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    Archive for October, 2007
    Give ’em Credit…
    Thursday, October 18th, 2007

    So I’d like to know where, you got the notion
    Said I’d like to know where, you got the notion
    To rock the boat..

    Words and music by Wally Holmes, recorded by the Hues Corporation.

    I have to hand it to this group of law students (Law Students Building a Better Legal Profession) and their blog. They have released a study that ranks law firms on diversity, pro bono participation and billable hours in six major markets (New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, Northern California and Southern California).

    These students are hitting law firms in the numbers. For example, when looking at New York firms:

    Gender Composition: At all firms surveyed in New York City, women are significantly less represented as partners than as associates. Even at Morrison & Foerster, which has the highest percentage of female partners in New York, women make up only 23.3% of all partners. At Fulbright & Jaworski, which has the lowest percentage of female partners in New York, women are only 7.1% of all partners.”

    From the southern California rankings:

    Low Diversity Partnership Rates: Of the 16 Los Angeles-area firms included in the report, 100% had three or fewer African-American partners, all but one had three or fewer Hispanic partners, and half had three or fewer Asian-American partners, placing the percentage of partners represented by each ethnic group at less than 5%. By contrast, 2005 census data show African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Latino-Americans to comprise 9.7%, 13.1%, and 46.8% of the population in Los Angeles county.”

    These days when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, these kinds of rankings may be influential with regard to attracting young and idealistic law students who are placing their values on the line and who seek firms that are working towards a better legal profession (at least according to their principles).

    I applaud this effort and frankly, their willingness to challenge a profession of which they seek to become a part. What is more worrisome was that the reports are based on the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) annual workplace survey and many firms did not fill out the questions in that survey. One can only hope that this will change as law firms pick up on these rankings and publish them on their websites in order to attract talent to their firm. Indeed, one firm (Venable LLP) has already posted their ranking on their web page in order to give publicity to the fact that they ranked 5th in diversity and they went on to state that:

    “Other areas Venable ranked in the top 10 include percentage of Hispanic associates (fourth), percentage of female partners (eighth), percentage of African American partners (ninth), and percentage of Hispanic partners (tenth). “

    I have to give them credit – it appears that rocking the boat appears to already be making some waves!



    Posted in Change Management, Firm Governance, Issues facing Law Firms, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »
    Building Trust…
    Thursday, October 11th, 2007

    She’s right on time
    She’s right where she should be
    She’s right on time..

    Words and music by Billy Joel.

    Allison Wolf in her Lawyer Coach Blog has recently posted on “When is the right time to ask for business?” She raises the excellent point that you have to work from your values and first build the trusting relationship and the right time to ask for business will present itself.

    Allison has listed ideas and tips on how to genuinely come across as sympathetic and listening and use them to build the base of trust.

    But some of us are genuinely uncomfortable in entering a crowd of people that we don’t know and start to make the small talk that leads to the creation of personal relationships.

    Ellen Freedman on her blog has a recent post “Learning How: Breaking the Ice” wherein she lists a number of books on the fine art of making small talk and conversation when entering a crowd of strangers.

    By following these tips, we can find ourselves right on time, right where we are supposed to be, building those trusting relationships and asking for business at the right time…

    Posted in Law Firm Strategy | Permalink | No Comments »
    The Winner takes it all….
    Sunday, October 7th, 2007

    The winner takes it all
    The loser standing small
    Beside the victory
    That’s her destiny…

    Words and Music by: Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, recorded by Abba.

    I have come across a very interesting blog by Bob Warfield called: SmoothSpan Blog whose goal is to “combine radical technology innovation with equally radical business model innovation to literally reinvent and extend SaaS.” He has some great thoughts and observations on the implications of the Web 2.0 model as it evolves. One of his latest posts – Oct 4, 2007 is entitled:

    What is a Social Network, Anyway? (Hint: It’s Not Geocities!)“.

    I think that Web 2.0 is one of the most important technological developments in the last little while. I believe lawyers have yet to fully appreciate the implications of web 2.0 and its importance for them.

    David Maister in his blog, has started a discussion (Wed. Oct. 3, 2007) entitled:

    Relationships: What’s the Problem?

    where he is exploring the difficulties in lawyers forming relationships with clients. This leads to the question: How many lawyers have incorporated the power of Web 2.0 in thinking about their relationships with their clients? How many law firms have considered how to use Web 2.0 to reach out to their clients? Where is the overlap between Web 2.0, lawyers and the new business model?

    This is an interesting discussion and competition and one that is certainly being crafted as we speak. And my sense is that whoever figures it out first, the winner takes it all…that’s her destiny.

    Posted in Business Development, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Trends | Permalink | No Comments »