Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in the inaugural New York City event for She Breaks the Law, a network of women leaders founded by Priya Lele, Christie Guimond and Nicky Leijtens. The group brings together women in the legal industry who are “breaking the mould and challenging the norm in the world of law. Our members come from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines, from female founders of disruptive start-ups to general counsel to innovation leaders in traditional law firms. They all have one thing in common: they are leading the change in the way that legal services are delivered.” Over the past two months since the soft launch, the group has grown to over 1,000 members, and officially launched with their London event last week.

At the New York event, as in London, in addition to general networking, we had structured “networking circles” – ours focused on legal tech and how we use it, the power of networking in the legal industry, legal design, and personal branding. I had the opportunity to chair the personal branding sessions, and it led to some thoughtful and interesting conversations around the idea of what it really means to develop your personal brand.
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While I’m out of the office this week, I’m really pleased to be bringing you a special guest post from one of the ILN’s member professionals. Alice Steen, Knowledge Manager at Holmes O’Malley Sexton, discusses best practices for developing a learning culture in your organization.

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Alice Steen, Knowledge Manager, at Holmes O’Malley Sexton reflects on ten years of learning and development (L&D) – providing strategic planning, specialist training, funding and supports for the staff’s further education, career and professional development at the thriving full service law firm.

Alice is a qualified solicitor with post graduate qualifications in higher education, teaching and learning, together with being a Lean Black Belt.

Alice joined Holmes O’Malley Sexton (HOMS Solicitors) in 2008 when it had just one office and 26 practising solicitors, 2 legal executives and 3 trainees. She has witnessed the firm’s solicitors, legal executives and trainee numbers grow by nearly 300% along with now having four offices in London, Dublin, Limerick and Cork. The nature and demands of her own role have changed dramatically as a result.
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The curse of the marathon runner – we’re either running, or we’re talking about running. Apologies to everyone around me who isn’t a runner who’s had to suffer through my running and running-adjacent conversations over the last several months.

I’m 12 days away from my first marathon (in PARIS!) and I’m both excited and anxious about it. I joke that my life is either about work or running or trying to take care of my dogs – with little room for anything else. But it’s not an exaggeration.

So it’s no surprise that as I’m well into my taper (the period before the marathon where you reduce your mileage so that your legs will be fresh to run the 26.2 miles that the marathon demands), all I’m thinking about is running. What can that possibly have to do with business development? Quite a lot as it happens.
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This morning, I’m bringing you a guest post from Lance Godard, of The Godard Group, who is sharing some excellent tips on how to use content to create and deliver value for readers. Have you been wondering how you bridge that gap between good writing, and great writing that catches the attention of potential clients, referral sources and influencers, and shows you to be a thought leader? Lance has the answers. For over 30 years, Lance has worked with lawyers and law firms to help them craft their messages, so if you’re looking for someone to help you with your content, look no further than The Godard Group.

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Blog posts, presentations, podcasts, and more: today there are more ways than ever for lawyers to market themselves and their firms. Whatever the method, though, it’s critical to remember that the most effective marketing is that which creates and delivers value to your clients and potential clients.
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I’m thrilled to announce that JD Supra has included me in this year’s Readers Choice Awards, which acknowledge top authors and firms for their thought leadership in key topics. I was selected from among thousands of authors published in 2018 for the level of visibility and engagement attained with readers on the topic of marketing and business development.

We also have two ILN member recognized – Patricia Wagner and E. John Steren of Epstein Becker & Green were recognized as top authors in Antitrust & Trade Regulation.

You may remember that we had Lance Godard contribute a guest post a few years ago on three reasons why every lawyer should study the JD Supra awards, and these are just as relevant today, so I encourage you to check these out. To recap:

  1. Clients read what they need to know
  2. Content marketing works
  3. Less is definitely not more

Read more to find out why the awards are relevant to you, even if you haven’t participated or been recognized, and how you can make use of them in your practice. 
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There are some people who can talk with anyone – my brother-in-law is like that. Put him in a room with a bunch of people he doesn’t know, and he excels at connecting with them without awkward silences.

But for many of us, that is unfortunately not one of our strengths. I’m a prime example of that. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been speaking with someone, only to have the conversation taper off and leave you standing there wracking your brain to come up with something to say?

*Hand raised*
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“Authenticity” has become a dirty word in the last few years.

It’s right up there with some of the other most hated buzzwords and phrases – “at the end of the day,” “thinking outside of the box,” “synergy,” “value add,” “circle back,” “bandwidth.”

Are you cringing yet?

But even though the word “authenticity” might make your skin crawl, it’s actually a pretty important concept – it’s a buzzword for a reason. 
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It’s the post I know you’ve all been waiting for – as ads have gotten milder the last few years, each season, I wonder whether there will be any commercials worthy of the “ugly” moniker. This year, we had three!

Before we dive into the ugly commercials, there is one interesting choice I want to discuss – Skittles’ decision this year to forego a Super Bowl commercial in favor of a one-time only, thirty minute live show in Times Square to 1,500 people, with proceeds going to the nonprofit organization, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Mars Wrigley also planned to donate up to $50,000.

In an industry where companies are spending obscene amounts of money on (for the most part) lackluster commercials, this is really a standout. I generally don’t like Skittles commercials, I’ll admit. They’re a bit on the weird side (and I’m a bit on the weird side, so that’s saying something). So to instead create buzz around an event starring a celebrity (C. Michael Hall), make it exclusive, donate the proceeds to charity, and in the end, spend less than you would on a Super Bowl commercial, while probably getting more views and interest for it, is really brilliant. Hats off to them. What can lawyers and law firms learn from that?

  • You don’t have to follow the crowd. I know the running joke in the legal industry is that lawyers love to be first to be second, but what if you DIDN’T do what everyone else was doing? A crowded playing field is just that – crowded. What if you found the way to stand out and did it?
  • Be true to your brand. This is definitely unusual for a brand, to have a Broadway-type show instead of a Super Bowl commercial. But Skittles is an unusual brand, so it fits with who they are. Unlike what Verizon did, trying to shore up their image with first responders, Skittles stuck with their brand message. Who are you as a firm? Don’t just say that with your marketing – DO it with your actions. The projects that you engage in, the charities that you supports, the innovations you embrace – let them all reflect who you are as a firm.


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Most of the commercials that I saw during the Super Bowl fell into what I’d call the “meh” category. They weren’t terrible, but they didn’t blow my socks off either. But there are a few that I’ve got squarely in the “bad” and “ugly” categories for you, and based on some of the YouTube comments, they may surprise you.

Let’s take a look at what these spots are, and what we can learn from them.


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Most of us can agree that the Super Bowl this year was a bit of a dud. In a similar theme, most of the ads were a bit uninspiring too, though there were some notable exceptions to that. Considering how much money is being invested in these ads, I’m wishing for much more creative, exciting, and inspiring results than we’re getting – even the controversial ones aren’t that controversial.

But despite that, there are some things to discuss (and I don’t mean Tom Brady’s sixth Super Bowl win – but HOW ABOUT THOSE PATRIOTS?).

That’s right, it’s time for my annual review of Super Bowl Commercials.

In my book, there are a couple of clear winners, with lessons for lawyers and law firms, to share with you. You may think I’ve omitted some important spots, but you’ll understand why when we get to those next week. Stay tuned…


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