Legal Marketing Association logoQ: What do you do when you’re standing between an eager audience and panelists with valuable content to share?

A: Speak little, and ask a few good questions.

That is the primary lesson I’ve learned the last few years when I’ve had the pleasure to moderate an annual roundtable of corporate counsel.

Sponsored by the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, this year’s panel, on Friday, September 20, will include four in-house counsel from a variety of public and private companies:

    • Sonny Cave, ON Semiconductor—Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Compliance & Ethics Officer, and Corporate Secretary, Law Department
    • Christy Hubbard, PetSmart—Senior Counsel, Marketing, Operations and Services
    • Lisa Loo, Arizona State University—Deputy General Counsel
    • Todd Weiss, Cole Real Estate—Senior Vice President, Legal Services

AzAt 2011 general counsel panel headline

The event always packs a room. (You can read more and register here.)

As I always do, I come to you now, Arizona’s legal community, to ask for your help as I prepare for the September 20 event. Here’s my query:

If I were only able to ask the panelists ONE question, what should it be?

Post your suggestion(s) below, or send me a note at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

And I hope to see you there.

Picture this.

No, I mean it: Picture this blog, not filled with streams of annoying words, but instead illustrating its main points in visual ways.

If you think you’re down with that, then we’re on the same page.

Understand, I’m all about the words. But I’ve been hankering for the past year for more pics and fewer verbal tics. And I have found infographics a terrific tool (maybe I just need a new reading prescription). And in Arizona Attorney Magazine, I’m trying to see where we can use infographics to good effect.

What is an infographic? You may have viewed them and not been familiar with the label. Here’s an example from the highly accomplished Bar Association of San Francisco:

Bar Association of San Francisco infographic

Cool, right?

And here is another shared by Association Media & Publishing:

infographic AMP Association Media and Publishing

Recently, I’ve engaged in a dialogue with a great member of the magazine’s Editorial Board. She too is intrigued by the possible legal uses of infographics. Because she’s efficient, though, she didn’t just muse on it. Instead, Ashley Kasarjian created one, and she’s on her way to creating others.

You may know Ashley as the author of the nationally recognized Employment and the Law Blog. And in her day job (oh, that), she’s an attorney at Snell & Wilmer.

Now, because we blog writers love us a little web-traffic, I’m not going to reprint Ashley’s whole infographic here. For that, you have to travel over here and give her a little SEO love. But here is a snippet of what she’s up to:

Ashley Kasarjian infographic

A portion of an infographic by Ashley Kasarjian

As you can surmise, she’s cooked up a Venn diagram of sorts (and who doesn’t love a Venn diagram?). So surf over to see the whole thing.

I happen to know that Ashley’s subsequent efforts are aimed at including even fewer words. Be still my heart!

(In fact, I will let you in on a little secret: Ashley has thrown down the gauntlet and suggested an infographic battle. I’ve accepted, naturally, but I may be in trouble, given that she’s already jumped in while I still simply ruminate. On the other hand, I’ve warned her that I am willing to include the ever-popular puppies and kittens; as a distinguished Snell attorney, she’s out of luck on that score! #winning)

But you may be unconvinced that such an accessible, concise and comprehensible tool has any place in the practice of law. Therefore, I urge you to set aside your reading of Bleak House and your admiration of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, while I share with you some reasons for you to embrace the brave new visual world.

So: Here are 5 reasons I learned to stop worrying and love the infographic:

1. Clients may love them, and they make your content more valuable to them.

Your background and experience likely mean that you have valuable content to share. And if you have a website (you do have a website, don’t you?), it may be brimming with content out the wazoo. But let’s be real; your mom may be reading it, but other people have higher standards. Why don’t you take some suggestions to make that content sing?

2. Your partners insist on depth, but they don’t read to the end of your memos either.

I am aware of the requirements of law practice; that 17-page brief on whether gravel should be regulated as a building material or a mineral had to be written. But your audience (even your partners) are yearning for the executive summary. What if that brief one-pager were fronted by an infographic setting out the rocky principles? Sure, you might get fired. But you’re a trailblazer.

Read here why simple = powerful, and why “Psychological research on cognitive fluency shows why easy to understand = more profitable, more pleasurable, more intelligent and safer.”

3. We’re all (even attorneys) visual thinkers.

That’s right, even you, with your Juris Doctorate, are likely a visual thinker. There may be some folks who think almost entirely in words, but scientists say they comprise only 25 percent of the population. (Cue the jokes to determine what practice area they’re in.) Want more evidence? (Of course you do, counselor.) Read this great essay about the power of visual thinking.

Or do you want that idea in a picture? (Yes? Now you’re getting the hang of it!). Here:

visual thinking a la postypography

Think about it: Which is mightier than which? (image by postypography)

4. Flowcharts work, especially when your mind doesn’t.

Do you remember law school? That was the place with all the words. Volumes of them. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to read 75 cases about wheat or chaff or something.

Do you remember your bar exam prep course? That was the place with pictures—or at least flowcharts. It was the place where the way to determine proper jurisdiction was to complete and then study a two-page chart that walked you through every possible permutation. Two pages, not volumes.

Close your eyes, and you may still remember those two pages. Close your eyes and think about the law school volumes. ZZZZZZZZZ.

But despite the evidence and our own experience, lawyers eschew images in favor of words. We know that Barbri (or whoever) saved our ass, but after that exam, we cozied up to words all over again.

Here’s an article that describes how valuable flowcharts can be. Read it, and then make one today.

5. Lawyers are creative, and many yearn to release a little art.

In case you missed it, I point you to a story we ran in Arizona Attorney recently. It’s about lawyers who were bit early by the art bug.

Read it and I bet you see a little of yourself there. You may not be a painter or author or sculptor. But infographics? It may be your milieu.

Want to get started? Here is a great collection of law-related infographics; they tend to be connected to personal injury practice, but let’s broaden our horizon to imag(in)e our own possibilities.

I’ll see you in the images.

Corporate Counsel panel discussion, Snell & Wilmer, Sept. 26, 2012

O in-house corporate counsel, how we yearn to know what’s in your heads.

That desire has long been held by lawyers and law firms. And in a tough economy, the yearning gets raised a few octaves more.

I wrote before about a recent corporate counsel panel discussion in Phoenix. There, we explored a number of topics. Of most interest to the assembled lawyers, though, were questions about how corporate counsel choose to hire—and fire—outside counsel.

An insightful article in the Harvard Business Review came to my attention (thanks to legal strategist Dee Schiavelli). In it, the author says that we’re in the age of the in-house counsel. He argues that they have eclipsed the powerful stature of the outside law firm.

For more evidence that our panel was on the right track, here is an article from the ABA Journal that explores “four reasons why general counsel fire their law firms.”

Intrigued, aren’t you? Let me know if there are reasons that the author fails to mention.

All fired up: Lawyer brain activity

Attendees gather for a Legal Marketing Association event featuring a panel of in-house corporate counsel, at Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, Sept. 26, 2012.

This week, I get to interact with many communications and PR professionals, and that leads me to wonder: Could their best practices align quite a bit with those of lawyers?

That thought occurred to me as I prepared to moderate a Wednesday panel at Snell & Wilmer for the Legal Marketing Association. The panel was comprised of in-house corporate counsel, and the audience included both lawyers and communications folks.

It was a blast, and I continue to be impressed by the deep level of commitment and quality that emanates from the LMA. As I said in my opening remarks, their story pitches and sharing of information are what allow us to cover our beat well.

But story pitches—and lawyers—are much on my mind this week, mainly because of a panel I will sit on this Saturday.

The “8th Annual Publicity Summit” is co-hosted by the local chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Society of America. (Could those organization names be a little more intimidating, please?) I’ve been in the SPJ for years, and I’ll be on a panel of magazine editors, writers and reporters.

Here is how the PRSA describes the event:

“Now is your chance to secure that challenging story you have been working on or meet face-to-face with your favorite media person. [Beat] Join PRSA Phoenix Chapter and Society of Professional Journalists for the 8th Annual Publicity Summit and the opportunity to network with peers, meet key members of the Phoenix media and get your stories placed. More than 20 of The Valley’s top journalists and reporters from various media outlets across multiple beats will be in attendance.”

You can find more information and registration pages online. (Registration may be closed by the time you click the second link.)

It will be in the downtown Phoenix ASU Cronkite Journalism school. Please stop by to say hi if you’re there.

If Saturday’s group could learn anything, they should hear from members of the LMA, who routinely impress me by how well they can educate the media about lawyers and their accomplishments.

So what will the journalists be telling the PR folks? What we love love love in story pitches—and, conversely, what may be less than effective when trying to get your content placed.

The lessons that will be explained on Saturday should help those communications professionals (and us media attendees who may get great pitches). But it occurred to me that they are the same lessons that lawyers should take to heart when connecting—either with magazines or with each other.

Here is some of what I’ll discuss at the SPJ event. What other lessons would you add?

  1. Learn before you call: Like most media outlets, our magazine is available online. Plus, my own material is available via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, our website, etc. Given that, opening with “So what do you do there?” or “What kind of stuff do you guys publish?” is the path toward a very short conversation. And that’s true for lawyer connections, too: Read all you can about someone before striving to make a connection.
  2. Read our stuff: This is related to the first point, but it’s worth being explicit. Lawyers and magazines have an awful lot of their record “out there,” and it’s available via the web. Using Google to spot significant verdicts that have gone their way (or not) will help make your ultimate conversation more informed (even if you don’t explicitly bring up that searing loss!).
  3. Connect where it makes sense: Sending blanket queries to everyone and her sister simply does not work. Story ideas should be tailored to the publication and its audience. Similarly, lawyers don’t cotton to outreach that looks to have all the individuality of a widget.
  4. Reveal yourself: When you reach out to someone, let him or her know something about you and/or what you represent. Be sure your email signature provides access to relevant information. And don’t hesitate to provide links to other content that you think will make your connection to the other person more sensible.

Here’s to valuable connections! Have a great weekend.

On Wednesday, I will moderate a panel discussion of in-house corporate counsel. Its title is “Corporate Counsel Panel: Key Insights for Attorneys and Marketing Professionals.”

The sponsor is the Southwest chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. I had the opportunity to play the moderator role last year, and I’m looking forward to doing it again. This year, the LMA has invited four in-house counsel. They come from a variety of public and private companies.

As I’ve pointed out before, what is on the minds of general counsel is very much of interest to Arizona Attorney readers. Right after lawyer discipline and what judges are thinking, the decision-making by general counsel is a prime topic of interest. And no wonder: Companies purchase a huge amount of legal services every year, and the General Counsel is the one who picks the outside lawyer and firm to get the work.

Last year’s corporate counsel panel, Sept. 22, 2011 (photo by Diana Wright)

But as I prepare for Wednesday’s event, I have a question for you: If I were only able to ask the panelists ONE question, what should it be?

Last year I asked the same question in advance of the event and was pleased at the responses.

Post your suggestion below, or send me a note at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

In case you missed it, here is our roundtable discussion from the 2011 panel, as it appeared in Arizona Attorney.

And if you haven’t registered yet, here is a link to Wednesday’s event.

Our December 2011 cover story

Ashley Kasarjian

Hats off and hands together today for a lawyer, blogger and colleague who’s been honored for her blogging prowess.

Ashley Kasarjian is a lawyer at Snell & Wilmer whose blog—Employment and the Law—was just named the top labor and employment law blog for 2011.

Appropriately, Ashley announced the news on her blog.

The honor comes from Lexis Nexis, which knows quite a bit about lawyers and communications tools. Here is their announcement. That page also lists the top 25 labor and employment blogs.

Besides her busy day job and shoehorning in an award-winning blog, Ashley is also a valuable member of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board. So that doubles my admiration.

The badge earned by Ashley

You’ll see this week that I’ve listed Ashley’s blog as the lead item in the magazine Blog Network. You can find it at the bottom of the AzAt News Center.

Now that you’ve bookmarked and/or subscribed to Ashley’s blog, you might choose to do the same with the News Center. It provides good stuff throughout the day, and it’s all curated right here at my desk.

And here’s one more step: If you want your blog listed, send me an email at arizona.attorney@azbar.org. I’ll get your content up there tout de suite. Or if you don’t blog yourself, feel free to suggest a blog for us to list. The more, the merrier.

Tuesday evening saw 2011’s version of what has become a noteworthy legal event for Arizona. That was the reception honoring the lawyers who were counsel in the cases that garnered the Top 10 Civil Verdicts moniker, as published in our June Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Lawers from this year's Top 10 Civil Verdicts. Our author Kelly MacHenry, a trial lawyer herself, is seated in the front row.

Hosted at Snell & Wilmer by partner and litigator Kelly MacHenry, the event brings together those trial lawyers, as well as those who won significant defense verdicts in cases where claimed damages were high.

I wrote about this event last year, and one thing makes the event better with every passing June.

The characteristic that marks the evening and makes it a must-attend event is not the wonderful food or the plush digs, both of which are great every time. The true value of the gathering lies in the remarks by the trial lawyers themselves. For after Kelly describes each case and hands the lawyers their certificates, they get the opportunity to share something about the case—what element was decisive, any aha moments that were milestones, what witness or piece of evidence was key to their success.

It is a pleasure and a surprise for me every year how open and expressive the honorees are in response to Kelly’s invitation to share some of their trial strategies—or moments of great good luck! People whose livelihood is ensuring a good outcome for their clients in a courtroom often relax into a discussion of the moment when it all came together—or when it looked like it was all going to hell in a handbasket.

Huge Arizona Attorney cover-photo appears dwarfed by photograph from Snell & Wilmer's art collection.

I told the attendees why the issue is one of my favorites throughout the year: I enjoy hearing what Arizona juries are doing and what trends the verdicts may reflect. But I also enjoy the successes and stories of trial lawyers. Although a huge part of their job is preparation, at the end of the day, they must act decisively even when surprises arise.

If you are comfortable only when you have your belt and suspenders firmly cinched up, litigating may not be the venue for you.

I also have to single Kelly MacHenry out for praise. She brings to a thankful magazine the complete package: She writes extremely well, she’s laser-focused on accuracy, she meets deadlines—and she’s super-smart! If any potential authors out there embody even one of these qualities, I’d be happy to work with you on an article. If you bring all four—you’ve made my month! Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Congratulations to all the lawyers and their amazing trial teams. And thanks to Kelly for phenomenal writing and idea generation.

Click here to see some more pictures on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

And here is the list of honorees (in alphabetical order):

Barb Dawson, Snell & Wilmer

Modern large-firm law practice has thrown a variety of challenges toward firms that want to excel and grow. One of the tools those firms use to grow their business and their market-share is networking—often on a global scale.

Organizations like Lex Mundi and Mackrell International allow and encourage interaction among lawyers globally. They also provide a great way to send legal work to lawyers in a score of localities.

Recently, those two groups have seen Arizona—Phoenix in particular—as a great spot to meet and re-energize.

In late March, Lex Mundi, in collaboration with the Association of Corporate Counsel, held a two-day event in and around Snell & Wilmer. Lex Mundi calls itself “the world’s leading association of independent law firms,” and Snell partner Barb Dawson is chair of its board of directors.

More information on the conference is here. And go here for some photos from the conference, posted on the Arizona Attorney Magazine Facebook page.

This coming week is Mackrell’s turn. Mackrell describes itself as “one of the world’s premier networks of independent legal firms.”

Hosted by Polsinelli Shughart (whose own Marty Harper is chair of the international network), the April-27-30 event will be held at the Arizona Biltmore.

Marty Harper, Polsinelli Shughart

More information on this week’s Mackrell event is here. And a press release from Polsinelli is below.

Polsinelli Shughart Welcomes Mackrell International for Annual General Meeting in Phoenix

Press Releases

April 22, 2011

When United States companies explore business opportunities beyond our borders, the need arises often for legal services abroad. An international conference, held in Phoenix, will explore cross-border relationships to help attorneys better serve the business community globally. More than 100 attorneys from Africa, the Asia Pacific Region, Europe, North America, the Middle East, and South America will be in Phoenix to attend the 2011 Mackrell International Annual General Meeting (AGM). In recent years, the AGM has previously been held in Sydney, Athens, Berlin, Istanbul, and Buenos Aires. This is the first time the AGM will be held in the in the United States in 12 years. The event will be held at the Arizona Biltmore from April 27 – April 30.

Polsinelli Shughart PC Shareholder Marty Harper, from the Phoenix office, is the chair of this international network of law firms that takes a “common sense” approach to conducting business internationally. Mayor Phil Gordon will welcome the international visitors, and discuss foreign investment opportunities in Phoenix and upward economic trends occurring in the Valley. The mayor will speak April 29 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 pm.

“We pride ourselves in being a global city, not only in our population, but in our business development,” said Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. “Conversations such as these are important in assisting the world to recognize what our city and state can offer internationally. It is very exciting to be hosting more than 100 delegates from all over the world.”

In addition to Mayor Gordon, Polsinelli Shughart welcomes Dr. Angel Cabrera, president of Thunderbird Global School of Management. Dr. Cabrera will address trends in both the local and international economy, as well as discuss the legal issues impacting their specific regions and the potential for doing business in Arizona. His keynote address is April 28 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 pm.

In addition to Harper’s role as chair of Mackrell, Polsinelli Shughart has a growing international law practice to serve clients in Phoenix. The attorneys focus on high-profile litigation and complex business matters in a variety of practice areas and industries. Attorneys who have previously served as in-house counsel for national and international companies bring a unique perspective to several practice areas.

“We are honored to host our annual meeting here in Phoenix and showcase our great state,” said Harper. “Mackrell plays a critical role in assisting member firms to expand their geographic reach and connect clients to the very best legal representation around the world. The relationships built by Mackrell members at these regional meetings create a strong network of mid-sized firms, establishing a presence across geographies and practice areas, which ultimately benefit the clients they serve.”

Mackrell International, with 80 law firm members in 55 countries, brings together over 4,000 lawyers from independent law firms through its various actions. The AGM is the culmination of the work that happens globally all year.

“We are very proud that the largest-ever gathering of Mackrell International delegates would take place at the initiative of Polsinelli Shughart and particularly as Marty Harper comes to the end of his period as chair of our network,” said Mackrell International Managing Director Clive Miéville. “We are delighted to be here!”

Reporters will be able to find story ideas about the following topics:

• Phoenix as an international destination for business
• The realities of Phoenix businesses conducting business internationally
• Differences and similarities of lawyers in America versus other countries
• Phoenix attorney Marty Harper who serves as the chair of Mackrell can speak on the importance of global business relationships and help provide international attorneys for media interviews

Note to editors: Media interested in attending should contact Molly Edwards at medwards@polsinelli.com or via phone at 602.650-2338.

About Polsinelli Shughart PC

With more than 530 attorneys, Polsinelli Shughart PC (www.polsinelli.com) is a national law firm that is a recognized leader in the areas of business law, financial services, real estate and business litigation. Serving corporate, institutional and individual clients, Polsinelli Shughart is redefining the business of law by sharing ideas, goals and outcomes with its clients. The firm builds enduring relationships by creating value through legal services – with passion, ingenuity and a sense of urgency. The firm has offices located in Kansas City; St. Louis; Phoenix; Chicago; Denver; Washington, D.C.; New York; Wilmington, Del.; Overland Park, Kan.; St. Joseph, Springfield, and Jefferson City, Mo.; Topeka, Kan.; and Edwardsville, Ill.

About Mackrell International
Mackrell International (www.mackrell.net) is one of the world’s premier networks of independent legal firms. Membership enables our members to provide their clients with legal services at home and abroad. With member firms in 51 countries, Mackrell International gives clients access to 4,000 lawyers worldwide providing a seamless legal service wherever the client needs it.
The organization has increased its representation by 35% in the last three years by adding new firms to our network, particularly in Eastern Europe and in both North and South America. Expansion continues in the Middle East – Israel and Dubai are now on board – and representation is growing in other key areas of the world, such as Africa and Central America.

On Friday, I will be heading over to an event at the Phoenix law firm Snell & Wilmer. The gathering is a two-day conference titled “In-House Counsel Global Symposium.” It promises to give some fascinating insights into international practice, and I’ll report back on what I hear.

But sitting in the Snell conference room will be odd, for I have always thought of it as an important part of Dan McAuliffe’s house. Let me explain.

Dan was a legendary lawyer, who practiced the bulk of his career at Snell. He was always everywhere that lawyers needed his assistance. He served as  State Bar President, and wrote books and treatises on professionalism, and ethics, and civil practice.

That’s the nutshell version. But it doesn’t explain why he’s still on my mind a year after he’s shuffled off this mortal coil.

To do that, I point you to a few things I wrote. A few are long-winded, but one won’t take you more than a few moments. I’d start with that one.

In another conference room—this one at the State Bar of Arizona—Dan’s picture smiles over a room dedicated to legal education. He’d like that. And next to it is a plaque that I am pleased to say I was asked to write. The call was for something brief and less bio-awful than many such plaques that we all have read a hundred times. So here’s what I wrote:

“Dan McAuliffe wrote numerous books and articles on ethics and professionalism, including the Arizona Legal Ethics Handbook. Those works have been and will continue to be invaluable guides to Arizona lawyers. But Dan’s accomplishments run far beyond those works.”

“Dan was a leader in every group in which he sat. He was smart, perhaps smarter than anyone you’re likely to come across in a career of law practice. He was generous of his time and of his opinion, even when you’d rather decline the offer. He was a friend to lawyers, especially those new to practice. He was an advocate for the unfortunate and a tireless champion of justice. His legacy is commemorated every time an Arizona lawyer chooses the path of ethics, education and professionalism.”

I knew Dan, and I suspect he would smirk at those words, roll his eyes, and say, “Eigo, that’s too much.” But he was all that, and more.

Besides that plaque, I got the chance to write about Dan a few other times. One of the first was as he was about to become the new State Bar of Arizona President. One of the last was after he had passed away on March 12, 2010.

I thought about Dan on the anniversary of his death. But writing something that day felt misguided, somehow. Instead, I think of him now, on the day he was born in 1945, a Bronx baby who would grow up to become a respected attorney.

RIP, Dan. We think of you still.

I wrote a few days ago about an upcoming event at Snell & Wilmer honoring some hard-working people. The event was to honor those lawyers (and their staff) who had prevailed in the Top 10 verdicts of 2009, and the top defense verdicts in the same year.

Our master of ceremonies was Kelly Wilkins MacHenry, an attorney at Snell and the author of our annual cover story on the topic.

Here is a photo of the group.

Besides being able to toast their accomplishments, the evening provides another great aspect: We get to hear from the lawyers themselves, who provide some insight into what they think made their case special, and why they think they may have prevailed. To those of us who find law practice fascinating, it is a great way to spend your time.

I have to add that Snell catered with Tammie Coe – an inspired decision! I am used to thinking of Tammie Coe in terms of delicious baked goods and sandwiches on the phenomenal MJ Bread (baked by her husband, Michael John).

Tammie Coe

This evening, though, Tammie rolled out her shop’s newest delicious catering choices, including spring rolls, spicy cheese puffs and meatless meatballs. None of these paltry words can reveal how wonderful the food was. And to make it even better, Tammie herself was there, schlepping her delicious offerings. Like her food, she’s a pleasure at a party!

Here’s to great lawyering and catering, that time-honored combo!

Yes, this is a Tammie Coe cake.

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