Monthly Archives: February 2009

LexThink Testimonial: “Worth Every Penny”

Reid Trautz, a former LexThink attendee, offers this take on LexThink Innovate:

Matt Homann has more good ideas than just about anyone else I know. And when it comes to legal  "conferences" there is no one who does it better. I attended the first LexThink event in Chicago a few years ago, and still think it was one of the more rewarding learning experiences I have had as a lawyer. Several years later, I engaged Matt to consult on a legal conference I was co-organizing, to make it more interesting and vibrant for attendees. Once again, his ideas were a hit.

So I am pleased to learn that Matt has designed and organized LexThink Innovate, the latest in his LexThink events (I hate to call them "conferences" because is is so unlike other legal conferences). Billed as part "unconference", part retreat, LexThink is meant to engage and challenge all participants. It requires thought, participation, and deeper commitment to action than your typical CLE conference. Rest assured, this is not a marketing consultant selling you an expensive service; Matt is a former practicing lawyer who has devoted the last five years to rethinking how lawyers can come together to innovate their law firms.

Matt's latest innovation for LexThink Innovate? It is the first "Name Your Own Price" legal event. Yep, you pay the value of what you think you got out of it–after you attend! Guaranteed. In short, he's turning “you get what you pay for,” into “you’ll pay for what you got!”

With that kind of creativity and confidence going in, you know it is going to be different.  I don't know exactly what Matt has in store, but if it is like his past conferences, it will be well worth every penny.

As I write this, there are about 25 spots left for LexThink Innovate.  I hope to see you there.

LexThink FAQ: Will There be Sponsors?

Q:  Will there be sponsors at LexThink Innovate?

A:  This is an easy one: I don't know. It isn't as if a sponsorship (or five) wouldn't be helpful, but from the beginning, I've built LexThink Innovate to serve the attendees first.  I'd rather deliver an amazing experience to them, than worry about delivering sales opportunities to sponsors. 

However — and this is a big however — vendors are welcome, on two conditions: 

First, if you want to attend as an attendee, you must participate, contribute to the innovation discussions and NOT SELL your products or services to others at the event.

Second, if you'd like represent your company (instead of yourself) and have an opportunity to make a pitch, tell the attendees about your product, hand something out, and/or demo something, you must buy one of five Vendor Tickets.  Unlike the Attendee tickets, these are non-refundable.

If you're thinking about sponsoring or attending LexThink Innovate, feel free to contact me at Matt@LexThink.com.  It is going to be cool, and I'd love to see you there.

LexThink FAQ: What Will it Look Like?

Q:  What will LexThink Innovate look like?

A:  That’s a hard one to answer, but think markers, crayons, lots of Post-it notes, laptops, projectors, music, easels, artists drawing (more on that in a later post), lots of people talking in small groups, whiteboards, index cards and big sheets of paper.

Or, if you want to see what past LexThinks have looked like, here’s a link to the LexThink tag in Flickr.  Below are just a few pictures from an event in Chicago.

LexThink FAQ: Will there be CLE credits?

Q:  Will I be able to get CLE credit for attending LexThink Innovate?

A:  No.  Most states require conference organizers to jump through lots of hoops to get CLE credit.  Presenters must submit written materials, attendance must be taken, and only certain topics qualify for credit in different states.  Frankly, it’s just too hard to get credit, and I’d rather spend my time making the experience great for the attendees than getting CLE credit for them.

Also, I want LexThink Innovate attendees to be at the event because they want to change the way they use their law license, not just to satisfy some requirement for keeping it.

LexThink FAQ: Why is Attendance Limited?

Q:  Why are you limiting the number of attendees for LexThink Innovate?

A:  LexThink Innovate is focused on providing the best collaborative experience for the attendees.  As I’ve planned the event, I’ve thrown out all of the old-school conference “rules” such as:  you’ve got to do it in a big city, you have to have well-known speakers, and that bigger is better. 

Instead, LexThink Innovate will be an intimate event, more akin to a retreat than a conference, where everyone will have an opportunity to make meaningful connections with one another, and be able to carry their collaboration and idea-sharing beyond our two days in St. Louis.  Also, by keeping attendance to around 30-40 people, everyone will have multiple opportunities to share (and solve) their challenges with the entire group.

In short, after having designed and facilitated experiences for groups as large as 400, I’m convinced that, for an innovation-focused event a smaller conference makes for a better conference.

LexThink FAQ: What’s on the Agenda?

Q:  What's on the agenda at LexThink Innovate?

A:  Much of LexThink Innovate is built around an “open space model” that encourages attendees to have the conversations and share the ideas they find most compelling.

However, unlike many “unconferences,” attendees will participate in several innovation-focused exercises and activities designed to help them build their “perfect” law practice.  Attendees will be challenged to think differently about topics such as creatively marketing their practices to prospective customers, developing innovative billing models, delivering amazing client service, and thriving in this new economy — and always urged to answer the questions:  “What now?”  “What next?” and “What if?”

Finally, to keep the promise that LexThink Innovate will be “unlike any other legal conference,” there will be a handful of surprise speakers, lessons from other industries, cool activities and even a field trip to keep attendees’ creative juices flowing.

LexThink FAQ: Is LexThink Innovate Just for Lawyers?

Q:  Is LexThink Innovate just for lawyers?

A:  No.  LexThink Innovate is for everyone who’s interested in making the legal profession better.  At past LexThink events, we’ve had lawyers, consultants, vendors, technologists, students, professors and even clients.  All have contributed to the innovation conversation and taken away something valuable to help their business thrive.

Do Your Best Customers Know They Are?

This week I received a letter from Hotwire (which is, along with Tripit, my favorite travel site) that began:

“Welcome to Hotwire Express, a new service designed for our best customers.  Given the volume of business you do with Hotwire, you’ve earned this enhanced level of service and support, which includes…

The letter continued to list a series of benefits I’ll now receive as an Express member including faster response times, dedicated travel specialists, and increased flexibility to change already-paid-for bookings.

I wasn’t expecting the letter, and didn’t know I was one of Hotwire’s “best” customers, though I’ve spent thousands of dollars with them.  I hadn’t even thought I needed the additional services Hotwire’s now giving me for free.  In short, it was the kind of pleasant surprise that made me feel good about my past use of their service and more likely to use them again. 

I also realized that this strategy lends itself well to other businesses.  What could you do to surprise (and better serve) your best customers? Take some lessons from Hotwire and:

1.  Identify your best customers.

2.  Tell them they are, in fact, your best customers and sincerely thank them.  They’ll be surprised and happy to know you’re grateful for their business. 

3.  Finally, give them additional services and benefits that they’ll appreciate without them having to ask for them.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Ten Rules of Rainmaking

I often quibble with the term “rainmaker” because I think it too often describes lawyers more interested in getting new clients than in keeping current ones.  However, because “10 Rules for Business Development,” and “10 Rules for Keeping Clients So You Don’t Have to Replace Them” don’t have the same nice ring as “ 10 Rules of Rainmaking,” I’ll use the term here.  Let me know what you think:

1. You’ll never be passionate about rainmaking until you start searching for clients you’ll be passionate about serving.  Remember, a great client is one for whom you’d work for free, but one who’d never ask you to.

2.  The best way to get new clients is to impress old ones.  Measure the happiness of your existing clients with the same diligence you measure your time, so you can work less on developing new business and more on deserving it.

3.  While there are hundreds of “strategies” to get new clients, there’s only one strategy to keep them:  serve them well.

4.  When meeting a potential client, don’t sell your competence, sell your compassion.  They must know you care about them before they’ll care about you.

5.  The single best way to get new clients is to ask your best ones, "How do I get more clients like you?"

6.  A client will never be as surprised by great legal work as they will by by good service.  

7.  Your new client’s definition of a “great” lawyer is probably far different from yours.  You must understand their expectations before you’ll ever be able to meet them.

8.  Recognize that while it is usually easier to ask for new business from prospective clients than it is to ask for more business from current ones, it is rarely more profitable.

9.  If your answer to “What kind of clients are you looking for?” is “Ones who pay,” you’ll get paying clients.  Terrible paying clients.

10.  The best thing you can promise a prospective client is more sleep.  Ask what problems keep them up at night, and build your practice to solve them.

I'd love your input, and feel free to add any of your "Rules" in the comments.  If you enjoyed these, check out my other posts in the series:  Ten Tweets about TwitterTen Resolutions for the New YearTen Rules for Law Students, Ten Rules for the New Economy, Ten Rules for New Solos, Ten Rules of Legal InnovationTen Rules of Legal Technology, Ten Rules of Hourly Billing and Ten New Rules of Legal Marketing

Also, if you'd like to get more ideas like these in real time, follow me on Twitter.

Re-Thinking Business Cards

Several years ago, I started using 3″ x 5″business cards in place of traditional-sized cards.  Since then, I’ve never gone back, and constantly get comments about how my cards (printed, by the way, on my own printer) are “unique,” “creative,” and even “cool.” 

In fact, I’d bet that the average person to whom I hand my card interacts with it at least 5 times longer than they do with a traditional one — pretty much the reason you hand out cards to begin with, don’t you think?

At LegalTech, I promised someone I’d share my current cards here on my blog, so here you go:

If you position yourself as a different kind of lawyer to your clients, make sure you have a different kind of card.  And lose the scales of justice — they’re so 1909.

Use Conferences to Build Your Practice in a Down Economy

If you have a niche practice, you should already be asking your clients what conferences and trade shows are “must attends” in their industry.  If you’re not already a regular attendee (or speaker) at these events, you should be — now more than ever.  Here’s three reasons why:

1.  You Can Increase Client Satisfaction:  One of the first things your clients will cut back on in a down economy is attending these events.  Go in their stead, and promise to report back to them on what you learned.  You can do so in a letter, newsletter, blog or even on Twitter (more on that in a second).  They’ll appreciate you being their eyes and ears at the event and will always remember how you cared enough about their business and industry to attend when they couldn’t.  As a bonus, they’ll likely introduce you before the event to their friends/colleagues/peers who’ll be there.

2.  You Can Meet Quality Potential Clients:  The attendees who will be there are potential clients (but ones who CAN afford to attend) who will be impressed by your commitment to your existing clients and your desire to increase your expertise in their industry.  You’ll also be one of the few lawyers in the room.

3.  You Can Become an Industry Expert:  Your clients aren’t the only ones interested in what’s happening at the event.  Instead of saving your updates for your clients, broadcast them (along with your expert analysis) to the world via your blog and Twitter — especially Twitter.  By doing so, you’ll not only reach other attendees at the event, but capture the attention of others in the industry watching the conference from home.  Depending on the technological sophistication of the attendees, you may be the ONLY source of real-time conference news to non-attendees.

In short, forget legal conferences (except for LexThink, of course) and go to client conferences instead.  You’ll get much more bang for your buck, impress existing clients, meet new ones and establish yourself as an industry expert.

Keep your sandwich to yourself.

Do the tough economic times have you bringing your lunch to work more often than before?  If you’re one of those folks who’s had that lunch “accidentally” taken by someone else, here’s an inspiring design solution to your problem:  Anti-Theft Lunchbags:

Brilliant, don’t you think? 

And if you’re a legal vendor — because you knew there had to be some sort of legal angle to this, didn’t you — and you want to engage your customers in a conversation about privacy, data protection, or (yes) even spoilation, I can’t imagine a better trade show giveaway.

Ten Tweets about Twitter

As I've prepared for my LegalTech session on Twitter, I've been thinking about what to say.  Since I've been having so much fun with all of my "Ten Rules" posts, I thought I'd do Ten Tweets about Twitter.  As a bonus, all but the last one are exactly 140 characters!  Here you go:

1.  It's easy to learn how to use Twitter, but it's hard to learn why.  Once you get the “why,” you'll move from skeptic to disciple overnight.

2.  Twitter isn't like Facebook: Twitter starts conversations with people you’d like to know. Facebook starts them with people you used to know.

3.  The greatest value of Twitter doesn’t come from knowing what the people you follow are doing.  It comes from knowing what they are thinking. 

4.  Ever think, “If only I could get 5 minutes with Mr. _______, my biz would explode” moments?  They’re on Twitter, you’ve got 140 characters.  Go!

5.  If you want to extend your Twitter relationships into the real world, be a real person on Twitter — and don’t call yourself “@imgreat12375”

6.  If you fear Twitter will interfere with your ability to get your work done, you’re not afraid of Twitter, you’re afraid of doing your work.

7.  Twitter helps start conversations like kindling helps start fires. However, without further attention and real fuel both will soon burn out.

8.  Twitter's like a networking meeting on steroids — though the conversation’s better and there're a lot fewer insurance salesmen in the room  

9.  There are Twitter friends and real life friends.  The successful Twitter user values both, but knows how to turn the former into the latter.

10.  The number of followers you have is far less important than the number of followers you deserve.  Always work to deserve more. 

BONUS:  Twitter How To: Follow, Care, Follow, Share, Connect, ReTweet, Repeat

If you'd like to catch up while at LegalTech, shoot me an email at Matt@LexThink.com. You can also follow me on Twitter here:twitter.com/matthomann