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You invest in technology on the premise that it will enable greater profitability in the end.  For example: an e-discovery subscription cost of $1000 can save you $10,000 in fees to bring temporary attorneys on board for document review.

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  • Case analysis/case management: software that organizes case files, facts and exhibits, allows searching even across image or PDF files, and even surfaces important facts that can impact case strategy.
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Tracking ROI is the next in the company’s Independent Thinking series, offering business and trend insights for small law firms. Download the free article to delve into value of litigation technology.

For some law students, taking classes during the summer is the right choice. In this infographic, the folks at the UC Hastings Summer Legal Institute make their case for a summer spent studying in San Francisco. Registration for summer 2014 classes will open March 24, 2014, for current UC Hastings students, and April 1, 2014, for all other students. Applications will be accepted until May 7, 2014. Full program details are here….

So you spent a considerable amount of time courting, selling and maybe even doing some friendly stalking of that attractive lateral partner candidate with a sizable book. After he or she ignored your emails and didn’t return your calls, a few weeks go by and you read a press release in the legal media announcing the recent move to a competing firm.

Rats. Another one got away from you. You cringe when you consider how much time was spent in meetings that did not bear fruit. Your heart aches when recall how you were led to believe this was a marriage made in heaven.

You have been rejected.

The sting of rejection is painful, even for fancy law firms. But you need to find a way that you can turn this disappointment into a legitimate learning experience.

I’ve seen hundreds of scenarios like this, as this is my nineteenth year as a ‘headhunter.’ Twelve years ago, I started training and consulting to other search firms on the side. I developed processes that improved their recruiting and placement skills. This little project eventually grew into an international training company for recruiters, with over 4,000 search firms investing in my books, training tools and attending my seminars. When it came to failed placements, I introduced to the executive search industry a comprehensive model that I developed on how they can conduct “deal autopsies.” This became a regular part of many search firm’s training meetings each week.

I told my industry colleagues, as I would share with you, that the lessons you need to learn are hidden in the disappointment of failed placements. These failed placements are like the Land of Misfit Toys. You are always surprised to find such magical treasures when you go there. When things go well you are too busy daydreaming about the prospects and counting the dollar signs spinning around in your head; but when the deals fall apart, you start paying attention to how you need to improve.

Here are three ideas to consider as you conduct a mini version of a “deal autopsy” to make positive changes to your law firm’s recruiting process:

1. Review your internal process. Who is the quarterback? Who is the sponsor? These are important roles that you need to clarify.  The quarterback is the partner (usually the office managing partner, practice group leader, or hiring partner) who is taking the lead in managing this process of each placement from start to finish.  Sometimes it is a capable internal recruiter who has enough firm-wide political capital to snap fingers and get partners to make recruiting a priority and execute.

The sponsor is that peer level partner (or could be the same quarterback) who serves as the candidate’s internal advocate and can rally support to get the rest of the partnership interested in bringing the candidate over.  The sponsor usually continues the relationship into assimilation into the firm.

It may be worth your time to flow out your process in a visual format.  For ideas, read one of my previous Above The Law articles here, and download the pdf in the article as a guide to help you create your own visual process flow chart:

2. How much time passed between steps? There is a saying in my profession of recruiting that “Time Kills All Deals.” More time between steps means that your deal is more likely to fall apart.

I recommend a 24-hour response time to each action item. Even if scheduling that next meeting is a week away, get it on the calendar within 24 hours of the previous step.

Each placement develops a rhythm, and extended time between steps allows other potential deal-killing variables to insert themselves into the process. Examples of this include another recruiter trying to place your lateral prospect with another firm; or the prospective lateral referring a large piece of a matter to an internal partner in his current firm, thereby hand-cuffing him for another year. If only you had returned that call earlier or scheduled that meeting sooner, you would have built enough momentum in the candidate’s mind to overcome those opposing forces.

3. Did the candidate not feel very important? If you are interested in this prospect, then you need to make it very clear that he or she is a big deal to your firm. Be specific.

Here is some verbiage you can use. Please do not let its simplicity keep you from using it:

“We see the potential for us to achieve mutual goals because of your experience in_______________ and because of our need for _________________. That will help us to ______________ and will give us the benefit of _______________. And we see that it can help you to achieve ________________ because of _____________.”

Specificity builds credibility. People want to know that they are important, and why they are important. I usually need to draw this out from my clients in the messaging of the opportunity, because as people, it is sometimes hard for us to see the nuance of important opportunities when we are so close to them.

I believe it’s best to spend some time with your fellow partners involved in recruiting to discuss the placements that do not happen. Use this article as a structured dialogue for your meetings about the ones who got away. Use this as a learning tool, and when you do, you’ll be excited when you start seeing more acceptances and more partners moving to your firm. And the sting of rejection will only be a fading and distant memory from the past.

Copyright © 2014 Scott Love

Scott Love grows law firms and accelerates attorney careers by conducting partner-level and group searches for law firms and facilitating law firm mergers. He has been a career ‘headhunter’ since 1995 and is a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy. Scott lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, two children, and a toothless rescue dog named Smoky. He can be reached at 202-737-5555. To learn more, please visit www.attorneysearchgroup.com or email him at [email protected].

Hey, have you read Above the Law for like one single minute in the past month? If so, you probably know that we’re having this big blogger conference on March 14th at the Yale Club. Yeah, the Yale Club. You’ll be able to recognize me: I’ll be the only big… blogger guy surreptitiously holding a can of crimson spray-paint.

Speaking of coming, you should come. We’ve got CLE and all that. Click here to buy tickets to get CLE credit for listening to bloggers scream about stuff on the internet.

To refresh your memory, details on the panel that I’m moderating — almost entirely sober, mind you — follow.

My panel is called Blogs as Agents of Change, and we’re going to talk about whether all of these spilled pixels are actually making a difference. You know my view… just ask Lawrence Mitchell, but here are the panelists:

  • Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency: Nobody has tried to use the power of blogging to impact the legal world quite like Kyle. Is it working? Are there best practices that he can share? And how does a blogging crusader actually pay bills and eat?
  • Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal: Karen is who I’d like to be if I grew up. She’s a real reporter. A journalist. She can talk not only about the impact of blogging on actual decision makers, she can also speak to the impact of blogging on the quality of legal reporting. Are we helping, or are we screwing things up for everybody?
  • Joshua Peck of Duane Morris: Peck is the founder of Law Firm Media Professionals. Basically, when bloggers throw a rock at a Biglaw window, Peck is one of the guys who has to replace the glass. If bloggers are making an impact, Peck can tell us how to make a bigger one.

Should be fun. I hope to see you there.

Register today for the LGBT Bar’s Meet the Power Brokers: Financial Regulators event, held on Thursday, March 13 from 4:00 – 7:30pm. The event is specifically geared towards financial regulation and features an educational workshop and networking reception. Topics discussed will include the role of financial regulators, new rules and regulations related to the Dodd-Frank Act and developments in nation and international capital market regulation.

A reception will follow the workshop, allowing financial professionals to network and build relationships with individuals practicing in similar areas. The workshop will be streamed live via webinar for those individuals who are unable to attend the event in DC. For more information and to register, visit LGBTBar.org or contact Liz Youngblood at (202) 637-7661 or [email protected].

Tickets to the LeGaL Foundation’s
2014 Annual Dinner and Community Vision Awards
are selling fast

Celebrating 30 Years of Our Bar Association
and 20 Years of Our Foundation

Patron and Standard Tickets are now on sale

LeGaL, the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, would like to cordially invite you to the 2014 Annual Dinner of the LeGaL Foundation on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at Capitale. We are incredibly excited for our event this year as LeGaL celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of the bar association and the twentieth anniversary of the foundation (30/20 Celebration).

We are also thrilled that LeGaL will present its 2014 Community Vision Awards that night to Mary Bonauto of GLAD (introduced by Windsor lead attorney Robbie Kaplan) and Brian Ellner of Edelman (introduced by former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey), two leading players in the critical fight for marriage equality here and nationwide, as well as Credit Suisse.

Tickets are now available at the above link. Those willing to buy at the patron level will receive special recognition in the dinner program.

Many of you have seen firsthand the tireless commitment that is required to offer our community much-needed services and provide our fellow LGBT colleagues in the legal community with the resources needed to further advance their careers. To make those vital efforts possible, the Annual Dinner is the largest fundraising event of the year for the LeGaL Foundation, an organization dedicated to serving the legal needs of the LGBT community of the greater New York City area. On this night, we anticipate more than five hundred members of the New York area’s LGBT legal community and its allies to come together to commemorate the amazing work done this past year in the service of others. With judges, elected officials, and lawyers from all areas of the legal hemisphere in attendance, it is one of the most anticipated and well-attended LGBT events of the year.

LeGaL has served the greater New York LGBT community for decades, and it is vital that we come together as a diverse community of professionals to support the important mission of LeGaL for decades to come.

Get your tickets before they are gone!

CBLA ‘s January 29 program at Fordham was well attended, with well over 200 attorneys having reserved a spot and a good turnout. If you would like to view “China and the FCPA – Challenges for the 21st Centure”, a video of the entire program will be available here (see below at end of this post for more details on the program).

Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney of Kinney Recruiting are available to meet any associates from other practice areas who are interested in an Asia move in the future. Feel free to reach out to them at [email protected], [email protected], or [email protected].

Up until only a few years ago it was very difficult, if not impossible, for a US litigation associate to transfer or lateral to Hong Kong / China. Going as far back as ’07, some managed to land offers to transition to transactional practices, but even those relatively rare transition opportunities became nearly impossible to land by late ’07 as many Mandarin fluent corporate / cap markets US associates sought have sought moves to HK / China since the recession of ’08 and ’09, coupled with the IPO boom in Hong Kong / China from mid ’09 to mid ’11 (a HK IPO boom may be back now – but that’s for our next Asia Chronicles post).

Today, there are still only a handful of actual FCPA / White Collar practice groups (with a number of US attorneys, including a head FCPA focused partner) on the ground at US firms in Hong Kong / China – at such firms as Davis Polk, Ropes & Gray, Kobre & Kim, Debevoise, Kirkland & Ellis, for example (Kinney has made a number of FCPA / White Collar associate placements in Hong Kong / China within this group of firms). There are many more firms that have thriving FCPA / White Collar practices in China and in Asia in general, but do not yet have an actual practice group based on the ground in Asia. Some of these firms in the latter category already have great expertise in FCPA in their US offices and have well established strong China clients, so it’s not 100% necessary to have a group on the ground in Hong Kong / China, but it would be convenient if for the right people (such firms are going to be more selective and usually have already a counsel and / or an associate or two on the ground in China already). Most of the firms falling in the latter category want to build an FCPA / White Collar team in Asia and have made some efforts to do so , but it’s easier said than done (especially if a firm is properly focusing on attracting FCPA clients in China with great expertise, rather than just having boots on the ground), due to the difficulty in finding a partner to start the group falling into one of two categories:

a) A US White Collar partner (transfer or lateral) with the right Asia focused practice background, Mandarin fluency (although not always required), connection to Asia and desire to relocate quickly and permanently to Asia; or

b) One of the top 5 or so HK litigation / arbitration law firm partners in the market – this is also difficult because of the need to bring on board a large local group, usually consisting of multiple partners, double digit associates, and integrate into a major US firm different partner billing rates and different associate comp rates. Further, there are only about 5 top 5 or so HK litigators, so they are course very well aware of their great value and leverage in the market. Keep in mind that Hong Kong is likely to implement something very similar to the US’s FCPA and the UK’s Bribery Act. Also, US firms with strong FCPA practices only based in the US can easily incorporate such a new top flight HK local litigation practice into their platform and send a lot of work to. US litigation associates with Mandarin fluency are transferred and lateraled over the firm’s Hong Kong or China offices to fill out the team. It’s all a great plan and top US firms in Hong Kong are engaging in talks with such Hong Kong local litigation attorneys, but there has only been one firm that has made it happen thus far – Davis Polk.

Many US firms want to build up their FCPA / White Collar practices on the ground in Asia not only because it is a particularly hot practice area in the region now, but also because it is arguably the most lucrative practice area at US firms in Hong Kong / China at present (topic for another post).

Further, it is impossible to fill up such a new FCPA / White Collar team in Hong Kong / China with US associates who are both fluent in Mandarin and have been focusing for some years in FCPA / White Collar (very few of such folks exist). The typical US associate lateral hires or transfers in the HK / China based FCPA / White Collar groups are Mandarin fluent commercial litigation or IP litigation associates, who are interested in making a transition to a new litigation practice. Even these candidates are difficult to find, especially if written Chinese native fluency is required. Keep in mind that Chinese background law students at top JD programs up until just recently understood quite well that there was really no shot at lateraling or transferring to Hong Kong / China during their junior or mid-level US associate years if they chose to join a litigation practice during their 2L summers. There are simply not enough candidates today for FCPA / White Collar teams in Asia, especially as more firms seek to have such teams on the ground in Asia, and that will not change for a couple of years, at least, and at that time there will only be enough at the junior levels.

Looking forward, it is a golden opportunity now for Mandarin fluent US litigation associates today to put themselves in a position in Hong Kong / China, in some years, to be one of only a handful of senior associates / counsels in Asia who have focused on FCPA / White Collar for the past several years, while being based in Hong Kong / China. This relatively small handful of senior associates and counsels in the not too distant future will have opportunities for partnerships at other firms and regional counsel / Asia general counsel high level type in-house positions (a post for another day – many senior in-house spots in Asia now have FCPA expertise as big part of the job requirement).

Also, juniors and mid-levels will have a tremendous amount of responsibility in Asia, having a more senior role in corporate investigations than they would have at the same class year level back in the US, especially if their supervising partners are not fluent in Mandarin.

It is an exciting field to be involved in, but not for everyone. A downside is that FCPA is a narrow practice focus and once you have focused on FCPA for some years, that will be your recognized specialty (you will be marketable to move back to US and also of course within Asia). The broader White Collar practice area that FCPA falls under can keep things not so narrow focused for some. Also, it is highly likely that if you land in Hong Kong you will become Hong Kong qualified and gain experience as both a HK and US litigator. Thus, there are ways to keep your practice from being too narrowly focused. Over the next few years though while FCPA work in Asia will likely continue to be red hot, that is going to be the majority of work for new laterals and transfers into new Asia based US White Collar groups. So it may take some effort to keep your practice a bit broader initially. However, as stated above, you will want to be in a position in several years to claim senior expertise on the ground in Asia in FCPA in order to maximize your career advancement potential in Asia, including major firm partnership and senior level in-house marketability.

All of our Asia recruiters at Kinney have a pretty good understanding of FCPA / White Collar work, relative to other recruiters. Evan Jowers, the head of our Asia team, happened to get a lot of White Collar experience during his in-house years. it’s a bit silly to learn about the substantive details of a practice area from recruiters, so we highly recommend going to events like tonight’s CBLA program at Fordham. This event has no more seats available, but you can watch the video of it without having to deal with the cold weather and getting to and from. Here are the details:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 . McNally Amphitheatre . Fordham Law School
REGISTRATION: 5:15 p.m.
PROGRAM: 6–7:30 p.m.
Opening Remarks: Professor Sean Griffith

Speaker Comments:
Professor Daniel Chow – Professor and Associate Dean, Ohio State University; Author, China Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Nathaniel Edmonds, Esq. – Partner, Paul Hastings; Former Assistant Chief of FCPA Unit of the Department of Justice
Thomas O. Gorman, Esq. – Partner, Dorsey & Whitney; Former Senior Counsel, Division of Enforcement, Securities and Exchange Commission

Question and Answer Session
Moderator: Professor Carl Minzner

Closing Remarks: The Honorable Denny Chin – United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

RECEPTION: 7:30–9 p.m.

Edith Guldi Platt Atrium

Law Firm Branding and Recruiting

I thought it was the most insecure thing I ever heard a grown man say: “What will everyone think of me if I join that firm?”

He was a partner who was open to making a move. His firm’s merger three years prior increasingly conflicted him out of work, resulting in progressively downward dips in originations. I made an effective presentation of my client’s opportunity based on his intrinsic motivations and the desires he shared with me about his ideal situation. But in spite of my enthusiastic pitch, he declined to go forward based one thing: my client’s perceived brand status within his practice area. Indeed, his pass on my opportunity was based on the preconceived idea of what everyone else might think about him joining that firm.

Some partners can see through this and view the substance behind the thin patina of branding. But there are many who, in spite of the strong business case, perceive too much risk in moving to a firm with questionable brand equity. No matter how well that nice-looking quality luxury car feels on the open road, at the end of the day it’s still a Kia, not a Lexus. That’s the power of the impression of a brand. Fortunately, I was able to quickly maneuver in my presentation by employing certain principles based on the psychology of influence, and pressed enough tangible hot buttons that caused him to agree to meet with my client. That was a close one.

Brand equity holds prominence in the minds of others when considering a lateral move. When I shifted from recruiting executives for corporations to recruiting partners for law firms, I quickly learned how this subtle attribute of a law firm carries so much weight. I became adept at telling good stories about law firms by realizing that the attitudes about a law firm’s perception in the market could develop positive equity and real energy in the minds of others.

I created a framework or a system in my mind to help me understand and manage the various aspects of law firm branding as they relate to recruiting, and have since started advising my clients during my search work on how they can increase their brand status to add to the sizzle in their recruiting efforts. Remember, recruiting is marketing.

This is not a model based on scientific research, but on my own individual conversations with thousands of partners about what they think of other law firms and how they consider opportunities.

Here are a few ideas and suggestions for your firm:

1. Always regard your firm’s brand from the viewpoint of those outside of it. We all think our own children are the smartest and best looking in the class. You need to look at your own firm objectively from the perspective of a reluctant prospect who has a lot to lose if the move to your firm goes wrong.

2. There are three aspects of a law firm’s brand: that of the firm itself, the brand associated with each practice group, and individual personal brands. There are some firms I have encountered that have weak brand status compared to other firms overall, but they have a unique practice group that is highly regarded within its practice area. As such, this practice-level brand can add value to the law firm brand. Or perhaps there is a single individual who can lend credibility to the firm overall and enhance the firm’s brand status. Firms and practice groups can borrow from this individual brand equity to enhance their own collective brand.

3. Consider utilizing brand-building tools when you tell your story. Here are my favorites:

• Recent hires. Show that smart partners choose your firm and you will elevate its status based on a principle of influence called Social Proof. (Visit Dr. Robert Cialdini’s site www.influenceatwork.com to learn more about the psychology of influence in business. I have known Cialdini personally since the late 90’s and built my entire search practice on his methodology). If the recent hire was in a position of leadership and influence with his or her previous firm, make sure you mention that.

• Rankings. I’m always surprised that some firms don’t seem to mention this in visible places on their websites. Check to see if your firm does.

• Mention a blue chip client, if possible. It’s even better if it’s a household name.

• Share the who’s who of your partnership: This would include former elected officials, former Chief Counsel of Fortune 500, and former high level government officials.

• Discuss, if possible, recent successful high profile cases involving name brand executives. If you see your success mentioned in the Wall Street Journal and non-legal media, then you are on the right path.

If you follow these recommendations in building your brand, you’ll never have to worry about prospective laterals feeling insecure about making a move to your firm.

Copyright © 2014 Scott Love

Scott Love grows law firms and accelerates attorney careers by conducting partner-level and group searches for law firms and facilitating law firm mergers. He has been a career ‘headhunter’ since 1995 and is a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy. Scott lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, two children, and a toothless rescue dog named Smoky. He can be reached at 202-737-5555. To learn more, please visit www.attorneysearchgroup.com or email him at [email protected].

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Small law firms have changed since the onset of a recession, and there is no sign of changing back.  Firms are more efficient, more focused on profitability, and more in-tune with the needs of better-educated clients.  The result is that many firms look to technology to help you improve the way your small business is operated.

And companies that were once focused on legal information—West Publishing, for example—have morphed into companies that focus on practice technology built for the legal industry, and incorporating legal expertise into the very functions of each software product. Like Thomson Reuters, the company that now offers a full portfolio of legal-specific technologies.

In a new article, Turn Pain Into Gain, Linda Kaufman of Thomson Reuters examines what a conversation with a Thomson Reuters consultant should be like today: how interactions have changed and why.

And most importantly, she examines how you can turn a simple conversation into profitable strategic time. Because the company today is comprised of much more than legal research, Kaufman reveals that the most successful firms now follow a simple three-step process when they speak with a their consultants, to ensure they choose the right technologies to fit their needs.

Linda Kaufman is a vice president at Thomson Reuters, leading the sales teams that serve small law firms and law libraries.  Thomson Reuters’ small law firm business offers such legal solutions as the Firm Central cloud-based practice management platform, WestlawNext small law firm research plans, and FindLaw’s lawyer marketing solutions.

Turn Pain Into Gain is the latest in the Independent Thinking series, offering practice management and business development insights for small law firms.

You’ve heard from the rest of the gang about the panels they’re hosting at our upcoming Attorney@Blog Conference. Well, think of my panel as the “practice ready” component of the conference. While they discuss important, substantive issues in the world of blogging, we’re going to be looking under the hood and talking about how to leverage technology to maximize your blog.

Perhaps you’re trying to get a blog going to help promote your practice. Maybe you’re a legal academic interested in putting your message out without having to deal with self-important law review editors. Possibly you just want a creative outlet. Or you’re a legal blogger because you’re one of those navel-gazers that Elie is going to talk about on his panel. Whatever you are, you have something to say about the law, but you may not know all the technological tools at your disposal.

Here’s the panel of experts we’ll have to discuss content strategy, the use of social media for business development, SEO, blogging platforms, and more:

  • Kevin O’Keefe: A panel on getting your name out there on the Internet wouldn’t be complete without Kevin, the CEO and Publisher of LexBlog, Inc. Kevin is the foremost authority on helping lawyers build their brand through blogging and social media.
  • Guy Alvarez: What doesn’t Guy do? The founder of Good2bSocial has built websites for law firms, run the digital marketing group for KPMG, and provided consulting expertise on social media to Fortune 100 companies.

And — no promises — but we may have another exciting panelist, too. If you aren’t keeping an eye on the technological know-how of the Internet, you aren’t reaching the full audience you want to reach.

For more information and for tickets to the conference, please click here. Remember that CLE credit will be available. We look forward to seeing you on March 14.

Attorney@Blog Conference [Above the Law]

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