Saturday, March 03, 2007
by Francesc Dominguez
Question by David Schwaninger, lawyer of Küng Rechtsanwälte (Zurich, Switzerland)
What distinguishes an excellent lawyer from the rest? His image in the marketplace. Talent alone is not enough. Perception decides. It attracts new clients to you or drives them away. You probably know cases of qualified lawyers who do not have access to specific business, even their own clients Seek the motive in the clients perception of you.
If you want to leverage opportunities, manage your personal brand, your image in the marketplace, with care.
Keys to successful personal brand
1. Be specialized. Increasingly more clients are seeking specialists. Specialisation will be a way for you to be more efficient, gain calm and be likelier to be the reference in your target market. Focus on knowing what clients consider is valuable. Make sure they realize that you understand and worry about their problem. It is the best way to gain their confidence. Choose your clients and find out how to attract them. If you wait for them to come to your office, you will let your clients define your professional life. You will lose opportunities.
2. Know yourself. Be honest: define your identity on the basis of what you are, not on what you believe clients expect of you. Know and take advantage of your virtues. Identify your main values. They will carry you to success if they are compatible with those of your clients and office partners. Be flexible and creative with them. Brands communicate and sell values, personalities that clients can relate to. Harmonize your brand with your values. Do not be afraid to find out what image your partners have of you. Ask them for feedback on your work (virtues and aspects to improve). Ask them to describe you in two words. Define yourself in two words also. You will know the best selling points of your brand. Then work on them and they will make you stand out in the crowd.
3. Improve. Gain self-esteem. Be aware that you are the best option for your clients. Give and you will eventually receive. Make promises that you can keep. Ask the key question: What do I want? This question will guide you to obtain results. Find answers to other questions as well, such as: What do I do better than other lawyers? How do I stand out?, Do clients value it?, Why should clients hire me rather than other lawyers? Take care of details with clients. They are essential. In my case, for example, I see or call each client at least once a week.
4. Strategy. Plan an easy, but systematic and consistent, personal brand strategy. Know what direction you want for your professional life and define positive objectives to reach it.
5. Projects. Get focussed on projects. Delegate or outsource tasks as much as you can. Make the most of your time: concentrate on two or three exciting projects per year. You will gain knowledge and market value. A project could be a legal practice from a small city that also specialises and stands out from all the other practices that do not specialise. Another project could be the opening of a permanent office in a foreign country.
6. Visibility. Carry out very selective activities in order to promote your credibility and prestige. It is a type of activity you can do regardless of the geographical location or the size of your law firm. For example:
Publish a brief book with a prestigious publisher for potential clients. For example, I got a book published for a client who had the smallest office, a solo lawyer who knows how to work with alliances. It is an innovative book, published with one of the most prestigious publishing houses in his country, targeting potential clients of the lawyer. At first, the client doubted that a prestigious publishing house could publish a book by him, an individual office. This is why he had never published books or articles with a major publishing house.
Chat on prestigious forums, if possible without sharing space (competence) with other professionals.
Take an important position with communication potential in an organization where you can further develop your communication skills.
Establish effective alliances with other professionals or law offices.
Take advantage of contacts. There is an evident difference between client cards that merely occupy space in a card case and client cards that actually create business opportunities.
7. Communicate well. When communicating, try to concentrate on a single idea. Explain yourself concisely: five seconds will suffice to tell the client the benefits he can receive from you. My brand promise, for example, is competitiveness for professional services. Support your brand promise with different arguments.
8. Coherence. Make sure that your objectives, strategy, actions and conduct are consistent with each other and with your own values.
9. Persistence. To obtain a powerful personal brand you will need to have clear ideas, determination and perseverance.
10. Act. Move from thought to action.
© 2006, Francesc Dominguez, Marketing Consultant, co-Author of the book El marketing jurídico [Law Marketing}. www.francescdominguez.com. Advice page published in Economist & Jurist (December 2006-January 2007).
RODRIGO GONZALEZ FERNANDEZ
Renato Sánchez 3586 dep 10
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Scholars Debate: Is Law a Picnic?
Are lawyers unhappy? From a scholarly perspective, one might think the question is right up there with, "Do dogs bite?" and "Is grass green?" But thanks to Jeffrey M. Lipshaw at Legal Profession Blog, we learn that legal scholars are examining the evidence -- and coming to different conclusions.
One recent paper, Young Associates in Trouble, by David T. Zaring of Washington and Lee University School of Law and William D. Henderson of Indiana University School of Law at Bloomington, considers two recent novels about unhappy associates at large law firms in light of available data and empirical studies. They conclude that "firm life is no picnic, and that it can be even less picnic-like the more prestigious and profitable the outfit."
But compare that against the findings of an ongoing study being conducted by Harvard Law School professor David B. Wilkins and the HLS Center on Lawyers and the Professional Services Industry. Called "After the JD," the study is tracking 4,000 lawyers in the first decade of their careers. As reported in the Harvard Law Bulletin, it is discovering that law can be picnic-like, at least in terms of career satisfaction.
"Job satisfaction is one aspect of the responses that Wilkins finds most interesting. According to the study, and contrary to what many believe, there is 'no evidence' of 'any pervasive unhappiness in the profession,' he saysat least not among those who began practicing in 2000. To the contrary, in that group, nearly three-quarters reported being 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with their jobs."
Lipshaw references several other sources who contribute further material to the debate, including his wife, an MPH, who advises him with regard to depression among lawyers, "[T]here's no way you can tell ... whether depression-inclined people self-select to be lawyers, or being a lawyer causes or exacerbates depression."
The bottom line, perhaps, is that the evidence as to lawyers' happiness vel non is inconclusive. Which leads Lipshaw to a conclusion of a different sort:
"[A]ll of this to say that we need to be very careful, particularly as law professors, in describing the world as we think it is, and in figuring out how our view of the 'ought' affects it, if that is at all possible."
'Brewing' Trademark Battle on YouTube
What is corporate lawyer Robert Winter, a senior partner with Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C., doing in a YouTube video? His firm represents Ethiopia in applications for trademark protection. He is using this online video site as a forum in which to argue his case for international trademark protection for Ethiopian coffee.
But why YouTube? His video was posted Jan. 29 as a response to a Dec. 20 video, Starbucks talks about coffee farmers in Africa, in which Starbucks executive Dub Hay (described as head of its coffee team) explains why the company will not sign a trademark agreement with Ethiopia recognizing its rights in its geographic name. To do so, said Hay, would be against the law.
Not so, argues Winter in his video. "In fact, we think it's plain silly," he says. He goes on to explain the concept of a "geographical indication mark" as a trademark and to address the question of why this trademark protection is important to Ethiopia.
Apparently, someone watched. Beneath Winter's video appears a comment, identified as from Matt Murray, who is a communications specialist at Starbucks, which says, in part:
"Since our 1st video was posted, a lot has happened. When we posted that video we felt the information was correct & since we've learned a lot & realized the information about the legality of the trademark was not accurate. Dub & other Starbucks partners recently visited Africa & met with the Ethiopian Govt. We agreed not to oppose Ethiopia's efforts to obtain trademarks for its specialty coffees."
The pursuit of justice is sometimes a slow grind, but thanks to YouTube, Winters, it appears, scored a venti victory.
Lawyers Doing Good: Helping AIDS Orphans
The story from the high school newspaper in Hampton, N.H., republished by The Hampton Union, starts out:
"After high school, most students don't imagine themselves trying to find a cure for AIDS, or sheltering orphans whose parents have died from the disease."
The subject is Hampton High alum Scott Fifer, founder and director of the TunaHAKI Foundation, an organization working to provide shelter, education and medical care to orphans and street children in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa. But you can rewrite that lead paragraph substituting "law school" for "high school," because Fifer is a lawyer as well -- or at least a recovering lawyer -- and a 1987 graduate of my law school, Boston College, which is how I heard about him. Fifer founded the foundation after volunteering in Tanzania in 2005. He tells Isabelle MacDonald, the high school newspaper reporter who interviewed him:
"Our immediate goal is to build a self-sustaining arts-based shelter for AIDS orphans and vulnerable street kids in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. The TunaHAKI kids are the most well-behaved and hardest-working kids I've ever met. They never dwell on their difficulties, most of which are greater then any you or I will ever know."
Not only is Fifer successful as a humanitarian, he is also achieving notoriety as a Hollywood screenwriter. After law school, he spent five years in New York City at the now-defunct law firm Lord Day & Lord before quitting and moving to Los Angeles. There, he won the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
and went on to write for TV and film. His screenplay, "Twice Upon a Time," was made into a film starring Molly Ringwald, and other scripts of his are in development.
"Now I am juggling two careers, writing for TV and film, and running a foundation to care for orphans in Africa. One career pays for the other," Fifer told the reporter. And he says high school helped him get where he is -- singling out his typing and nutrition classes. As for law school, he doesn't say what role it may have played.
RODRIGO GONZALEZ FERNANDEZ
Renato Sánchez 3586 dep 10