Lex2011tweetup: All the leading tweeting lawyers in a bar. How could it not be fun?

I don’t have a voice this morning and memories are hazy, but this is what I do remember…

Matching faces to avatars

imageWhen I first started work, networking events were about putting faces to the voices that I’d heard on the telephone. Last night was about putting voices to avatars.

With social media for lawyers really taking off, we had nearly 80 RSVPs for the event. I’d thought about making name badges for everyone with Twitter names and avatars on them. As @ljanstis tweeted: “Time to find out who else is using an avatar photo that is five years out of date.”

I was worried that I might miss @colmmu, @clarinette02, @JohnAFlood et al who have cryptic avatars, but I needen’t have worried. It was fun watching reactions during introductions: “Catrin, this is Chris”, or “Steve, this Neil” generated puzzled looks, but “@lawyercatrin, this is @London_Law_Firm” and “@MotoringLawyer, this is @Legalfutures” would led to warm recognition and immediate chatter!

How far people had travelled

It was lovely to see the effort people had made to join #Lex2011tweetup – after all, there were no speakers, no agenda, just informal drinks.

image@GavWard travelled from Glasgow and @jonathanlea from Truro, and they both decided to make a London break out of it. @IkenCEO came specifically for the event, proudly tweeting “Now that I have a senior citizens railcard I shall travel 1st class by train to #Lex2011tweetup”.

But a special mention has to go to @valentilaw who changed his flight from Chicago to arrive in time!

Expectations versus reality

imageOne of the best things about the night was how up for it everyone was! People commented on not knowing what to expect and how odd it was not to have the formality of a date and venue months in advance. But as @jeanyvesgilg said “what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not in fee-earning time!” There was an amazing atmosphere with lots of laughter and banter – as if it was a reunion of people that had known each other for years, when at best, most would have only met a handful of the people in the room before.

The Venue

imageThe venue was a little crowded, but in defence of @BrianInkster and I, we had no idea so many would come along! @ChrisOxfordDale tweeted “Good turnout at #lex2011tweetup but too noisy to hear. Thought of sitting outside and tweeting to them but went home instead”. Other complaints were from those who were unable to join. @TMT_Lawyer tweeted “Was gonna say “Hi” to all tweeps at #Lex2011Tweetup, but bastards are all TALKING to each other. FFS, what’s wrong with tweets? RL, pah!” and @lancegodard felt he’d “missed event of the year”. My ‘bah humbug’ with the night is that @BrianInkster and I didn’t get to have our long planned chat!

Successes

imageAccording to @HeatherTowns there are five levels of engagement, with the fifth being powerful and effective relationships. From what I understand most of us would have been around level 2 at the beginning of last night. We must all be at least at level 3 now Heather?

I know that a couple of individuals won new work last night and many are planning follow-up meetings.

From conversations and subsequent tweets it seems everyone had a great night Smile with @BrianInkster and I receiving numerous requests to host another soon. I’ve not had a chance to check in with Brian yet, but my slight hesitation is that I do have the small matter of trying to launch a social CRM startup!

It was really great to meet everyone last night – thanks for making it such a good ‘un.

Please do add comments if I’ve missed anything. As I said, my memories are hazy…

Looking back on 2010

imageAt this time of year it’s traditional to look back, so we thought we’d share our most popular content from the past year, just in case you missed it.

  1. The Best Law Firm Website is… – We name the best law firm websites and explain what makes them stand out from the crowd.
  2. Top 100 Law Firm Websites in Pictures – PowerPoint slide deck of all the top 100 law firm websites. Feel free to go download it and give it to the partners in your firm and ask them to pick what they think is the best
  3. Communicator 14 to Integrate with SharePoint Activity Feed – We were a little surprised this one came in at #3. News piece about how Communicator (now Lync) and SharePoint combine to create a Facebook-like status feed for the intranet.
  4. How UK Lawyers are using Social Media – Thoughts from early adopters on the use of (primarily) Twitter in the legal sector, what works and the ROI.
  5. SharePoint Explained – Our 101 introduction to SharePoint.
  6. Shoosmiths Access Legal – A brave new world of law firm marketing – A look at the marketing approach of Shoosmiths consumer arm, AccessLegal.
  7. Cloud Computing Explained – Our 101 introduction to cloud computing
  8. Legal Services 2020 – Our view of what the legal services market will look like in 10 years time… oops that’s nine years now.
  9. What Will Be the Business Model of the 21st Century Law Firm – A look at the similarities between the publishing and legal industries and what we can learn from their current malaise.
  10. Office Communicator 14 to Become Microsoft Lync – News about the name change in Microsoft’s real time communication and collaboration product in 2010.

If you like the stuff we write, remember you can sign-up for updates in your RSS reader, or subscribe for email updates.

And with that we’d like to wish you a happy new year, and we’ll see you all again in 2011.

The Best Law Firm Website is…

Did you take a look at the Top 100 Law Firm Websites? What did you think? Did any stand out to you as class-leadings sites?

For me there was one that did… and I’ll tell you which one in a moment… But first, those that have it wrong, the honourable mentions, and why.

So you say you’re client focussed, huh?

The problem with most of the websites we looked at, probably as much as 95% of them, is that they are just not client focussed. The majority start with a pitch about themselves. They typically say they are innovative, experts in their field, and client focussed. But if they are client focussed, why doesn’t the website illustrate that?

Solicitors tell me all the time that their job is to solve client’s problems. So assuming I am a client coming to your website for the first time, how can I easily map my problem onto the services you offer?  Most websites we looked at structured their content based on the practice areas of the firm. But guess what? Clients don’t care about the internal organisation of law firms, and it’s no good hoping they will learn. Instead think about how you can present your business in the way that clients think. Make easy access to answers your top priority.

Honourable mentions

Mischon de Reya has a minimalist home page with a Google-style search box front and centre.

MIschon de Reya

Client focussed? Yes. Helping me map my problems to solutions? Not a bad start… We tried a few search terms and came up trumps two thirds of the time.

Russell Jones & Walker have gone for a best of both worlds approach – a similar search box takes priority, with practice areas on the right.

Russell Jones & Walker website

Sadly the search didn’t quite hit the spot when we tried it. It seemed to prioritise news stories over explaining how Russell Jones & Walker could help solve my problem. Nevertheless, they deserve an honourable mention for avoiding all the usual home page trumpet blowing, focussing on the client and providing the Expert Guide PDF downloads shown on the right of the screenshot.

And the winner is…

The CubeSocial Law Firm Website of 2010 award goes to Browne Jacobson for putting clients right at the heart of the website, providing simple clear navigation based on the client’s need and using the client’s language rather than internal law firm boundaries to structure content. Go on, click through to the Browne Jacobson website and have a look. Not only is it very functional, it’s also beautifully designed and interactive. Congratulations to all involved.

Browne Jacobson website

Don’t agree with us? Think your firm’s website is better? Leave a comment below and let us know why.

Top 100 Law Firm Websites In Pictures

When Craig Holt of Quality Solicitors was recently quoted saying all Law Firm websites were the same, we thought we would put his thesis to the test. We decided to take a look at the websites of the Top 100 UK law firms and see who stood out from the crowd. 

So here they are…

Just looking at the homepages, for me, there is one website that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Can you spot the one I am thinking of? Are there any that you would commend or decry?

I’ll post up my thoughts on the stand-out sites and my reasons tomorrow. Meanwhile leave a comment below…

Update: See our verdict on the top Top Law Firm Websites

Referral Opportunities Between Solicitors, IFAs and Accountants

JP Morgan has published a briefing paper on opportunities for closer links between Solicitors, IFAs and Accountants in a post-ABS world.  There’s a whole bunch of stats and charts like this one, a few nice marketing and cross-selling tips and some interesting findings on Solicitors’ attitudes to ABS-based multi-disciplinary practices.

image

You can download the full report from the JP Morgan website.

Legal Opportunities #3: Go Where Your Clients Are

I have been thinking again again about what Shoosmiths were doing with their marketing effort at our local town fete, and what it had in common with the will writers marketing approach that I blogged about last week.  The key thing for me is that they both went where their clients were. And it got me wondering – how else can you do that? What opportunities are out there to make yourself more easily accessible to potential clients?

Competing with the Emerging Legal Brands

I think there is an opportunity to fend off competition from the emerging legal brands by creating a tie-up with local businesses. Let me explain…

Big corporations like to offer lots of on-site services to their employees. When I was at Microsoft there was a creche, dry cleaning service, DVD rental, IFA, doctor and masseur on site.  Inside the confines of many other corporate offices you will find a Starbucks or Costa Coffee, a hairdressers, gym, bank and much more. What’s the point of all that? For Big Corp it’s about keeping people at their desks longer. For employees it’s about convenience.

So how about onsite legal services?

Maybe next time your are negotiating terms with one of your corporate or small business clients, and they are pushing back on fees or asking for alternative billing arrangements, part of your negotiation could be about access to their employees in some way. Maybe you could offer monthly free legal advice clinics in the client’s offices, or perhaps you could offer special discounted rates to their employees. There are probably lots of other ideas you could come up with, just make sure that your offer provides value to both you and their employer in some way.

What do you think? What other opportunities are there for going to the client rather than waiting for them to come to you?

Shoosmiths AccessLegal – A brave new world of law firm marketing

Shoosmiths Access LegalMarketing.

Most law firms would admit they are not very good at it. But might that be about to change?

Here’s a stand from our local town fete this weekend. Shoosmiths were there promoting their new Access Legal brand. What was interesting that there was no selling going on. They were simply there collecting names and email addresses in exchange for a chance to play a motorbike game and win a prize… that is, they were there to build their CRM database and mailing list.

This is the sort of low cost, face to face marketing that any law firm could participate in. But how many do?

I wouldn’t have expected this approach from a national brand, but it shows they mean business in working from the ground up, at a local level, to build personal relationships, and their new operation. And I don’t expect them to be last.

How do you intend to compete against aspiring national brands?

Web Favourites Jun 3 2010

June This post is part of a weekly/bi-weekly an occasional roundup of things that I read and found interesting. There won’t be a lot of comment from me, but hopefully you will find the links useful. Enjoy!

Interesting stuff I came across this week:

Twitter for Law Firms – “Law firms, unfortunately, are doing a lousy job with Twitter, every day, in growing numbers. I’ve reviewed dozens of law firm Twitter accounts, some owned by global giants and some by midsize or smaller operations, and in almost every instance I’ve come away shaking my head… A good law firm Twitter feed keeps two things in mind: (1) it’s all about the clients, and (2) it’s not all about the firm”

How to Measure the Success of Your Intranet – Intranet guru Gerry McGovern on quantifying the value of your intranet: “Focus on service. Focus on your employees’ time. Be relentless in seeking to save it. If you do you will create a great intranet. It’s as simple and as difficult as that”. Sounds like the recipe for any successful business actually.

Survey: Tesco and Marks & Spencer fail to lure legal shoppers – interesting slant in this article, and it’s headline. Read deeper and you’ll see it say “34% [of respondents] were not tempted by the big names [brands] at all”. To my mind, that’s 66% of clients who could potentially be lured away – and that’s before any of those brands has even launched or begun marketing. Mmmm.

Web Favourites Feb 22 2010

This post is part of a weekly/bi-weekly roundup of things that I read and found interesting. There won’t be a lot of comment from me, but hopefully you will find the links useful. Enjoy!

Interesting stuff I came across this week:

The Business Case for Giving Away Your Best Work for FREE! – 10 reasons to give away your work for free.

The “Free” Dilemma – Bits vs. Atoms – “…understand one of the differences between atoms and bits:
Atoms don’t scale. Bits do… Your free strategy should be mostly based on bits… Use the atom-power to create remarkable bit-based free stuff that spreads”

Law firms and Newspapers – Same or Different? – “what the newspapers are suffering heavily from now is what many smaller law firms are beginning to suffer from and will undoubtedly suffer heavily from in the future – their primary product being available for free on the web.”

The Legal Sector and “FREE”

Free ticket How should solicitors and law firms compete with the availability of free legal information on the web? How might it impact current business models?

In the IT industry, we have been grappling with this issue for a number of years… lots and lots of free information and advice on the Web, free open source software, and many, many free websites. Observations from the IT industry are that traditional paid-for software providers are still doing very well. The radical change that we thought open source software would bring hasn’t been as radical as we originally thought, and there are still plenty of well-paid jobs for IT consultants. Free open-source alternatives now with co-exist paid-for products and to varying degrees are embraced by the likes of IBM, Sun and even Microsoft.

Lessons for the legal sector (and indeed any professional service firms)

  • Get close to your clients. Understand their business and become their trusted partner. Show you provide real value. Good consulting fees will remain for people who can do this well
  • Look at low value-add services that you provide. These could easily become cannibalised and commoditized by free alternatives. Consider acting first and making them free before your competitors do (the Sun Open Office approach). Alternatively look at what else you can add to make your offering unique and worth paying for (the Microsoft Office approach)
  • Look how you can use free products and build on top of them to lower your product/service costs
  • Think about how it is possible to create packaged product offerings that can effectively compete with free, rather than simply an hourly service
  • Think how you can create and distribute free offerings yourselves to introduce people to your brand (And perhaps if a free product is one step to far right now, you could consider starting by using free tools to help in your marketing)
  • Consider getting involved and contributing to free information forums in order to build your brand recognition and reputation.  The idea is essentially to build credibility, trust and brand recognition so that when people do need to purchase legal services, they will think to come to you