In a classic Seinfield episode, Jerry gets the phone number of a girl he is interested in from off of a list of people donating money for the AIDS Walk. Jerry does his best to keep this a secret from the girl, but eventually he lets it slip to George, who lets it slip to Susan, who tells her friend, who spills it it to the girl. The girl ends things with Jerry, offended that he would use a charity list to pick her up.
Why did she care? Because the way people get our information and how they use it matter to us. People hold on to their contact info as if it were solid gold. You give up your phone number and email address too easily, and you will be forever harassed by spam.
People do give up their email addresses, though, especially in exchange for information that they really want, or to people they like. This allows for something called permission marketing, an extremely powerful tool for building a prospect list for your practice. List building is an essential aspect of business development that is far too often overlooked. Often lost in the debate over the viability of social media is an improper or ineffective utilization of existing contact lists….
Ed. note: Law Shucks focuses on life in, and after, Biglaw, including by tracking layoffs, bonuses, and laterals. Above the Law is pleased to bring you this weekly column, which analyzes news at the world’s top law firms.
Most executives will agree that cutting expenses is the far easier way to increase profits. Growing revenue is far more difficult.
According to Citi’s Midyear Law Firm Review, law firms have picked the low-hanging fruit and will have to figure out how to increase productivity if they want to return to profit growth on pace with previous years’.
The key trends to keep an eye on: firms with strong BRIC presences are poised to cash in on a growth opportunity; clients are demanding firms support lower-cost strategies (e.g., firms handing off routine work to smaller/lower-cost firms, and interfacing with outsourcing providers); value-based billing (alternative fee structures or just lower cost); increased lateral hiring (hmm, someone should track those); and value-added services, like knowledge management, CLE and after-action reviews.
Those are the outward-facing trends.
There’s potentially troubling news on the "taking care of our own house" front (speaking of which, anyone know a lawyer who’s good with a broom?), which we detail after the jump, as well as some of the highlights and lowlights of the past few weeks in Biglaw.
Ed. note: Adrian Dayton is a lawyer and writer who advises law firms about business development through social media. He will be writing a series of guest posts for Above the Law about social media.
The opening sequence of Enemy at the Gates begins with a volunteer Russian soldier named Vassili being forced into the range of German machine guns in the Battle of Stalingrad. Unfortunately for Vassili (played by Jude Law), the Russian army has more soldiers to spare than guns. So although all the soldiers are given guns, only half the soldiers, including Vassili, are given a clip with five bullets.
As soldiers fall all around him, Vassili can’t seem to find a gun. After the battle is almost over, German machine guns are shooting any wounded men who try to escape. It is a hopeless situation, but Vassili finally gets his hands on a gun — and makes five perfect kill shots, taking down five German soldiers, including a German officer. A nearby witness writes up the account in the military newspaper, and Vassili becomes a famous sniper.
In response to last week’s post, “The All-or-Nothing Social Media Skeptics,” a few lawyers expressed frustration that I didn’t provide more concrete strategies, case studies, and tactics on utilizing social media. I won’t cover case studies on this post, although you can find some here, but I will give some specific tactics….
* When Rudy Lim was poached from DLA Piper to head Duane Morris’s Singapore office, he got a nice pay bump from $300K annually to nearly $700K. To help drive up his worth, though, he forged a pay slip at DLA. The fall-out? A fine, a day in jail, disbarment, and no one ever trusting him during salary negotiations again. [Bloomberg]
* The “law school scam” blogs get some mainstream media attention. Law is 4 Losers, the man behind the Big Debt, Small Law blog, is a Seton Hall law grad. And he appears to have erased his blog since the article came out. [The New Jersey Star Ledger]
* Another way the justice system confuses the general public. [Associated Press]
* Will the Ninth Circuit stage an intervention in the Prop 8 ruling? [New York Times]
* Oracle v. Google is good for Microsoft. [PC World]
* As New York finally ushers in no-fault divorces, the WSJ looks back on the history of the need for fault. They dug up from the 1800s what may be the best-named adultery-spurred divorce case ever: Cock v. Cock. [Wall Street Journal]
After CNN editor Octavia Nasr got the boot for an indiscreet tweet, Fast Company was inspired to do a series of stories on companies’ social media policies: “guidelines about how its employees (and freelancers and interns) should represent themselves on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media destinations.”
In the most recent piece in the series, Fast Company looked at Harvard Law’s guidelines for its bloggers. It approved of Harvard’s straightforward approach:
“As a general matter, you may post content freely to your blog and to those of others, so long as the content is not illegal, obscene, defamatory, threatening, infringing of intellectual property rights, invasive of privacy or otherwise injurious or objectionable.
Well, that takes all the fun out of it, doesn’t it?
You may not use the Harvard name to endorse or promote any product, opinion, cause or political candidate. Representation of your personal opinions as institutionally endorsed by Harvard University or any of its Schools or organizations is strictly prohibited.”
So no endorsement of Elena Kagan allowed over there?
There’s a burgeoning awareness of social media in the law firm world. When we were in Chicago for an in-house counsel conference, we met a lawyer who had chucked the practice of law to advise law firms on how to use social media. We asked him about guidelines for law firms and lawyers when it comes to Facebooking, blogging, and celebrity endorsements via Twitter…
There are many big questions in life. For example, email etiquette. “To” or “dear” or just a name? “Best” or “best regards” or “sincerely” or just your initials? Instant response or tasteful 15-minute delay?
Like many of the big questions, it’s hard to come up with definitive answers. But one summer associate has a core belief system that he thinks all fellow lawyers and law students should embrace:
The summer intern season / horror show is winding down. For the sake of next year’s crop of law student summer interns/associates, could you please post a commentary on annoying email habits? Maybe something similar to George Costanza’s rules for workplace behavior. Anyways, I was fortunate to work at least three years before heading back to school and learned some useful lessons about email etiquette. Apparently, these lessons do not reach most of my over achieving, nobody-has-ever-told-me-no-before law school classmates who come straight from undergrad.
- Chester Copperpot
Copperpot has brought Four Commandments back from the digital mountaintop. We blaspheme against some of them after the jump….
It’s been a while since we checked in with the coming junior associate apocalypse that is legal outsourcing. Rest assured, LPOs around the globe are working hard to make sure that the Biglaw junior associate becomes extinct — at least as we know it.
There’s a fascinating article on Law21 that discusses the evolution of legal process outsourcing — and what LPOs need to do next:
Still in its relative infancy, legal process outsourcing has already had a huge impact on the legal services marketplace: scoring major deals with the likes of Microsoft and Rio Tinto, garnering the attention of private-equity investors, and helping to expose the degree to which law firms have overcharged for the simplest legal work, among other accomplishments. But this impact has set off two important chains of events.
The first affects LPOs themselves: they now need to move their value proposition beyond cost savings in a market they helped to make more sophisticated. The second affects everyone: the legal profession’s response to LPO is having an unexpected effect on how legal work is distributed and how legal resources are allocated.
Some law firms still seem to be fighting the last war and are committed to fending off outsourcing until the bitter end. But other firms are preparing themselves for the next war: remaining the primary legal advisor to their clients in a world where the clients themselves can go to a number of providers to get the work done…
The modern workplace plays host to three generations: the baby boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. A panel at the InsideCounsel SuperConference this week called the youngest of the bunch, Gen-Why?. The italics are likely meant to indicate a whiny tone, because this bunch, born from 1981 to 2001, are supposedly entitled and snotty. E.g., “You’re going to defer me for a year with a $60,000 stipend? Wah! I hate you!”
I attended the panel as did another legal blogger, Adrian Dayton. Check out his post on what’s wrong with Gen-Y. Despite their complaints about the young’uns, oldies tend to give in to their wishes, judging from the response one general counsel gave to a Gen-Yer who asked to head off to New Zealand for a year and have his job held until he got back.
A not-especially-snotty-or-entitled Gen-Yer was chosen for the panel: Jack Rossi, staff counsel at JetBlue, who scored an in-house offer directly out of law school. He admitted that some of the myths about his generation are true: he does like feedback and wants mentorship (and he’s gotten it in-house). An older baby boomer lawyer in the audience spoke up to say, “I wanted the same things as Jack, but I was not brave enough to ask for it… It was kind of ‘figure out for yourself.’ I think the fact that younger lawyers ask is actually a good thing.”
Honestly, there wasn’t a lot of tension in the room between Gen Y and Boomers, even when J.D. turned PhD panelist, Arin Reeves of The Athens Group, suggested Boomers were at fault for spoiling young folks given the wining-and-dining summer associate experience they created. “If you want to teach that work is the priority, take the events away,” said Reeves.
I think all of our Biglaw readers will agree with us in deeming that terrible advice.
In the room, greater tension seemed to exist between Gen X and Gen Y. “It sounds like we’re saying, ‘How are we going to accommodate an already spoiled generation?’” observed one Gen Xer.
Since I am Gen Y, and Elie is Gen X, we thought this would be an opportune time for a little ATL debate. I’ll let the old man go first…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: [email protected].
Since late last year, things have been booming in Hong Kong / China in cap markets, especially Hong Kong IPOs. M&A deal flow has recently been getting a bit stronger as well. Although one can’t predict such things with any certainty, all signs are pointing to a banner entire 2014 for the top end US corporate and cap markets practices in Hong Kong / China. This is not really new news, as its been the feeling most in the market have had for a few months now and things continue to look good.
The head of our Asia practice, Evan Jowers, has been in Hong Kong for about 10 days a month (with trips every other month to both Shanghai and Bejing) for the past 7 months, and spending most of his time there meeting with senior US hiring partners at just about all the major US and UK firms there, as well as prospective candidates at all associate levels and partner levels, and when in the US, Evan works Asia hours and is regularly on the phone with such persons, as our the other members of our Asia team. Our Yuliya Vinokurova is in Hong Kong every other month and Robert is there about 5 times a year as well. While we have a solid Asia team of recruiters, Evan Jowers will spend at least some time with all of our candidates for Asia position. We have had long standing relationships, and good friendships in some cases, with hiring partners and other senior US partners in Asia for 8 years now.
The evolution of relationships between the genders continues. Currently, in law firms, there is an interesting conundrum; balancing the desire for a gender-blind workplace where “the best lawyer gets the work and advances” and the reality of navigating the complicated maze created by the fact that, in general, men and women do possess differences in their work styles. These variations impact who they work with, how they work, how they build professional connections and how organizations ultimately leverage, reward and recognize the talents of all.
Henry Ford sat on his workbench and sighed. A year earlier, he had personally built 13,000 Model Ts with his own hands. Fashioning lugnuts and tie rods by hand, Ford was loath to ask for help. Sure, there were things about the car that he didn’t quite understand. This explains the lack of reliable navigation systems in the Model T. But Ford persevered because he knew that unless he did everything, he could not reliably call these cars his own.
“Unless my own personal toil is responsible for it, it may as well be called a Hyundai,” Ford remarked at the time.
The preceding may sound unfamiliar because it is categorically untrue. And also monumentally stupid. Henry Ford didn’t build all those cars by hand. He had help and plenty of it. Almost exactly one hundred years ago, Henry Ford opened up the most technologically advanced assembly line the world had ever seen. Built on the premise that work can be chopped up into digestible pieces and completed by many men better than one, the line ushered in an age of unparalleled productivity.
Today, an attorney refers business because he can’t do everything the client asks of him.
There are three reasons why this is way dumber than a made-up Henry Ford story…