On Friday morning, LMA delegates gathered to hear the annual general counsel panel, "U.S. General Counsel Discuss Global Needs for Outside Counsel: Is Your Firm on Their Short List?" produced by Inside Counsel and Lloyd Johnson.

The program description read: 

This panel of general counsel will discuss high priority needs, challenges and concerns related to managing a large law department.  In addition, the panel will discuss the complexities…related to managing a remote professional staff who work outside the United States. Topics covered will include: 

  • How law firms can help meet the needs of today’s law department challenges; 
  • What today’s law department leaders see as potential future challenges
  • How firms’ managing partners may engage in shared insight discussions with law department leader/counterparts
  • How is value received for fees paid assessed by the corporations today? 
  • What is most useful about a year-end review, aka client feedback meeting?
  • Last call: number one need on the law department side: from the relationship standpoint? From the substantive legal needs standpoint?"


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Another of my all-time favorite conference sessions at LMA is always the client panel.  For me, the panel always makes the investment in the conference worth it, because I can impart what I learn from the GCs there to my lawyers, to help them to understand their own clients better, and that adds value for everyone. 

This year’s client panel didn’t disappoint. It focused on best practices for building and maintaining your law firm’s relationship with in-house counsel and featured Megan Belcher, the VP and Chief Employment Counsel for ConAgra, Kevin Schubert, the Associate General Counsel, Transactions for LV Sands Corporation, Simon Manoucherian, the Assistance General Counsel/Director of Litigation GRIFOLS, and Karen Cottle, Senior Counsel for Sidley Austin and former in-house counsel. The panel was moderated by Inside Counsel magazine. 

The panelists said that they would discuss the role of social media for general counsel, the challenges that they see over the next five years, and the change in inside/outside counsel relationships since 2008.  Since the economic downturn, GCs have changed the way that they evaluate outside counsel, and the process by which trust is built. 


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So if you’ve been hiding under a rock instead of reading my blog posts, you may not already know that my favorite session from LMA13 was "Delivering Happiness: Fresh Ideas for Service-Driven Brands Deploying Social Media Tactics, Seeking ROI" with Graham Kahr, Social Scientist for Zappos and Jayne Navarre of Law Gravity LLC

Rather than a typical session, Jayne and Graham let us know right away that it would be different when they introduced themselves in the third person. Their session took on the tone of more of a conversation, which also included those of us in the audience. 

They began their conversation by saying that they wouldn’t be talking about social media per se, but really focusing instead on creating experiences for clients (which is something we could all identify with). Graham said that Zappos doesn’t push their own brand stories – they want their customers to tell the brand story for them.


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This morning, I had the pleasure of speaking with my fellow co-leaders in the Legal Marketing Association’s Social Media Special Interest Group (LMA Social Media SIG for short). Our main purpose was to debrief on our group’s activities at the conference, to see what worked well and what didn’t, but by virtue of the conversation, we ended up talking about the conference in general and some of the anecdotal feedback that we’d heard. 

One of the interesting points that was raised was it had been suggested that the Zappos session, bringing in an outside-of-the-industry speaker, was either loved or hated. Loved, because, as I’ve mentioned before, it was excellent, or hated because people didn’t understand how a customer-driven organization like Zappos could have any relevance to legal marketing. 

Sigh. 


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It’s been a week since I returned home from the LMA’s Annual Conference, and I’m still digesting everything that went on there – it was a non-stop whirlwind of networking, meetups with social media friends and ILN marketers, face-time with new attendees, and conference sessions (as well as a LOT of food). LMA served its purpose once again though, and I’ve returned to the office with new vigor, feeling more inspired than when I left! Even better for this Social Media Special Interest Group Co-Leader? Not only did I get to see my friends and make new connections face to face, but #LMA13 was trending on Twitter! (Pictured are fellow co-leaders Gail Lamarche of Henderson Franklin and Nancy Myrland, Myrland Marketing with me. Not pictured are Lance Godard of JD Supra, who was unable to join us, and Laura Toledo, Tenrec, who was ill). 

There will be several recap posts to come, but while I’m still ruminating on those, I thought I’d share with you my three favorite sessions, as well as what’s on my reading list now that I’ve returned home. Keep an eye out for the recaps on these sessions! 


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Social media is the perfect medium for someone like me – someone who’s an introvert, a bit on the shy side, and prefers to have the safety of being behind a computer screen rather than face-to-face. 

But if you’re using social media to be…well, social…and you’d like it to lead to business development opportunities, you’ve got to take it offline. While it’s possible to build relationships online, and to nurture them there, you cannot discount the benefit to meeting someone face-to-face. 

A conference is the perfect opportunity for this, and I’ll tell you a story about how social media has enriched my conference experience at the Legal Marketing Association’s Annual Meeting (which I’m currently en-route to – I love airplane wifi!). 


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The Legal Marketing Association‘s Social Media Special Interest Group is at it again – this afternoon, they brought members an excellent webinar focused on combating internal politics – how to sell social media to your lawyers. 

Featured on the panel were moderator and LMA SIG leader, Gail Lamarche, of Henderson Franklin, an employment law attorney and social media maven from her firm, Suzanne Boy, and legal marketing expert, Jill Rako with Ohio-based Bricker & Eckler. 

Since these webinars are an LMA member benefit, I’m not going to delve as deeply into the recap as I traditionally would, but I do want to hit the highlights! 


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Last week, I attended the LMANJ city group’s session on "Teachable Moments from Dewey," a presentation taking place in New York that we were remotely accessing. Our speakers were Bruce MacEwen, founder and President of Adam Smith, Esq and Sara Randazzo, a reporter with American Lawyer. 

While I’ve been watching the Dewey coverage with interest, I haven’t gotten as involved as some in the details, so it was a fascinating presentation. Bruce said that it’s been a topic of near obsession among his readers for the last few months – he started writing an analysis of this in March. 

As Bruce and Sara spoke, I took notes all over the handouts that we’d been given, so I’ll try to make sense of them here! 


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Now, as I mentioned in my summary of the GC Panel at the LMA Conference this year, Jeff Carr says he’s banned the word "alternative," because there should be nothing alternative about alternative fees.

But, for the sake of this recap, we’re going to use it, as that’s what the session focused on.  Tim Corcoran shared with us the salient points from the alternative fees session that he attended at LMA (and often speaks on himself). 

  • Most law firms are reactive when it comes to offering alternative fees because they’re concerned that they’re dilutive to profits. But the firms that have figured this out and are acting proactively are seeing business development opportunities and more work. 
     
  • There’s a correlation between value and charging – lawyers need to understand this. 


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There were so many good tidbits that came out of our LMA New Jersey meeting last week! Amy Adams shared her comments on the session she attended about mentoring associates in business development.

Amy’s comments were particularly helpful, because she’s speaking from the perspective of an in-house marketer, so she’s implementing the advice from the Annual Meeting in her daily activities. Using a phrase from the SMORS session, Amy said she’s deploying a pilot program for mentoring – she’s identified a couple of partners who work well with associates, and using the formula of one partner to four associates. 


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