Should you join the ABA?

The ABA is offering a free trial membership, including membership in one substantive Section, if you join by January 31.  Whether you’re looking to develop your substantive skills, to add another activity to your bio sketch, or to build new relationships, the ABA offers tremendous benefit. I’ve been active since I was in law school, holding a variety of leadership positions, and it’s been an unequivocally good experience. If you aren’t a member, check out the offer. (And if you’re wondering, no, there’s no benefit to me if you join.)

If you’re wondering why bar association membership might be beneficial for you and how to go about getting the maximum benefit, check out this blog post from 2008. It’s one of my most popular articles.

Finally, if ABA membership isn’t right for you, consider whether another group might be. Perhaps a bar association or industry group heavily populated by lawyers that focuses on your practice area (AIPLA, for example) would be a better match.

Bribe your way to success

Clients often tell me that they don’t feel motivated to do business development work. Although I understand on one level, it surprises me every time simply because I don’t believe that any successful person relies on motivation to succeed.

Motivation is a transient emotion that typically doesn’t last through the tough, make-or-break spots. I often wasn’t motivated to study during law school–or college or high school–but I did it anyway because I knew that studying was necessary to reach my objectives. I don’t remember ever being motivated to brush my teeth (except when I purchased my nifty Sonicare toothbrush, and that novelty passed quickly) but I do it at least twice a day because I value my teeth.

Undertaking business development activity falls into a similar category: motivation is a nice bonus, not sufficient fuel to get it done. Ideally, some activities are such a good fit for you that you enjoy them, or at least you don’t mind them. Others you may dread. And that’s where bribing your way to success comes in.

A recent Harvard Business Review Blog describes four kinds of rewards to help you complete tasks you dread. The categories are:

1. Regenerative: a reward that recharges your body and brain
2. Productive: the reward of work you enjoy
3. Concurrent: a reward that you enjoy while doing the dreaded task, likely one that doesn’t require a lot of concentration
4. Cumulative: a fund you pay into when you complete a large and dreaded project
Read the blog post to get ideas about rewards in each category, and then create your own list of compelling rewards. Bribe yourself to complete business development tasks you don’t enjoy, and each bribe will help you to build the practice you want.

Your 2015 marketing must-do

By now, you’ve probably accepted the reality that you must market your practice, and that you must do so consistently. But the bulk of your time goes into practicing law rather than marketing your practice, so you need to use your time as effectively as possible. You can’t afford to waste time.

And that leads to the “must do” marketing activity for 2015:


I don’t really like watching videos, and I certainly don’t like shooting or sharing videos of me. But the statistics are hard to ignore. Video is important and will become even more so over time. Ignore the product demonstration benefits (since lawyers don’t really do that), but if nothing else, consider this: when you have videos available, your potential clients and referrals sources get to “meet” you before you ever speak. It allows people to get a sense of who you are, how you talk, whether you’re approachable, and so much more that can never be conveyed in text.


Video is not the silver bullet to marketing your practice, but your approach is incomplete if you exclude video.

A few ideas about how you might use video:

  • Report on a trend you’ve noticed. Video is especially nice here because it’s conversational.
  • Discuss a recent development. You may find it quicker and easier to talk about the development rather than to write it, and if you’re engaged, it’s more likely to draw in your viewer.
  • Talk about issues your clients face. Don’t step over the line into giving advice, but video is a nice way to connect with an audience and let them know you understand.
  • Offer resources. A litigator might prepare a “how to prepare for your deposition” video that may allay a client’s discomfort. If you recommend the same service providers or tools over and over to your clients (for inventors, perhaps), a quick video will let you give more information and color than text.
  • Introduce yourself. Notice that this is last on the list. A video that’s about your target client and what that client needs will outperform a video that’s about you. That doesn’t mean an “about us” style video (or webpage) is unimportant, but clients and referral sources will want to know how you can help first.

A few ideas on where you might incorporate videos into your marketing:

  • On website pages specific to a practice area, to talk about the issues that your clients face.
  • On a resources page on your website
  • On the a “recent news” page on your website
  • On your website’s about page, to describe yourself, your practice, etc.
  • On your blog, to discuss recent updates or to spot trends for your readers.
  • In a comment you share on someone else’s blog, to support or amplify your comment
  • In client newsletter or alerts, to share insight in a conversational way
  • On your LinkedIn profile, to bring your profile to life and distinguish you from others who don’t use video
  • On YouTube—you do know that Google owns YouTube, right?
  • On Facebook, if your market is there and if you’re jumping through the requisite Facebook marketing hoops. There’s good evidence that Facebook is now outperforming YouTube for video.
  • In emails to clients, if you know your clients appreciate video.

If you’re ready to explore video use, consider these recommendations:

  • Have your video copy transcribed. Google can’t index the content of your video, and not everyone will want to watch a video. Having the copy right below the video gives you the benefit of both video and text.
  • Have evergreen videos professionally produced. Your “about us” video should be professionally created and edited, and that’s what you should use as your primary LinkedIn video.
  • Shoot some “recent developments” videos on the fly. If you just attended an interesting conference or a hearing and want to share some information about it on your blog or as a client alert, you can shoot a perfectly good video with your cellphone. Just be sure the sound is good and that the image is stable, and make sure your comments match the immediacy of the format. (In other words, have a conversation with the viewer rather than speaking at the viewer.)

Make 2015 the year you incorporate video into your marketing. That’s one of my goals for this year, so you can expect to see more use of video in this newsletter and elsewhere.

How do you use and/or view video for business purposes? What engages you, and what turns you off?

Avoiding 2015’s top obstacle

A client recently shared his worry about taking on new marketing approaches, which included an effort to become credibly visible in a variety of marketing channels rather than centering all of his efforts on a single marketing avenue as he had in the past. Nothing especially shocking, but my client (risk-averse, like so many lawyers) was almost paralyzed.

A recent Seth Godin blog post casts light on that client’s situation by untangling risk and uncertainty:

Uncertainty is not the same as risk… Uncertainty implies a range of possible outcomes. But a range of results, all uncertain, does not mean you are exposing yourself to risk. (Emphasis added.)

If you’ve ever found yourself hesitating on doing something new (and who hasn’t), read Godin’s full post. I suspect that you’ll come away with a different view of risk, one that will help you to avoid standing still, which is (as usual) this year’s top obstacle.