The ‘Moneyball’ Lesson for Firms

As originally published in the National Law Journal on October 10, 2011

I convinced my wife to go watch the new Brad Pitt movie, Moneyball, with me. The movie is based on the true story of an Oakland A’s baseball team that, with a payroll of $30 million, had to compete with teams like the New York Yankees, which spent more than $120 million. Many regional law firms face a similar dilemma, lacking money, advertising and name recognition. What lessons can they learn fromMoneyball?

Ask the Right Questions

Pitt’s character, Billy Beane, realizes that he can’t beat teams like the New York Yankees by playing their game. He is told by a recent Yale economics graduate that baseball teams are asking the wrong questions. They are locked on three statistics: runs batted in, home runs and batting averages, while overlooking the on-base percentage that takes into account when a player is walked. Beane changed the focus from whether a player will be an all-star to whether he would increase the odds of winning games. At law firms, instead of asking new recruits about law review and class ranking, we should be asking, “Can you bring in business?” Read more

Blogging levels the playing field

Originally posted on the National Law Journal on October 5, 2011

Late in September, in what can only be described as a David-vs.-Goliath battle, the New England Patriots came to Buffalo, N.Y., with all the swagger in the world. They had beaten the Buffalo Bills 15 times in row, boasted the leading offense in the NFL and showed up ready to extend the winning streak to 16.

Then the unthinkable happened. The Patriots lost the game on a last-second field goal. What happened?

In football, they have an expression: “On any given Sunday, anything can happen.” Which means that the team that should win can lose. Is this true in the legal industry? Is there a chance for small firms to compete with Big Law?

Social media and blogging are helping the smaller firms to do just that. This is due in part to “information democracy,” Dion Algeri of Great Jakes Marketing Co. explained recently during a conference in New York City organized by Hildebrandt Baker Robbins. Online, the content you create — whether blog posts, newsletters or alerts — speak for themselves. Good information is passed along, while poorly written and unhelpful information is ignored. Read more