Attorney Journal, San Diego, Volume 134

Page 1


Volume 134, 2014 • $6.95

How to Increase Your Profits Over 30 Percent

Cole Silver

Executive Presence: I Know I Need It – How Do I Get It?

Turn Your Law Firm Team Members into Raving Fans

Jessika M. Ferm

Laura Lee Sparks

Expert Tips for Making Your Website Better

LexisNexis Survey: The Discomfort of Collections

Matt DeLucia

Carla Del Bove Brennan

Doing Well by Doing Good: Law Firm Social Responsibility


Amy Simonson Learning to Adapt

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2014 EDITION—NO.134


6 Amy Simonson Learning to Adapt by Lisa White


8 Executive Presence: I Know I Need It - How Do I Get It? by Jessika M. Ferm

10 Turn Your Law Firm Team Members into Raving Fans by Laura Lee Sparks



16 Sean M. Foldenauer

EDITOR Jennifer Appel

Symphony of Success

22 Doing Well by Doing Good: Law Firm Social Responsibility

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PHOTOGRAPHY Bauman Photographers STAFF WRITERS Jennifer Hadley Lisa White Karen Gorden CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS Matt Delucia Laura Sparks Jessika M. Ferm Janet Ellen Raasch Darin M Klemchuk Cole Silver Carla Del Bove Brennan Christopher Walton Monty McIntyre WEBMASTER Mariusz Opalka ADVERTISING INQUIRIES


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by Carla Del Bove Brennan

26 10 Tips to Make Your Law Firm’s Website Better, From an Expert in Law Firm Website Development by Matt DeLucia

28 How to Increase Your Law Firm Profits Over 30 Percent by Cole Silver


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25 LexisNexis Survey: The Discomfort of Collections in Law Firm Billing

Editorial material appears in Attorney Journal as an informational service for readers. Article contents are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Attorney Journal. Attorney Journal makes every effort to publish credible, responsible advertisements. Inclusion of product advertisements or announcements does not imply endorsement. Attorney Journal is a trademark of Sticky Media, LLC. Not affiliated with any other trade publication or association. Copyright 2014 by Sticky Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without written permission from Sticky Media, LLC. Printed in the USA

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LEARNING TO ADAPT Amy Simonson’s Love of Learning and Ability to Adapt Pays Off For Commercial Litigation Clients

by Lisa White

“I WANTED TO BUY CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO EARN ENOUGH MONEY IN TIME GIVEN THAT CHORES WERE BEING PAID AT 25 CENTS PER TASK AND I HAD THREE OTHER SISTERS VYING FOR THE SAME CHRISTMAS MONEY. I KNEW I HAD TO THINK OF A DIFFERENT WAY,” SAYS AMY SIMONSON, ASSOCIATE WITH WINGERT GREBING BRUBAKER & JUSKIE LLP. AND SHE DID. AT AGE 9, SIMONSON DRAFTED HER FIRST CONTRACT, CONVINCING HER MOM TO EXTEND HER $45 DOLLARS IN CREDIT. Growing up the second of four daughters to a hardworking, but young, single mother, “I learned that not having as much as other kids did not have to limit my opportunities. My mother showed me by example that I just needed to set specific goals and to get creative,” Simonson says. That ability to roll with the punches, determine how to overcome obstacles, and change gears when necessary has proven to be the key to Simonson’s and her clients’ continued success.


Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

LIFELONG LOVE OF LEARNING Simonson’s love of learning how to find solutions reached a crescendo upon attending California Western School of Law. “I loved everything about law school. I loved the way that the law blended analytics with creativity because it allowed me to use both sides of my brain,” she says. Her school record serves as testament that not only did she love learning about the law, but that she worked hard and others took notice. Simonson was


the recipient of an Academic Merit Tuition Scholarship, placed on the Dean’s Honor List each year, and graduated cum laude. As much as she loved her studies, Simonson came to love practicing as an attorney even more. Simonson joined Wingert Grebing as an associate where she initially worked under Robert Juskie defending one of the largest retail shopping center chains in various types of premises liability actions. “I felt extraordinarily lucky to have gone through what we Wingert associates call the Juskie School of Litigation. Bob taught me you can never overprepare and sometimes the smallest details make the biggest difference in the outcome of a case.” As Simonson’s skills as a litigator grew, so too did her eagerness to take on more complex cases. Today, 6 years after joining Wingert Grebing, Simonson’s practice has expanded to include the representation of clients in all aspects of general business litigation with an emphasis on complex commercial disputes involving contracts, land use, unfair business practice claims and insurance bad faith. In just over a year’s time, Simonson tried an entitlement case against a municipality, certified and settled a WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) class action on behalf of 111 employees, litigated an insurance bad faith case obtaining over a half million dollars in fees on behalf of her firm and was in trial for over 6 weeks on a wrongful interference/ trade secret case, obtaining a complete victory on behalf of 5 of the firm’s clients. Another example of being able to adapt to new challenges is Simonson’s recent representation of multiple large downtown hotels charged with exorbitant penalties pursuant to the City of San Diego’s new fire alarm penalty fine structure. “My first reaction when I started working on these cases was to challenge everything, from the nature of the fine to how the structure was implemented to how violators were notified. After one administrative appeal, I realized my clients would benefit more by sitting down with the Fire Marshall and learning how to stop the false alarms from occurring, than they would through an administrative appeal. Through cooperation with the City, we were able to save my hotel clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties. At the same time, we helped to rectify the underlying reasons for the false alarms and saved critical resources, which was the main purpose of enacting the new fire alarm penalties.

UNDERSTANDING EXPECTATIONS “No matter what type of case I am working on, I have learned that it is crucial to define what my client’s goals are at the outset of the litigation,” she says. Simonson knows the importance of listening to her clients. Just like she did with her mother as a child, once she has a clear understanding of what their goals are, she is able to effectively advocate a solution on their behalf. Of her petite frame (just over 5 feet) and blonde hair, she says, “I get the sense that I am frequently underestimated.” While most may see this as a disadvantage, Simonson sees it as an opportunity. “I know myself and I know what I’m capable of accomplishing. People who know me don’t underestimate my preparation and determination.” That being said, Simonson understands the advantages of maintaining a friendly relationship when dealing with opposing counsel. “One piece of advice I probably use most often was given to me by one of my dearest clients, who is 95 and was a nurse in World War II. I was upset at her self-represented attorney-neighbor who was bullying her to cut down a tree she loved so dearly. I couldn’t understand how someone could be so vindictive knowing she planted that tree herself in 1960 and it reminded her of all she had loved and lost since then. When I expressed my frustrations to her, she told me, “Get out of the hole!” Confused, I said, “What?” She said, “You are supposed to be helping me out of the hole. If you jump in here with me, there will be nobody to drag us out.” Whenever a case seems to be having too great an effect on me, I always think to myself, “Get out of the hole, Amy!” As far as the future is concerned, Simonson is looking forward to immersing herself in increasingly complex case. She loves the challenge of coming up with creative solutions. Clearly, Simonson has laid a solid foundation for a lasting career in San Diego. n Contact: Amy Simonson, Esq. Wingert Grebing Brubaker & Juskie LLP 619-232-8151 600 W. Broadway, Suite 1200 San Diego, California 92101-3370

Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014


Executive Presence I Know I Need It—How Do I Get It? by Jessika M. Ferm Jessika M. Ferm is a writer, coach, speaker, and consultant on leadership, management, and business topics and is known for her “no frills, no fluff” approach to sharing information. She is the President of J.Ferm, LLC, an international leadership consulting firm and is the trusted adviser to leaders and managers ranging from Fortune 100 companies to startups. For more information or to sign up for the free “Leading Edge” newsletter, visit: or visit nofrillsnofluff. com. Article Source: Ferm. Executive presence—we all know when we’re around someone who has it. Executive presence is hard to define, but it encompasses a combination of physical, mental and emotional qualities that cause an individual to project a certain level of sophistication, charisma and energy. While business presence is a highly personal matter and there is no “one size fits all” formula to developing one, there are some tips that can help you get started at differentiating yourself professionally. IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE: Research indicates that people with good posture who carry themselves erectly are perceived as having confidence. An important aspect of projecting executive presence is the ability to communicate positively through body language. The good news is that it doesn’t matter if you are tall or short, you can easily maximize your executive presence by standing up straight, positioning your head with ears aligned with the shoulders, and relaxing the arms. It is a deceivingly simple exercise and for many, it takes years to correct the hunched-over position we have become accustomed to after years of working in front of computers. Posture is so important that actors and celebrities are now hiring posture coaches to help them exude confidence and increased presence in order to get noticed. COMMUNICATE STRATEGICALLY: Some clients who come to us for executive presence coaching realize that they aren’t being noticed by key decision-makers and are often passed over for promotional opportunities or challenging assignments. It isn’t that they aren’t good performers or great team players; they just seem to get lost in the crowd. One strategy to get noticed without being abrasive is to start asking meaningful questions in meetings or sharing information that others may find valuable. Leaders with a high executive presence quotient are inquisitive and curious. They come across as caring and engaged without self-importance or bravado. This strategy works for introverts and extroverts alike. If you tend to dominate meetings with your comments and feedback, practicing asking questions instead of making statements shows a heightened sense of selfawareness and it invites others to join the conversation. MANAGE YOUR BODY LANGUAGE: We all send nonverbal signals about how we feel, think or perceive a situation. If we are impatient, we may tap our feet or hands or we may be 8

Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

prone to interrupting others. One of my clients said, “I’m tapping my fingers to send a message that the person needs to speed up what they are saying.” My response to this type of statement is always, “Does it make that person speed up?” and the answer is always “No.” Instead, we are sending an ineffective signal that we are impatient and that the other person’s information or presentation isn’t valuable. Instead of sending non-verbal signals, which are often confusing, consider tactfully asking the person to hit some key points or communicate with him or her after the presentation how they could have been more effective. Once you can master your non-verbal communication signals, you will come across as a person who is caring, considerate, and a great listener. These are all aspects of executive presence. ACCEPT YOUR FLAWS: The first three tips offer you some tactical solutions for developing your executive presence right away. Accepting your flaws and developing increased selfawareness. It is an ongoing process with no end in sight. The good news is that you can begin by coming across as more self-aware immediately. Get comfortable accepting your flaws or mistakes by admitting to them or acknowledging critical feedback. I know this isn’t easy, but it will work wonders for your executive presence. For example, if you are told you made a mistake, practice responding with, “Thank you for pointing that out. What one action step can I take to avoid this mistake in the future?” or “I wasn’t aware that I was doing that. Thank you for sharing your feedback. It allows me to improve.” Most of us are defensive about our flaws and weaknesses and our natural response is to fight back or defend. People with high degrees of executive presence are non-judgmental of themselves and others and they are open to accepting information in a neutral manner because they understand that’s how they learn and improve. These four tips will help you get started in developing your executive presence. One good exercise is to evaluate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being lowest and 10 being highest), and rate yourself on where you feel your executive presence is right now. Implement a few of these strategies and re-rate yourself in about six months. You may even want to ask a trusted friend or colleague to rate you pre- and post-strategy to see if you are making significant steps forward. n

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Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134 2014



Turn Your Law Firm Team Members Into Raving Fans by Laura Lee Sparks

Law firm marketing expert Laura Lee Sparks is one of the most authoritative voices on legal marketing and virtual assisting for lawyers on the web. Her advice and legal marketing campaigns have helped lawyers attain and surpass the million-dollar mark in their businesses and reach their ideal clients quickly, easily and consistently. For further information or to contact Laura Lee directly, please visit Article Source:

hrough my years of working with attorneys, I have heard more than one complaint about how their team members aren’t very good at discussing the services their law firm provide to prospective clients. The disappointment is usually about their staff members unable to describe the services enough to convince the prospective client to make an appointment to meet with the attorney. This is a valid concern. But there are a lot of people who aren’t good at sales. So, what’s an attorney to do? Fire all the staff and start over? No, please don’t do that! Instead, turn them into raving fans of the firm and the services you provide. Yes, make sure they can describe your firm’s services as enthusiastically as they would describe their children, their favorite pet, or a hobby they are passionate about. Get them EXCITED about what you are doing at the firm. In my experience, the inability to describe services with enthusiasm is a result of not really understanding their value and benefits. Here are a few things you can try before you give your team the boot.

1  Explain why you chose the practice areas that you did. Most attorneys choose their practice areas because they were passionate about them. Do you have a personal experience that made you choose that particular area? I once knew an attorney who had lost her husband at a very young age. Even though she was an attorney, she had failed to plan properly for her own death or the death of her husband. After all, 20-somethings are rarely motivated to do so. The story she had to tell was extremely touching and it is her passion to make sure that families don’t struggle needlessly at a time when they are grieving the loss of a loved one. There was at least one person on her staff that understood that she was an estate planning attorney and could explain the services that were provided, but didn’t really have that passion that is needed to motivate people to do their own planning, until she finally heard the attorney’s story.

2  Give them real-life stories of the services you provide. If your law firm is like most, your staff is extremely busy with day-to-day tasks. Their heads are down and they are working on bits and pieces of the matters that flow through your office. Have they ever really seen the whole picture? People go to attorneys to solve their problems. Share with your staff with your staff some of the inspirational stories and help them see, in real-life terms, how you help people.

3  Make sure they are describing the benefits, not just the services, that you provide. Your staff may be very clear and quite articulate about describing the services that your law firm provides and still not be able to effectively sell them. The reason is that people need to understand the services you provide in terms on how it will benefit them. For example, they may understand that you litigate personal injury cases, but what they should be describing is how you put the pieces of people’s lives back together after an unexpected event, like an injury due to an automobile accident. Teach them to describe your services in a way that people can understand, in terms of their particular situation, how their lives would be better if you worked with them. Ticking off a list of services means very little to the general population; explaining how it personally benefits them makes the difference. These are just a few examples of situations that I have observed. Engage your staff members and watch them bring clients into your firm. n 10

Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

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COMMUNITY news nThe law firm of Balestreri Potocki & Holmes is pleased to announce that Quelie Saechao joined the firm as an associate. Saechao practices in the areas of professional liability, employment law, products liability, and general civil litigation. Her practice emphasizes construction law and focuses on matters related QUELIE SAECHAO to allegations of construction defect against developers, builders, and general contractors as well as professional negligence against design professionals. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Davis in 1999 and her Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law in 2004. nButterfield Schechter & Van Clief LLP is pleased to announce that Rob Butterfield was recently selected by his peers as one of The Best Lawyers in America© 2015 in the field of Employee Benefits (ERISA) Law (Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC). Rob was previously included ROB BUTTERFIELD in 1991-2000, 2005-2011, 2013 and 2014. Rob is a nationally recognized expert on ERISA and pension plans. He is the co-founder of Butterfield Schechter & Van Clief LLP with a practice emphasis on employee benefits, executive compensation, ERISA, estate planning and corporate planning. He has practiced employee benefit, tax and corporate law since 1977. Rob is a co-founder of Promises 2 Kids (formerly known as the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation of San Diego County) and serves as an “emeritus” member of its Board of Directors. He is a current member and former president of the Western Pension and Employee Benefits Conference – San Diego Chapter.

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Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

nFisher & Phillips LLP is pleased to announce that Danielle Hultenius Moore, partner in the San Diego office, has been selected for inclusion in San Diego Daily Transcript’s Top Attorneys 2014 in the labor and employment law category. A San Diego native, Moore represents and counsels employers DANIELLE H. MOORE in all aspects of labor and employment law, including employment discrimination, wrongful termination, workplace harassment, retaliation, unfair competition and wage-hour lawsuits, employment handbook and personnel policy preparation, and general preventive advice including hiring, discipline and termination practices. She has experience litigating matters in state and federal courts, state administrative tribunals such as the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, and in arbitration. Moore regularly conducts management training and lectures on labor and employment issues. She also teaches an employment law course at San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies and serves on the advisory board for the College. Moore was selected as one of San Diego Business Journal’s Best of the Bar 2014 and SD Metro’s 40 Under 40 for 2013, honoring the top 40 business people in San Diego under the age of 40. She is “AV” Peer Review Rated Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. nHiggs & Mack announces that Alexis Gutierrez has been named to United Way of San Diego County’s Board of Directors. “United Way’s impact is significant and multifaceted,” said Gutierrez. “I look forward to doing what I can, and am honored to be a part of this prestigious group.” Gutierrez is no stranger to ALEXIS GUTIERREZ volunteer activities, having previously served on the board of directors for the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties from 2004 to 2010 and as its chair from 2009 to 2010. He was also a member of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation’s board of directors from 2006 to 2012 and served as its chair in 2011. Gutierrez’s legal practice emphasizes business and employment counseling as well as complex commercial litigation for a wide range of organizations. He has received Martindale-Hubbell’s highest peer rating (“AV Preeminent”) for Legal Ability and General Ethical Standards. Gutierrez received his Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego’s School of Law.

COMMUNITY news nSolomon Ward Seidenwurm & Smith, LLP is pleased to announce that Katherine M. Hoffman has joined the firm as Partner. Hoffman’s practice focuses on domestic and international intellectual property law, encompassing protection and enforcement of trademark, copyrights, trade dress and trade secrets. She has substantial experience in trademark prosecution and litigation before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and expertise in a wide range of technology transactions. She counsels clients on all areas of intellectual property acquisition, licensing, protection KATHERINE M. HOFFMAN and enforcement strategies and procedures. Prior to joining Solomon Ward, Hoffman practiced at McKenna Long & Aldridge for two years, following her tenure as a Luce Forward LLP partner since 2005. Hoffman received her J.D. from Campbell University, Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Cincinnati. Hoffman is a member of the International Trademark Association, as well as Athena San Diego and the San Diego County Bar Association. She has served on the Board of Directors for the San Diego Police Foundation since 2012. nSan Diego attorney Elizabeth Smith Chavez of the law firm Smith Chavez Law has been selected as a Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America. Smith Chavez has practiced law in San Diego for over 35 years. She concentrates her practice on real property and business disputes, and was named the top real estate dispute resolution attorney in San Diego in 2014. The LCA is a trial lawyer honorary society composed of less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers. Fellowship ELIZABETH SMITH CHAVEZ in the LCA is highly selective and by invitation only. Fellows are selected based upon excellence and accomplishment in litigation, both at the trial and appellate levels, and superior ethical reputation. The LCA is aggressively diverse in its composition. Established as a trial and appellate lawyer honorary society reflecting the American bar in the twenty-first century, the LCA represents the best in law among its membership. Smith Chavez is also active in her community. She was recently selected as President of the National Association of Women Business Owners for San Diego, and has served on numerous non-profit boards. In addition, she is a Master in the American Inns of Court. nFausta Albi, Diana Vellos Coker, and Kimberley Best Robidoux of Larrabee Albi Coker LLP, have been selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America® 2015 in the field of Immigration Law. Their practice focuses on employmentbased immigration matters including immigration compliance. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.”




Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014



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Sean Foldenauer Has Paid His Dues, Climbing from Musician to Partner to Founder of San Diego’s Small but Mighty Civil Litigation and Trial Law Firm


by Karen Gorden

e help ordinary people and small to medium-sized business owners who have suffered harm. We are courtroom lawyers—the kind that stand up before judges and juries and ask for justice. We are fearless. We are ethical. We are small but we routinely file lawsuits against some of the largest corporations in the world. We prepare every case for trial and try all cases that make sense for our clients. If we must settle, we settle for everything,” says Sean Foldenauer, founder of Foldenauer Law Group, APLC. Lots of lawyers are litigators, but few of them actually take their cases to trial. We are trial attorneys. We practice the art of courtroom advocacy. We know the evidence code and the art of admitting and excluding evidence during trial,” Foldenauer says. Indeed Foldenauer, together with associates Dan Schwender and Tyler Campbell, spends much of his time in the courtroom. “We have sued corporations as large as Wells Fargo Bank and Liberty Mutual Insurance, on behalf of local business owners. We also seek justice for personal injury victims who have suffered harm.” Today, Foldenauer Law Group enjoys a practice that is nearly 100% based on referrals from fellow attorneys, former clients, and local doctors who refer their patients to the firm for recovery on personal injury claims. “We are honored to receive so many referrals and are happy to partner with other attorneys. We can work on cases together or handle all the legal representation, at their request, and referral fees are available,” Foldenauer says. In fact, the majority of the firm’s caseload


Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

stems from solo practitioners and smaller firms who do not have the manpower or funding to take on large, complex cases. Because of his firm’s willingness to help fellow attorneys, Foldenauer Law Group has earned a reputation of being a modern boutique trial firm which, “like a large firm, maintains a high performance team of the best and brightest attorneys and staff. The difference is that we do this without big firm redundancies, inefficiencies, and price tags,” Foldenauer says.

Classical Training Although Foldenauer is clearly passionate about his work, a career as a trial attorney was not his first ambition. “I picked up an electric guitar when I was 12 or 13, and by the time I was 19, I was playing night clubs in San Francisco. Of course, they had to sneak me in and out of the back door because I wasn’t old enough to legally be in a bar. I was fortunate enough to share the stage with notable Bay Area bands, such as Tommy Tutone, Huey Lewis and the News, and Joe Satriani,” he recalls. Make no mistake; music was not just a hobby for Foldenauer. He trained for many years, studied classical music in college, and attended a prestigious jazz school in Los Angeles. In the 1980s, his band played renowned venues like the Whisky-A-Go-Go on the Sunset Strip. In addition to live performances, he has recorded on records, films, television, and commercials as a studio musician. This led him to a job with Island Music Publishing in 1989, run by publishing mogul Lionel Conway. The following year,



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Sean M. Foldenauer, Tyler R. Campbell and Danwill D. Schwender.

Polygram International Music Publishing (“PIMP”) purchased Island Music and Foldenauer assisted with cataloging the Island Music copyright portfolio. During this process, he had the chance to work under prominent entertainment attorney and author Jeff Brabec. Foldenauer’s work in the music industry eventually led him to law school in San Diego in 1993 where he attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law. “At Thomas Jefferson, they didn’t just teach me to memorize facts and laws. They trained me to practice law,” he says. Continuing he says, “I loved it. You couldn’t get me out of the library. I became obsessed with reading Supreme Court decisions, and I developed a desire to passionately advocate for others. Plus, I began to see that the courtroom was a stage in its own way,” he adds. “I went from playing electric guitar in a rock-n-roll band to editor of the Law Review in one year,” he laughs. Upon graduation, Foldenauer intended to return to Hollywood to work in entertainment law, but at that time, the music publishing industry collapsed. Therefore, he took a position working for tenacious trial attorney Jim Frantz as an associate. “I appeared in court hundreds of times at motion hearings and trials. Within a year of law school, I was able to work on the plaintiff’s side of a case that resulted in a record-breaking $223 million dollar jury verdict,” he says. Foldenauer’s talent earned him a partnership within a few years, and the firm became Frantz, Townsend & Foldenauer, LLP. “We handled catastrophic injuries and product liability cases against pharmaceutical and medical device companies and major automobile manufacturers. For a decade, I absorbed everything I could. I got amazing experience taking on huge corporations, and I’m very grateful for that opportunity,” says Foldenauer. 18

Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

Early in his career, several influential judges also trained Foldenauer indirectly. “I remember attending a trial practice lecture by Judge Trentacosta. He noted that some attorneys in his courtroom had lost good cases because they were unprepared or did not know the rules of evidence. Judge Trentacosta also spoke about the honor and privilege we carry as attorneys representing people in court, and the great responsibility we have to our clients. He gave me goose bumps. I try to live up to that, always,” Foldenauer says. Likewise, Foldenauer says that trying cases against experienced counsel in front of wise judges and savvy juries has armed him with insight on how judges are likely to rule on specific motions and evidence. “Watching and learning from San Diego’s gifted judges has been invaluable to me and my clients,” he says.

The Biggest Gig Yet In 2007, with a decade of legal experience under his belt, Foldenauer was ready to venture out and create his own firm with the intention of “redefining the practice of law,” he says. Foldenauer set out to create a firm with a simple and straightforward business model. “Even the most prestigious law firms tend to use obsolete and inefficient methods, which can be wasteful, repetitive, and costly. I believe there are more efficient ways to handle litigation and that is what I set out to do. We utilize technology to maintain better client communication, avoid duplicity of work, and to conduct targeted and expedient legal research. We run a digital office and subscribe to LexisNexis for our law library, allowing our attorneys and clients to have immediate access to files and law

© Bauman Photographers

in a digital format. At trial, we also use advanced presentation methods and software, including Trial Director, which provide the judge and jury with the most comprehensive picture of the facts and evidence in the case. It is a simple formula. Our focus is on solving disputes, not on billing clients. As a result, we get fantastic results for our clients at lower costs,” Foldenauer says. To maximize efficiencies for the firm’s clients, Foldenauer is quick to say, “I couldn’t have done this alone.” To that end, his team includes associate Dan Schwender, who Foldenauer says, “I grabbed right out of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and he’s been here ever since, barring the time he spent earning his L.L.M at The George Washington University Law School with a focus on Intellectual Property.” Schwender assists with the firm’s clients in business and partnership disputes. These clients include companies involved in various trades, such as banking, energy manufacturers, entertainers and athletes, UFC fighters, real estate developers and brokers, importers/exporters, and retailers and distributors. Although most disputes are generally based in a breach of contract, either with another company or with a partner or shareholder, the issues also often include claims of professional negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and intellectual property infringement and related allegations. These types of cases often become buried in law and motion work, to which Foldenauer says, “Schwender is a wizard at researching and writing—quickly, pointedly, and efficiently.” “Tyler Campbell, also an associate at the firm, clerked for me while he was attending Thomas Jefferson, and has now been with the firm for about five years.” Campbell’s practice focuses almost exclusively on representation of plaintiffs in auto-

accident and serious personal injury cases. “Tyler has established himself as a tenacious advocate and fierce negotiator for our clients. He just gets it,” says Foldenauer. “He custom tailors effective litigation and settlement negotiation strategies for each case. His contributions are an invaluable asset to the firm.” Since teaming up with the firm, Campbell has assisted the firm in obtaining millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for the firm’s clients. Foldenauer Law Group’s attorneys have found ways to reduce redundancies by working together as a team. “We roundtable our cases, brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other, to establish a successful case strategy from the outset. Three minds are better than one. Our goal is to solve problems in the most economically appropriate way. This method works for us,” he says. “We have all worked together for years, so there is no revolving door here. We have a great staff, which also includes our paralegal, Kimberly Pok, who has been with the firm for several years while putting herself through school at USD, and our administrator Thu Tran-Le. Being a small firm means we have lower overhead costs. But, we are flexible and can staff up as needed. These savings are passed on to our clients,” Foldenauer says. Indeed, the Foldenauer Law Group is committed to helping clients save money, and they have come up with some creative billing practices to ensure this. “We do not have massive hourly billing requirements that our attorneys must meet. Depending on the nature of the matter, we can offer hourly, flat fee, hybrid fee, or contingency fee agreements. We are also able to customize our billing structures to meet our clients’ needs,” he says.

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Continuing, Foldenauer says, “We hold weekly meetings where we constantly put ourselves in the position of our clients. Litigation is our business, but usually not that of our clients. It has made us battle-hardened but we never lose sight of our mission—to represent our clients exactly the way we would want to be represented. By way of example, we limit the number of cases we handle at any given time to ensure each case receives our full attention. We attempt to contact each client at least once a week to provide a case status. It’s a simple phone call that clients deserve and appreciate. We are also upfront about anticipated costs, billing practices, and the range of potential outcomes. No surprises,” he adds.

Setting the Stage for the Future To date, Foldenauer says he could not be happier with the way things have turned out. “It is pretty well known that we are trial lawyers with a history of success,” he explains. With referrals pouring in and a team effort that is working incredibly well, Foldenauer frankly does not intend to change much about his firm. “I continue to be personally involved in each case. If we keep growing, I won’t be able to do that. We also emphasize a balanced lifestyle. We try to avoid working nights and weekends except during summary judgment motions and trials. This leaves us time to enjoy with our families and friends,” Foldenauer says. This work balance allows Foldenauer to spend time with his loving and supporting wife, his two young boys ages 6 and 3, and daughter age 1. Because music gave Foldenauer his start, he tries to give back. “We are a sponsor of the Guitars in Schools program which places free Taylor guitars in the little hands of school children. Each year, the firm sponsors a VIP table at the San Diego Music Awards. All of the money goes to the cause,” Foldenauer says proudly. “This is important because music funding has completely dried up in our public schools.” And, Foldenauer continues to play gigs himself. “I have a recording studio in my house and am currently working on an album. My story is not unusual. There are many great lawyer musicians in our legal community. So many in fact that every couple of years the San Diego County Bar Association sponsors a ‘Battle of the Bands’ contest. My band, Rock Justice, has entered the last two contests and it is always fun, especially since we are back-to-back winners, which feels great. As a trial lawyer, of course, I like winning.” n Contact: Sean M. Foldenauer Foldenauer Law Group, APLC (619) 564-8877 2550 Fifth Avenue, Suite 630 San Diego, California 92103

» EDUCATION • Thomas Jefferson School of Law - Juris Doctorate, (1996) - Activities and Societies: Law Review, Cum Laude Graduate • California State University, Northridge - Bachelor of Arts, Business Law, (1993) • Grove School of Music, Los Angeles - Guitar Program Graduate, (1988)

» AWARDS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS • San Diego Business Journal’s Best of the Bar, 2014. • San Diego Daily Transcript’s Top Attorneys, (Nominee/Semi-finalist 2008-2013) • AVVO Rating – Level “Superb” • Better Business Bureau — A+ Rating

» ADMISSIONS • State Bar of California • United States District Court of California for the Southern District and Central District

» AFFILIATIONS • San Diego County Bar Association • Association of Business Trial Attorneys • Consumer Attorneys of San Diego • Louis M. Welsh, American Inn of Court


Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

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Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014




Corporations are increasingly subscribing to the principle of corporate social responsibility. CSR is based on the belief that a demonstration of concern for the environment, human rights, community development and the welfare of their employees can make a corporation more profitable. If not more profitable, then at least a better place in which to work. Law firms can learn from corporate experience to create their own social responsibility programs. Such programs can help law firms to do well by doing good. They can strengthen the firm’s reputation and market position. They can help the firm identify with the culture and CSR activities of clients and potential clients. They can help lawyers and staff find more meaning in their work and improve as human beings. In the words of the social responsibility Karma Committee at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: Be kind. Be generous. Be concerned. Donate time. Donate effort. Donate money. Just find a cause and give. You’ll quickly discover giving is also receiving. A panel discussion about how law firms can learn about CSR and introduce some of its elements into their own models was sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. The program was held May 8 at Maggiano’s Little Italy in downtown Denver. Panelists included Sarah Hogan, vice president of Barefoot PR; Bruce DeBoskey, lawyer and founder of The DeBoskey Group, which focuses on philanthropic advising; Joyce Witte, Community Investment Advisor and director of the Encana Cares Foundation, Encana Oil & Gas (USA); and Amy Venturi, director of community relations and karma at Brownstein. 22

Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

Moderator was Cori Plotkin, president of Barefoot PR. At law firms, the product is the people—the lawyers and support staff who provide high quality legal services. It is an easy fit. There are many ways that this ‘product’ can contribute time, talent and treasure to socially responsible activities.

Social responsibility: Focus and strategy Law firm social responsibility is all about making a difference within the community and the profession, and within a firm. Even the best efforts will make no impact if spread too thin. You cannot maximize the value of your contributions or tell your story if your efforts are too diluted. To decide how to most effectively invest its resources, a law firm needs a social responsibility focus and a strategy. Social responsibility efforts must be authentic. Law firms and other entities should always avoid ‘green-washing’—telling a story that is aspirational, but not really true. Know yourself. Let your firm’s unique culture and skills determine which efforts to pursue and which to avoid. When examining your culture, don’t limit yourself to partner input. Law firms are small communities, almost like families. Any effort to define culture and social responsibility should represent not only the interests of lawyers, but the interests of all levels of support staff. Efforts must be meaningful throughout the firm. The benefits to employee recruitment, retention and satisfaction can be remarkable.

DeBoskey outlined three types of community involvement and stated his belief that a good social responsibility plan includes elements of all three. In a traditional model, an organization ‘gives back’ randomly to the community when asked—as a good citizen, rather than for any strategic purposes. In a social responsibility model, these efforts align with the capabilities of the business—like the legal skills of lawyers. Every non-profit needs legal advice. At its most sophisticated, a social responsibility program involves using your core product—legal services—as a tool for social change. Volunteer with organizations like the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System at the University of Denver or the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center. A strong focus makes it much easier to make decisions. Encana, for example, focuses its charitable giving strategy on issues surrounding its product — natural gas. Brownstein will donate money only if the request comes from a client, or if one of their attorneys is a member of the organization and on the board. Law firms looking for additional advice can find valuable resources within the Corporate Community Investment Network. CCIN is an association for professionals whose primary responsibility is to manage community investment programs in a for-profit business setting. Many corporations and a few law firms have actually created separate foundations to mange some of their giving. A foundation comes with more restrictions and different tax methods. As entities with a life of their own, however, foundations need more than one-off efforts to continue a useful existence.

Social responsibility: Good policies make good decisions Strategy and focus provide the foundation for an effective social responsibility policy. Most law firms are inundated with requests from good causes asking for their support. A policy helps you know when to say “yes” to and when to say “no.” In the law firm model, where all partners are owners with a sense of entitlement to resources, it can be very difficult to say no. A keenly focused policy makes it much easier to do so and keep the firm’s efforts on track. Encana, for example, uses a five-step tool to determine the level of fit between a request and the company’s strategic goals in the field of natural gas—with level five being the largest commitment and level one the lowest. Level five efforts integrate core product or service and often involve natural gas vehicles and energy efficiency initiatives using natural gas. These efforts contribute to best practices and leading trends in the industry, while enhancing the company’s reputation as a leader. Level four efforts focus on strategic partnerships and often

involve sustainable and long-term solutions like workforce development initiatives, signature programs (which can be repeated in other markets) and multi-year grants. Level three efforts include strategic grants to assist with projects, programs or initiatives made to local non-profits aligned with natural gas. Level two efforts include responsive giving, which is a onetime gift for a broad community effort that has local support. Participation of company representatives is required. Level one efforts include the “t-shirt and banner” category, which contains one-day items like dinners, receptions, golf tournaments, events and races. These offer the least impact and awareness for the money and, therefore, the least support. At Brownstein, requests made to the firm are judged by two factors. The firm considers only requests made by clients and requests made by organizations where one of its attorneys participates at the board level.

Social responsibility: Engagement Effective social responsibility programs involve not only checkbook involvement, but personal and professional involvement. At Brownstein, the brand has always been about being out in the community. Six years ago, Venturi was asked to formalize this essential component of the firm’s culture into a social responsibility program that would further energize lawyers. She started by spending 15 minutes with each of the attorneys to discover their passions—which were used to identify a good non-profit match. After all, lawyers and staff will stay involved and do their best only when an organization is something that they care deeply about. If there is no engagement, the placement will backfire. Finally, Venturi offers the lawyer’s services to the non-profit in some capacity—but it must be at the board level. Otherwise, she won’t make the match. Project Karma is a Brownstein program dedicated to volunteer opportunities, and maintains a committee in each of the firm’s 12 offices. It sponsors informal lunch-and-learn presentations by local non-profits to encourage interest. The message about active engagement by lawyers and staff must come from the top. Brownstein makes it very clear that the path to partnership for a new attorney is based not only on legal skills, but also on engagement and involvement with the community. It is important to add a community involvement component to lawyer reviews, even if it is only one goal a year. That lets the lawyers know that you are serious. The Colorado Supreme Court asks every lawyer in to contribute 50 hours of pro bono work each year. Integrating these programs leads to win/win results for the firm. Not every firm can match the efforts of a large company like

Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014


Encana or a large law firm like Brownstein. However, there are good matches for firms of every size. Once again, it is all a matter of focus. In fact, it is much easier to get five members of a small firm to focus on a strategic initiative than 500 lawyers in a huge firm. If a law firm has $10,000 to donate, that money goes a lot farther and has a lot more impact to one organization than $100 donations spread across 100 organizations. Smaller law firms can also multiply its impact by partnering with others in an industry, like vendors or clients, to support a particular non-profit.

Social responsibility: Return on investment Corporations measure the results of their social responsibility programs, and use these results to make decisions on efforts going forward. Law firms should do the same. At the end of the year, Encana uses its five-level model (outlined above) to analyze our charitable giving. How much was given at each level? Then the company sends a form to each non-profit, asking the recipient to evaluate outcomes (statistics for what was accomplished), process (did efforts meet the intended audience) and impact (what difference did it make). Encana asks recipients to reply within 60 days, and uses this

information to calculate return on investment. Those who do not report back are not eligible for further contributions. The non-profits might gripe at first, but they seem to change their minds once they’ve been through the process—finding that it has useful strategic value. It is entirely appropriate to ask a non-profit to document the results they’ve achieved based on your contribution. It lets them know that you are truly invested in the organization. They will see you more as partners and engage you differently. Most corporations have created and benefited from wellthought-through and strategic social responsibility programs. Law firms are starting to do the same. A program with tight focus and strict guidelines guarantees maximum impact and awareness in exchange for a law firm’s commitment of time, talent and treasure. n Janet Ellen Raasch is a writer, ghostwriter and blogger ( who works closely with professional services providers—especially lawyers, law firms, legal consultants and legal professionals—to help them achieve name recognition and new business through publication of keyword-rich content for the Internet as well as articles and books for print. She can be reached at (303) 399-5041 or Article Source: http://EzineArticles. com/?expert=Janet_Ellen_Raasch

Areas of Expertise Business/Commercial • Class Action Complex Litigation • Construction Employment/Wage and Hour Insurance Coverage/Bad Faith • Intellectual Property Legal Malpractice • Medical Malpractice Personal Injury • Probate Real Property/CEQA/Land Use • Wrongful Death

Past President: San Diego County Bar Association 2014 President of the San Diego Chapter of the American Board of Trial Avocates (ABOTA) Listed in The Best Lawyers In America, Super Lawyers and Top Attorneys 26 Years of Experience as a Mediator and Arbitrator 34 Years of Extensive Civil Litigation Experience Representing Plaintiffs and Defendants

M A. MI, E. Mediator, Arbitrator & Referee ADR Services, Inc.

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Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

Study Finds More than 73% of Small Law Firms Experience Past Due Client Accounts; Many Lawyers Struggle with Resolution reported substantially lower percentages of clients who allowed legal invoices to become past due.

· Invoicing and billing takes eight hours per month, on average.

Most small law firms (61%) reported spending about eight hours per month on their billing process, though about a quarter spend up to 16 hours. More than half of law firms (58%) felt they were already spending too much time on the billing process.

· Despite tools, small law firms avoid client analysis. More

LexisNexis Survey:

than 80% of small law firms report having a standardized billing process and using technology to manage invoices­—and most use software designed for law firms with integrated invoicing and billing. The data suggests law firms have features for analyzing a client base to identify distinguishing trends between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ clients but these go unused.

The Discomfort of Collections · Sentiment: Lawyers dislike asking clients for money. Many of in Law Firm Billing the open-ended comments expressed the notion that lawyers enjoy LexisNexis® Legal & Professional, a leading provider of content and technology solutions, announced today the results of a survey of small U.S.-based law firms. The survey found a majority of small law firms struggling with past due client accounts. About half of them said that as much as 39% of client accounts are typically past due, and while law firms cite client financial hardship as the principle cause, the data also pointed to process defects and that lawyers are uncomfortable engaging in financial discussions. In the words of one respondent, “Attorneys have a problem asking for money after the retainer and throughout the process of working.” “The survey results reflect what we hear anecdotally quite often: lawyers enjoy the practice of law and dislike the business of law,” said James Paterson, senior director of product management at LexisNexis, who leads the direction of software including the LexisNexis PCLaw® practice management solution. “Following up on collections or past due accounts is perhaps the least favorite law firm business activity, but it’s incredibly important to a healthy law practice.”

Key findings in the survey include:

· Most small law firms wrestle with past due accounts. More

than 73% of small law firms surveyed say they experience past due client accounts at least some of the time. More than half (53%) say between 10% and 39% of their total client base is typically past due.

· Client financial hardship often the source, but so too are

business processes. Small law firms overwhelmingly (83%) cite client financial struggles as the principle reason clients allow law firm invoices to elapse past due. However, there were notable indications to suggest client communication, value appraisal and a lack of law firm business process are significant contributing factors.

· Write-offs and billing discounts are pervasive. A majority of

law firms surveyed (71%) report providing discounts or writing off legal work even before invoicing clients. Interestingly, those law firms that say they never provide discounts on legal fees also

practicing law but find financial conversations uncomfortable. For example, one lawyer at a small law firm cited “the discomfort of past due billing discussions,” and that seeking payment for legal services rendered “makes me feel greedy…even if I know I’ve earned the fees charged, it is still an unpleasant task.” “Most of the respondents to this survey were from law firms with just one or two attorneys, in essence, small business entrepreneurs,” added Paterson. “This survey surfaced a collective discomfort with asking for money. Law firms need to realize there’s nothing embarrassing about asking to be paid for what they’ve earned. The data identifies a clear need to provide small law firms with tips, techniques and tools that facilitate this process.” This study aimed to understand challenges and opportunities facing small law firms during the process of billing and invoicing. The survey was conducted online from July 23, 2014 to August 1, 2014 and distributed to the readership of a third-party media publication dedicated to helping lawyers build better practices. Respondents were required to identify as a practicing attorney or a legal professional supporting a U.S-based law firm. Three hundred and nine (N=309) attorneys or legal professionals, from more than 16 practice areas, with broad representation from 47 different states and Washington, D.C., participated in the survey. Respondents were provided an incentive—a chance to be entered in a random drawing for one of 13 prizes—to complete the survey. n LexisNexis Legal & Professional is a leading global provider of content and technology solutions that enable professionals in legal, corporate, tax, government, academic and non-profit organizations to make informed decisions and achieve better business outcomes. As a digital pioneer, the company was the first to bring legal and business information online with its Lexis® and Nexis® services. Today, LexisNexis Legal & Professional harnesses leading-edge technology and world-class content, to help professionals work in faster, easier and more effective ways. Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014




From an Expert in Law Firm Website Development by Matt DeLucia

PRESENT THE IMPRESSION THAT YOU WANT TO HEAR FROM YOUR VISITORS. Most websites do a decent job of expressing who they are and what they do, but the most important aspect of business is to get the lead. Providing an easy way to contact you on every single page of your website should be a website’s essential goal and its primary function. Some websites do this by trying to get people to fill out a form on the side or bottom of every page. In theory, this is a good idea; in practice, NO ONE likes filling out forms, even when you pay them to do it! The ease of initiating communication, even if you have a quick form, is lost. If you insist on a form, provide one box for their name and another for their email or phone (never both) and then a large box where they can paste whatever message they choose. In addition, In addition, make sure a phone number is available on every page in TEXT form so mobile users can click on it and contact you easily. Same with email: every page should have a general email address to provide an easy method of contact with a single click. Why make it hard for people to reach you? SELECT APPROPRIATE IMAGES FOR YOUR FIRM’S WEBSITE. Just like a bad reputation, a bad image can be 26

Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

eternal in the minds of potential clients, so it’s important that any imagery used to represent you on your website is not only professionally photographed, but is suitable to your particular practice. An image should not be cliche, overly playful to the point of distraction, or ambiguous in its meaning. It should not allow even the most uncreative person in the world the slightest doubt as to why that image symbolizes your firm’s personality, the work your firm does, or where your firm is located. If possible, attach a slogan or phrase to each photo to more accurately convey your message. USE A LITTLE SOCIAL MEDIA, IF NOT A LOT. Maybe you don’t have a Twitter account (good idea!), and perhaps your Facebook page is embarrassing, but what about LinkedIn? If you don’t have a page there, create one, add a link that directs visitors back to your attorney bio page, and then link back to LinkedIn from your firm’s bio page by placing your logo on it. Bingo, you’re now utilizing social media. Go tell your friends! This simple exercise will increase awareness of your firm and its website, especially if all attorneys at your firm do it. If you create your own blog and link to your bio page from it, that’s even better.

MAKE NAVIGATION AS EASY AS WALKING INTO A WELL-ORGANIZED STORE. If you have a choice between “beautiful and cool” and “functional and standardized”, go with the latter every time. It takes people about 1.5 seconds for “beautiful and cool” to wear off, quickly replaced by “frustrated and I’m outta here.” Navigation should be the same on every page. Flash should never be used. Fancy dropdowns with elaborate choices and embedded photos can appear to be advertisements to some eyes and should be minimized. Add a search box on every page and make sure the darn search actually WORKS. If people find your site but then they can’t find what they’re looking for, you’ve wasted their time and lost an opportunity. PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO YOUR FIRM’S BIOGRAPHY PAGES. This is your website’s most popular page, and the one that will sell a potential client on your firm’s services more than any other. It makes sense to spend the most time improving this page, right? OPTIMIZE YOUR SITE FOR MOBILE (SMART PHONES AND TABLETS) VIEWING. While this may seem like a foregone conclusion, most law firm websites are still difficult to view on smart phones and tablets. Many firms are creating an entirely new version of their website for mobile viewers, which can get expensive and time-consuming to update, unless you’re using a CMS which populates both the regular site and the mobile site with the same content. If you have the budget to create a second site for mobile users (cost for this can be $5K and up), that’s definitely the best option, but making sure your main site is already optimized for mobile viewing can be a relatively simple job if your website developer has a decent content management system that allows this kind of optimization based on the type of device your visitor is using. While this topic requires its own 10-tip list, decreasing the imagery on sub-pages and removing redundant Javascript-based navigation if a smart phone is detected are good ideas for starters. CLEARLY DELINEATE AND DEFINE ALL PRACTICESPECIFIC INFORMATION. After attorney biographies, the practice page is the second most important page on your site because it answers the all-important question, “Does this firm have the requisite experience to solve my problem?” Often, your firm WILL have the experience, but the visitor will never know this because your description of a particular practice area is either too general or too peppered with legal-speak that the average lay person won’t understand. Sometimes, it’s best to use bullet lists to show either a) what types of businesses can be helped, b) what types of problems can be solved, or c) what kind of legal terms fall under this category of practice. Oftentimes, using c) as the only option will not allow potential clients to understand that listing. For instance, Business Litigation means that you indeed do have someone who can help them file a claim against an unfair competitor.

MAKE SURE YOUR WEBSITE DEMONSTRATES THAT YOUR FIRM UNDERSTANDS YOUR CLIENT’S BUSINESS. While many law firms are not comfortable with listing clients (he ones that do this have a distinct advantage over ones that do not), there is nothing wrong with listing the types of industries your firm typically represents. Why not take it to the next level and for each industry, write a paragraph or two about the legal challenges that companies in that industry face year after year? You can also list testimonials or case studies (with or without the client name mentioned) that will further enhance your reputation in that particular field. The most you show your expertise in that industry, the more people will look at you as a legal expert and call on you when needed. MAKE IT EASY FOR EVERYONE AT YOUR FIRM TO CONTRIBUTE CONTENT. While some law firm websites suffer from bad design or disingenuous navigation, many more suffer from lack of content. This is amazing to me; most lawyers, even if they don’t enjoy writing, generally do it very well, even if what they write is prone to excessive legal terminology. In today’s content-rich world, beggars can’t be choosers; the best websites are the ones with the most up-todate content. Why not get ALL of your lawyers involved in the writing? Easier said than done, of course. If your firm allows each lawyer to have their own blog, and that blog is connected to the main site, it will encourage visitors. Isn’t that a nice way to let everyone play? Having a content management system that empowers your entire firm is better than giving the rein to one or two thought leaders! KEEP YOUR SITE’S DESIGN MODERNIZED. Even if you like your law firm’s current website, it may be out of date with today’s standards. Here is a scenario that is perhaps not as uncommon as you would think: a large company and potential new client is going to hire a new law firm and they have narrowed their selection down to two firms with equally positive reputations. One firm has an awesome website and the other (yours) has an out-of-date one. Do you think this small difference in image will sway their business decision one way or the other? If you’re not sure, then it’s time to update your website! n Matt DeLucia is the President of Business Edge Internet Design. Business Edge is a Connecticut and New York City -based solutions provider specializing in business areas such as law firm web design, print brochures, flash, ecommerce, content management. For a few quote on a website redesign for your law firm, please call us at 212-931-8538 or visit Article Source:

Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014




PROFITS OVER 30 PERCENT by Cole Silver In the competitive and commoditized world of legal services, we’re told we must have an effective marketing campaign to get new clients. When most of us think of marketing, we envision glossy brochures glorifying the firm’s pedigree, power lunches, or shaking hands at useless and annoying networking events, mixing sweaty palms with pigs-in-a-blanket in one massive business card swap. We often forget about the acres of diamonds already at our feet. What about you? Are you properly differentiating your practice in the marketplace? Are you tying in a targeted value proposition coupled with an irresistible offer? Are you leveraging all of your existing assets by maximizing the value of your networks, utilizing strategic partners and relationships? Most importantly, are you properly serving your existing clients? Did you know that: The costs of attracting a new client are 5 to 12 times greater than the cost of keeping an existing client. The return on investment is up to 10 times higher investments in client retention than in new client acquisition. Converting new clients takes more time, effort and expense than is required for current clients. Existing clients have greater usage levels and can be easily crossed sold. Existing clients are less price-sensitive. Existing clients exponentially increase profits. Existing clients are the best referral source for new clients. More than 80% of new business comes from existing clients. Having a single individual accountable for firm-wide client service boosts per-attorney profits by up to 41.2%!

· · · · · · · ·

Equally as important, were you aware that dissatisfied clients tell an average of 1,020 people, and up to 93% of dissatisfied clients will not return to you and won’t tell you why? The statistics also indicate that many corporate clients are dissatisfied with their law firms; only 24% would recommend their primary law firms. This client dissatisfaction is not due to a lack of legal expertise; it’s primarily due to poor client service or perceived indifference. Failing to treat your existing clients like the treasure they are will not only prevent you from utilizing your best resource, but ignoring them will start a spiraling effect of lost revenues and 28

Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014

severe damage to your reputation. By the time you figure out what happened, the damage may be irreversible. If you don’t take care of your client ... someone else will! With the number of lawyers exponentially increasing, and many clients making their selection of firms based on price, the only true differentiator is client service. Your experience, capabilities, and responsiveness are minimum requirements today and no longer make you stand out in the market. And just plain vanilla client satisfaction is not enough either. Today, you need to “engage” the client in a deeper and more personal way. You have to know their “needs and wants” and be able to address them in an individual and memorable manner. It’s only through this “total client experience” that you beat the competition and win their business before they look elsewhere. Clients desperately want to work with someone they know and trust, who knows their industry, their market, their company, their situation, their people, their concerns and their desires. They want you to listen to them, know more about them, understand them, and work with them as a trusted partner. By engaging the client through emotional differentiators like trust, confidence, commitment and likability, you’ll demonstrate that you truly care about them and that they are the most important client in the world. If you can discover and align to these issues, the client will view you as a trusted partner and not just another lawyer; never thinking of leaving you because deep down inside, they know they’re not going to get this “experience” anywhere else. As lawyers, we’re trained to give advice because that’s what we do. But the fact is, nobody ever became wealthy or highly successful by telling people what they need. A whole lot of people have been richly rewarded giving people exactly what they want. It doesn’t matter what you think ... only what your client thinks. It doesn’t matter what you want ... only what they want! And what is it they want? They want what we all want: empathy, compassion, comfort, understanding, respect, their problem solved and, mostly, to feel appreciated and important. As someone once commented, “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.” So, how do you go about giving people what they want? You start out by listening, serving, educating and providing a memorable experience. Find their pain and what they truly desire

by anticipating their needs and surpassing their expectations. The result is that when they need a lawyer, you’re at the top of their list because you were there for them. You solved their problems without making any demands. You cared and acted in a way that made them feel appreciated. They will then seek you out because people have an innate desire to reciprocate when they are given something or treated in a certain way. Your one-time client becomes a client for life, a constant source of referrals and new business opportunities.

APPOINT A CLIENT AMBASSADOR A client-centric organization is elusive because lawyers are extremely busy and are, for the most part, highly focused on the legal work. They inherently believe that if they win the case or close the transaction successfully, the client will stay with the firm. That is no longer the case. If you fail to continuously engage the client, you’re out of sight and out of mind, allowing your competitors an opening to beat you out for the client’s future business and referrals. The only way to consistently provide a high level of client experience, and drive it deep into the fabric of the firm is to have one person totally devoted to ensuring the client is heard and attended to in a memorable way. You should have a Client Ambassador: someone who understands the client, who is an empathic listener, and who comprehends the unique dynamics of the attorney/client relationship. Several firms like Reed Smith, Orrick Herrington and Stanislaw Ashbaugh have already jumped on this idea, knowing full well that marketing officers or managing partners cannot fill this role. And what would this Client Ambassador do? Here are some ideas: Ensure the client experience is memorable and exceeds their expectations. This includes everything from the office appearance, how calls are handled, billing issues, employee interaction, etc. Meet or speak with clients for regular feedback. Train employees on how to deal with difficult client situations and ensure that everyone in the firm is on the same page. Work with the marketing department and firm leaders to increase cross-selling, referrals, and new business opportunities. Help prioritize marketing initiatives by soliciting client reaction and opinions. Meet with firm leaders providing ideas to drive practice group and firm profitability. Ensure attorneys and clients “matchup” advancing attorney/ client chemistry. Stimulate change and improvements before the client leaves the firm. Benchmark competitors regarding service delivery improvements. Reactivate old clients. Ensure proper follow-up on client concerns. Help clients succeed in non-legal areas through education and referrals.

· · · · · · · · · · · ·

· Champion firm successes and its value proposition to clients and the marketplace. · Provide metrics to ensure increased profits, usage and realization rates. · Help market the firm with client seminars and promotions. · Transaction or litigation analysis and commentary. · Address billing disputes. · Help implement an employee reward system for outstanding client service. · Track and monitor client satisfaction and service. THE EVIDENCE IS COMPELLING Research conducted by world-renowned BTI Consulting Group revealed that having a single individual accountable for firm-wide client service boosts per-attorney profits by up to 41.2%. BTI performed a comprehensive analysis of how over 160 distinct but interrelated marketing activities impact firm revenue, profitability and growth. This research, based on more than 140 interviews with Chief Marketing Officers, Managing Partners, Directors of Business Development and other marketing executives, definitively identified the marketing practices that deliver the best returns. The practice of having one individual accountable for firm-wide client service stands out as the single most powerful driver behind higher profits per attorney. If you want to discover new business opportunities, uncover problems and concerns before clients leave or damage your reputation, convey that your firm truly values the client relationship, discover client reactions to new marketing and business ideas, discover why clients choose your firm in the first place, increase service and usage levels, reduce your marketing costs, and increase per attorney profits over 40%, then you absolutely must appoint your own Client Ambassador.

CONCLUSION Are you convinced yet about where you should spend most of your time and marketing dollars and why a Client Ambassador will pay off handsomely for your firm? Maintaining loyal clients will do more to increase your bottom line than any marketing, PR or advertising campaign. Client-focused retention and loyalty strategies should be the overriding goal and objective of all your business development efforts because it’s a lot less costly than traditional marketing tactics, is ethical, simple, and represents a highly effective economical and leverage strategy. The “client-only marketing strategy” is a powerful one and represents the lynchpin of most successful law firms. Having a dedicated Client Ambassador is an easy way to implement this dynamic strategy. n Cole Silver is a lawyer and certified career and marketing consultant. His Expert Audio Series and book, “How to Create Wealth and Freedom in your Law Practice: 101 Powerful Client Development & Retention Strategies for Attorneys” can be ordered by going to Cole is available for speaking engagements and consulting and can be reached by calling 609-306-8098 or by e-mail at Article Source: Attorney Journal San Diego | Volume 134, 2014


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