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   Jan/Feb 2002


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By Milton W. Zwicker
(zwicker@zwickerevans lewis.com) is Managing Partner of Zwicker Evans & Lewis in Orillia,ONT, and the author of Successful Client Newsletters (ABA 1998).

A new volume provides a treasure trove of Web site reviews. A substantially expanded resource brings readers up-to-date on the latest trends in law firm marketing.

The Essential Guide to the Best (And Worst) Legal Sites on the Web

Robert J. Ambrogi. (ALM Publishing/American Lawyer Media, 2001.) $34.95. ISBN: 0-9705970- 3-7. (212) 313-9011; www.lawcatalog.com.

REVIEWED BY MICHAEL L.GOLDBLATT

With more than 30 million sites out there, finding useful information on the Web can be as difficult as finding a building on an unfamiliar street without a roadmap. It is easy to get lost. Fortunately, The Essential Guide to the Best (And Worst) Legal Sites on the Web now provides an Internet map for lawyers, law students, librarians and academics.

The author, Robert J. Ambrogi, is a practicing lawyer and director of American Lawyer Media’s Electronic Publishing and News Service. Ambrogi has published site reviews for more than five years as the "Web Watch" columnist for Law Technology News (www.lawtechnews.com). He is also creator of the legal.online newsletter (www.legaline.com). In his new book, he provides an annotated guide to hundreds of useful Web sites for lawyers and law firm staff. The reviews are relevant regardless of one’s specialty, practice setting or years of experience.

The sites are topically organized into 24 chapters and 3 appendices, including chapters on legal specialties such as bankruptcy, corporate, employment, environmental, family, intellectual property, real estate, securities and tort law. There are chapters devoted to legal sites for continuing legal education, court opinions, dispute resolution, ethics, legislation and search engines. Other chapters cover sites with nonlegal information, such as consumer, commercial, medical and public interest sites.

Each chapter groups sites by focus and content. For example, the chapter on environmental law is organized into sites that focus on the law, public interest advocacy, news, government and online treatises. Another example is the chapter on continuing legal education, which organizes sites into those maintained by providers of online CLE, sites that provide online catalogs of live seminars, sites that provide CLE for support staff and sites for CLE information.

For each site, Ambrogi provides a brief summary of contents, a commentary and his personal rating for the site. The rating system gives each site a grade from one to five stars based on usefulness, content, design, innovation and ease of use. The sites are presented alphabetically in order of their ratings so that the best sites appear ahead of the rest.

For those who prefer to read Web reviews online, Ambrogi has archived a collection of reviews at his newsletter site, www.legaline.com/articles.htm. Ambrogi’s book is a better reference than its online cousin, though, because it is portable, up-to-date and more comprehensive.

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of information when researching without navigational aids. The Essential Guide to the Best (And Worst) Legal Sites contains a treasure trove of site reviews for legal researchers. The author’s organization and descriptive style make the book a joy to use. It is an excellent resource for finding legal and non-legal information on the Internet.

Michael L. Goldblatt (mgoldblatt@abanet.org) is Associate General Counsel of Tidewater Inc.,New Orleans, and author of several practice management books.

The Rainmaking Machine:Marketing, Planning, Strategies and Management for Law Firms Phyllis Weiss Haserot. (West, 2001.) $140. 2 vols.Updated annually. ISBN: 0-07-172303X. (800) 344-5008;www.westgroup.com.

REVIEWED BY BRIAN W.MYERS

Since the first edition of this valuable resource appeared in 1989, the concept of law firm marketing has become much more widely accepted and the profession has witnessed substantial growth in the employment of in-house marketing managers and the retention of marketing consultants. Written by a well-known legal marketing consultant, The Rainmaking Machine: Marketing, Planning, Strategies and Management for Law Firms has been substantially augmented to include the latest trends in law firm marketing and the most recent developments in marketing technology.

The increased competitive climate of the 1990s and the establishment of the World Wide Web as a marketing medium both incited and enabled lawyers to become increasingly creative in their marketing strategies. At the same time, clients (particularly in corporate legal departments) began measuring costs and demanding greater value, with the result that law firms were forced to assume a defensive posture and to reexamine past policies and practices to guarantee client satisfaction. One significant outcome of these developments has been the growing integration of practice management and rainmaking strategies. We’ve learned that successful firms need more than rain to guarantee a continuing rich harvest: Clients who don’t feel that they are receiving the most competent available counsel, or who intuit that the relationship is not being sufficiently nurtured, will ultimately seek more fertile soil. On the other hand, the young associate who has been charged with handling the client’s file—but who is underpaid by virtue of the fact that he or she did not originate the file—may ultimately decide to plant roots among greener pastures, perhaps taking the client in tow. Firms have gradually realized that effective marketing planning involves not just traditional network building and client-relations strategies. It involves every component of the practice itself, from recruiting practices and compensation incentives to workflow structures, office technologies and quality management.

The most recent edition of The Rainmaking Machine comprehensively reflects this new climate and the business development trends that it has engendered. Over 20 new loose-leaf chapters have been added since the appearance of the original bound edition, more than doubling its content and scope. Substantial new areas of coverage include chapters on the ethics of lawyer advertising in a period of professional diversification, hiring and management of in-house marketing executives, implementation of service quality programs and marketing training for lawyers. Other new areas are covered in chapters on competency skills of the successful business developer, making the most of Web sites, strategic alliances and branding strategies. Additional chapters survey business development practices outside the legal profession, suggest effective selling techniques, and propose ways of reshaping compensation and recognition systems to support business development processes.

Each chapter concludes with bulleted exhibits outlining the major points covered in the chapter, as well as an exhaustive bibliography of related sources for further reading. The loose-leaf index is noncumulative, referring only to the inserts, so readers must additionally refer to the index at the back of the bound volume to ensure that they have exhausted complete coverage of a topic.

The book’s author, Phyllis Weiss Haserot, is president of a New York-based law firm business development agency and editor of The Rainmaker’s Review, a law firm marketing newsletter. Her additions and updates to The Rainmaking Machine expansively and authoritatively bring the reader up-to-date on critical developments in law firm marketing. ■

Brian W.Myers (myersbw@staff.abanet.org) is Information Coordinator, American Bar Association Division for Bar Services, in Chicago.