Managing Partners Forum

An outstanding experience, and I look forward to next year.

Stephen L. Mabey
Stewart McKelvey Stirling Scales - Halifax, Nova Scotia


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  • Where Are We Now?
    Revealing the Latest Trends in Legal Marketing and Business Development 

    by Legal Marketing Association and Bloomberg Law

    Law firm marketing has come a long way since its infancy in the 1980s. Back then, law firm marketers were focused primarily on firm brochures and promotional items. Martindale Hubbell was the only directory that mattered, and there was no Internet. Today, law firm marketers are becoming important players on the firm’s leadership team with titles like Chief Marketing Officer. They’re more involved in strategic planning and business development, as well. This survey reflects input from 190 law firm marketing professionals and 135 attorneys who engage in meaningful business development activities. Here are some of its findings:

    • Sixty-two percent (62%) say their firms are increasing focus on marketing and business development efforts.
    • Both marketers and attorneys agree that the “client meetings” and “firm-hosted events” are the most effective business development activities. Social media is also in the mix.
    • As to staffing levels, the industry average is one in-house marketer for every 25 lawyers.
    • Eighty-three percent (83%) of lawyers and sixty-two percent (62%) of marketers cite “lack of time” as the number one challenge to implement effective business development efforts.
    Law firm marketing is here to stay, and law firms are getting better and becoming more sophisticated in their marketing and business development efforts.

  • 7 Strategies and Tools to Help Boost
    Your Law Firm’s Social Media Performance 

    by Dorothy Rausa

    In this short article, Dorothy suggests seven clear and well-defined strategies to take your firm’s social media performance to the next level. Originally published on Legal Management magazine, this practical article talks about:

    • Target Marketing
    • Social Media Management
    • Influencer Marketing
    • Images
    • Hashtags
    • Videos and Podcasts 
    • Google Alerts 
    We suggest that you pass this article to the person in charge of social media at your firm and ask where your firm stands on its social media strategy.

  • BigLaw Beware:
    Boutiques Are Coming for Your Clients 

    by Aebra Coe, Law360

    This short article reports on a recent survey of 307 business leaders by Globality, Inc. which brings encouraging news to smaller and mid-sized law firms. A few highlights:

    • Forty-one percent (41%) cite cost effectiveness as a top priority when selecting outside counsel.
    • Thirty-six percent (36%) say lack of responsiveness is an obstacle in dealing with outside counsel.
    • Forty percent (40%) of spend on outside counsel goes to BigLaw. Twenty-eight percent (28%) goes to smaller and mid-size firms.
    • Forty percent (40%) anticipate an increase in work going to smaller and mid-size firms over the next few years.
    I think most of us know the reasons why in-house counsel are looking more to smaller and mid-size firms to handle matters once within the domain of BigLaw. Better service and a far better value proposition.

  • How to Empower Law Firm
    Marketing and Business Development

    by Jody Glidden – A Follow Up Interview with John Remsen, Jr.

    Earlier this year, Jody did a follow up interview with us on how to create and empower an effective marketing department at your law firm. As with our first interview, Jody and his team did a great job summarizing the highlights of our conversation in a short, well-written article that we’re pleased to share. Here are the six keys to making it happen:

    • Educate Your Partners
      Help them understand the difference between marketing and business development, and the role your marketing staff plays.
    • Define Your Firm’s Marketing Position(s)
      Develop job descriptions for each member of your marketing department to keep their attention focused on the right priorities.
    • Create High-Level Reporting Relationships
      Have them report to the firm’s managing partner or a partner-in-charge of marketing.
    • Help Your Marketer(s) Help the Firm
      Insist that lawyers respect and respond to marketing department’s requests for assistance on important firm projects.
    • Provide Adequate Resources
      Invest 3-4% of gross revenue, and staff at one in-house marketer for every 30-35 lawyers.
    • Give Your Marketing Team a Seat at the Table
      Invite their participation at firm retreats and partnership meetings.
    If you do these six things, your firm will have a more effective marketing and business development program, and a very happy and productive marketing department!

  • How to Build a Successful Law Firm Marketing Department 
    by Jody Glidden – An Interview with John Remsen, Jr.

    In December, Jody Glidden of Introhive, interviewed me on how to set up an effective in-house marketing department at a mid-size law firm. Jody did a great job and I thought the article turned out quite well. Here are the eight strategies we discussed during the interview.

    • Know the Difference between Marketing and Business Development
    • Focus Your Attention Mostly on Existing Clients
    • Ask Your Clients What They Want and Deliver
    • Market Your Firm through Industry Practice Groups
    • Work as a Team, not a Collection of Individuals
    • Hold Lawyers Accountable for Marketing Plans
    • Present Small, Intimate, and Memorable Firm Events
    • Dress for Success – It Matters More than You Realize
    Marketing is not a “big firm” thing and, in case you were wondering, we I define “mid-size” as 25-200 lawyers. Of course, it depends largely on the size of your market.

  • Twelve Steps to Set Up
    Industry Practice Groups at Your Firm 

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We’re strong proponents of Industry Practice Groups (IPGs) for a variety of reasons. They showcase the firm’s industry expertise; they promote sharing and teamwork among lawyers; and they create a forum for accountability. They’re also a great vehicle to achieve smooth, orderly succession planning.

    To be successful, your firm needs to select and empower strong and committed group leaders, and start with a simple, focused approach with clear goals and objectives. This article dispenses some great advice on how to make industry-focused marketing teams happen at your firm.

  • Are You Ready for Practice Group Leaders
    by David H. Maister

    We recommend most everything David writes on law firm leadership and management. The essence having practice groups, says Maister, is the willingness of individuals to contribute non-billable time to the group effort and their agreement to be accountable to the group for what is promised. In this article, he writes that the problem with practice groups in many firms is that most group leaders have poorly defined roles, unclear objectives and responsibilities, and ambiguous authority. He maintains that group leaders must be selected for their attitudes not their accomplishments. They need to be rewarded for the time they dedicate to the role, and they must have meaningful input in the compensation system.

  • 20 Law Practice Empowerment Tips 
    by Peggy Gruenke and Alan J. Klevan

    In this short article, Peggy and Alan present practical guidance to make the practice of law more profitable and rewarding. The principles set forth apply at any stage of your career and its damn good advice. Among my favorites:

    • Write a Simple Business Plan – for You
    • Take Great Care of Your Referral Sources
    • Make Certain Client Service is Exceptional
    • Learn to Say No
    • Never, Ever, Negotiate Your Fee
    • Bill Early, Often and Strategically
    This stuff may seem basic, and it is. But it’s good to be reminded of the basics from time to time.

  • Five Things Lawyers Hate to Hear Clients Say
    by Gerry Riskin

    Gerry Riskin is one of most highly respected law firm consultants on the planet. After serving as managing partner of a thriving Canadian law firm, he co-founded Edge International in 1983. His writings have been published throughout the world, and he is perhaps best known as author of The Successful Lawyer, one of the ABA’s all-time best sellers. In this article, Gerry suggests some effective ways to address client reactions to these five situations:

    • Asking for the Retainer
    • Delegating Work to Another Lawyer
    • Cross-Selling Additional Legal Work
    • Explaining a Higher than Expected Bill
    • Dealing with an Unhappy Client
    These are not scripts. Rather, they present ideas to help you think through how you can best respond in your own way.

  • What's Hot What's Not - Annual Practice Trends 2016
    by Dianne Molvig

    We received some nice press in Wisconsin Lawyer magazine commenting on Bob Denney’s most recent edition of “What’s Hot and What’s Not in the Legal Industry.”

  • Making Cross-Serving a Bedrock Value 
    by David H. Freeman, JD

    Did you know it takes 5-7 times more time, effort and energy to generate a new matter from a new client than from a current client? From a business development perspective, the action, my friends, is with your firm’s existing clients. Providing great service, soliciting client feedback, and getting to know your client’s business and industry provide much higher ROI for your marketing and business development efforts than going after new clients who don’t yet know, like and trust lawyers at your firm.

    In his article, David provides practical guidance to identify and overcome the challenges associated with embedding a cross-selling culture at your firm.

  • Those Stupid Superlative Law Lists 
    by Ross Fishman

    Terry Isner and our friends at Jaffe have now identified more than 1,200 legal rankings and directories, citing Chambers and Legal 500 as the most prestigious of the bunch. In fact, the number of legal ranking and directories has more than doubled in just the past eight years. That’s a far cry from the good ole days when Martindale-Hubbell was king. Before your firm starts writing checks, please read Ross’s snarky (but really good) article that questions if directories are the best way to spend your firm’s precious marketing and business development dollars. (By the way, we agree with much of what Ross has to say!)

  • Four Trends Managing Partners
    Need to Know about Technology and Law Firm Marketing

    by Adam L. Stock

    Adam is one of the world's leading experts on the intersection of law firm marketing and technology. He chairs the Legal Technology Marketing Conference and his work has been recognized by the Legal Marketing Association and American Lawyer Media. He writes about four trends that every law firm managing partner should know about:

    • Social Media
    • Content Marketing
    • Mobile Devices
    • Online Video
    In the article, Adam provides specific recommendations about what your firm should be doing to in each of these important areas.

  • Ten Ways Small
    and Mid-Sized Firms Can Compete

    by Bruce W. Marcus

    Can smaller and mid-sized law firms compete successfully with BigLaw in today’s turbulent legal market? History says yes, and we believe they can. This short article by the late Bruce Marcus sets forth ten ways to go about it, including:

    •  Focus on the Business Side of Your Firm,
    •  Modify Your Firm’s Culture,
    •  Learn to Market Effectively, and
    •  Think Incrementally.

  • Law Firm Leaders on Twitter: Pros and Cons
    by John Byrne

    Last year, we conducted a Managing Partner Social Media Survey with Jaffe to ascertain firm leaders’ attitudes about and the use of social media. My conclusion was (and remains) that most managing partners are present, but not engaged, on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.

    In this article, John identifies about a half-dozen managing partners of AmLaw100 law firms who “tweet” on a regular basis. He submits that the pros far outweigh the cons and asks: “What’s holding other managing partners back from using Twitter?” We asked Jaffe’s Terry Isner for his comment on the article:

    “Managing partners have to lead by example and support these new forms of marketing and advertising, showing both internally and externally that they are adapting to change. Social media is helping us humanize the legal industry or as we like to say at Jaffe, showing the human side of genius. A short and personal tweet from a firm leader can be worth 1,000 words. John's article supports our plea to stop being anti-social and get engaged.”

    Our take on all of this? Unless you’re really into Twitter, firm leaders would be more effective focusing time and attention on other priorities.

  • Ten Golden Rules to Make Your New Clients Happy
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We originally wrote this article for the Legal Marketing Association in 2008 and it received lots of attention and interest back then. And it’s receiving even more attention after Karle Lester, Managing Editor of Wisconsin Lawyer magazine, asked if she could reprint it in her publication last month. From there, several other state bar magazines picked up the article and it was featured as “Pick of the Week” by It’s amazing how much mileage you can get from a timeless, well-written article on a topic of interest to your audience.

  • 49 Tips for New Lawyers
    by Merrilyn Astin Tarlton

    Merrilyn is the founder of Attorney-at-Work, one of the most popular blogs for practicing attorneys in the US. With the tagline “One Really Good Idea Every Day for Enterprising Lawyers,” its goal is give lawyers everything they need to create a law practice - and a life -they can love. In addition, Merrilyn is a fouding member of the Legal Marketing Association and past President of the College of Law Practice Management. This is one A@W’s most viewed articles ever published and here are a few of its pointers:

    • Tip #5: Return phone calls, e-mails and texts promptly. Really.
    • Tip #11: Under-promise and over-deliver. Never the other way around.
    • Tip #15: Try to think like your client. Always.
    • Tip #19: When you complete a matter or a task, ask for feedback.
    • Tip #27: Put down that device and pay attention!
    • Tip #31: Keep an orderly desk. No one wants to work with a messy thinker.
    We suggest that you circulate this little gem to others at your firm as an important reminder of how important service and professionalism are for lawyers of all ages.

  • Marketing an International Law Firm Network
    by Ross Fishman

    Ross is a pioneer in law firm marketing, especially in the areas of impactful branding and advertising campaigns. I always enjoy what he has to say, and agree with most everything he preaches. Ross and I agree that law firm networks are a tremendous resource for smaller and mid-size law firms. The key is to find the right one, and then invest the time to take full advantage of your membership. In this article, Ross offers guidance on four different ways to “market” your firm’s network.  They are:

    • Marketing You within the Network,
    • Marketing Your Firm within the Network,
    • Marketing the Network within Your Firm, and
    • Marketing Your Network to Your Clients.
    The MPF has affiliated with numerous law firm networks over the years including Meritas, ALFA International, Lex Mundi and Primerus. If your firm has not yet joined a law firm network, you should strongly consider it.

  • Ten Golden Rules to Make Your New Client Happy
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    If you’re like me, you assess the quality of your car mechanic’s work based on the way you’re treated when you deal with him, and whether or not you trust him. Does he listen to you when you bring the car in for servicing? Does he keep your car running smoothly? Does he provide an estimate before he starts the work? Is his bill reasonable and within estimate? Is your car clean and ready when promised? These are among the factors that most people use to evaluate the quality of a car mechanic's work. When you think about it, these same factors just might apply to lawyers and law firms, too.

  • Focusing on Client Feedback
    by Terri Pepper Gavulic

    This article is featured in the May/June 2014 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice magazine which focuses on marketing. In it, Terri does a great job outlining the benefits of soliciting client feedback, as well as an overview of the most commonly used methodologies.

  • Client Feedback: An Essential Element of Client Service
    by Allison Shields

    Allison’s article cites data from a recent LexisNexis survey about how Canadian law firms place a higher value on client feedback and do it much more often and systematically than US firms. Sixty-five percent (65%) of Canadian firms say they run a client feedback program compared to just 40% of US firms. She discusses the various methods of going about it and what to do with the results.

  • Today's Best Marketing Practice? 
    Solicit and Respond to Client Feedback

    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We call your attention to an article we wrote 15 years ago on the subject. It appeared in the ALA’s Legal Management magazine. Its lessons still apply - perhaps more than ever - as law firm marketing departments focus way too much time and attention (in our humble opinion) on keeping pace with the social media craze.

  • Social Media Policy Template
    by Jaffe PR

    Anyone thinking about doing business with your law firm is going online to learn more about you. They check out your website, they Google your firm name and/or the names of your lawyers. And they’re finding lots of information. Most of it’s good, but some of it might not be. Hence, the reason why every law firm needs a thoughtful social media policy to help its people use social media effectively and responsibly.

    Enter our friends at Jaffe who have just updated for the seventh time their template for social media policy. And they’re kind enough to make it available to our readers. We encourage you to use and customize this template for your firm to include your firm’s principles about confidentiality, reputation, management and external communication.

  • Your Guide to Develop Your Individual Marketing Plan 
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    We believe that every lawyer in private practice should take the time to develop an individual marketing plan. The reasons are many:
    -  Clients hire lawyers, not law firms.
    -  Clients hire and refer lawyers they know, like and trust.
    -  Lawyers with clients have better control over their futures.
    -  Lawyers with clients make more money and have more clout within their firms.
    And that's just for starters! We recommend that partners invest about 200 hours a year in marketing and business development. Studies show that successful rain makers invest much more. To make sure that time is invested wisely, a plan is essential. This article includes our five-page outline that you can easily customize to your firm, as many of our clients (and non-clients) already have.

  • The Chain: LinkedIn is More than Social Media for Lawyers
    by Dennis Kennedy

    In this article from the ABA Journal, Dennis succinctly presents his reasons why every lawyer in private practice should have a LinkedIn profile. For starters, it's likely to be among the top three results when someone "googles" your name on the Internet. But that's just the beginning. Dennis is co-author of LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers.

  • Practice Group Marketing Showcases Expertise
    by Atlanta Business Chronicle

    We're huge believers in Industry Practice Groups (IPGs) to market legal services. Most importantly, clients want and look for industry expertise in lawyers and law firms. Beyond that IPGs help firms cross-sell services and focus their marketing resources on defined target audiences. Last month, I was interviewed by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and my comments were featured in a special section on law and accounting. The article has since appeared in several other business journals around the country.

  • Marketing to Your Existing Clients: Three Can't Miss Programs 
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    This classic article originally appeared in Law Marketing Exchange, LMA's national newsletter, back in 1997. Although written almost 15 years ago, its lessons are more important and relevant than ever. Take great care of your current clients - the ones you want to keep, anyway - and focus your marketing resources accordingly. Provide solid legal work and great service. Go visit them. Hold a client appreciation event. Unlike trying to figure out all this social media stuff, it's not rocket science.

  • BTI's How Clients Hire:
    The Role of Legal Directories and Online Lawyer Profiles

    by BTI Consulting Group

    Generally, I'm not a big fan of law firm rankings and directories. Many (maybe even most) are little more than a play to lawyer ego, and have little or nothing to do with clients and prospective clients. There are exceptions, however, like Martindale-Hubbell and Chambers USA. This report concludes that directories have much more influence that I thought. For example it finds that 77% of in-house counsel regularly consult them to validate credentials of a lawyer or firm, and 80% use them to identify lawyers/firms in unfamiliar jurisdictions. It also finds that opting out of certain directories, especially Martindale, could very well be a costly decision.

  • Building and Sustaining a Marketing and Sales Culture at Your Firm 
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Today, most law firm leaders today recognize the important and necessary role that marketing and business development play in operating a profitable and successful law firm. But getting lawyers to work together, and invest the non-billable time and effort required to be effective rainmakers - "mist"-makers, anyway - is no easy assignment. Planning, monitoring and accountability are recommended.

  • Good Waiters Make Good Lawyers
    by W. Leighton Lord, III, Esq.

    Leighton Lord recently stepped down in his role leading Nexsen Pruett, a 180-lawyer firm with eight office locations in the Carolinas. He was kind enough to share this article he recently wrote for Lawyers Weekly. Leighton says that, like waiters, lawyers are in the service business after all.

  • Law Firm Social Media Policy - Byrne 
    by John Byrne

    John Byrne's template for Law Firm Social Media Policy is practical and to-the-point....perhaps the shortest and sweetest of the bunch. It clearly sets forth guidelines for responsible, common-sense online behavior.   

  • Your Guide to Developing Your Personal Marketing Plan…and Why Every Lawyer Should Have One
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    There are two kinds of lawyers - those who have their own clients and those who work for lawyers with their own clients. The difference between the two is having an individual, written marketing plan.

  • What's Really Going On In Today's Legal Departments 
    by Lauren Williamson

    Good news for smaller and mid-sized firms, according to this article which appears in the current issue of Inside Counsel magazine. According to a recent survey of over 550 in-house counsel, 65% say they have retained more smaller, regional firms over the past two years. The reason? Lower price tag for legal services. But there is even better news. They say they will continue using smaller firms, even after the economy improves.   

  • Does Your Law Firm Need a Marketing Director?
    by Mary K. Young

    The right marketing director can add substantial (yet difficult to quantify) value in helping your law firm develop strategy and setting priorities for your marketing and business development programs. If your firm has 30 more lawyers, hiring an in-house marketer can be a very wise investment indeed.

  • Turning The Business Model in Your Law Firm Inside Out
    by William E. Lowell

    According to a recent Harvard University study, more than 70% of a customer's "brand perception" is based on experiences they have with the organization's employees. For law firms this means both lawyers and support staff. This article speaks to the concept of "relationship capital," which is created when everyone in the firm is focused on working together to achieve a positive brand image and deliver the brand promise to each and every client, prospective client and referral source.

  • Dealing with the Downturn: How Law Firms Can Meet the Challenges and Exploit the Opportunities
    by Stephen Armstrong, John Claydon, Tony King and Norman Letalik

    This two-part Lex Mundi article focuses on what law firm leaders can do to deal with the downturn through both aggressive law firm economics and strengthening client relationships. The suggested practices can help firms survive the downturn and strategically position themselves for the recovery.

  • Young Professionals: Cultivate the Habits of Friendship
    by David Maister

    Law firms often struggle with how to get associates and younger professionals involved in business development early in their careers. In this article, Maister offers the best piece of advice - they should start by cultivating the habits of friendship. Forward this must-read primer to your associates today!  

  • The Declining Client Satisfaction Antidote: Nearly 70% of In-House Counsel Are Dissatisfied
    by Michael Rynowecer

    According to research conducted by the highly-respected BTI Consulting Group, 70% of in-house counsel are dissatisfied with their primary outside law firm. Astonishing, don't you think?

  • Building and Sustaining a Marketing and Sales Culture at Your Law Firm (Or, How to Make Marketing Really Matter)
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Making marketing a living, breathing part of your firm's culture begins with you. The managing partner and other firm leaders must be passionate and consistent in order to gain buy-in from everyone on the team.  Use this top 10 list as your guide.  

  • Seven Habits of Successful Rainmakers
    by Sara Holtz

    What separates the "minders and grinders" from the successful rainmakers who are bringing in their own client work and contributing to the firm's bottom line? Holtz has identified seven telltale traits. The good news? She says rainmakers are made, not born.

  • Wasted Time and Money: The Top 10 Ways That Firms Squander Precious Marketing Resources
    by John Remsen, Jr.

    Counting down the Top 10 ways that law firms often squander their marketing resources. Is your firm guilty of any of these?