Are you a digital dinosaur? Usually, it depends on when you were born. People born during the late decades of the 20th century grew up with computers and don’t remember a world without modern technology; we might call them digital natives.
The baby-boomers, on the other hand, remember a time when there wasn’t a computer on every desktop—the older boomers even remember a time without television. All of these digital dinosaurs received their legal training and spent most of their careers roaming a predigital, pre-Internet landscape.
This creates a major challenge for law firms, because management committees comprise more digital dinosaurs then digital natives. Digital dinosaurs sometimes embrace new technologies and push for innovation, whether in social media, customer relationship management or legal project management. But far too often, fear wins over, and firms continue doing things the way they have always been done.
Innovative firms escape this cycle, in large part by identifying champions. I heard one such success story recently, from the accounting world. Naomi Civins, manager of the Deloitte OnLine practice, shared her experience in gaining institutional buy-in. The key was this message: “Lead from the Top.”
At Deloitte, one of the first tools they embraced was Yammer, an internal messaging system that some compare to an internal Twitter platform for organizations. Not only did Deloitte’s chief executive support this initiative—he became an active participant. This was crucial for two reasons: first, because it sent the message that Deloitte was serious about embracing new technology; second, because use of Yammer by the CEO gave younger associates a voice—they were part of Yammer discussions in which their ideas could seen by the CEO and he could respond to them. Read more
Two years ago, when I first surveyed the blogs of the AmLaw 100, I made an interesting discovery. The top 10 law firms, with more 29,000 lawyers among them, were writing only two law blogs—an average of one per 14,500 lawyers.
During the past two years we have seen a slight shift—now these same 10 firms produce 32 blogs. That’s progress, but still only an average of one blog for every 906 lawyers. (Click here to see the 2011 blogs of the AmLaw 100.)
To see which firms are really catching the vision, you need to look just outside the AmLaw 100.
Fox Rothschild leads the pack with 32 law blogs from just more than 500 lawyers—a ratio of one blog for every 15 lawyers, the highest ratio for any large firm in the country. Since the U.S. firms are leaders in blogging, that would also make Fox Rothschild the world’s blogging leader among large law firms.
Does it matter? Does having a large number of blogs help firms make more money? Or is it a useless distinction, like having the most Twitter followers in the city of Buffalo (a distinction that was mine briefly during 2009)?
What relationship if any does number of blogs have to growth or profitability? There seems to be no direct correlation—six of the 10 firms have moved up in the AmLaw rankings during the past two years, while four have moved down the chart. However, acceptance of blogging seems to indicate something deeper within a firm’s culture. Blogging firms appear to be more entrepreneurial. The more scrappy, middle-market firms were willing to take a chance on blogging early, as one component of a larger strategy. Read more
In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book, Outliers, he makes a telling observation about American Nobel Prize winners: Only a few of the laureates in medicine and chemistry were produced by elite schools like Harvard and Stanford; more came from more modest schools like the University of Notre Dame or City University of New York. The Ivy Leagues were excellent at attracting superb students, but when it came to predicting who would become a great scientist, they didn’t know what to look for.
Law firms face a similar situation—how to predict which law students will become great rainmakers?
It all starts with asking the right questions.
The first question recruiters typically ask is: Was this candidate strong academically in law school? It should be: Does this lawyer have the ability to connect—to build the relationships that will bring in business?
Elite law firms hire exclusively from among the top 5 percent academically, said legal consultant Amy Knapp. However, “doing well in law school isn’t the same things as doing well in business. It means you are good at writing and good at legal reasoning. None of those talents are necessarily indicative of skill in business development.”
Not all firms take this approach. Richmond, Va.’s LeClairRyan (a client of mine) prefers candidates with above a 2.8-grade point average. “This lower cut-off allows us to look at the total resume,” said recruiting manager Danielle Roberts. “Our favorite question—one that always throws off candidates—is, ‘Tell me your story, what has happened in your life to bring you where you are today?’ This gives firms a window into the real character of candidates.”
Of course, it is a little more complicated than hiring the handsome or popular; it requires finding a certain personality type. Knapp described one rainmaker who was a distinctly quirky individual, but he was so gregarious and brilliant that he amassed the largest book of business at his firm. Read more
Buffer: Can it Improve My Use of Twitter? from the Real Lawyers Have Blogs Blog by Kevin Oâ€™Keefe. Buffer is an app that allows you to schedule your tweets throughout the day. This gives your followers some â€œbreathing roomâ€ between tweets so you donâ€™t â€œoverloadâ€ them with information. Â A great read for those of you who tweet on a regular basis!
The Newly Solo Attorney: Using LinkedIn Groups to Stay Informed from The Sociable Lawyer Blog by Matthew Hickey. This is a great article for every type of lawyer, not just solo. Â Matthew talks about how he uses LinkedIn Groups to discuss relevant issues relevant to his practice area, and why he likes groups more than more traditional means of news distribution.
Lawyers to soon have ethical obligation to use RSS reader? from the Real Lawyers Have Blogs blog by Kevin Oâ€™Keefe. Kevin discusses how 15 to 20 percent of Americans now use RSS readers to receive customized information and news, and how lawyers might soon have an ethical obligation to use them to stay up to date.
Law Firm Marketing: Why Attorneys Should Care about Google+ from The Rainmaker Blog by Stephen Fairley. Â Google+ is one of the newest social networking platforms created by search giant Google. Â Stephen thinks you should definitely consider using it for one single reason – search engine optimization. A great read for those interested in dabbling in Google+.
Make Any Blogging Style Work for You from the Soshable Blog by Jessica Sanders. Over 70% of the AmLaw 100 law firms blog and with so many bloggers, there are literally dozens of blogging styles being used. Â Check out Jessicaâ€™s post for information on Link Blogging, Goal Blogging and my personal favorite, Insight Blogging.
19 Ways to Build Relationships with Blog Comments from the Social Media Examiner Blog by Marcus Sheridan. Â Do you spend a lot of time reading other blogs? Do you leave comments? This article is a must-read for those interested in fostering and cultivating relationships via blog commenting.