Monday, April 02, 2007


You're Already a Citizen Marketer

CitizenMarketers-blog.jpgThe second event in our LeaveSmarter Series took place last Thursday afternoon. We're crazy busy around here (just ask inBubbleGuy) so we haven't had a chance to blog about it, but we'd be remiss not to mention how enjoyable Ben McConnell's presentation was. He even took a few technical glitches in stride, showing off his shiny red sneakers to keep the momentum going.

One of the strongest messages I took away from the event is just how powerful social media are. Ben showed us some pretty cool (and, in a few instances, kind of scary) examples of the videos, blogs, and other online content that citizen marketers are creating. I particularly liked the fan version of Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" music video.

CitizenMarketers2-blog.jpgUsing our nametags as a talking point, we shared with each other the products and services we're citizen marketers for. For instance, I wrote down Sala da Pranzo, a great little Italian restaurant on Milwaukee's East Side. inBubbleGuy promoted the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts we provided --one of the driving attractions to the series. Todd talked about More Space.

The name tag idea was Ben and Jackie's, and I highly recommend it as a way to get people mingling at your next event. Speaking of the next event, we would love to see you at our final LeaveSmarter event on May 16. Nikos has a powerful message that we're sure will bring this season to an inspiring end.

We'll have some photos from the event up on our Flickr site very soon.

Posted by Rebecca at 8:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Categories: Communication, Marketing, The Company

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Legal Blog Watch

More Ways to Happiness in the Workplace

Most law firms don't have a chief happiness officer, but as Arnie Herz points out in this recent post, you can still benefit from a CHO's advice at the Chief Happiness Officer blog. Herz points us to CHO Alexander Kjerulf's recent post on why, more than any other incentive, happiness is the "ultimate productivity booster." Here are the reasons:

Happy people are a lot more fun to be around and consequently have better relations at work. This translates into: • Better teamwork with your colleagues • Better employee relations if you’re a manager • More satisfied customers if you’re in a service job • Improved sales if you’re a sales person

Herz also points out that there's scientific backing for these conclusions. Referencing blogger Kathy Sierra, he writes:

due to the phenomenon of emotional contagion, “negative emotions exert a more powerful effect in social situations than positive ones.” That’s why a generally happy and upbeat person will likely become depressed or angry when hanging out with someone who’s depressed or angry. According to a source Sierra quotes, the converse is also true: If we’re around someone who’s self-confident and buoyant long enough, we’re likely to feel good about ourselves.

So, in the words of the Partridge Family, C'mon, get happy!

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 2, 2007 at 02:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Too Bad This Bill Wasn't an April Fools' Joke

Two thousand-dollar dinners, a four thousand-dollar-plus bill for cell phone roaming charges -- all buried in a 112-page invoice for over $600,000 in legal fees. Sounds like some kind of an April Fools' joke about greedy lawyers, but it's not.  To the contrary, as this TMZ article reports, those charges appeared on California attorney Debra Opri's invoice for services provided in connection with her  former client Larry Birkhead's efforts to gain custody of Anna Nicole Smith's daughter, whom he claims to have fathered.  [Hat tip to Crime and Federalism for the article].

Opri's bill serves as a template for what lawyers shouldn't do when invoicing clients.  The bill includes multiple, extravagently priced meals that Opri shared with other lawyers, where Birkhead wasn't even present.  And while presumably, Opri and her colleagues at least talked about Birkhead's case at these meetings, most clients will wonder how much business is really discussed in the course of a fancy dinner. 

In other cases, Opri's bills reflect poor inefficient business choices that clients are unlikely to continue to subsidize.  For example, Opri billed for $4,000 in roaming charges for time spent in the Bahamas.  Surely, in this competitive market, less expensive cell plans were available.  And what about VoIP options or Internet as a more cost-efficient means of communicating?  In an era where investment in technology can substantially reduce costs, will sophisticated clients remain willing to pay for costs like messenger service (where e-mail or e-fax is available), roaming charges and voluminous paper copies?

Opri also billed for less extravagant meals as well as laundry.  From my own perspective, I've often wondered about the propriety of charging every meal on travel.  After all, unless you work at a place that pays for all of your meals, you still pay to eat even when you're not on travel.  So why should clients pick up the cost of every food item simply because you're away on business?

  Back in mid-March, when Birkhead and Opri first parted ways, Opri explained that the relationship ended because Birkhead had developed a friendship with Howard Stern and was negotiating a settlement to the custody issues.  She explained:

"I just had enough. I can't represent a client who has a middle man by the name of Howard K. Stern. I feel very comfortable in my decision, and I wish Larry the best. But I am worried about him ... I couldn't continue with the way things were going."

After seeing the size of Opri's bill, however, I now wonder whether she was interested in protecting Birkhead's interest or her own cash cow.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 2, 2007 at 02:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Do 'U.S. News & World Report' Rankings Pressure Law Schools to Ignore the Solo Option?

Predictably, the recent announcement of the U.S. News and World Report's law school rankings has generated observations about some of the factors underlying the rankings, from bar passage rates and faculty scholarship to whether the rankings are at all meaningful. But Susan Cartier Liebel has a different take entirely. In this provocative post, Cartier Liebel contends that the myopic focus on rankings deters law schools from offering meaningful training or support to lawyers who seek to start their own law firms, either directly out of law school or shortly thereafter.

Commenting on the recent National Law Journal article entitled When Hanging a Shingle, Solos are Reluctantly Solo (full text available in Cartier Liebel's post), Cartier Liebel writes:

"Why the resistance to providing support for solos within law school?"  The answer [from a career counselor], "you will always have an uphill battle because our agenda is driven by ranking with U.S. News & World Reports.  If we turn out too many solos instead of placing within employment it impacts our all-important ranking." (Yes, sodium pentathol was flowing freely at this conference.)

In Cartier Liebel's view, limiting students' options in the name of retaining rankings, is wrong, and she advocates immediate change:

So, it will take a lot of chutzpah, blogosphere amplified conversation and a conscious decision by the law schools to toss out the U.S. News & World Reports ranking in order to create a curriculum that addresses the paying customer's real needs. In some bizarro way I understand the reason for the enslavement to a magazine's annual 'list' but I don't applaud it, I rebel against it and this sacrifice of multiple thousands of students on the altar of the false god of artifical lists. I would strongly suggest other magazines start creating more informative rather than competitive lists tailored to students' individual successes based upon quality of their education combined with after-graduation success as practitioners which would give rise to intelligent and thoughtful lists that actually matter in the real world.

Readers, what's your opinion on this topic? Are law school rankings responsible for the paucity of law school curriculum offerings and counseling services that would help lawyers start law firms straight out of school? And do we need to change the system in response?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 2, 2007 at 02:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blawg Review #102

Blawg Review is celebrating April Fools' Day in a big way, with an announcement of a name change to the Law Blog Review, a partial sighting of Ed. and a specialApril Fools' Day Blawg Review prequel, fittingly sponsored by a Fool in the Forest, George Wallace.  And, no fooling, that's all just a big lead up to the actual Blawg Review #102, hosted by Wallace at his alter ego, Declarations and Exclusions blog. 

Take some time to meander through both the prequel and BlawgReview #102, and you'll find that they're also thematic of April: They shower readers with links to what's fresh around the blogosphere. 

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 2, 2007 at 02:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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