their clients review them, but client reviews are an extremely effective way to develop your brand online, so it’s time to embrace the trend. Positive brand interactions will help drive consumer confidence, referrals, and repeat customers, while negative brand interactions will do just the opposite. For this reason, it’s important to not only focus on providing great customer service to all your clients, but also to encourage them to share their positive experiences with others. By getting your satisfied clients to publish positive reviews online, you can establish credibility for your firm and develop trust with new potential clients, which is probably the single most important factor people look for when hiring a lawyer.
How to Get More Law Firm Reviews Online Below is an overview of the steps you should take to start getting more positive law firm reviews online. Create Profiles on Popular Review Websites You can’t build up your law firm reviews unless you have a presence on the major review sites. The most important law firm review websites are listed below. You should sign up for all of them to maximize your success. 22 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
Avvo is an extremely popular website for consumers looking for legal services. They receive well over 10 million highly targeted visitors per month. You may not agree with Avvo’s questionable marketing tactics, but you would be foolish not to have a presence on such a major lawyer directory website these days. Even if you didn’t sign up for Avvo, you probably already have an Avvo profile that was compiled from the State Bar directory. You can claim this profile for free and start updating it to improve your Avvo rating. If someone Googles your name, there is a good chance that your Avvo profile will show up near the top of the search results. It’s really important that you have an updated profile with positive reviews, or this person might have second thoughts about hiring you. Avvo has a built-in feature that enables you to send an email blast to contacts in your network to request reviews. This can be an easy way to jumpstart the process of building up your online law firm reviews. Google, as you probably know, is by far the most common place people go to search for lawyers online. Having a presence on Google is essential toward your online marketing efforts. In recent years, Google has made a concerted effort to offer more tools for small and medium businesses, particularly with their Google My Business product. My Business allows you to create a business listing for free and update it with your contact information, address, content, offers, and reviews. Building up reviews on your Google listing will not only help your law firm show up higher in search results, but also reinforce your credibility and trustworthiness when people find you. It’s one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to improve your local SEO and attract potential clients. Just about everyone spends time on Facebook every single day, as they have over 1.32 billion daily active users. Along with Google, Facebook is one of the largest and best channels for online marketing. Facebook isn’t necessarily the first place people turn to search for a lawyer, but because Facebook has such massive web traffic, your law firm Facebook page is likely to show up on the first page of any Google search for your name.
Just like with Avvo, you should make sure your law firm Facebook page looks professional and gives people an indication that you are reliable and trustworthy. Having as many positive reviews from past clients as possible is the best way to do it. Learn more about Facebook marketing strategies in our post about Facebook marketing tips for lawyers. Yelp is one of the best tools for local business discovery, and it has millions of people using it every day. While it doesn’t specifically target lawyers or law firms, it does have a lot of useful features that you can add to your online marketing arsenal. Many of the more advanced Yelp features may require you to be a paying advertiser, but claiming your Yelp page is free. You should also add photos and fill out your complete profile to make it look professional. Of these four review sites, Yelp is probably the least important for lawyers overall, but you should still use it and try to build up some good reviews. The more exposure you can get online, the better. Check out our Yelp marketing guide for law firms for more information. Make it Easy for Clients to Review You The average client probably won’t go out of their way to leave you a review, unless of course they had a negative experience. This is why it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them. You should put links to all of your review profiles in as many places as possible, wherever clients will be likely to see them. Some good places to have these links include: • Your website • Your email signature • Your email newsletters Include some text to let clients know that you value their business, and that reviews are an important way for you to get feedback so you can constantly strive to improve. Deliver Amazing Service to Clients You shouldn’t just do it for the reviews of course, but the more effort you can put into truly going above and beyond to satisfy your clients, the more positive law firm reviews you will get. Here are some suggestions to improve your law firm customer service: Use a Virtual Receptionist to Answer Every Call Nobody likes hearing an automated recording or a voicemail on the other end of the line. A virtual receptionist will help you provide a more personal touch, while saving you time and the cost of hiring a full-time receptionist. Be a Better Listener Clients just want somebody to vent to sometimes. Even though you might feel like you are wasting your time by listening, giving them the attention they need can go a long way toward earning their trust and building a strong relationship. Leaving a glowing review is the least they can do for you in return. Use Technology to Make Processes Effortless Clients have to complete a number of tasks and processes when working with you, like filling out forms, signing documents, making payments, and sending you files. Offering online intake forms, e-signatures, and online payment processing is a great idea for today’s tech-savvy clients who expect everything to be quick and easy.
Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017 23
Don’t Charge for Every Call and Email Nothing leaves a bad taste in a client’s mouth like finding out they got billed for a five-sentence email. Yes, lawyers often get paid by the hour and this is technically billable time. But clients expect more value these days, and longterm, you’ll be paid back for this lost time by developing a thriving practice with satisfied clients. Ask for Reviews in the Right Way and at the Right Time The best way to get more online law firm reviews is simply to ask for them. Just be sure to do it tastefully and at the right moment. Here are some final tips about how to ask for client reviews directly without coming across as spammy or annoying: Make Reviews Part of Your Process Implement a process for asking for reviews, such as always sending out a thank you email when you finish working on a client's matter that asks them for their honest feedback. If you did your job, they should have nothing but nice things to say. Also, be sure that all your staff members understand the importance of getting positive reviews so that they can look for opportunities to ask as well during their daily communications with clients.
Look for Cues of Satisfaction The best time to ask someone for a review is when they are clearly satisfied with your service. Keep an eye out for these opportunities, and seize them when possible. For example, if a client sends you a thank you email or shows appreciation or gratitude in any way, this is a perfect opportunity to nudge them toward giving you a review. Just let them know it would mean a lot to you if they left a review, and that you really value their feedback. Offer a Small Incentive You might even consider giving a small incentive for people to leave a review, just to make it really worth their while. For example, you could do a monthly drawing and give away a $25 gift card. Any client who leaves a review will be entered into the drawing automatically. This will not only incentivize them to leave a review, but the winner will feel even more satisfied about their overall experience working with your law firm. It’s a small price to pay for an online marketing asset which will last a lifetime. n Aaron George is the co-founder of Lexicata, the leading relationship management software for law firms. Lexicata provides an end-to-end solution that streamlines client intake and helps with communication between a law firm, its clients, and its professional network. Features include customizable online intake forms, e-signable document templates, task management, email sync, an email automation system, and more.
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24 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
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Overcoming Fear of Success Through Ethical Safeguards by Megan Zavieh
elf-employed lawyers rely heavily on their ability to propel their businesses forward—more so than lawyers employed by others or members of large firms. Fail to keep the engines going and your practice will close. Too much propulsion, however, and you might have the opposite problem: a practice thriving beyond your capacity to handle it.
Fear of Success, or Too Much of a Good Thing Fear of success holds many of us back from fulfilling our true potential in solo and small firm practice. Sure, you can implement ideas from “The Secret” or “You’re a Badass” or similar tomes focused on the laws of attraction. But if you truly begin to realize the success you envision, will you be able to handle it? Or will the influx of work lead to all-out panic and inability to cope, thereby scuttling the very success you were seeking? If you are determined to build a thriving law practice that will reliably pay the bills, there are steps you can take now to prepare for success. With proper planning and consideration of ethics obligations, you can reduce or eliminate the fear of being as successful as you want to be—opening yourself up to the possibility of making the success real. Develop the Infrastructure to Meet Ethics Obligations on a Large Scale In “The E-Myth Revisited,” Michael Gerber talks about structuring your small business as if it were run by a group of people. My interpretation as it applies to small law practices is to develop infrastructure as if you were a bigger operation. Create an organizational chart detailing all the roles that must be filled in your firm. You will probably have a chief operating officer, chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief 26 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
marketing officer, chief technology officer, managing partner, supervising attorney, associate attorney, paralegal, receptionist, and perhaps a clerk or two. Next, detail what all of these positions do. For example, a CFO would likely oversee all financial operations, including preparing and sending client invoices, collecting on client invoices and managing the banking for these funds, paying all firm overhead, ensuring that firm overhead is within budget and managing that budget. The CFO might also have an accounting clerk who handles some day-to-day tasks. Once you have spelled out roles and tasks, you can add in the names of the people who currently fill those roles. At the moment, it might be you for every single one of them. That’s fine. That still helps with this process. Now, when success hits and you suddenly have more client work than you thought possible, money is flowing in the door and your biggest worry is that you will drop the ball, you can look at your organizational chart and figure out which roles you are ready to hand over to someone else. Common first hires are clerical staff (accounting staff, receptionists, file clerks) and lower-level legal staff (paralegals, associate attorneys). Without that organizational chart, administrative tasks can fall by the wayside when client work is suddenly pouring in. This is when we see lawyers not sending bills or collecting for the work they’re doing, calls not getting answered or returned, and clients becoming increasingly unhappy. Lawyers may also start to cut corners on the legal work because they lack the time to fully research an issue or draft a brief as carefully as they otherwise would. These lawyers will likely soon be defending a bar complaint rather than riding the wave of success as their practice grows.
Put Systems in Place for Routine Administrative Tasks Whether you choose to remain on your own or hire people to fill some of the roles on your organizational chart, your firm will run more smoothly as it grows busier if there are systems in place to handle routine tasks. You’ll want to customize this for your own practice, but here is an overview of systems you should cover. Onboarding new clients. When you get a new client, the onboarding process should be simple. When you have three clients, you can afford to start from scratch each time and take several hours to put together the client’s file, get the retainer agreement drafted and signed, collect the initial deposit and so on. When you have 50 or 100 clients, however, that just won’t do. So when you’re starting out, organize onboarding as if you already have dozens of clients: • Create file systems for paper and electronic files so you create the same labels every time. • Create an online intake form that clients complete, which syncs directly to your case management system. • Use case management software that allows for simple online billing and payment solutions.
on your door? To whom would you refer out a case? Who could you call to work on a contract basis until you figure out if it is sustainable to hire an associate? The time to form these relationships is before you are overwhelmed with work. For solo lawyers, it may seem equally scary to have no business or to have too much business. But having no business defeats the whole purpose of going out on your own. Think ahead to how you want your practice to run once you are incredibly successful, and build the framework today. Then when your efforts to build business pay off, you will reap the rewards with less stress and better representation. n Megan Zavieh is the creator and author of The Playbook: The California Bar Discipline System Practice Guide. In her law firm, Zavieh Law, she focuses her practice exclusively on attorney ethics, providing full and limited scope representation to attorneys facing disciplinary action, and providing guidance to practicing attorneys on questions of legal ethics. Megan is admitted to practice in California, Georgia, New York and New Jersey, as well as in multiple Federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. In On Balance, Megan writes about the issues confronting lawyers in the new world of practicing law. Previously published in attorneyatwork.com. She blogs on ethics at California State Bar Defense and tweets @ZaviehLaw.
Cover the ethics trouble spots. Make sure your systems cover the areas where you are most likely to drop the ball when you are busy. • Communicating with clients is a key component of competent ethical representation. Find a system that ensures regular contact with clients and returning of phone calls and emails. • Include a system for managing trust accounting—an area of frequent trouble for solo lawyers. • Continuing legal education requirements always fall off lawyers’ radars when they are busy. Set up a system for monitoring this because mistakes in CLE compliance can lead to suspensions from practice (and ethics charges in some cases). That will quickly ruin the success you have built. At first, it may seem a bit silly to put these systems in place, especially when you are not busy. After all, what does it hurt to create a client engagement letter each time, when you have plenty of time to spare? Keep in mind that you are not building these systems for today. You are building them for the day you do not have plenty of time.
Build a Network to Rely on in Times of Success We often think of networking in terms of knowing who to turn to if things go south. To guard against ethics violations and malpractice claims, you need a backup attorney in case you are injured or unable to handle client obligations for some negative reason. Having a good network is also critically important when your practice takes off in a major way. What happens if you are suddenly too busy to take on all the clients knocking Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017 27
Boost Productivity By Slowing Down A Little by Bull Garlington
ou’re an unstoppable legal machine. You churn through a hundred pages of briefs and legal research every day. You’re running two phones, a tablet, a laptop and a portable fax machine off a light pole at the airport. Your inbox is an email volcano. You’ve heard of people who go for zero inbox but you figure they’re urban myths like Bigfoot or Jim Bob Kardashian. Your productivity is relentless. Which is great for the bottom line. When your billable hours are like a red-hot furnace propelling your firm’s success train at 100 mph down a track that leads to profit, it might be hard to see how backing off the throttle will get you there faster. However, some research has found there’s value in building breathing room into your schedule—and the method could not be easier.
Why to Write More by Hand Scientific American, reporting on current research on office workers, related that daydreaming and moments wherein the mind wanders are not, as many believe, lapses in productivity. “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.” The research discussed in the article also found the benefits of walks in the park, vacations and meditation were essential to the productivity of great musicians and athletes. Which is great for highly productive flautists and people competing in the Great Race, but it’s never making it onto your agenda. Your keyboard is the link between your brain and your work. Your efforts flow like a raging torrent through your fingers onto the screen. But should they? 28 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
How much of your furious typing is just side notes and idea capturing? Much of that can be just as effective when written in cursive on paper with a pen. Perhaps more so.
When Writing in Cursive is Better Than An App Writing in cursive takes time. Not a lot of time, but compared with typing it’s like walking versus being shot from a cannon. Still, that extra couple of seconds it takes to jot down your thoughts lets your mind wander just the tiniest little bit. And that can be really good for your productivity. Not only are you spending a few precious seconds decompressing on paper, you’re also receiving sensory feedback from the nib as it traces letters, from the sound of the nib, and from seeing the words form. Taking notes by hand, especially with a really great pen, can provide just a few minutes of what cognitive scientists call enriched reality. Writing with a fountain pen is luxurious. Like the tuba players walking in the woods, you are giving your mind some breathing room away from relentless employment while enjoying the sensate pleasure of the real. Your mind isn’t simply spinning its wheels; it’s using that microscopic free time to go over its own notes and pull aggregate information together in the back of your mind and, most importantly, it’s recharging.
You’ll Be Better at Your Job Science indicates information laid down by the nib of a pen is easier to recall when you really need it, and you’ll recall more of it. The reason, according to a study by Princeton and the University of California quoted in The Guardian, relates to the effort of writing notes by hand. Writing notes on paper
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instead of typing them into a computer meant students “… rephrased information as they took notes, which required them to carry out a preliminary process of summarizing and comprehension; in contrast, those working on a keyboard tended to take a lot of notes, sometimes even making a literal transcript, but avoided what is known as desirable difficulty.” Writing by hand might make you a better writer as well. According to a 2016 paper in the British Journal of Psychology, interfering with the fluidity of keyboard usage benefits the cognitive process of writing. Srdan Medimorec, the study’s lead author, said, “Typing can be too fluent or too fast, and can actually impair the writing process.” In the study, the researchers forced writers to type with only one hand, slowing them down. They found the students took more time to choose their words, resulting in higherquality prose.
You May Have Better Recall You tape a deposition because it provides a perfect recording. But while it is being recorded, and while you’re in the room, perhaps your own notes should be written instead of typed? Although it may seem at first glance that it’s going to be hard to keep up and to compress the words of the deposed, science
30 Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 140, 2017
indicates you’ll listen better and recall the best information faster and more fully. More, these tiny moments of downtime, the eight and half seconds it takes to lay a word or two onto the paper, might be the most productive moments in your day. Tim Kreider, an essayist writing in The New York Times, put it best: “The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration—it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.” Do you write your notes by hand? Your to-do lists? How does it affect your productivity? n Bull Garlington is an award-winning writer. His latest book, The Full English, is a hilarious travel memoir about his family’s trip to the U.S. His company, Creative Writer PRO, provides enterprise-level content for small and medium-size businesses. His previous title, Death by Children! was IndieFab’s 2013 Humor Book of the Year. He is a coauthor of the popular foodie compendium The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats. He prefers Balvenie’s DoubleWood 12 Year Scotch and makes a mean gumbo. Article previously published in Attorney at Work.
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