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All posts tagged Tips and Trends

We always tell our law firm clients that communication is the key to the best client relationships. And communication takes many forms: the written word, the business-practical and commercial advice, the tone you set when talking to in-house counsel, the way in-house counsel want and expect to communicate for any and every matter and, of […]

It is the rare firm these days that does not offer some form of career and/or business development coaching services to its attorneys. Just about everyone in legal marketing has been asked to “coach” lawyers. Often, however, coaching attorneys in business development is easier said than done. And it can be complicated when succession issues […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, originally posted in June 2016, was one of last year’s most read posts. At the recent Client Experience in Professional Services conference in Durham, North Carolina, Stan Phelps shared his insights about winning the hearts of customers and influencing positive […]

I get the pleasure of seeing some pretty amazing places of business for my job. We get sent to all sorts of businesses all around the world to interview law firm clients and learn about their businesses and how the law firms can serve them better: manufacturing plants, industry giants, privately-held businesses that started from […]

If you are like me, most weeks you find and save an article or two about legal marketing and business development. This past week, while sifting through the stack, I was reminded of a scene from the movie Finding Forrester. Released in 2000, it is the story of an unlikely friendship between a reclusive writer […]

Wicker Park Group is revisiting some of the processes around Client Feedback Interviews in a new series of blog posts called “Back to Basics.” This is the fifth article in the series. You can find the first article about how to choose clients for feedback here, the second article about the importance of preparation here, the third article about who […]

Albeit unplanned and a bit happenstance, I have been interviewing quite a few alumni of our law firm clients. Alumni are great interview candidates for many reasons. They have insights and perceptions that go beyond the average firm client. They have “experienced both sides” and have an appreciation of what they would do differently. They […]

I recently attended a Birmingham LMA panel discussion moderated by Wicker Park Group partner Laura Meherg entitled “Lateral Integration & How to Avoid a Six-Figure Mistake.” Lateral hiring is often viewed as the number-one growth strategy for law firms. Because most law firms plan to hire laterals, I felt it important to share some of […]

Make It Easy

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At the beginning of 2015, I was given the great opportunity to become a strategic partner with the Wicker Park Group, the preeminent firm focused on client feedback in the legal industry today. At our first meeting, I asked the group: “After more than 2,000 client feedback interviews, what is it that clients care about […]

We have quite a few clients in the process of updating their websites and/or going through a brand overhaul. As many of you know, it is a massive undertaking both from a time and money perspective. But it is also a perfect opportunity to offer clarity to the marketplace on what your firm and lawyers […]

It happens. General counsel get fired—and sometimes fired very publicly. And law firms are rarely prepared for the unexpected people changes at their clients, let alone have a clear plan as to how they might impact the work and the larger client relationship. Ironically, law firms spend significant time thinking about what may happen if […]

As an alum of Chico State in California, I get the college’s newsletter a few times each year. I recently received one that caught my eye and reminded me of my current work training lawyers on business development. The business school staged a “Sweet Sixteen” competition that tested students’ strategic selling skills. The students, all […]

An IT lawyer recently made a striking observation to me. He works in the flat-screen TV industry and noted that a flat-screen TV from twenty years ago could cost $20,000 or more and lacked much of today’s technology. But every year, the technology has gotten better as the cost has declined. You can now buy […]

Many years ago, one of my prior firms looked to hire its first business development “lead generator.” The candidate we selected had graduated from law school and served as a client of the firm. He had an impressive network of contacts and understood his role—linking potential clients with attorneys at the firm. To avoid potential […]

Howard Schultz recently announced he is stepping down from his role as CEO and Chair of Starbucks to focus on the company’s plans to build high-end coffee shops that charge as much as $12 per cup of coffee. That makes me think of the top end of the lawyer’s hourly billable rate. The $2,000 hour […]

As is customary, the New Year brings with it a variety of resolutions, plans and promises. As such, this is a great time to outline and schedule business development training for the year. Along with the traditional marketing and communication responsibilities, today’s CMOs are expected to oversee new and evolving business development and sales initiatives, […]

We will periodically revisit some of Wicker Park Group’s most popular blog posts. This one, from October 2015, was one of last year’s most read posts.   In a recent post, we discussed the value of using stories in pitching you, your firm and what sets you apart. The value of telling your story was also mentioned in […]

End-of-the-year travels have had me on more airplanes, staying in more hotels, eating in more restaurants and visiting more law firm offices than usual. During my travels, I experienced some of the best and some of the worst hospitality imaginable. On one trip, weather and travel delays typical of the season resulted in missed connections, […]

Many law firms understand how to meet their client’s biggest and most obvious client service preferences. We’ve all laughed about (and learned from) the story of the firm that FedExed its RFP response to UPS and was summarily dismissed from the process as well as the firm that forgot to remove competitor products from the […]

Every Saturday morning, five baby boomers including myself join together for a 4- to 5-mile run. We’re not fast, but we are committed and make it whenever we can. Four of us work in legal: one is a solo practitioner, two work in different mid-size firms and me (the token business development consultant). Bob, the […]

Wayne Gretzky is famous for being one of the greatest hockey players in history. He is also known for inspiring thousands with his quotes. One of my favorite Gretzky quotes is: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” It is simple but incredibly powerful and exactly […]

I recently had the opportunity to perform my civic duty as a juror. While the timing was inconvenient and the case not all that interesting, the experience provided a great perspective on the dramatic impact of strong communication and meeting facilitation skills. The case was relatively short, and there were only three witnesses called. The […]

In my work over the past year with individual associates and partners on client business development, I have noticed several common themes that are worth sharing: 1. In law practice client development, many lawyers are asking for a business development “template” to simply read and follow. To that, I repeat our mantra: “One size fits […]

One of the most important and sometimes overlooked skills associates need to perfect is the ability to lead/facilitate a variety of group meetings and discussions. Presentations to practice and industry group colleagues, pitches to prospects and business meetings with clients are just a few of the more common situations that demand effective leadership/facilitation skills. Leading […]

Early in my law firm marketing career, I held an in-house position at a Pacific Northwest law firm of approximately 150 lawyers. I was asked to speak at the firm retreat. I shaped my presentation around the basics: Focus on relationships, distinguish yourself through client service and always be responsive. As I opened the floor […]

Books to Inspire

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Summer reading has remained an ingrained habit from school days. At WPG, we are all avid readers and share book recommendations across genres. We read everything from current bestsellers and biographies to cookbooks and of course business books. Our 2016 summer reading focus at WPG has been on understanding the “client experience,” and we’ve all […]

Unsurprisingly, no law firm has had the courage in recent weeks to say, “In light of the unjustified first-year associate salary increases, we are reducing first-year base compensation by $10,000 to better align our business with our clients’ ongoing economic reality and invest in our client relationships.” There is no value to your clients in […]

Part Two in a series devoted to presentation skills. Read the previous post on teaching presentation skills here.  I am a devoted fan of National Public Radio and suspect many who are reading this post also find their news stories both informative and memorable. Nina Totenberg, who covers the Supreme Court, is a particular favorite of mine. […]

At the recent Client Experience in Professional Services conference in Durham, North Carolina, Stan Phelps shared his insights about winning the hearts of customers and influencing positive word of mouth. Phelps is the author of What’s Your Purple Goldfish?, and his crowd-sourced stories resonated with the audience of engineering, design, architectural, construction, legal and financial […]

The massive uptick in how corporate legal departments and law firms are collecting data to make smarter decisions in any number of areas may very well disrupt the legal industry. But Big Data is not a replacement for Little Data: the voice of the individual client. From IBM’s ROSS and Watson to Mitratech’s March acquisition […]

Law firms love meetings. And in most law firms, meetings are ineffective because of broken structures, focus and outcomes. Let’s point out of the obvious: Firms ask individuals who are the busiest, the most critical to the firm’s success and often the most productive to attend too many meetings. Firms conduct a significant number of […]

Whether the situation calls for a young associate to explain the applicability of a new statute to colleagues, a partner to present a client proposal or an industry group chair to deliver the keynote address at a conference, all lawyers must be able to deliver an effective group presentation. Indeed, the ability to prepare for […]

Bloomberg recently published an article on the exhaustion many consumers are feeling about the plethora of customer satisfaction surveys they face. The piece attributes the steady increase in quick surveys to a number of factors including a growing interest in utilizing customer feedback to improve services and the ease of reaching customers via email and […]

“When I select attorneys to handle a matter, I really look for a team. I want the leader to be familiar with the case and giving people direction. I don’t expect him to get in the nitty-gritty from day one, but you do really need a very smart guy to be in the details and […]

The single greatest truth in any client feedback effort is simple: If you are not prepared to act on the feedback, don’t ask for it. In every client feedback program—whether we are conducting the interviews ourselves or training the firm on how to conduct them—managing the clients’ expectations is critical to the program’s success. We […]

We play and watch games throughout our lives. Own a frequent flyer card? You qualify as a player. Buy an occasional lottery ticket? Play recreational sports or video games? Yep, you’re a player. Games are everywhere in our culture, and they can be an effective tool to help lawyers succeed at business development. After all, […]

Many of you are aware that I was in the CMO role for over a decade. It was not without its challenges, and there were moments when it felt like pushing a boulder up a hill, but I really loved the position. I loved being in the hot seat to drive innovation and growth, seeing […]

As the weather warms, I find myself wanting to do household spring-cleaning chores while also dreading the effort. I long for a day to pack away winter coats and make room for lighter, brighter clothes in the closet, to replace storm windows with screens and to clean outdoor furniture in preparation of porch sitting. Then […]

Not long after I made the move from law firm practice to general counsel at a Texas financial institution, I observed that the senior executives at our holding company (the key decisionmakers) all had internal people within the bank who served as “coaches.” These coaches were not the ultimate decisionmakers within the bank regarding projects […]

One of the most challenging jobs any general counsel encounters is guiding the company through litigation-related decisions. This process involves determining the company’s goals in the disputed matter, setting any budgeting constraints, choosing outside litigation counsel, assessing how much control and personal involvement in-house counsel and management want in the litigation, keeping company management informed […]

You’ve recruited good candidates for business development, and they’ve participated in a productive group training program. So what’s the next step to success? After participating in the group program, your lawyers are ready for one-on-one coaching sessions in order to adapt what they’ve learned and make it relevant to their individual practices. One-on-one sessions work […]

Business Development coaching takes time. It takes money. And it takes a lot of effort and dedication on the part of the firm, the coach and the lawyer. Ideally, firms are confident from the outset that the investment in coaching is worthwhile and the coaching candidates will take advantage of the opportunities. Otherwise, everyone ends […]

January 17 has been designated Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day because that is about how long most people who make resolutions actually stick with them. According to research conducted by Statistic Brain, only 8% of resolution makers are successful with their resolutions. That’s a pretty sad success rate. According to Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology […]

Clients come in every shape and size, and every client has a different set of expectations from outside counsel. And “every client” means each individual at the same company has a different style and set of needs that needs to be known, hence our mantra: One Size Fits One. While each client will have individual […]

As you kick off 2016, consider a few fresh training exercises for use at firm retreats or other gatherings. Experiential, active training has become a top priority for law schools and is also highly valuable in the development of a lawyer’s skills regardless of age or experience level. For law firms, interactive application exercises can […]

Earlier this year, a CMO friend asked for help designing and delivering a two-hour session on business development at the annual women partners’ retreat. Business development had been a topic at every retreat for a number of years with mixed success, so the CMO, Tara Weintritt and I decided to identify five influential women partners […]

“While our attorney conveys knowledge and supervises other attorneys, we don’t see a successor. But we don’t see one in any law firm. There is no incentive to do it.”   Succession planning is one of those recurring issues that Wicker Park Group hears about regularly while conducting client feedback interviews. Whether due to a […]

In a recent post, we discussed the value of using stories in pitching you, your firm and what sets you apart. The value of telling your story was also mentioned in an insightful series of tweets posted by Google Ventures partner Rick Klau a few months ago. Klau, an entrepreneur familiar with the legal marketspace, […]

In recent decades, many firms have embraced the transition of certain administrative and management duties such as pricing, project management and process improvement from the attorneys to professional staff. Yet there is continued reluctance to the hiring of client-facing business development (i.e. sales) staff. Why does this reluctance to sales support still exist? And how […]

In the process of preparing for client interviews, we often get asked to obtain the opinions, interest or perceived value of the firm’s newsletters. It is a good question and worth asking given how much time your firm, staff and lawyers spend writing articles. To be candid, the answers range. Many interviewees cannot recall if […]

Last summer, we shared a list of books that engaged us and encouraged us to rethink how we approach our work and personal lives. Adding to that list, these insightful books address everything from the power of optimism to the importance of decluttering your spaces. Check them out and let us know what you think: […]

Happy New Year! We hope you enjoyed quality time with family and friends over the holidays. It is hard to believe it is January 6, 2015. Where does the time go? Whether you are a New Year’s resolution kind of person or simply ready for a fresh beginning, we thought we would share a few […]

We always appreciate a good book, especially when it is teaching us something valuable about how we live and work. Some of these books have challenged the way we view leadership and some have provided insights into teamwork and character, but all of them have left us wiser about how to foster strong work environments […]

It’s no surprise to anyone that the legal community is not typically classified as innovative. But as law firms and legal service providers adjust to the changing economic landscape, many of the more successful ones are adopting innovative practices to stand out and provide a higher caliber service or product.  Innovation in the legal industry […]

As we wrote in our previous post, we are exploring seven character traits of high achievers that also translate into great success for client relationship management and business development. In this post, we are covering zest, grit and self-control. ZestWhen we hear the term zest used within a professional context, a lot of us imagine […]

In our ongoing look at the seven character traits of high achievers, we are devoting this post to an important one: social intelligence. Daniel Goleman, a psychologist and expert in social intelligence, explains in an article for the Harvard Business Review that neuroscience research has shown us the high value of social intelligence and its impact on […]

In our final blog post exploring the traits that lead to successful client relationships and business development, we’re talking about curiosity. The article in the New York Times Magazine that inspired this series discusses the KIPP charter schools, which focus on seven character traits that they believe will foster success. Per KIPP’s site, a curious person is someone […]

The character traits we are looking at this week, gratitude and optimism, seem pretty straightforward. After all, you’ve surely thanked your clients for their business, and having a generally positive attitude is easy enough. But our experiences at Wicker Park Group have taught us that taking purposeful steps to effectively express gratitude and cultivate an […]

At the 2009 Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference, Laura Meherg of Wicker Park Group and law firm CMO Erin Meszaros presented a workshop on client feedback. Billed as a “live” client feedback interview, the highly interactive program had the underlying goal of spreading the message that while the interview is important, the key components of […]

A recent survey of the web habits of general in-house counsel has revealed that almost 90% of them agreed that a law firm’s website plays a key role in influencing a purchasing decision. The survey was conducted by Wicker Park Group on behalf of Hubbard One, a Thomson Reuters business that provides services for marketing […]

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