Lessons from #LawJobChat: @betsymunnell on Online Tools for Career Management

Note: Just because this post is a little delayed, doesn’t mean it’s not worth reading :-)

On November 18, 2010, we hosted our fifth #LawJobChat, a chat on Twitter that usually takes place the last Thursday of each month from 9 – 10 pm Eastern.  (November and December we switched up the schedule due to the holidays!)

During #LawJobChat #5, we spoke with Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Munnell (@BetsyMunnell),  a former BigLaw partner and rainmaker who started Elizabeth Munnell & Associates, where she focuses on “business development training for law students and young lawyers.”

Betsy provided tips on how to curate the web, monitor practice areas or firms of interest, and build connections with the business intelligence you gather.  Betsy can be reached on Twitter or LinkedIn.

It was thanks to this #LawJobChat that we also started the LawJobChat LinkedIn group, which you should join!

5 Takeaway Tweets

  • @BetsyMunnell: Use Twitter links/JDSupra/RSS to deepen expertise on legal and business, targeted industries, to research prospects & more
  • @BetsyMunnell: A smart, strategic web curator’s strategy must help you build relationships…to develop your reputation/network.
  • @BetsyMunnell: If you have some material relationships developing then you want to be watching subjects of interest to them.
  • @BetsyMunnell:  Moral: Watch for breaking news, for data that will help someone else shine. Send it immediately.
  • @BetsyMunnell: …the web offers excellent ways to learn directly from practicing lawyers

I’d also recommend Amanda’s post that highlights the important points that Betsy covered.

Mark Your Calendars: #LawJobChat – January 27, 9-10 pm Eastern

Before I paste the full transcript, I’ll remind everyone that the next #LawJobChat will be at its normal date and time – the last Thursday of the month – from 9-10 pm EST.   We’re finalizing the topic and guest host for next time but we’re also open to your suggestions and requests.  You can leave a comment and/or send me an e-mail at melissa at recruiteresq dot com.

Full Transcript

2:00 am aellislegal: Welcome to the 5th #LawJobChat! Tonight we are discussing online tools to manage your career. #lawjobchat
2:01 am j2_whittington: Time for #lawjobchat
2:01 am j2_whittington: RT @aellislegal: Welcome to the 5th #LawJobChat! Tonight we are discussing online tools to manage your career. #lawjobchat
2:01 am aellislegal: You may already use online resources in your practice – we hope tonight’s info will share new resources #lawjobchat
2:02 am LNLawSchool: RT @aellislegal: Welcome to the 5th #LawJobChat! Tonight we are discussing online tools to manage your career. #lawjobchat
2:02 am aellislegal: Our guest tonight is @betsymunnell, former BigLaw partner/rainmaker who now coaches attorneys. She knows A LOT abt online tools #lawjobchat
2:03 am aellislegal: I’ll let @betsymunnell share a little more about her background! #lawjobchat
2:03 am BetsyMunnell: Thanks so much Amanda for inviting me to take part in #LawJobChat. #lawjobchat
2:03 am BetsyMunnell: When I started a 2nd career (July ’10) I never imagined becoming a breathless fan of social media & online learning for lawyers! #lawjobchat
2:04 am BetsyMunnell: I certainly didn’t expect my new business to gain traction so quickly, in part due to my enthusiasm for Twitter & LinkedIN. #lawjobchat
2:04 am aellislegal: Oh, after @betsymunnell‘s intro, I’ll start w/some questions, labeling them Q1, Q2, etc. Feel free to jump in when u have ??s #lawjobchat
2:04 am BetsyMunnell: As a lawyer I totally underestimated the power of online platforms, but I caught up fast via strategic Twitter/LinkedIN follows #lawjobchat
2:05 am BetsyMunnell: Any JD or law student can enrich & advance his/her career by disciplined use of the web. We’ll make suggestions like these…. #lawjobchat
2:05 am BetsyMunnell: 1. Use curated searches to identify an interesting, growth practice area (or vet a possible new law firm). #lawjobchat
2:05 am BetsyMunnell: 2 Use Twitter links/JDSupra/RSS to deepen expertise on legal and business, targeted industries, to research prospects & more #lawjobchat
2:06 am LNLawSchool: RT @betsymunnell: 1. Use curated searches to identify an interesting, growth practice area (or vet a possible new law firm). #lawjobchat
2:06 am mjsq: RT @BetsyMunnell As lawyer I underestimated pwr of online platforms, but I caught up fast via strategic Twitter/LinkedIN follows #lawjobchat
2:06 am BetsyMunnell: 3. Build & monitor your personal brand & a rich professional network. And: 4. Learn how to deploy both to generate business. #lawjobchat
2:07 am LNLawSchool: RT @betsymunnell: 2 Use Twitter links/JDSupra/RSS to deepen expertise, to research prospects & more #lawjobchat
2:07 am BetsyMunnell: OK Amanda–I’m exhausted from that lengthy monologue–time for a question. #lawjobchat
2:07 am LNLawSchool: RT @betsymunnell: 3. Build & monitor your personal brand & a rich professional network. #lawjobchat
2:08 am LNLawSchool: And: 4. Learn how to deploy both to generate business. #lawjobchat
2:08 am aellislegal: Q1: Great! Let’s start with a basic: which websites do you check daily? Which 3 sites should JDs/students check daily? #lawjobchat
2:09 am BetsyMunnell: The web is huge–so we all need favorite a web filter: a search engine? an RSS feed like Google Reader? a Blawg ?Carnival? ? #lawjobchat
2:10 am BetsyMunnell: I recommend Twitter for news, LinkedIn and JDSupra for network status, industry info, and some combo of blogs #lawjobchat
2:11 am j2_whittington: RT @BetsyMunnell: I recommend Twitter for news, LinkedIn and JDSupra for network status, industry info, and some combo of blogs #lawjobchat
2:11 am BetsyMunnell: I am not a fan of Facebook for lawyers. And I see the web as primarily a news and data filter for practitioners. #lawjobchat
2:11 am mjsq: @BetsyMunnell Facebook? #lawjobchat
2:12 am mjsq: @BetsyMunnell: read my mind! #lawjobchat
2:12 am BetsyMunnell: The ethical and other difficulties of engaging fully on Twitter are challenging. Blogging can be tricky too. But.. #lawjobchat
2:13 am BetsyMunnell: Ultimately, with enough experience, many lawyers can benefit enormously from a blog presence–perhaps thru @lexblog #lawjobchat
2:13 am aellislegal: Q2: Let’s use a specific example – how would a health lawyer use web filters to gain updated info for that area/industry? #lawjobchat
2:14 am BetsyMunnell: Lawyers and students who want to consider blogging should follow @kevinokeefe–he has it all figured out. #lawjobchat
2:16 am BetsyMunnell: In my book Twitter is the zenith of Web filters…I use lists to follow the best subject curators. #lawjobchat
2:17 am aellislegal: Q1 re blogging – I think @mjsq has some blogging info/basics on her site, too #lawjobchat
2:17 am BetsyMunnell: The experts you follow must be reliable-so you need ?referrals? from seasoned lawyers, others. Ask them. Or… #lawjobchat
2:17 am mjsq: @BetsyMunnell do you use Twitter’s built-in list function or a tool like @formulists? #lawjobchat
2:17 am BetsyMunnell: …raid their lists. :) In health care I like @HealthBlawg & the blog carnivals he favors. #lawjobchat
2:19 am BetsyMunnell: @mjsq I use @hootsuite and have set up a number of lists, including Best Content, News, Business News, Science, etc #lawjobchat
2:19 am BetsyMunnell: The best curators/lawyers cover industries ?holistically?–law, business, IT, policy, different types of clients #lawjobchat
2:20 am aellislegal: Q2 cont – So, find health care lawyers like @healthlawblawg and see who they follow #lawjobchat
2:20 am BriHoffman: not going to be able to participate in #lawjobchat tonight, but i look forward to the transcript! have fun, and hope ur all doing well!
2:21 am BetsyMunnell: @j2_whittington is a perfect example of blogging’s benefits & he’s gone viral–! #lawjobchat
2:21 am mjsq: Agree. RT BetsyMunnell ..best curators/lawyers cover industries ?holistically?-law, business, IT, policy, diff types of clients #lawjobchat
2:22 am aellislegal: Q2 cont – what about using Google alerts to learn about “health law”? Or Google alerts for health lawyers (if job searching)? #lawjobchat
2:23 am BetsyMunnell: One of the beauties of Twitter etc is the range of possible info-sharp lawyers understand the industries they serve #lawjobchat
2:24 am BetsyMunnell: I used Google Alerts for a while but was disappointed–the info from the sweeps comes in too slowly. So.. #lawjobchat
2:25 am BetsyMunnell: I now use Twitter searches and set them up in Hootsuite columns. If job searching you’re still after similar info #lawjobchat
2:26 am BetsyMunnell: You need to make your interviewer see the depth of your interest in/knowledge of the field and his/her company #lawjobchat
2:27 am aellislegal: Q2 cont For those that may not b familiar w/Twitter searches, do u mean a “saved search” for “health law”? Any special steps? #lawjobchat
2:27 am BetsyMunnell: so you need to be way out in front of current developments at that company –such as regulatory changes, litigation #lawjobchat
2:28 am BetsyMunnell: I’d have to check this again–I can’t recall how I set up the three I have Amanda–but it was easy–maybe a new tab? #lawjobchat
2:29 am BetsyMunnell: Other ways to track legal fields, industries, companies, prospects: RSS feeders-but you need patience/discipline #lawjobchat
2:30 am aellislegal: Q3 Time mgmt is huge issue for lawyers – how often do u have to check the search results? #lawjobchat
2:30 am j2_whittington: @HammieHamHam check out #lawjobchat – pretty good info from some really good ppl about getting your name out there – never 2 early 2 start
2:31 am LNLawSchool: @betsymunnell In Hootsuite, it’s as easy as setting up a new “stream” with a search term. Very important, imo. #lawjobchat
2:32 am BetsyMunnell: Q3 Good question. The net itself can be an enormous distraction/timewaster. Especially if you enjoy the people. #lawjobchat
2:32 am squirrelpants: @BetsyMunnell What is the benefit to hootsuite over tweetdeck or Twitter? #lawjobchat
2:33 am BetsyMunnell: The search results in Hootsuite show up alongside al the other lists/streams and are easy to check. #lawjobchat
2:33 am BetsyMunnell: How often to check–well that depends on where you are in your networking/biz development strategy: #lawjobchat
2:34 am aellislegal: Q4: Do you find LinkedIn groups helpful for gaining info about practice areas/industries? If so, any examples? #lawjobchat
2:34 am BetsyMunnell: If you have some material relationships developing then you want to be watching subjects of interest to them. #lawjobchat
2:34 am BetsyMunnell: When you see something break, you want to be the first to send along the linkl–making yourself valuable/memorable. #lawjobchat
2:35 am BetsyMunnell: @squirrelpants First, that’s one hell of a great handle. Second–I don’t know anything about tweetdeck, but #lawjobchat
2:36 am BetsyMunnell: twitter alone just doesn’t give me much flexibility–and is way too disorderly for my brain. #lawjobchat
2:37 am BetsyMunnell: Q4 I think LinkedIN is a tremendous resource for information when used strategically. Alumni groups can be great. #lawjobchat
2:37 am j2_whittington: @BetsyMunnell but don’t you need to be careful and read what you’re RTing first tho? jrnalists have taken big hits b/c of this #lawjobchat
2:37 am BetsyMunnell: You have to check things out, watch to see who is active, wheter the content is intelligent and helpful, etc #lawjobchat
2:39 am BetsyMunnell: My favorite thing about LInkedIn is its partnership with JDSupra–the premium account even send you posts based on #lawjobchat
2:40 am aellislegal: Re watching subjects of interest, job seekers: use searches 2 find articles in desired pract area, send to atty w/whom u intvwd #lawjobchat
2:40 am BetsyMunnell: ..sorry–more on @JD Supra- I have found some wonderful substance thru this vehicle. #lawjobchat
2:40 am mjsq: I wondered about the premium account… what are the benefits? Would you recommend for all lawyers to upgrade their @LinkedIn? #lawjobchat
2:41 am BetsyMunnell: Jack- yes lots of people RT links based solely on the tweeter’s intro or the title of the post itself. Lazy. Risky. #lawjobchat
2:41 am aellislegal: Q4 cont – Using the health lawyer ex .. health lawyer could subscribe 2 health law feeds on JD Supra to gain info re health law? #lawjobchat
2:41 am BaranCLE: Good Q. Many don’t RT @j2_whittington @BetsyMunnell but don’t you need to be careful and read what you’re RTi #lawjobchat
2:42 am mjsq: @BetsyMunnell Also, I wondered if premium @LinkedIn accts should be benefit firms offer so that their emplys can learn. Opinion? #lawjobchat
2:43 am BetsyMunnell: @mjsq I don’t recommend an upgrade ($) unless you’re following a specific, hot topic well vetted on @JDSupra. #lawjobchat
2:45 am BetsyMunnell: @mjsq Firms should help lawyers access online info, but I don’t think JDSupra has yet proven value of premium. #lawjobchat
2:46 am aellislegal: Q4 cont Still using health lawyer ex … any specific groups for health lawyers to join on LinkedIn? Search groups for keywords? #lawjobchat
2:46 am BetsyMunnell: @aellislegal – there are a number of large firms that post routinely on JDSupra-some fields are better than others #lawjobchat
2:47 am BetsyMunnell: As an example, my old firm’s Insurance/Reinsurance practice regularly tweets/posts on LInkedIN/JDSupra #lawjobchat
2:48 am BetsyMunnell: I understand that the insurance posts are carefully followed in the industry #lawjobchat
2:49 am BaranCLE: RT @aellislegal Welcome to the 5th #LawJobChat! Tonight we are discussing online tools to manage your career. #lawjobchat
2:50 am aellislegal: Q5: You’ve shared tips re Twitter searches, JDSupra, RSS feeds. Any examples of lawyers using these to learn abt pract areas? #lawjobchat
2:51 am cyclaw: Interesting discussion going on at #lawjobchat. Great info for a work-in-progress solo like me..
2:51 am BetsyMunnell: Q4 Keywords for health care? Healthcare reform. FraudAbuse. Conflict of Interest..That sort of thing. #lawjobchat
2:52 am BetsyMunnell: Q5 Yes–to preface my answer..The end goal for all of this-of course-is a self-sustaining law practice. #lawjobchat
2:54 am BetsyMunnell: A smart, strategic web curator’s strategy must help you build relationships…to develop your reputation/network. #lawjobchat
2:54 am BetsyMunnell: One of my clients-a small firm 4th year- wants to develop a peer referral source in a big firm. #lawjobchat
2:55 am j2_whittington: For those of u solos out there lking for help I would recommend @SCartierLiebel -Solo Practice University- Great tool for solos #lawjobchat
2:55 am mjsq: @BetsyMunnell how does one organize/use info once they find/gather it online? How do they turn it into competitive intelligence? #lawjobchat
2:56 am BetsyMunnell: The Biglaw hotshot he’s targeted is in cleantech, biofuels–stuff like that. She’s expected to blog weekly. #lawjobchat
2:56 am mjsq: *how does one turn it into competitive intelligence. #lawjobchat
2:56 am aellislegal: @betsymunnell Thoughts re evernote? RT @bcuban can evernote benefit attorneys? #lawjobchat
2:56 am BetsyMunnell: And of course she is anxious about proving herself in a firm where only 15% of the equity partners are women. #lawjobchat
2:57 am aellislegal: Good Q RT @mjsq: @BetsyMunnell how does one organize/use info once they find/gather it online? #lawjobchat
2:57 am maggieesq: RT @BetsyMunnell: Jack- yes lots of people RT links based solely on the tweeter’s intro or the title of the post itself. Lazy. Risky. #lawjobchat
2:58 am BetsyMunnell: My guy set a twitter search & read the NYT Green Blog daily. One fine day he spotted a breaking post, sent it 2 her #lawjobchat
2:59 am BetsyMunnell: His BigLaw contact, thrilled, sent it to the partner she works for, who was grateful & impressed. #lawjobchat
2:59 am BetsyMunnell: Same goes for the associate…who matured into a solid referral source overnight.. #lawjobchat
2:59 am aellislegal: @j2_whittington Great point re @SCartierLiebel‘s SPU as online tool for solos … can take classes for diff practice areas #lawjobchat
3:00 am BetsyMunnell: Moral: Watch for breaking news, for data that will help someone else shine. Send it immediately. #lawjobchat
3:00 am BetsyMunnell: That’s how you build a practice. #lawjobchat
3:01 am BetsyMunnell: @SCartierLiebel‘s SPU is a wonderful resource–as are a number of other platforms/blogs etc @myshingle for example #lawjobchat
3:01 am aellislegal: Final Q – we’ve talked about lawyers using these tools -what about firms? How are they using online tools to reach/help clients? #lawjobchat
3:02 am BetsyMunnell: Last Q Several savvy large firms are offering free online documents and support (“document generators”) online. #lawjobchat
3:03 am aellislegal: Good Q RT @mjsq: @BetsyMunnell how does one organize/use info once they find/gather it online? #lawjobchat
3:03 am BetsyMunnell: These target startups and venture capitalists and are brilliant marketing tools. #lawjobchat
3:04 am BetsyMunnell: Wilson Sonsini put out a term sheet generator for entrepreneurs in ’09. #lawjobchat
3:05 am BetsyMunnell: But law firms have always offered fre/discounted assistance at that level–I know I did. It’s good business. #lawjobchat
3:06 am BetsyMunnell: The real cutting edge stuff is coming from Goodwin Procter via @GoodwinBigIdeas & the new “Founder’s Workbench”. #lawjobchat
3:06 am aellislegal: @betsymunnell you’ve provided some great insight re using searches, RSS, JDSupra, LI Groups to learn abt pract areas .. #lawjobchat
3:06 am aellislegal: @betsymunnell you’ve provided some great insight re using searches, RSS, JDSupra, LI Groups to learn abt pract areas .. #lawjobchat
3:07 am BetsyMunnell: Very useful documents and tremendous support on many levels–tax, regulatory etc. Great marketing. #lawjobchat
3:07 am aellislegal: @betsymunnell and great insight re firms’ use of online tools. THANK YOU for joining us to share your knowledge! #lawjobchat
3:07 am BetsyMunnell: The thing I love about Goodwin’s site is that it benefits the profession at large, and law students too. #lawjobchat
3:08 am BetsyMunnell: It?s way better than PLI/CLE, and free. #lawjobchat
3:08 am BetsyMunnell: This way BigLaw can help train lawyers in practical skills as well as specialized substance–law schools doesn’t! #lawjobchat
3:09 am mjsq: RT @BetsyMunnell …real cutting edge stuff is coming from Goodwin Procter via @GoodwinBigIdeas & the new “Founder’s Workbench” #lawjobchat
3:09 am BetsyMunnell: Thanks Amanda – my pleasure. I appreciate being included and welcome questions offline from anyone I missed! #lawjobchat
3:10 am j2_whittington: Do you guys have a #lawjobchat group on LinkedIn?
3:10 am BetsyMunnell: Well Jack we will soon! #lawjobchat
3:11 am LNLawSchool: Many thanks @BetsyMunnell @aellislegal and others for a great #lawjobchat! #Lawschool students, search on the hashtag to read the script.
3:11 am aellislegal: As always, I’ll post a summary and chat transcript tomorrow #lawjobchat
3:11 am mjsq: @BetsyMunnell Thank you so much for joining us! I know we could’ve talked for hours about this stuff… #lawjobchat
3:12 am LNLawSchool: Great idea, Jack! RT @j2_whittington: Do you guys have a #lawjobchat group on LinkedIn?
3:13 am mjsq: We will! RT @LNLawSchool Great idea, Jack! RT @j2_whittington: Do you guys have a #lawjobchatgroup on LinkedIn? #lawjobchat
3:13 am BetsyMunnell: @mjsq Thanks Melissa- I really enjoyed this–my first experience with a real time online discussion. #lawjobchat
3:14 am LNLawSchool: RT @betsymunnell: Well Jack we will soon! #lawjobchat (re:#lawjobchat Linkedin group)
3:18 am BetsyMunnell: I need to add one thing I wanted to cover– the web offers excellent ways to learn directly from practicing lawyers #lawjobchat
3:20 am BetsyMunnell: @lancegodard?s @22twts & @cordellparvin?s podcasts give you useful access to lawyers in your field #lawjobchat
3:21 am BetsyMunnell: Tip: Be sure to follow marquis blogs (WSJ, NYT etc). Blogs rarely ?break? news, but offer good, quotable analysis. #lawjobchat
3:22 am BetsyMunnell: Finally–be watching for growth practice areas–health care and “green” especially. But also China and #KM. #lawjobchat
3:24 am BetsyMunnell: For China, I like @DanHarris, among others. Knowledge management is fascinating–a trending field. #lawjobchat
3:25 am BetsyMunnell: #KM is at the intersection of law, project management, IT…and its key to the future of the profession. #lawjobchat
3:25 am BetsyMunnell: I’m learning about #KM via @greglambert @LawyerKM & a bunch of very scary smart law librarian tweeps. #lawjobchat
3:26 am BetsyMunnell: Thanks to all those who participated. Made my day. #lawjobchat
3:34 am mjsq: Agree. Req reading: Bill Gates. RT @BetsyMunnell #KM = intersection of law, proj mgement, IT..& it’s key to future of profession #lawjobchat
3:34 am j2_whittington: Alright #lawjobchat was very informative – but now its back to this appellate brief – til’ the night closes in bow-bow-bow #lawschool
3:50 am lancegodard: @BetsyMunnell Thanks, Betsy, for including @22Twts in your excellent #lawjobchat! Lots of useful info.
4:22 am aellislegal: @v9n You can thank @betsymunnell (follow her if you aren’t already)! She mentioned @HealthBlawg on #LawJobChat tonight
4:22 am steveMwade: So true.. RT@BetsyMunnell: the web offers excellent ways to learn directly from practicing lawyers #lawjobchat
9:14 am mijori23: RT @j2_whittington: #lawschool students keep in mind #lawjobchat is tonight beginning at 9 EST – see you there – LOTS of invaluable advice from GREAT ppl
9:17 am mijori23: RT @LNLawSchool: RT @betsymunnell: 3. Build & monitor your personal brand & a rich professional network. #lawjobchat
11:24 am keyvanrastegar: RT @BetsyMunnell: Tip: Be sure to follow marquis blogs (WSJ, NYT etc). Blogs rarely ?break? news, but offer good, quotable analysis. #lawjobchat
12:55 pm healthblawg: Thx 4 mention > @aellislegal @betsymunnell #lawjobchat
9:33 pm BetsyMunnell: Thanks for the RT! @stevemwade: So true. RT@BetsyMunnell-The web offers excellent ways to learn directly from practicing lawyers #lawjobchat
9:35 pm BetsyMunnell: Thanks for the RT! RT @mjsq: Agree. Req reading: Bill Gates. RT @BetsyMunnell #KM is key to future of profession #lawjobchat
9:35 pm BetsyMunnell: @lnlawschool Thanks for participating in #lawjobchat!!!
9:36 pm BetsyMunnell: @lawyercoach Thanks for mentioning our #lawjobchat!
9:36 pm associatesmind: @BetsyMunnell I didn’t get to participate in #lawjobchat but I read over it this morning. Good stuff. Going to try and make the next one.
9:37 pm BetsyMunnell: Thanks for the mention! RT @barancle: Good Q. Many don’t RT @j2_whittington @BetsyMunnell …be careful and read what you’re RTi #lawjobchat
9:39 pm BetsyMunnell: Thanks! It was fun! RT @associatesmind:… didn’t get to participate in #lawjobchat…… Good stuff. Going to try and make the next one.
9:41 pm BetsyMunnell: My pleasure!!! I love your site. RT @carolynelefant: @BetsyMunnell thank you for mention of myshingle as solo resource at #lawjobchat

BigLaw Tech Score: First Reactions and Goals for Improvement for 2010

When I compiled the list of top global law firms, I had to guestimate which firms would make the list. With a number of firm closings this past year, I knew a few of the AMLAW 200 firms would need to rise to the occasion.

Some of my guestimates turned out to be incorrect. So is life.

For the first 25 firms (alphabetical), two firms that I bet on lost: Bracewell & Giuliani (Texas oil!) and Cahill Gordon. I should have bet on Boies Schiller (litigation) and Blank Rome (full service, Philadelphia! firm), as they both made the AMLAW 100 list.

Therefore, the list of the first 25 BigLaw Tech Scores (in alphabetical order) includes Bracewell and Cahill and skips over Boies Schiller and Blank Rome.¹

I’ll include Boies Schiller and Blank Rome next time in my effort to be complete. Therefore, the next list will be comprised of 27 firms.

Observations:

It is obvious that law firms are reticent when it comes to embracing new technology. Thus far, however, the BigLaw Tech Scores serve as a vote of confidence for the law firms – who no doubt assessed the risks and benefits – and, ultimately, decided to take the leap to develop their presence on the web.

The firms with the highest BigLaw Tech Scores – Alston & Bird (19 points), Crowell & Moring (18 points), Cooley Godward (15 points), and Bryan Cave (15 points) – all jumped up in rank in 2009 and realized an increase in revenue.

The firms with the lowest BigLaw Tech Scores – Baker Hostetler (6 points), Bingham McCutchen (6 points), Cadwalader (6 points), and Cravath (6 points) – all jumped down in rank in 2009 but the firms split as to how their revenues changed. The two B firms realized an increase in revenue whereas the two C firms saw a decrease in revenue.

Coincidence?

Perhaps.

Obviously, there are a lot of factors that can change the AMLAW rankings, even assuming some of the players from last year were still around.

For example, each firm’s practice areas and specialties may explain the differences in rank, change in rank, or change in revenue. Maybe each of the firms that rose in rank on the AMLAW chart – those that simultaneously scored the highest on the BigLaw Tech Scores – focused on bankruptcy or securities litigation or practice areas that remained busy throughout the financial crisis. On the other hand, perhaps, each of the firms that decreased in rank on the AMLAW list – those that simultaneously scored the lowest on the BigLaw Tech Scores – specialized in capital markets or mergers and acquisitions or real estate. In other words, the practice areas that got hit the hardest.

Therefore, I decided that it would be prudent if I also considered the specialty areas at each of the top ranking BigLaw Tech Scores as well as at each of the bottom ranking BigLaw Tech Scores.


Here are the profiles from each of the firms U.S.A. Chambers & Partners rankings:

Alston (BigLaw Tech Score = 19)

Baker & Hostetler (BigLaw Tech Score = 6)

Bingham McCutchen (BigLaw Tech Score = 6)

Bryan Cave (BigLaw Tech Score = 15)

Cadwalader (BigLaw Tech Score = 6)

Cooley Godward (BigLaw Tech Score = 15)

Cravath (BigLaw Tech Score = 6)

Crowell (BigLaw Tech Score = 18)

Interestingly, out of the lowest ranking tech scores, Cravath seems to be the only one heavily weighted towards the financial services industry.

While there are discrepancies, there are also a lot of similarities. The high BigLaw Tech Scores do not stand out as “experts” in highly lucrative fields compared to the low BigLaw Tech Scores. The firms seem pretty even.

(Of course, with the caveat, that the types of clients these firms represent may vary.)

To reiterate, the BigLaw Tech Scores compared to the AMLAW rankings may be coincidental, especially because this was a very small sample. Once I go through all 100 firms, the evidence to support this claim may or may not be stronger. Again, I realize, there are a lot of factors that may change a firm’s profit and/or their rank on the AMLAW list.

Nevertheless, law firms need to revitalize their business structure and embracing technology – though scary (!) (for everyone!!) – is a cost-efficient method to improving client services and internal morale.

So, without further ado…

My wish list for BigLaw Tech Scores 2010:

  • Attorney cell phone numbers listed on firm profiles

Think this is outlandish? Many attorneys include their cell phone numbers on their “in case of emergency” out-of-office replies. That is, of course, if their firm even allows out-of-office replies.

Many sales trainers advise sales people to give out their cell phone numbers (and recruiting trainers). Meanwhile, clients tend to respect personal lives as much as they appreciate convenience.

Free. Video. Conferencing. Look tech-savvy and service oriented at the same time. (For firms who do this already, consider entering this competition – deadline June 15, 2009).

Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’d be surprised if law firm web designers have ever heard of those concepts.

  • Shortcuts to LinkedIn profiles (law firms or individual attorneys)

Wouldn’t it be that much easier for colleagues, clients, or potential clients to connect with a firm or an attorney if the LinkedIn profile was listed on the firm’s website?

  • Firm and/or individual Twitter accounts
  • Blogs

Rule of thumb: if the first 5 hits on Google highlight recent layoffs, attorney suicides, or pending lawsuits – it’s time to get involved in the conversation.

  • A consistent look-and-feel across blogs including their URLs²

This is about branding and presentation. A global law firm should look like a cohesive, organized entity. This takes planning, a little bit of foresight, and a helpful IT department to clear up any confusion.

(See also : user experience design and human factors.)

  • Podcasts

I’ve never been in the A/V club. I was a cheerleader and I rowed.

Earlier this year, I went out and bought this microphone to make my YouTube video for my first webinar.

PC users can create podcasts with Audacity (open source) and Mac users can use GarageBand . After the file is created, a firm can host it on its servers. Once there is a permanent URL or RSS feed, the podcast can be submitted to iTunes.

Law firms have plenty of content too. They simply need to find the person with the best radio voice to read all of those client alerts or firm newsletters.

Domain? Check. Host/server? Check. Design and layout? Check. Check.

(See : firm’s home page; see also : uniform web pages).

Cost? Free.

(What can I say? After using Blogger, WordPress, and Joomla, I’m a WordPress junkie.)

And, a report placed on every attorney’s desk so he or she knows who visits the website, how they found the website (i.e. what search words did they use), whether they are a new visitor or a loyal visitor, how many minutes they spent on the site….

(Note: Attorneys should be able to decipher the analytics report to assess their current marketing strategy.)

Google and other analytics solutions encourage users to optimize solutions with supplementary data.

  • Feedburner for RSS feeds

Once a user decides to subscribe to a site’s feed, they continue to receive the content but they no longer need to visit a website. Without clicking on the site, their visits and behaviors will not be picked up by services like Google analytics.

Nevertheless, these subscribers – arguably the site’s most loyal readers – are important in terms of analyzing trends and marketing goals. This is why services like Feedburner are beneficial.

  • Personalized domains for WordPress.com, blogger, or typepad

Again, this is a branding issue that some may find nit-picky or silly. Using a blogging platform is one solution to maintaining a blog. These solutions make blogging accessible to people who do not know computer languages such as HTML or CSS . Nevertheless, a blogging platform – used as a hosting site – and a website domain are two separate entities.

If a lawyer is blogging professionally, whether independently or on behalf of his or her firm, it seems like a sensible purchase to splurge on a professional URL at $22.50 per year, $9.99 per year, or $9.99 per year. True, those are affiliate links to sites that offer domains (read! like! support!). However, the advice still stands (and, feel free to research domain services on your own!). Think of it as the modern day equivalent of printing your résumé on good quality paper.

Ok, Ok. These are long term goals. I know not all of them will work and not all of them will be implemented by next year. But, these are simply suggestions to keep law firms moving forward.

I have to say thank you to the first 25 firms that I research. In this type of scrutiny, the first group always has it the hardest (especially if the group – the first large law firms in alphabetical order – has no idea they are being scrutinized).

I’m excited to see how the next firms compare!

¹ My incorrect assumption about Bracewell & Giuliani pains me because the firm came out on top with a BigLaw Tech Score of 22 points. (On the other hand, their high tech score and failure to jump up to the AMLAW 100 list sort of ruins my analysis below.)

For similar but opposite reasons, I hate to leave out Cahill because it was one of the lowest scoring firms with a BigLaw Tech Score of 6 points and, well, it didn’t rise to the occasion.

² It also pains me to criticize firms for their inconsistent URLs when they are way ahead of the curve in terms of embracing technology.