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This post is not aimed at lawyers whose practice is sailing along exactly as they would hope it would. Who have ample work, quality work, with clients who pay on time or early, and who never, ever argue about a bill. Who find creative pursuits within and among their legal work. Who have found particularly effective ways to differentiate themselves in a field of talented competitors. Whose hair is always just so.

Those folks will benefit not a whit from a recent blog post (not mine) that touting blogging as one of the top three Internet marketing activities.

And why (once again) does blogging matter? Because the definition of business strategy can be summed up in that one word that starts with “D”—differentiation. And blogging may be uniquely suited to convey an attorney’s talents, approach, and world view.

Um, yes, your world view matters to potential clients. Not your take on politics (better left to yourself). But the way you align yourself amidst challenging and thorny legal issues. The way you think through things, convey your position, and remain focused on the client at all times (the most important thing, of course).

Websites can do some of that lifting, but that’s where clients typically find the milquetoast puffery that reminds the world you are “full-service” (whatever that is), or that you were in an Order that had to do with the Coif (I go to Supercuts myself). That kind of stuff? It’s the opposite of differentiation.

So read this helpful post that describes blogging and two other online activities you should consider.

And if you’re still on the cyberspace fence, read this piece to hear how referral networks—via blogging—may be helpful to you.

US Department of Labor logoIt was only back on April 1 that a major dialogue was raised in Arizona about the negative results that flow from employee misclassification. That’s when Dr. David Weil of the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division spoke to audiences in downtown Phoenix and elsewhere.

Dr. Weil spoke about the combination of carrots and sticks that would be brought to bear to face the challenge.

This week, we got to see a little of the stick as we read a press release. It opens:

“A nearly five-year federal investigation of illegal business practices by 16 defendants in Utah and Arizona has yielded $700,000 in back wages, damages, penalties and other guarantees for more than 1,000 construction industry workers in the Southwest, the U.S. Department of Labor announced today.”

“Consent judgments put an end to an effort by the defendants—operating collectively as CSG Workforce Partners, Universal Contracting, LLC and Arizona Tract/Arizona CLA—to claim that their workers were not employees. The defendants required the construction workers to become ‘member/owners’ of limited liability companies, stripping them of federal and state protections that come with employee status. These construction workers were building houses in Utah and Arizona as employees one day and then the next day were performing the same work on the same job sites for the same companies but without the protection of federal and state wage and safety laws. The companies, in turn, avoided paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes.”

You can read the entire release here. All of the targeted Arizona firms are listed at the bottom, as is the case name and caption number.

Adding to the value of the news to Arizona lawyers and others is a blog post by Labor Secretary Tom Perez himself. In it, he describes the legal action being taken in Utah and Arizona. And he gives valuable insight into the way this nefarious business gets done:

“The state of Utah was a helpful partner in the Wage and Hour Division’s investigation of these defendants, providing information from the state’s Worker Classification Coordinated Enforcement Council, an entity created by the state legislature to combat misclassification. The state ultimately outlawed the defendants’ business model by requiring workers compensation and unemployment insurance for members of LLCs. In response, the companies packed up, headed to Arizona, and set up shop under a new name, but with the same scheme.”

Perez concludes:

“The Utah and Arizona judgments send a strong, clear message: employers can’t hide behind deceptive legal partnerships to cut corners and save money on the backs of their employees. It’s our hope that this and other enforcement actions will serve as a credible deterrent that influences behavior throughout the economy. Especially in the fissured workplace, we will continue to be vigilant about protecting workers, taxpayers and law-abiding employers.”

If you represent clients in related industries, is this a wake-up call? Is misclassification as big a problem as it’s made out to be? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

P.S. Arizona has another close link to the Secretary: Four high-school kids from the Grand Canyon State just won an ABA award for best Magna Carta video. Among the luminaries they met in Washington DC in mid-April was Labor Secretary Perez. Here they all are:

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez meets with Arizona high school students who won first place in the ABA's 2015 Magna Carta video competition, April 2015.

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez meets with Arizona high school students who won first place in the ABA’s 2015 Magna Carta video competition, April 2015. (Full story in the June 2015 Arizona Attorney Magazine)

 

LawyersWithoutRights logo cover Holocaust

A few days ago, I wrote about a State Bar program that will be held on Thursday, April 16—National Holocaust Remembrance Day. You can read about it here.

In that post, I also mentioned a related exhibit that is worth your time. Since then, I read even more deeply about it, and saw what’s been installed, and I urge you all over again to stop by the Bar building in Phoenix if you can. It will be displayed until 3:00 pm on Thursday, April 16.

Here is some background from the Bar:

“In addition to offering the ‘Lessons from the Holocaust’ CLE program, the State Bar has partnered with the American Bar Association (ABA) and the German Federal Bar to showcase the highly acclaimed international exhibit ‘Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich,’ from April 13 through 16, 2015.”

“According to the ABA and the German Federal Bar, ‘Lawyers Without Rights is an exhibition that speaks for itself. Its message resonates with all persons who understand and appreciate the concepts and ideals of a just role of law. It is a commentary and a lesson for all people everywhere about the dangers when lawyers or minorities are attacked or the law itself is unjustly applied.’ The exhibit showcases a series of stories that illustrate the Nazi mistreatment of German lawyers who happened to be Jewish.”

“The exhibit at the State Bar of Arizona is an exact replica of the full exhibit that has been shown in several cities in Germany and throughout the world. It will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 13-16, 2015.”

“Both the CLE and exhibition will be held at the State Bar of Arizona located at 4201 N. 24th St. in Phoenix. For more information contact Sarah Fluke at 602.340.7317.”

The exhibit wisely and hauntingly tells particular, personal stories of German lawyers who were Jewish and whose lives were irrevocably altered—or ended—by the Holocaust.

Also to be displayed, in the Bar lobby, will be 10 six-foot banners with pictures and text. They will be displayed from Wednesday afternoon until Thursday afternoon. Below is a photo of those posters when they were at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.

Lawyers Without Rights display in Los Angeles

Lawyers Without Rights display in Los Angeles.

If you can’t make it, that’s OK. The website dedicated to those stories is terrific and offers a similar yet even deeper experience.

Here is a video about Lawyers Without Rights:

Hardly giving the exhibit justice, here is my Vine scanning the room it’s in.

And in case you were wondering:

“The German Federal Bar, known as the Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer, is the national bar of the Republic of Germany and based in Berlin. Membership is approximately 166,000 lawyers and is required of all licensed lawyers in Germany.”

12 News logoI regularly report on the activities of Lawyers on Call, a State Bar public service program hosted at the ofices of 12 News, the Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. At the events, volunteer lawyers answer consumer questions on various topics. On Tuesday, March 31, the event focused on tax laws. In a moment, I’ll share the names of the generous volunteer attorneys. But first, it’s worth noting that this version of Lawyers on Call included a new development: the use of a streaming video app, Periscope, to better address some consumer questions. To add to the functionality, this past month’s event also includes a video recap (see it at the end of this post). I am very impressed by the video’s quality, achieved via free apps. That makes me think I should try my hand at some videos myself! State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_ColorThe Lawyers on Call news comes, as always, from my innovative colleague Alberto Rodriguez: Five attorneys volunteered their time and expertise on March 31, 2015, to offer legal advice on tax law. The attorneys were:

The lawyers answered 118 calls, 23 questions via Facbook, and a handful on Periscope, a streaming video app that had 55 participants. Sample consumer questions:

  • How do I report on gaming winnings?
  • How does the Affordable Health Care Act affect my file/return?
  • What are the penalties if I file late or file an extension?
  • How does filing bankruptcy affect my 2015 file/return?

Several callers reported scam activity—receiving phone calls from individuals claiming to be an “IRS” representative who request personal information and payments. Facebook continues to be a successful component of Lawyers on Call, as attorney Derek Kaczmarek answered 23 questions posted on the 12 News fan page. In addition, the 12 News social media team launched the use of Periscope, an interactive streaming video app where participants could ask their questions live. Four out of the five attorneys were first-time volunteers. All volunteers were extremely satisfied with the quality of the questions overall and were excited to have participated in the Lawyers on Call public service program. Here is a terrific video recap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n83m1ZbclBs&feature=youtu.be

My opening #BLI15 communications slide. #itsnotatypo

My opening #BLI15 communications slide. #itsnotatypo

Yesterday, I promised to share my decision on whose tweets from the ABA Bar Leadership Institute communications session were the most splendiferous. Today, I honor that promise.

Ultimately, I come to praise four folks—and I end this post with our Big Winner. Each of them will receive a special audiocassette (why audiocassesttes? Read here and here.). Of course, to receive their prize, they have to contact me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org with their snail-mail address!

Here are photos of the audiocassettes; click them to biggify (I’m still not sure who gets which, except for The Big Winner):

And before I forget: If you go to the end of this post, you’ll also see that we had huge Twitter engagement during our session. So I’m pleased to name and thank many of those talented folks. (Want to see nearly everything? Here’s my Storify from the session.)

Every one of the people appearing in today’s post deserve a follow by you on Twitter. Get to it!

Without further ado, here are our four winners:

Whitney von Haam @wvonhaam

Whitney offered engagement, excitement, and even a suggestion that she will change her life’s mission statement—all in response to our presentations! Not to mention her use of the hashtag #notthesameoldkitchencabinet

Here are a few of her tweets:

John Trimble @IndyBarPres

Look at John’s tweets below and note a few things:

  • He’s concise and to the point.
  • He “gets it” on a very deep level.

His classic approach is appreciated by busy tweeters everywhere:

And this, not officially during our session, is still eloquently put:

Yvonne McGhee @Yvonne_McGhee

Yvonne has been a leader’s leader for years, and her tweets show how adept and generous she is as she offers praise and insights.

Plus, she used the hashtag #truth at an evocative moment. I think you’ll agree that Yvonne shares the love in wonderful ways:

… which refers to this slide:

A young Dustin Hoffman learns about mobile.

A young Dustin Hoffman learns about mobile.

Tom Prol @tprol

So if you’re paying attention, you’ll see that Tom Prol is our big Twitter winner (Twinner?). Therefore, he will receive the fantastic tape from the band Spinal Tap.

What did I love about Tom’s tweet-valanche? Only a few things. His:

  • Quick thinking
  • Art direction and composition
  • Overall excellence and willingness to engage
  • Entrepreneurship to immediately take a selfie with a colleague as I took one in the BLI audience

Wowser. Tom puts the “wit” in Twitter, as you’ll see below:

Other Talented People

Here are some other terrific tweeters from the session (but a guy only has so many cassettes):

As I mentioned, if you want to relive that morning (I know you do), traipse over to my Storify here.

Finally, what do I take away from this amazing roster of tweeters?

  1. It’s far larger than I had expected.
  2. Association folks are witty and quick.
  3. I am surrounded by generous and smart communicators.

All in all, a #winning month. Thank you to all my amazing colleagues!

The ABA #BLI15 conference room as I took the stage.

The ABA #BLI15 conference room as I took the stage.

Two weeks ago, I had the chance to present on communications to hundreds of lawyers. Fortunately, prizes were involved. And soon, I’ll announce even more of them.

No, no prizes for me. My prize was the opportunity once again to speak to legal leaders at the American Bar Association Leadership Institute. I had 30 minutes to explore how and why we all communicate well (and sometimes less than well), as individuals and as associations.

I then got to introduce smart people from bar associations around the country, each of whom addressed a core area of communications: in print, in person, and in electronic media. Those folks were Mark Mathewson of the Illinois Bar, Meredith Avakian of the Philadelphia Bar, and Karen Korr of the San Diego County Bar. I think it’s fair to say we all hit it out of the park. (What, you want evidence? Cruise over here to enjoy the Storify I created from our morning’s presentations. We were all pleased at the amount of engagement that surrounded us, and that clearly extended to the web.)

But … I mentioned prizes.

They included the prizes I handed out during my presentation, when folks accurately answered questions.

The audience was terrific and responded immediately when I queried them. And those who answered correctly received … audiocassettes.

That’s right. Old-fashioned music cassettes. I found them at Phoenix vintage stores, and they were quite a hit. But then again, who doesn’t love Leslie Gore singing “It’s My Party,” or Sonny and Cher reminding us that “I got you, babe”?

Here is a tweet from one attendee who won the Sonny & Cher love:

So what were my questions that led to music prizes, you wonder? I asked the audience to complete a quote by George Bernard Shaw

My #BLI15 PowerPoint slide with George Bernard Shaw

My #BLI15 PowerPoint slide with George Bernard Shaw

… and I asked what movie was the source for the following quote regarding “turning the dial to 11”:

turn the dial to 11 This Is Spinal Tap

So, why the cassette mania? Well, it had a communications connection. It emerged from an essay that I was taken with, by Don MacKinnon. It’s titled “Mixtapes: The Future of Creation?” You can read it here.

My other prizes—the ones yet to be announced—are being given to audience members who were the session’s best tweeters. The mind races.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you who those talented social-media folks are—and what they’re getting.

In the meantime, you may enjoy a list of all of my sources, compiled (of course) as mixtape liner notes (click to see the PDF):

ABA BLI 2015 additional reading handout eigo

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor

Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Today I will happily be leading a webinar on the topic of blogging. So there may be no better day than this to share news from an event last week. That annual event, coincidentally, was the subject of my first legal blog post more than five years ago. (I know; you’re tearing up along with me.)

The Learned Hand luncheon continues to wow a packed room at the Hyatt Phoenix with its awards to smart legal luminaries. And the magic of the event continues to be the stellar speeches, not only be the worthy recipients, but also by their nominators. These folks bring it.

This year’s event was last Wednesday, March 11, and as always it is sponsored by the American Jewish Committee’s Arizona Chapter.

AJC American Jewish Committee logoThis year’s honorees were Lawrence Robinson, Elliot Glicksman, and retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. (I know; what took them so long?!)

I won’t go on about each of the honoree’s accomplishments. All of the folks were well selected, and, as always, the acceptance speeches were matched by the nominators’ speeches for verve and punch.

The luncheon provides attendees a moment to pause and hear from esteemed peers. As those lawyers and judges, we recall the best ideals of our profession. I’m confident that as listeners stream out onto the busy sidewalk, full from a salmon lunch, they are at least briefly refreshed as they head back to work. Ideally, the lessons they heard will take root and bear fruit in their own lives.

And if you have a moment, <strong>here is what I wrote five years ago, on the occasion of the same lunch in 2010 (when the honorees were Keri Lazarus Silvyn, E.G. “Ted” Noyes, Jr., and Debbie Hill).

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