Our distinguished panel (L to R): Patti Dietz, General Counsel, American Residential Properties; Lukas Grabiec, Assistant General Counsel, GoDaddy; Shannon Overcash, General Counsel, McDonough Corporation; Michele Keogh, General Counsel, BASIS Educational Group Inc.; and Melanie Hansen, General Counsel, Massage Envy Franchising LLC

Our distinguished panel (L to R): Patti Dietz, General Counsel, American Residential Properties; Lukas Grabiec, Assistant General Counsel, GoDaddy; Shannon Overcash, General Counsel, McDonough Corporation; Michele Keogh, General Counsel, BASIS Educational Group Inc.; and Melanie Hansen, General Counsel, Massage Envy Franchising LLC

An easy-lifting kind of Change of Venue Friday just to say THANK YOU to the Legal Marketing Association Arizona chapter for again inviting me to moderate a panel of corporate counsel (I previewed the event and panelists here.) In our packed-to-the-gills lunch hour, we wrestled a lot of ornery issues to the ground, including:

  • The challenges of a modern-day in-house lawyer
  • How law firms can best represent themselves to be considered as outside counsel
  • How diversity is considered (or not) in selecting outside counsel
  • How law firms can distinguish themselves from others in the effort to get noticed
  • What law firms actions please corporate counsel
  • What law firms actions irk corporate counsel
  • And more

The Game Seven Grill at Chase Field in downtown Phoenix was a cool location, the five corporate counsel were insightful and generous with their time, and the audience of legal marketers and attorneys was as savvy as ever.

Below are a few photos from the event (click to biggify). We’ll probably publish some excerpts from the conversation in the December Arizona Attorney Magazine.

Have a great—and non-corporate—weekend.

Tim Corcoran, LMA President, speaks in Phoenix on Thursday, March 13, at the State Bar of Arizona.

Tim Corcoran, LMA President, speaks in Phoenix on Thursday, March 13, at the State Bar of Arizona.

This Thursday, an event at the State Bar of Arizona is absolutely worth your time. Here are 3 reasons you should attend:

  1. The presenter’s first name is Tim.
  2. The presenter is a committed blogger.
  3. The topic is law firms and money. You like money, don’t you?

The event is a production of the Southwest Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, a group I’ve been privileged to collaborate with numerous times before (here’s the most recent).

The title of the event is “Demystifying Law Firm Finance for Marketing and Business Development Professionals,” and it occurs Thursday, March 13, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.

More detail and a registration link are here.

As the LMA describes it:

Legal Marketing Association logo“This interactive discussion will cover how law firms made money yesterday and how they will make money tomorrow. Tim Corcoran will discuss the role of Alternative Fee Arrangements (AFAs), Legal Project Management (LPM), Business Process Improvement (BPI), Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) and Big Data on the law firm of the future. This program is designed to demystify law firm finances so legal marketing and business development professionals can sit at the table as equals with finance professionals and firm leadership.”

“Tim will also provide an overview of the changing face of law firm finance, from the long-time R.U.L.E.S. approach to the more modern Learning Curve approach.”

Corcoran is the 2014 President of the LMA, and we are fortunate to have him come to Phoenix. The experienced executive “advises law firm leaders how to profit in a time of great change, with particular emphasis in strategy, business process improvement, legal project management and business development.”

And, as I alluded to at the top, he is the author of Corcoran’s Business of Law blog.

I am disappointed to say that as this program begins, I’ll be en route to Chicago for a presentation of my own. But I look forward to hearing about Tim’s message.

Again, here is a link to register.

AzAt 2011 general counsel panel headlineWay back in September (remember September), I told you about an upcoming corporate counsel event—a panel discussion that I was asked to moderate, sponsored by the Legal Marketing Association.

It was a blast. It’s always great to hear the up-close-and-personal dialogues among and between lawyers who work within corporations and associations.

However, because Arizona Attorney Magazine is a multi-modal content-delivery system (say that three times fast), I point you now to a synopsis of some of the attorneys’ insights, available in print and online.

You may already have received (and read!) your print version of the magazine. But click here to read the concise article online.

Here is how the dialogue opens:

What are corporate counsel thinking?

Boiled down, that is the question that drives a great annual event that gathers lawyers and law profession communicators to hear from in-house counsel.

Corporate Counsel Q&A Dec 2013Tim Eigo: With an upswing in the economy, do you anticipate more outside legal hiring?

Sonny Cave (ON Semiconductor): It’s going to provide work both to the in‑house team and the outside team. At any given moment in time, I’ve got hundreds of matters that are being handled by outside counsel, lawyers in all the different countries where we do business. I do try to hold as much work in-house as possible. Our cost model is generally about 40 percent of the total legal budget for in-house work and about 60 percent for outside law firms.

Eigo: Todd, is real estate coming back, and is there a hiring effect?

Todd Weiss (Cole Real Estate): Yes and yes. When I started in 2004, we did $250 million in acquisitions. This year our goal is between $4 billion and $5 billion in acquisitions. There’s not a week that goes by that we aren’t sending a matter out to outside counsel. We rely heavily on our outside counsel to run our acquisitions.

Eigo: Lisa, as a large public university, what does your office seek in outside counsel?

Legal Marketing Association logoLisa Loo (ASU): We look for law firms that understand our challenges, understand where it is we’re trying to go. We’ve been lucky in that the law firms we have engaged understand the challenges. The downturn in the economy hasn’t lessened our work; it actually has made us be more creative because you have to figure out how you are going to bring more money in, and students tend to enroll in higher ed when the economy is down.

Keep reading here.

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.

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

If you wanted to explore one component of the legal community that may serve as a bellwether for many others, you’d be wise to select corporate counsel.

These are the people on the leading edge of the economy, who have a sense when to hire lawyers and law firms freely, and when to take care of things in-house. They often interact with government and regulatory agencies, and they may know in a very direct way which way juries are tending. They can tell us a lot about the economy, government–business interaction, and the health of the legal market.

For those and other reasons, the Legal Marketing Association Southwest Chapter was wise to host another in its great series of Corporate Counsel Roundtables last week. (Before the event occurred, I wrote about it here.)

I was privileged to be asked to moderate the lunchtime conversation, and it was a hoot and a half. In fact, I couldn’t resist one of my dorkier pleasures: taking a cell-phone photo of the attendees as they watched me and the panel.

Legal professionals wondering why their photo is being taken

The praise for the great event goes to the three lawyers willing to sit in a hot seat and answer questions from me and the attendees.

Once again, let me thank:

Understand, these guys all have day jobs that keep them pretty swamped. Taking time out of a week with few minutes to spare is a great service. And, once there, they brought their “A” game. Each of them shared great insight and anecdotes on a range of topics the audience wanted to know. And then they added humor, to boot.

If there is a definition of “good job,” it would be the ability to work with people who take their work seriously without taking themselves too seriously. Thank you, John, Mike and Larry, for letting me have a good job on Thursday.

Thanks also to Kristi Phillips and the staff at Lewis and Roca, who shared their offices and their talents. Events like these take a huge amount of planning, and they handled it all with grace. (They were even kind enough to wrap me a plate of food to go, as I hadn’t gotten a chance to eat—thanks, Anna!).

Finally, thanks to AZ Business Magazine. Though I am most pleased to be able to tout my own publication, I have to send them my gratitude for sponsoring the event. Here’s looking to more of that kind of synergy in the future.

Mark Beese at Legal Marketing Association event, at the State Bar of Arizona, Sept. 16, 2010

I have attended meetings in boardrooms, big and small, many times. And the size of the room never guarantees that the words spoken will be insightful or compelling. That’s why last Thursday’s event at the State Bar of Arizona was such a pleasure.

The host was the Southwest Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association. Their monthly lunchtime speakers series has always been a good one, but recently that group has delivered the complete package on a pretty regular basis (I’m sure she would give credit to a cast of thousands,  but kudos definitely go to chapter President Nathalie Daum, at Lewis and Roca).

Thursday was right in that tradition of quality. Speaking was Mark Beese, of Leadership for Lawyers LLC.

He spoke to the group for a whirlwind hour on the topic of “Being the Leader You Would Want To Follow.” It gave everyone quite a bit to think about.

Col. Joshua Chamberlain

Beese is a former CMO for law firm Holland & Hart and past president of the Rocky Mountain LMA. So he’s had ample experience toiling alongside lawyers. When he talked about herding cats, the group listened.

Here are a few highlights of what he covered.

Beese opened by engaging the group in examining a few questions:

  • What is the difference between projects and organizations that take off, and those that flounder?
  • Why do some organizations evolve, and others have the same marketing plan year after year?

For those of you who are not interested in the marketing side of practice, you could ask the previous question and omit the “M” word—the question is just as valuable for most all your endeavors.

Beese dotted his conversation with anecdotes from law practice. They all revealed one thing: The cost of bad leadership can be massive.

He also entertained the group with his examination of why it may be difficult to lead lawyers and law firms. Smart and driven people that we are, we often can be an obstacle to our own success. Beese showed where lawyers are on a variety of broad scales. For example, on a ranking of skepticism, lawyers come in at the 90 percent mark. Autonomy—89 percent. Urgency—71 percent.

Two scales were particularly painful for me to hear.

The resilience scale reveals how much a person rolls with the punches and tries again. But when lawyers try a marketing plan, and it does not instantly yield results, they give up on it and on marketing generally. On that scale, lawyers come in at a measly 30 percent.

And on sociability—Lawyers rank at 8 percent. Ouch.

Beese rounded out his hour by talking about what works to change behavior in law firms. And the only thing that works is to change the entire culture. That change includes fostering a shared vision, innovating, and fostering a spirit of intimacy—not where people share too much, but where they feel free to share ideas and to experiment with outside-the-box ideas.

His example of a leader surprised me. Beese looked not to a contemporary lawyer, but to a historic figure.

Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a professor at Bowdoin College in the 19th century. When the Civil War erupted, he sought a leave of absence to fight to maintain the Union. When he was denied by his university president, he quit and enlisted.

So well did he lead his men at Gettysburg, Beese said, that President Abraham Lincoln asked him to command the Union troops at Appomattox, where the South was to lay down its weapons and surrender.

On Chamberlain’s orders, the assembled Union soldiers saluted their defeated enemy. Though the bitterness of Reconstruction was to follow, that small act of courtesy and respect signaled the wisdom of a true leader.

As Beese said of Chamberlain, “He did not have to go to war. But he woke up one morning and said, ‘My role is a leader.””

(Chamberlain later became a Governor of Maine, and served as president of Bowdoin College—the same position that had denied his request to serve years before.)

Beese urged all in the room to ask themselves a similar question every morning: “How can I effect change?” That, he said, is an essential question of identity.

And if you’re in an inquisitive mood, Beese said you might ask the Twelve Questions of Engagement about your own workplace. The questions originally were posed by Marcus Buckingham in his book First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. You can read them here.

Start asking.

And be sure to read Mark’s blog, and follow him on Twitter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.