Book No. 1: Content Marketing and Publishing Strategies for Law Firms

Anyone who’s spoken with me in the last few years knows that, whenever I’m asked what my future plans include, my response invariably concludes with: “… and I really want to write a book.” So I’m really, truly happy to announce this week the publication of not one, but two books bearing my name.

Book number 1 — I’ll announce Book #2 later this week — is a co-production with my friend and colleague Steve Matthews, founder and president of Stem Legal Web EnterprisesContent Marketing And Publishing Strategies For Law Firms has just been published by The Ark Group, one of the legal industry’s most respected publishers of high-quality books about the business of law. This book represents all the distilled knowledge and insights that Steve and I have gathered, over our combined three-plus decades in the legal marketplace, about publishing and content marketing for law firms.

What’s in the book? Take a look at the executive summary (PDF) for an overview; this excerpt sums up the book’s purpose nicely:

A publishing strategy is the critical link between the firm’s overall business development strategy and its content marketing efforts. It clarifies the firm’s publishing goals, its intended audience, its targeted content, its chosen methodologies, and its measures of success. It is the strategic framework within which all content marketing efforts take place.

We are now at a critical juncture in content marketing: how law firms proceed in these next several months may make or break all future efforts within the firm to conduct marketing based on published content. 

There is no shortage of material available to lawyers and law firms regarding the use of content marketing and social media. But there is a paucity of information about the strategic context within which these efforts should take place, and about the role of “publishing’”as the lens through which these efforts should be viewed. This report aims to fill that gap.

For a further preview, you can even download the first chapter of the book, “The Law Firm Publishing Strategy,” for free (PDF).

What do we talk about in Content Marketing And Publishing Strategies For Law Firms? Among many other things:

  • Designing a strategy to guide your firm’s publishing efforts and integrating it with your business development and branding strategies.
  • Choosing the best platforms for your published content, including blogs, newsletters, microsites and other vehicles.
  • Distributing your content through a growing universe of channels, from magazines and other “old” media to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and other “new” media.
  • Creating a “publishing culture” within your firm, motivating and enforcing participation in and contributions to the publishing strategy.
  • Measuring the effectiveness of publishing efforts, with detailed explanations of the best metrics and tools to gauge the return on your publishing investments.

I encourage you to download the sample chapter and executive summary — and, if you like what you see, to visit the Ark Group for information on how to order Content Marketing And Publishing Strategies For Law Firms today. This book collects the best advice and insights Steve and I can provide about law firm publishing, content marketing, and social media strategies: we’re confident you’d find it an indispensable addition to your strategic arsenal.

Oh, and that second book? Here’s a teaser: it’s published by my friends at Attorney At Work, and it’s a strategic guide for law firms — but I’ve already said too much….

Jordan Furlong delivers dynamic and thought-provoking presentations to law firms and legal organizations throughout North America on how to survive and profit from the extraordinary changes underway in the legal services marketplace. He is a partner with Edge International and a senior consultant with Stem Legal Web Enterprises.  

Six for the road

I’ve been an active contributor lately to a number of other blogs and periodicals, so I thought you might be interested in checking some of them out. Here are six articles I’ve written at other legal sites recently.

1. “Letting the client decide,” Slaw: Brand new this morning, my newest column looks at a UK firm whose portfolio of alternative fee arrangements includes an offer to give the client the right to set the final price.

2. “Rethinking the case law update: who are you talking to?“, Law Firm Web Strategy: one of two recent columns at Stem Legal‘s blog, this one asks why we still rely on that old legal publishing standby, the case law update.

3. “Talk to me: putting an end to canned conversations,” Law Firm Web Strategy: My second Stem Legal column continues the recent theme of “lawyer communication” issues by examining voice mail in law firms.

4. “Associate compensation meets the merit system,The Lawyers Weekly: The first of two recent columns at The Lawyers Weekly reviews the latest developments on merit-based associate pay systems.

5. “Law schools and the risk of irrelevance,The Lawyers Weekly: This column generated a lot of Twitter activity and direct emails, which tells me the disconnect between law school and law practice is hitting a nerve.

6. “The 21st-century law firm,” CBAPracticeLink: Finally, an article published at CBA PracticeLink pulls together several diverse strands of lawyer innovation and marketplace evolution into a model of the future law firm.

Media Strategy Service at Stem Legal

Since entering the consultancy world last October, I’ve been (and continue to be) fortunate to work with two great organizations, Edge International (where my focus is on strategic planning for law firms and the rapidly evolving legal marketplace) and Stem Legal (where my focus is on communications, media and social media for law firms). Today, I’m happy to let you know about a new offering we’re rolling out at Stem Legal: a Media Strategy Service. The announcement by Steve Matthews at the Stem blog provides all the details, but in summary, the Media Strategy Service is an intensive three-month project aimed at revitalizing a law firm’s or legal organization’s dealings with the media. Among the services we provide are:

  • a personal interview to establish your media-related business development goals,
  • an interactive questionnaire to determine your best media options,
  • an inventory and assessment of your current media outreach practices,
  • a customized strategic plan for using the media to promote your practice,
  • a guide to building relationships with key media personnel, and
  • a three-month period of telephone and email delivered consultation on media strategy and interaction.

I’m looking forward immensely to delivering assistance through the Media Strategy Service: it combines my dozen years’ experience in legal journalism and communications with my emerging interest in social media for the legal profession. Check out the MSS main page for more details, and please don’t hesitate to drop me a line if you’d like some more information.

Calendar of events

The next few weeks are booked solid for me, as I prepare for a series of presentations and workshops throughout March. So in exchange for fewer posts over the next month, I thought I’d let you know what I’ll be doing, where I’ll be doing it, and what I recommend you look into doing as well. (Only public events are noted here, of course.)

On March 11, I’ll be in Chicago to deliver a plenary speech and moderate a roundtable discussion for the American Bar Association’s Bar Leadership Institute, an annual gathering of more than 350 new bar leaders from across the United States. The subject of the address will be the rapidly evolving nature of legal practice and its impact on bar associations. I’ll be fortunate to share the stage with two people whose work I admire: Edward Adams, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal, and Carole Silver, executive director of the Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown University and a member of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20. Here are full details of the event.

On March 18, I’ll be returning to the ABA, but this time by phone. I’ll be co-hosting a webinar on alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) for the ABA’s Law Practice Management Section, along with my Edge International Consulting colleague Rob Millard and Valorem Law Group founding partner Patrick J. Lamb. The webinar, titled “Rethink Legal Billing: Align Your Firm to Alternative Fee Arrangements,” will open with an assessment of what AFAs are and why they’ve suddenly emerged as the hottest topic in lawyer-client relations. The discussion will continue with an in-depth look at the project management and business process engineering aspects of successful AFAs, and close with first-hand experiences with AFAs in real-world situations. Watch the ABA LPM home page for registration information.

And on March 22, I’ll be in Washington, D.C. at the afore-mentioned Center for the Study of the Legal Profession at Georgetown University, which is sponsoring a symposium titled “Law Firm Evolution: Brave New World or Business As Usual?” I’ll be part of a panel discussing new lawyer training methods at some innovative U.S. law firms and contrasting them with Canadian law firms’ articling programs. But the real draw will be the luminaries at the podium throughout the event. Check out this partial list of panellists: Richard Susskind, Stephen Mayson, Dan DiPietro, Bruce MacEwen, Susan Hackett, Leah Cooper, Mark Chandler, Jeff Carr, Aric Press, and managing partners or senior partners from several global law firms. Here’s a downloadable PDF of the agenda.

(Also in Washington, on March 17-18, my colleagues Gerry Riskin and Karen MacKay will be hosting the first of a series of Law Firm Leaders Development Workshops designed to help managing partners and practice group leaders grow their leadership skills and perfect profitability and change management. Highly recommended.)

Finally, although it’s a few months down the road, I’ll also let you know that I’m speaking at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s 5th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference and Expo in Toronto on May 14. Since I’m appearing there in my dual capacity as an Edge partner and a Stem senior consultant, I’ll speak once on strategic/future of law matters and once on social media opportunities for lawyers.

These sorts of events are always extremely interesting for me — speaking both with other panelists and with attendees is a great opportunity to take the profession’s pulse. If you or your organization would be interested in having me speak or facilitate at an event, by all means please drop me a line or read more about it. And if you’ll be attending any of the foregoing events, please let me know!

Blawg Review at Law Firm Web Strategy Blog

In case you’re interested, I authored this week’s Blawg Review (#252) with my colleagues at Stem Legal’s Law Firm Web Strategy Blog. The theme is technology run amok: the fear many people (and especially lawyers) seem to have about the things we create, as expressed in popular fiction from Frankenstein to Battlestar Galactica. I’ve always thought Frankenstein belonged in the science fiction genre more than in the horror aisle in the bookstore, and this Blawg Review tries to show how an influential strain of sci-fi can trace its lineage back to Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, while also highlighting the best of the blawgosphere’s last seven days. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you emulate it — this is my second Blawg Review in the last year, and I strongly encourage more lawyers to take up the BR challenge: it’s important, it’s interesting, and it’s fun.

2009 Clawbies now accepting nominations

Steve Matthews, my colleague at Stem Legal, has announced that nominations are now being accepted for the 2009 Clawbies, which recognize the very best in Canadian law blogging. The fourth annual awards are seeking your recommendations for Canadian law blogs that deserve widespread recognition for excellence over the past year. In particular, we’d like you to create a post nominating three blogs for Clawbies, along with your brief reasons why these blogs merit an award. If you’re inclined to include Law21 on your list, thank you, but as a Senior Consultant with Stem, I’m officially and happily conflicted out of the running.

Steve is asking nominators to think about “sleeper picks,” blogs that might not get as much attention as more widely-known candidates. Accordingly, while I’m a fan of many Canadian law blogs and would be happy to place them on my ballot, I’m going to give my 2009 nominations to what I consider three underrated and/or important blogs:

1. The Court. Osgoode Hall Law School’s blog covering the Supreme Court of Canada is part of the revolution in how we think about law journals. With regular, sometimes even daily posts about SCC rulings and/or lower-court decisions interpreting those rulings, The Court has become required reading for law students, law professors and lawyers who want to stay up to speed on the rapid evolution of Canadian jurisprudence. I’d put it up against SCOTUSblog or any similar site worldwide for the depth and insight of its coverage.

2. The Cross-Border Biotech Blog. The next generation of law blogs is going to be deeply niched, client-focused, social-network-savvy and above all, about more than just the law. The Cross-Border Biotech Blog scores in all four respects, with industry trend updates, science news, Twitter recaps, and a consistent focus on what biotech clients care about. Jeremy Grushcow of Ogilvy Renault LLP is the lead author, but other contributors come from both sides of the border and a wide range of specialties — possibly the first multidisciplinary law blog, definitely not the last.

3. Fired Without Cause. I wish I could find a regularly updated Canadian law blog that focuses on access to justice and public legal education, because we sorely need one. But Fired Without Cause, the eponymous blog of a Vancouver-based wrongful-dismissal legal services provider, has some of that spirit. Its posts are accessible, plain-language guides to help both employees and employers navigate end-of-employment challenges with minimum damage to both parties. It’s no coincidence that a law blog written to be understandable to the public does not come from a law firm.

Who are your nominees? You don’t have to be Canadian to cast your votes — and if you need a refresher on the potential candidates, check out Steve’s Canadian Law Blogs List. Vote early, because the winners will be announced New Year’s Eve.

Lawyers, journalists and trust

My first post at Stem’s Law Firm Web Strategy Blog is up and running. The title is “Lawyers, journalists and trust,” and talks about the yawning trust gap between lawyers and the media and how to bridge it. My dozen years in legal journalism demonstrated to me how instinctively guarded lawyers can be even with prestigious legal trade publications; when it’s the local tabloid or talk radio show on the phone, lawyers can seize up altogether. The post offers a few tips toward minimizing that mistrust.

This is the first of what will be fairly regular posts at the Law Firm Web Strategy Blog, usually focused on the media, communications and branding, in my capacity as a Senior Consultant with Stem focusing on media and communications issues for law firms and legal organizations. If there’s a topic you’d like to see explored under these themes, drop me a line at anytime.