Marketing Partner Forum -

I read with no small amount of interest about this year's Marketing Partner Forum (MPF), which was promoted as "the legal industry's leading conference on client development." It's a strikingly similar approach that we at LSSO have taken with respect to our annual RainDance Conferences, which we've positioned (and totally delivered) as being "the industry's only leadership conference exclusively focused on driving revenue and building client loyalty." In other words, RainDance is all about sales, service, quality initiatives - business and client development.

Well, that's OK, I thought, when I first got the MPF brochure. People need this stuff and the more sophisticated people will get what the various conferences deliver.

But then I saw the conference touted as "the industry's only business development conference reaching Marketing and Managing Partners in the United States, Canada and Europe." WHOA. Hold on just a second, now.

I'm not interested causing any hard feelings with our colleagues and friends in the industry, folks. However, and with all due respect, that claim just isn't accurate. Maybe I'm missing something, but how can anyone make this statement in 2006 when LSSO's produced RainDance since 2004?!

RainDance was conceived and developed (and delivers) as the first conference EVER to focus exclusively on business development for the legal industry.

There's no question that this year's MPF again featured top speakers and that the topics were timely. Given our familiarity with many of the presenters, whom I hold in the highest regard, that the programs were excellent.

When I take a look at some of the offerings, I get confused. Here are some examples: Law Firm Marketing 101 and Identifying Strategic Priority Areas for Law Firm Marketing Professionals (both pre-conference workshops). Firmwide PR & Media Relations Plans to Prepare You for Any Situation. Web Site Best Practices. And tThe Psychology of Marketing Communications —Can Marketing Directors and Managing Partners Ever Get on the Same Page?

In my humble opinion, you can't just mix in some biz dev stuff with traditional marcomm sessions just so you can pitch the event as a "business development conference." Why not call it what it is - a legal marketing and sales conference for leaders - and be proud of it? Don't do the wolf in sheep's clothing thing, it's just not necessary. Also, I think it does the industry a disservice in that it encourages the marketplace to continue calling sales "marketing" rather educate the industry on the differences so that we can all appreciate and value the separate disciplines. So that's really my issue.

FYI, one more little thing and then I'll stop this rant: Put in a google search of "Marketing Partner Forum" and see how long it takes you to find information about the event itself, like the conference agenda...

Now to try to balance things out - everyone should take a few minutes and read about the program there. Thanks to Larry Bodine, Rick Klau and Gerry Riskin blogs, you can read insightful reports about MPF on their blogs. We all still have a lot to learn...



IQ v. EI

I read an illuminating article today, Emotional Intelligence, by Ronda Muir, Esq. EI is something we work with when coaching lawyers and leaders and this article makes a good case as to why lawyers should care about it and how it is a critical component of sales and service success:

"In spite of lawyers' confidence, some might even say arrogance, as to their intellectual competence, for the most part they have a demonstrated unwillingness or inability to tap into emotional data. . . Emotional intelligence does not correlate with IQ. Just because you're smart doesn't mean you're likely to have a high EI. Some professionals, such as lawyers, exhibit high average IQ scores (in the 115-130 range), while at the same time scoring lower than the general population on EI (85-95)."

"For lawyers, the message is clearly that, in order to upgrade their performance, they should use the additional data available from their own and others’ emotions to enhance their cognitive skills."

Happy reading.



System v. Players

Of course, put your resources into planning, systems and protocol, those things are critical. But if you don't have the players, you don't have game. The lawyers have to want to compete to win. They have to be better than the competition. That means being better prepared, being in shape to play and able to EXECUTE. Take it from a coach that knows about winning:

It is about having players. That's all it's about. That's who goes out there and plays the game. They're the ones who block, tackle, run, catch, kick ... they're the ones that do it. That's what it's about. Any team that's successful has to have players that go out there and can execute and can play well and be productive. Any success that we've had has been due, more than anything, to the performance of the players on the field under pressure situations against a high level of competition. That's what it's about for any team in this league.

—Bill Belichick, when asked if it was about the system or the players

-Catherine (go PATS!)


No Nons Sense

Let's start off the New Year right - let's resolve to address the legal industry's pervasive "NONS" SENSE.

Where else is it acceptable to refer to team members as a NON (as in NON LAWYER)? It's a practice that is demoralizing and destructive. It is contrary to everything we are trying to accomplish with our sales and service initiatives.

The climate has never been more competitive. Clients are sophisticated buyers and they expect their lawyers to be stellar technicians. We also understand that they're demanding (rightfully so) that their law firms provide them with excellent service. As a result, there is increasing pressure for the firm as a whole to deliver at every level. As we all know, everything a firm does eventually touches the client.

With that in mind, firms had better get serious about changing their attitudes and actions with respect to the people employed by the firm (translation: "non-partners"). For those who are in other industries or who are new to legal, it's hard to believe: law firm business professionals still aren't yet universally viewed valued members of the team, irrespective of their MBAs, JDs, and other impressive credentials.

Law firm executives and business professionals make all the difference in operations. This is particularly important in the areas of service standards, protocol and delivery, one of the biggest competitive advantages firms have going for them. It's obvious that the ability of the non-administration professional (translation: "lawyers") to function is directly proportional to the acceptance level of the their teammates. The sooner they get this, the better off they, the firm and their clients will be.

Please join my quest to eliminate the word "NON" as it refers to NON LAWYER from the legal industry's lexicon. Stop the NONS SENSE!