Staying Top of Mind: The Importance of Just Showing Up

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When is the last time you visited one of your clients at their office? Or suggested lunch for no reason at all other than to catch up?

Would you be more likely to do if it meant, say, $10,000 in revenues? I know I would.

I heard a story about this topic yesterday from the general counsel of life sciences company here in North Carolina. But more on that in a second.

I'm not sure where I first came across the notion of "know, like, trust" as the three building blocks small business marketing, but I associate it with John Jantsch's Duct Tape Marketing. For those of you unfamiliar with the know, like, trust concept or Jantsch's excellent work, Jantsch has a helpful white paper on it available here

As critical as those blocks are to marketing a law practice, they need one more element to come to life: staying top of mind. If your name is not the first one to come to mind when the right issue arises, all the knowing, liking and trusting in the world isn't going to matter. 

Back to the general counsel.

She had lunch scheduled with one of the outside counsel her company uses, a lawyer who just happened to be in town from another state. That morning, before she left for lunch, an issue arose at the GC's company and she needed to find an outside lawyer to handle it. It was a strange issue, not the regular course of business.  The key thing she needed to find was an outside lawyer who had a positive working relationship with a particular, high level individual inside her company.

Now, the thing is, there were probably ten or so outside counsel who fit that description. The lawyer she had lunch scheduled with just happened to be one of them. The GC confessed, the lunch lawyer would never have been the first, second or third person she would have thought of - he practices in another state, handles a different kind of work - but because he was on her calendar at noon, his was the first name that popped into her head. 

It turns out, he was the perfect fit, and his impromptu and agenda-less lunch turned into a new engagement for his firm. Had he not reached out to the GC to suggest lunch when he was in town, the new engagement would have gone somewhere else.

I asked myself, would I have done what this lawyer did in his place? If I were traveling, would I have reached out to a contact for lunch just for no reason other than just to have a pleasant time and remind him I exist? I don't know. Like a lot of lawyers, I'm not a born marketer. I'm just as happy - maybe happier, if I'm being honest - having a quiet lunch poring over fantasy football stuff as I am in having a bite with an acquaintance.

But the lesson here isn't lost on me. Know, like, trust will get you in the door. But if your name isn't the one that floats to top of mind in the moment, it won't get you much more.

Which Size iPhone 6 Will You Get?

For months now, the rumor mill that churns ahead of an Apple product announcement has been abuzz with stories about the forthcoming iPhone 6. After months speculation, most of the rumors and predictions have settled around some common points:

  • the iPhone 6 is expected to launch in September, probably September 19
  • it is likely to be a larger form factor than the current 4" screen
  • there are expected to be two models, a 4.7" screen and a 5.5" screen

There are also a lot of rumors swirling around the new chip, new operating system, and various components. MacRumors has a great summary page on iPhone 6 that is kept updated, if you are interested.

The thing I'm noodling at the moment is which size phone I will buy. 

Here is a screen grab from MacRumors to give you an idea of the respective sizes:

I am really looking forward to the anticipated larger size iPhones.

I'm leaning toward 4.7" version, which will be a welcome increase over my current iPhone 5c (yes, I have one of the four of those they sold, don't ask). I had a short, ill-conceived dalliance with a Galaxy Note about a year ago, and while I loved having the extra screen real estate, I found the size almost comically large, even in my meaty paws. My friend, Lee Rosen, had been an advocate for the 5.5" size; in his view it eliminated the need for a tablet. I love my iPad Air, though, so giving that up doesn't represent a particular virtue to me.

Steve Jobs was right about a lot of things, but mobile phone screen size just wasn't one of them.

That's my plan if everything stays as currently rumored. What's yours?

If you are an Android user or just generally disinterested in Apple fanboy ramblings like this, your reward for making it to the end of this post is a video of Joe Rogan shooting arrows through a prototype iPhone 6 screen. Enjoy.


What to Do Before You Leave Your Law Firm

Leaving a law firm, particularly as a partner, can feel a lot like a divorce. There are logistical, financial and ethical issues at play that can cause all kinds of chaos in the professional lives of both the departing lawyer and those remaining at the firm. All that plays out against a backdrop of emotional upheaval and change.

My friends, Jim Calloway and Sharon Nelson, hosts of the Digital Edge podcast, tackled this issue in the excellent recent episode, When Lawyers Get Divorced: Ethically Breaking up a Law Firm. Their guest speaker, Tom Spahn, offered great advice and insights, and I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Spahn's advice included making sure the departing lawyer:

  1. complies with any partnership or employment agreement
  2. continues to work full-time at the old law firm
  3. doesn't use law firm resources for planning or executing the move to the new firm

One of the thorniest issues that comes up when a lawyer leaves her firm to either go solo or join another firm is determining when to inform the clients of the change. The move creates tension between the departing lawyer's fiduciary duties to the old firm and her duty to her clients, according to Spahn. Anyone who has made a change like this would likely agree.

Spahn noted in the podcast that the trend generally is toward emphasizing the departing lawyer's duty to her clients over her fiduciary duty to the old firm. To get dialed in how the situation is analyzed in North Carolina, I reached out to Deanna Brocker of the Brocker Law Firm. Deanna concentrates her practice on professional licensing issues and frequently counsels attorneys planning to leave their law firm.

Deanna had this to say:

In North Carolina there is no rule or ethical prohibition against an attorney first informing clients of his departure from the firm before informing the law firm.  At the same time, I think the State Bar would say that as a matter of professionalism, an attorney ought to inform the firm first before clients, even where there is no duty to do so. The attorney's duty to inform clients of his departure, and to do so in a timely fashion, is clear, however.  The timing of such disclosure may depend upon a particular client's circumstances and pending deadlines. 

Spahn goes on in the podcast to discuss some of the mechanisms law firms are putting in place to penalize a departing lawyer; we're not bound by non-compete agreements, but firms are starting to turn to financial penalties such as eliminating bonuses, forsaking the return of invested capital, and so on function in some firms to make a departing lawyer think twice before leaving.

It's a great podcast and Calloway, Nelson and Spahn pack a lot of information into a short time frame (partially through talking fast - music to this native New Yorker's ears). Whether you are staying, going or just want to be informed, tune in and check it out.