Thursday, August 10, 2006


Senado aprueba histórico Tratado de Libre Comercio con China

En condiciones de ser promulgada como Ley de la República quedó el proyecto de acuerdo, en segundo trámite, que aprueba el Tratado de Libre Comercio entre Chile y la República Popular China. Ello, luego que el Senado aprobara, por unanimidad, dicha iniciativa que fue calificada como “un acuerdo histórico en la política de apertura comercial y globalización de Chile”. Durante el debate intervinieron los senadores Roberto Muñoz Barra, Carlos Ominami, Sergio Romero, Hosaín Sabag, Jaime Naranjo, Jovino Novoa, Juan Antonio Coloma, Alejandro Navarro, Jaime Gazmuri, Hernán Larraín y Jorge Arancibia, además del canciller Alejandro Foxley, quienes coincidieron en la trascendencia de este nuevo TLC y a la vez, en los grandes desafíos que generará en el ámbito de las estrategias de desarrollo de nuestro país.

SALUDOS RODRIGO GONZÁLEZ FERNÁNDEZ, consultajuridica.blogspot.com

from legal watch blog

Legal Blog Watch
Marketing Advice for Firms That Want to Be Something to Everyone
Larry Bodine of  Professional Services Marketing Blog has a summer-reading recommendation for law firms: Chris Anderson's book, The Long Tail, which Bodine argues applies to law firm marketing. As Bodine writes:

[The Long Tail] proves that the day of the full-service, general practice law firm is over.  Clients don't want generalists, whom they see as jacks-of-all-trades, masters-of-none.  They want an expert in their particular problem.  This is very good news for litigation boutiques, IP firms and specialty practice firms. Clients want the needle in the haystack, the lawyer who knows how to solve their precise problems, and thanks to the Web, clients can find them. 

So what's a ginormous firm to do in a boutique world?  Bodine has this advice:

firms that market themselves as industry experts are "organizing around the market," and presenting themselves in the way clients buy. It's time to identify the firm's high-margin, most profitable practices and start blogs about them.  The prime example is Dennis Crouch's Patently-O blog, which gets 50,000 visitors per week.  The blog has brought in Fortune 500 companies and referrals from lawyers he's never met.  He makes a point about writing about client interests, not all the services the firm has to offer.

In other words, a large firm is better off presenting itself as a collection of experts rather than a conglomerate of lawyers. Is your firm taking this approach?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 9, 2006 at 02:57 PM | Permalink

Do As We Say, Not As We Do ...
At this post at Crime and Federalism, Mike Cernovich introduces us to the law firm of Laquer, Urban, Clifford & Hodge, which, according to its Web site, counsels employers  "on prevention and education to avoid costly problems." As Mike notes, however, the firm apparently did not take its own advice. The firm faces a $1.1 million judgment for firing an associate who could not meet his billable requirements because of time off for treatment for chronic liver disease.

Others in the blogosphere have chimed in as well. Ted Frank at Overlawyered found entertainment in the firm's defense: that it fired the lawyer for violating the firm's vacation-leave policy by taking a trip to attend his father-in-law's memorial service. And Mike Fox at Employers' Lawyer remarks here that lawyers are typically not sympathetic plaintiffs -- unless they're suing their law firm. 

I'm sure the $1.1 million judgment isn't going to hurt the firm's bottom line (the plaintiff was willing to settle for $450,000). But I'm guessing that this kind of publicity about a firm that handles employment work will cost it far more than $1.1 million in business going forward.

Which leads to a second point. Used to be that suing your law firm for discrimination or wrongful termination was a reputation-killer in the legal community that would render a lawyer virtually unemployable. (After all, why would a risk-averse law firm hire a lawyer who was suing his or her former firm?) But as this case bears out, the Internet gives new leverage to a lawyer with a suit against a former firm. Maybe filing a lawsuit against a large firm will end a lawyer's big firm career, but what law firms must now realize is that when a wrongfully terminated lawyer files suit, he can take the firm down with him.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 9, 2006 at 02:54 PM | Permalink

A Handful of Ways for Law Firms to Compete on Price
Conventional wisdom suggests that law firms should not compete on price, but I get the impression from Rees Morrison's recent posts that corporate clients might appreciate cost- saving measures. Morrison discusses one approach some firms have taken to reduce costs (albeit to increase over all revenues for the law firm): volume discounts that apply retroactively. As Morrison describes, law firms pitch the volume discount this way:

Give us more work and we will agree deeper cuts. For example, if the actual hours of  work by the firm during a year multiplied by the firm's rates amounts to $3 million plus, the firm's discount will deepen one  percent per million for any services above $2 million.

Morrison continue s:

More dramatically, firms propose retroactive rate reductions. For example, assume the same $2 million projected level of services by the law firm. If the actual work done exceeds that amount by $1 million or more, a higher discount will take effect for ALL work done during the 12 month period -- that is, the increased discount will apply retroactively to the preceding work.

Another way that firms can offer lower costs is through competitive bid programs, where law firms commit to billing rates for each level of attorney that are 5 percent lower than those proposed by the next-highest bidder. And Morrison even suggests a way that firms can make that offer without losing revenue: by funnelling work to lawyers in branch of fices in lower-cost cities, with lower billing rates.

Plenty of ideas here, but will law firms bite?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 9, 2006 at 02:50 PM | Permalink

Serve Your Legal Career With Client Service
The blog world continues to focus on ways that lawyers can improve service to clients, in particular, by finding ways to instill an ethic of service within the culture of the law firm. Over at Legal Sanity, Arnie Herz references posts  by David Maister and Dick Richards that can guide firms in creating, what Richards terms, "a mythology of client service." Specifically, Richards advises firms to foster client service by:

(1) culling and sharing stories of extraordinary service from "their organization's past and present;" and (2) encouraging employees to engage in dialogue about exceptional customer service they've received.

And what's the feedback for lawyers who take this advice to heart? Plenty, suggests Michelle Golden, since service types are viewed as the real stars in law firms. Put another way, serving others will serve you well in your career.

Ron Friedmann at Prism Legal takes a different approach to improving client service with this post on Client or Mystery Shopper? Friedmann recognizes the difficulty with using "mystery clients" to test lawyers' effectiveness in delivering service, but recommends that firms use client surveys to see whether they're meeting their clients needs.

As a solo, I've always recognized the value of client service; personal experience is what we solos have long touted as our advantage over larger, less personal law firms. At the same time,  as I wrote here in the Paradox of Client Service, we can never equate service with being a "hired gun" or allowing our clients to become our masters. Foremost, if we don't retain our independent judgment, we may serve our short-term interest of keeping the client (think Vinson and Elkins and Enron!), but we harm both our client and our own reputation in the long run.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 9, 2006 at 02:46 PM | Permalink