Kevin O’Keefe Talks Law Blogs

Kevin O'Keefe


How can law firms motivate attorneys to blog?

What is the best way for lawyers interested in blogging to get started?

How can blogs be leveraged for ink in major news publications?

Listen in on this great podcast with law blog pioneer Kevin O’Keefe.  With over 7 years of experience with law blogs, and a thriving company that manages almost 3,000 law blogs- Kevin is a powerful thought leader in blogging world today.  Last Friday, we were honored to be joined Kevin on the Weekly Voir Dire to answer some compelling questions about the risks and rewards of law blogs.

Listen in to hear Kevin explain- why law blogs aren’t for everyone, the negative effect on a firm of an inactive law blog, and how often lawyers should spend blogging each week.  Some of the answers are quite surprising.

The Weekly Voir Dire will be on hiatus for the next 4 month while Adrian is on walkabout in Australia. To stay informed, follow Adrian on Twitter @adriandayton or sign up to hear about his next FREE conference call.


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Influencing the Reptilian Brain

Young Katy’s eyes are locked on the treat sitting on the gray metal desk in front of her.  It looks like such a tasty morsel.  It reminds her of the ones her mom puts in her hot chocolate on cold mornings.  She wants to eat it so badly, then she remembers what the man in the lab coat told her.

“If you wait until I get back, you can have two mini-marshmallows.”

He is taking forever.  Perhaps she could eat this one now, and then get another one when she returns home?  Maybe he isn’t coming back?  Maybe when he returns she won’t get anything?  She kicks her 4-year-old legs, squirms in her chair, and hums her favorite song with her eyes closed.  Then finally she hears the door squeak open behind her.

“Congratulations,” says the man in the lab coat as he casually strolls into the room, “since you were patient, now you get two mini marshmallows.  He hands her the two soft treats, and she gratefully gobbles them down.

This same experiment was carried out dozens of times over four decades by Dr. Walter Mischel of Stanford University.  There are two very interesting discoveries that were made by Dr. Mischel through this experiment.  First, those children who had the will power to hold off and wait for two marshmallows were more successful than those who did not.  How much more successful?  The studies showed that those children who could wait were more socially competent, self-assertive, and capable of dealing with frustration.  In fact, according to Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, where I first heard the story, those patient children also scored on average 210 points higher on their SAT’s.  That small marshmallow turns out to be a pretty strong predictor, and to understand why- we need to understand how the brains function.  Second, he learned that the survival instinct that pushes children to eat that first marshmallow is a very strong one.  So what is going on in the human brain? How can understanding that help us as professionals?

If we understand inner-workings and the conflicts within the human brain, suddenly  influencing people becomes far easier.  Attorney Don Keenan, co-author of the book “Reptile, the 2009 Manual of the Plaintiff’s Revolution” shows us just how powerful.  Don Keenan is one of the most successful plaintiff’s attorneys in America having obtained 145 verdicts/settlements over a $1,000,000.00, eight over $10,000,000.00 and one verdict over $100,000,000.00. In addition, he has twice been chosen “Trial Lawyer of the Year.” One factor he attributes to his great success? Understanding the human brain.

The human brain is made up of three parts, or a “triune brain,” as first discussed by Dr. Paul Maclean in 1952.  The outer formation of the brain, called the neocortex, is like the brain of higher mammals and is devoted to higher order thinking.  Things like linguistics and verbal memory are handled by the neocortex.  Next is the limbic system which controls emotion, some aspects of personal identify, and many critically important memory functions.  Finally we have the R-complex (including the brain stem and the amygdala) which you can think of as your primitive “fight or flight” brain.  This is the reptilian brain.  Have you ever been too scared to speak?  That is because your R-complex has taken over.  

Why would a child choose 1 marshmallow over 2 marshmallows?  Because the R-complex or survival instinct, is overriding the child’s rational neocortex.  Think of this as the R-complex hijacking the better judgment of the neocortex.  Have you ever made the excuse, “I didn’t know what I was thinking?”  Turns out you WERE thinking, just not with the correct brain.  According to Valerie Swanner who is spearheading the “Reptile” project at the plaintiff’s law firm of Sigfreid & Jensen, understanding the power of this reptilian brain holds a key to influencing jurors, judges, and really anybody.

So why is the reptile brain so important?  Well, as Val pointed out to me, “Dr. Eric Kandel and the neuroscientists following in his work have now proven that the older parts of the brain circuits are several times faster than the analytical components of the brain. So when push comes to shove, the more primitive brain takes over. But there is a key, a “Rosetta Stone” that can unite the R-complex, the limbic system and the neo-cortex.  And that’s story.  The reason, in fact, that stories can elevate to the level of myth is because they can crack and satiate all three brains. You must tell a story when presenting a case to keep all brains attention.”

This makes sense, doesn’t it?  How many of you have sat in on an outstanding lecture before?  Did it include great stories?  So how can we improve our stories so that they resonate, not just with the rational mind, but with the reptilian mind?  Tomorrow, Friday the 26th of February, Valerie Swaner will be joining my weekly conference call to share the techniques that will help us craft stories that  resonate with the Reptilian Brain- and share a little bit about how their Plaintiff’s firm is implementing the concepts from David Ball & Don Keenan book, “Reptile, The 2009 Manual of the Plaintiff’s Revolution.” I have just been informed that we may have the author himself, Don Keenan joining us on the call as well. As always, if you have any questions please email them to and we will discuss them on the air tomorrow, February 26th. CLICK HERE to sign up for the call. The first 10 callers get a free mini-marshmallow.

Adrian Dayton is a New York attorney, and author of the book Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition.  His normal weekly calls will be on hold for the month of March as he travels to Australia to promote his book.  You can find out more details of his trip at

Twitter Wins Over Larry Bodine, Big Law is Next

As I sat down, took out my laptop, and was preparing for my first day at Get A Life 09 in Chicago last April, I overheard Allison Shields, Gwynne Monahan, and Niki Black chatting:

“Did you hear what Larry Bodine said about Twitter?”

“What did he say?” I asked, inserting myself into the conversation.

Larry had basically come out saying that Twitter was not an effective business development tool for Lawyers.  While I couldn’t find his original article, you can hear his thoughts in this interview I had with him on the subject last Summer.  Larry was not alone in his negative view of Twitter as a marketing tool, his thoughts were echoed by many others, including this post by the infamous Scott Greenfield (in this context “infamous” means “more than famous”).  While I obviously disagreed with Mr. Bodine and Mr. Greenfield at the time- I was able to appreciate that Twitter would never be for all lawyers.

In addition, at the time Twitter seemed to many like no more than the latest amalgamation of Friendster.  Every month there was a new article predicting the demise of Twitter, yet here we are almost a year later, and it is still plugging along.  Twitter has not seen the same geometric growth pattern of Facebook, yet the significant presence on Twitter of journalists, business executives, and now attorneys can’t be ignored.

There has been a growing body of lawyer success stories from Twitter as well, and that has played a large role in winning attorneys over.  In reality though, these are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg.  If any large clients have been landed using social media tools- lawyers are most likely keeping those techniques, and clients, to themselves.  Twitter is not the silver bullet for law firms to bring in more business, but as these stories demonstrate, it can play an important role in helping lawyers identify, qualify and engage new clients.  Twitter has proven itself to be a valuable tool for law firms to add to their marketing mix.

I’m not sure which of these factors finally convinced Mr. Bodine that Twitter works for lawyers, but he was gracious enough to write yesterday about his new thoughts on Twitter:  “Lawyer Gets New Business Using Twitter.” I predict that in the next few months big law will follow Larry’s lead.  This is only the beginning.

So what is next for Twitter?  Will it eventually merge into another platform?  Will it ever have the same broad appeal as Facebook?  Nobody can predict the future , but right now Twitter is making a measurable difference for many attorneys.   Right now it is helping lawyers brand themselves, spread content, find new business, and stay at the top of the mind of clients and prospects.  If your firm hasn’t taken notice of Twitter yet, now may be a good time to start.

Adrian Dayton is an attorney licensed to practice in New York and the author of the book Social Media for Lawyers: Twitter Edition. Thanks to Larry for his positive write-up of the recent conference call “Think Twitter’s for Kids?  Think Again.” You can read his summary of it here “Lawyer Gets New Business Using Twitter.” The podcast of the call was also the featured podcast by Lawyers USA.  You can join us for the next free conference call by CLICKING HERE.

New Tech Threatens to Disrupt Legal Industry


(34 minutes)

The best things in life are free.  Wise words from Janet Jackson back in the early 80’s.  It seems lately the best technology online is free- or inexpensive.  From practice management software to open source applications- software is changing the way we practice law.  This dynamic tech environment presents great opportunities for virtual law firms as well as small firms that are hungry for any price savings they can find, but unfortunately many large firms are slow to adopt these applications for fear of the unknown.  Are these firms making a huge mistake?


On Thursday afternoon at 6:00 PM EST (Friday morning 10:00 AM in Sydney, Australia) thanks to Lexis Nexis and Martindale-Hubbell Connected, we held Part II of our international conference call series and had a fascinating discussion with two Australian innovators in the legal market, and one Canadian:

Jeremy Szwider, founder of the Virtual Law Firm Bespoke Law , silver sponsor of the Social Media Boot Camp

Jeremy Szwider

Jeremy Szwider

Simon Lewis, creator of the Online Legal Services Conference coming up this March 4th in Sydney, Australia.

and Darryl Mountain, a lawyer based in Vancouver, Canada with an interest in disruptive innovations in law. Mr. Mountain is a member of the e-Lawyering Task Force of the American Bar Association, which examines and responds to the ways in which the practice of law is changing in the Internet age.

Listen to the recorded call to learn from Jeremy, Simon, and Darryl:

  • Simon Lewis

    Simon Lewis

  • Which new tools law firms should pay attention to.
  • How virtual law firms have the potential to disrupt the legal industry.
  • The power of decision trees to decrease the cost of legal services.

Thanks again to Lexis Nexis and Martindale-Hubbell Connected for making

Darryl Mountain

this possible.

March 2010 attorney Adrian Dayton will be in Australia speaking to lawyers from Sydney to Melbourne about social media.  You can see more details at and see Adrian’s full speaking schedule HERE


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Think Twitter’s for Kids? Think Again


There is a common misconception that Twitter and social media is for the younger generation.  It just isn’t true.  The teenagers may know how to upload pictures to Facebook- but they have no clue how to identify, qualify, and engage new clients online.  These “soft skills” for lack of a better term, are much more unusual.  The ability to turn a contact into a client- that takes talent.

I have always said that partners that already know how to network, and aren’t afraid to pick up the phone, have much more potential for success online than young associates.  On this podcast conference call you will have the chance to meet Attorney Bob White, a shining example of an experienced partner level attorney that is landing new clients through Twitter.  You can read more about Bob at the Gunster Website and you can follow his tweets at @soflatechlawyer.

Bob White aka @soflatechlawyer

Bob White aka @soflatechlawyer

Bob White doesn’t just scratch the surface on Twitter, he takes advantage of all the free tools available to engage and make his networking as effective as possible.  Listen in to the recording of the call to hear:

  • How Mr. White landed his first client on Twitter
  • What tools he uses to save time and maximize his efforts
  • How Mr. White is setting the example to the younger attorneys at Gunster

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CLICK HERE to sign up for our future calls.  If you have any questions about how your firm can maximize the ROI of social media- feel free to email questions to and we will answer the questions.


Legal Tech, Gladwell, & Changing the World #LTNY

Yesterday at Legal Tech in New York I was able to hear Malcolm Gladwell gladwellspeak alongside of Dr. Lisa Sanders.  While I loved listening to Gladwell- one of my heroes- I was most impacted by a story told by Dr. Sanders, the great mind behind the TV show House MD.  The story she told holds the key to helping lawyers, business people, and really anybody to change the world.

dr-lisa-sandersA young 24-year-old woman walked into an emergency room complaining she wasn’t feeling well.  Truth be told, she wasn’t looking well.  Her skin was an unnatural yellow in color- and it was clear that she had Lyme disease among other things.  Four days before she had awoken not feeling so hot, and had stayed in bed for a few days.  After looking into the mirror and seeing her skin had taken on a disturbing yell0w tone- she went into the hospital.  If she had waited another day or two, she wouldn’t have made it.

The hospital had no idea what to do, so they ordered a full battery of tests on this young lady.  Dr. Sanders referred to this as similar to shooting her in the face with a shotgun to diagnose her illness.  48 hours later, after every test imaginable and 20 pages in reports had been created, the hospital had was no further along.  They had no clue what to do next.  They did know one thing with certainty however, this woman was dying.

One of the doctors decided to do what any responsible doctor would do, they called the smartest doctor they knew and asked for his advice.  This doctor came in, examined the patient, read the 20 pages of tests, and was completely stumped.  This new doctor had no idea what was wrong with this poor woman.  Then he did something that none of the other doctors had done.  He sat quietly in his office and just thought about it.  He let the ideas percolate and waited for his subconscious mind to answer a question that had left dozens of doctors stumped.

A light went on in his head.  A quick search of the internet, and he confirmed his suspicion.  Wilson’s Disease, a rare but highly treatable illness.  The only treatment was a liver transplant.  The woman was rushed to surgery, received the transplant, and her life was saved.

So how does this story help you?  There are many possible messages to this story, but there are a couple that stand out to me.  First, you can’t always do everything yourself.  Know your limitations.  If the first doctor hadn’t been humble enough to ask for help, this girl would have most likely died.

Second, our intuition is incredibly powerful.  I just finished reading the book thinkThink and Grow Rich and although the book is almost 80-years-old, it has some similar messages to the story Dr. Sanders told.  The book calls our intuition “infinite intelligence.”  We all have this infinite intelligence at our disposal, but we can’t use it if we underestimate its power.  The real value of the story Dr. Sanders told, and the book Think and Grow Rich is in reminding us to put our intuition to work for us.

Michael Jordon was cut from his high school basketball team, Abraham Lincoln lost his first election, and Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before really understanding the power of intuition.  All of these men eventually tapped into the infinite power of their  intuition- and achieved miraculous results.  You can too, but the question you need to answer first is this:  how do you want to change the world?  Decide that, and you can let your intuition get to work.

At Legal Tech in New York the keynote speakers this year could have covered any technology imaginable in their speech.  The fact that both of them were most fascinated by the power of the human brain goes to show us that our minds continue to be the most innovative gadget of all.