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Marketing Tip - Seek out your audience

When it comes to marketing, you want to seek out your audience - those who are in a position to refer you a case.  They could be in house counsel.  They could be outside counsel looking for local counsel or who have a conflict.  They could be HR personnel with employment issues.  Where do you find them? What organizations do they belong to? What are they involved with? Seek out client rich environments, such as national defense organizations, trade associations or chambers of commerce, and join.  But don't simply join.  Get involved.  Start with doing those tasks no one else wants to do - like editing the newsletter, writing an article or marketing an event.  Do the little things, and soon you'll be doing the big things, and meeting and getting to know clients along the way.  Showing your compentence in organizations suggests to others your compentence in handling their matters.  It all starts with seeking your audience.

By: Francisco Ramos Jr

What to Tweet

You may have recently signed up for Twitter and are wondering "What in the world should I tweet?"  Here are some suggestions:

Blog on this website and share a link to your blog post.

Share news stories relevant to your pracrtice area and comment on them.

Share recent cases and opine on their impact.

Retweet another's tweet with your own thoughts on the subject.

Share a link to an article you've written or a presentation you've given.

Share a book or movie review with your thoughts.

Share a press release.

Share motivational quotes. 

Share about your hobby, whether it's golf, jazz or wine.

If you're going to start tweeting, make it part of your routine so that you tweet regularly and build a following. 

By Francisco Ramos

Hosting a Reception

Consider hosting a networking event in the lobby of your office.  Hosting your own event allows you to choose the guests and the dyanmics of the event.  Consider hosting a wine tasting where you invite your clients and potential referral sources to visit your office, have some food and drinks and learn more about you, your firm and your firm's practice areas.  It does not have to be a large event.  An intimate setting where you have 10-20 guests opine on wine and mingle is the perfect size to get to know folks better and learn more about them as they learn more about you and your firm.  Perhaps you turn it into a regular event where your clients or referral sources can try new wines each month and make it a part of their routine.  They will enjoy the night out and you will have an opportunity to stay at the forefront of their minds. 

By: Francisco Ramos Jr

All the Elements Matter

Now and again an appellate decision comes down that doesn’t make any truly new law, but serves as a good reminder why all the elements of claims and defenses are important.  McClatchy v. Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass, LLP from California’s First District Court of Appeal, is one such decision. 


California has a “Doe” pleading statute, Code of Civil Procedure § 474, which allows a plaintiff to toll the statute of limitations when it doesn’t know the identity of a defendant.  Doe pleading is just about universal in California; it’s close to malpractice for a plaintiff to fail to name Doe defendants in most tort cases. 


A critical requirement of the Doe pleading process is the plaintiff can’t know who the fictitious defendant is and can’t know the facts giving rise to the fictitious defendant’s liability.  Mr. McClatchy, or his attorneys, forgot that and attempted to join the Coblentz firm as a Doe defendant while the action was pending, but after the statute of limitations on claims against the firm had run.  The Court of Appeal concluded McClatchy could not avail himself of the benefits of Doe pleading.  As it explained, there is a distinction between knowing the facts and knowing or believing that a cause of action exists based upon those facts.  The ignorance required by the Doe pleading statute is of the facts; the lack of belief that those known facts support a claim does not entitle the plaintiff to benefit from suing a Doe defendant. 


Attorneys often rely on the lack of knowledge of the ultimate conclusion (“X is liable”) instead of the critical fact, knowledge of X’s identity and the X’s acts or omissions.  McClatchy thus serves as a reminder for the attorney, regardless of which side is represented, to analyze fully the case at the outset and not rely upon a procedural safety net which may not be as real as is hoped for.  

Starting Your Own Networking Function

We all receive solications to join networking groups for a monthly breakfast or lunch, where we pay an annual fee for the opportunity to deliver our elevator speech to a roomful of "prospective clients."  The problem is, generally the room is not filled with folks who may become your clients one day.  They're sale people, for the most part, who are much more interested in getting your business than offereing theirs.  The concept, though, a monthly networking meeting, has promise.  My suggestion is to investigate what your law school classmates are doing now.  Find ones in different practice areas, reach out to them and propose a monthly breakfast or lunch to socialize.  Think 6 to 12 attorneys at a local restauarant where you can make a reservation, set aside an hour or two, and talk about your respective practices.  You decide where and when and who attends.  You create, in effect, your own BNI group, with no annual fee, no harassing salespeople, and you start with something in common -your joint experience at the same law school at the same time.  As more folks hear about it and want to join, maybe you start a second meeting time.  It's an opportunity for you to network on your terms. 

By: Francisco Ramos Jr

Marketing Tips -Linkedin

Most of us have Linkedin accounts, but most of us are not particularly active on the site.  What I've found helpful is to took through my contacts who live in Miami, where I live and practice, find attorneys with complimentary practice areas, and ask them to breakfast or lunch.  Sometimes its attorneys I know through voluntary bar associations or cases I've had.  Sometimes, it's attorneys I've never met, but their Linkedin profile suggests to me we have something in common and may make a good networking connection.  My experience has been positive, meeting new people on a one-to-one setting, getting to know each other and laying the foundation for an ongoing business and personal relationship.  Linkedin serves other purposes, but consider using it to ensure, as the book says, to never eat alone. 

By: Francisco Ramos Jr

Loving Networking

In their recent article in the Harvard Business Review titled "Learn to Love Networking," Tiziana Casciaro, Francesca Gino and Maryam Kouchaki state that networking is a necessity.  They cite research where networking not only leads to more business opportunities, it also improves the quality of one's work and job satisfaction.  To change one's attitude toward networking, the authors recommend that we (1) shift our focus from it being a chore to it being an opprotunity for learning and discovery; (2) identify common interests with those we meet, and work on common tasks with them through organizations; (3)  think about what you have to offer to others, including your gratitude; and (4) and find a higher purposes, whether it's supporting your firm or helping your clients.  By changing one's attitude toward networking, one can find it not only palatable, but truly enjoyable. 

By: Francisco Ramos Jr

Marketing Tips - Handwritten Notes

The best investment you can make in your associates is to buy them personalized stationary and ask them to write at least one personal note a week.  It could be to someone they met at a conference or reception.  It could be to a colleague they haven't spoken to in a while.  It could be to congratulate a friend for a new bar position or trial victory.  The idea is that handwritten notes are rarely received and when they are, they make an impact.  An e-mail is not the same.  We get too many e-mails.  Hand written notes are different.  They're personal.  They took time to compose.  They say you thought enough of the person to take out stationary to write a letter and send it to them.  If you want your associates to make peronal connections and build personal relationships, encourage them to get into the habit of writing hand written notes and provide them with the stationary to do so. 

By: Francisco Ramos Jr

Facebook for Lawyers

 I recently attended a talk by Brian Tannebaum, author of the Practice (which you should buy for your associates) who referred to Facebook as the forum for small talk for lawyers.  I have many attorney friends and their personalities came through on their posts.  For example, if you're my friend, you know I brag about my boys (too much), comment on jazz (not enough) and critique movies (usually spot on).  When you see me at an event, you feel like you already know me because we have already had the small talk online, even though we may never had an actual conversation about my interests.  Those self revelations go a long way in bringing us lawyers closer together, building relationships and having the "conversations" that we may only have a few times a year at cocktail receptiions and conferences.  As lawyers, I encourage you to reveal yourself a bit on Facebook and avoid the law firm posts about recent victories and just be the person you are.  Brian also mentioned he never "likes" law firm pages, because they're little more than firm PR, that reveals little about the individuals that form that firm.  If you're looking to monetize Facebook, appreciate it for what it is.  A place to share a little about yourself, have a conversation (always polite and respectful) and share in your friends adventures, triumphs and grief.  It's only through personal relationships that we build ties that may turn into business.  The relationship always comes first though. 

By: Francisco Ramos Jr

Less is More

I’m back on the speaking circuit after a hiatus due to serving as the Program Chair for last summer’s FDCC Annual meeting.  And, that’s reminded me of a number of useful tips for preparing PowerPoint or Keynote presentations for use in those presentations.


1.         Less is More


You don’t need 25-50 slides.  Your audience is there to listen to you, not read your slides.  Slides illustrate.  Slides remind the audience (and you) where you are.  For a 30 minute presentation in November, we used seven slides, not counting the title slide – two were video clips.  For another program last month had four substantive slides for about 30 minutes allocated to two speakers.  At the Winter Meeting, the presentation I’m participating in currently has five “substantive” slides.


As Steve Jobs said:


“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” 


2.         Case and Policy Quotes Belong in the Paper, not the Slides


There are few things as deadly as trying to read 12-16 point type on a slide projected on a screen 50 feet away from the viewer.  Don’t quote the policy or cases in your slides.  It’s acceptable to post case citations – that can help the audience write them down, but quotes should be left in the written materials. 


3.         Write it Yourself; Don’t Have Your Assistant or Paralegal Write It


Too many of us delegate presentation writing to our assistants, a paralegal, or our firm’s marketing department.  Do it yourself.  If you don’t know how, learn.  PowerPoint is not that difficult (and your staff can take care of the more technical aspects after you write it), and Apple’s Keynote is even easier.  The problem with presentations drafted by others is they are not your presentation. They tend to be mechanical summaries of the paper.  They do not flow with your speaking style as well as they should. 


4.         Avoid Gratuitous Graphics.


Google initially achieved fame because it used a plain white screen, not the overly busy screen used by Yahoo and other long-vanquished competitors (anyone remember Alta Vista?).  Just because something is there, does not mean you have to use it. 


Microsoft has infected PowerPoint with a dozens of clip art illustrations, dozens of stock photos and the like.  Don’t use them simply because they are there.  Use illustrations and graphics to make a point.


5.         Test, Test, Test.


Test your presentation.  Don’t just test it in your office.  Test it where you’ll be giving the presentation on the equipment you will use.  Do you have video or audio?  Did you know there is more than one way to embed video and audio in a PowerPoint?  Did you know one of those ways doesn’t work when you move the presentation to a different computer?  Do you know whether your video is set to start on the slide transition, or whether it requires a second click? 


You are giving a presentation to share your knowledge and improve your professional reputation.  “Technical difficulties” during your speech defeat both goals. 


6.         Follow the Wisdom of the Military.


Several years ago an Army General became famous for banning PowerPoint in briefings in his command.  As one Marine General said, “PowerPoint makes us stupid.”    If you wish to read more, consider these articles:


7.         Stay on Time.


Finally, one tip that isn’t directly computer presentation related.  If you are given a specified time for your presentation, nail that time.  Don’t go over.  Don’t go appreciably under.  Don’t stuff 45 minutes of material into a 30 minute presentation so you have to talk at 300 words per minute.  If you want to be invited back by conference organizers, stay on time.  

How do you stay on time?  Rehearse.  Time yourself.  Write your presentation so you can invisibly modify the depth of your discussion on the fly.  

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