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If you need an edge to get the upper hand in this down economy—and who doesn’t?—then the ABA Law Firm Marketing Strategies Conference is the place to be November 12-13. The comprehensive two-day conference features nearly 20 sessions on must-know topics along with stellar networking opportunities. Presented by the ABA Law Practice Management Section, the conference is chock-a-block with powerful information on tactics and tools for staying competitive. Here, the conference chair gives us a closer look.
Q. What’s the biggest buzz being generated by this year’s conference programming?
SS: I would say it surrounds our two outstanding keynote speakers. On day one, our keynote speaker is David Lat, founder of the blog Above the Law, which has become a focus of law firm information exchange and affected the image of many firms and individual lawyers. He has created a brand that’s recognized across the legal spectrum. Then on day two, we have a treat for lawyers in the form of a second keynote by John Osborn, the president and CEO of BBDO, one of the world’s largest and most successful advertising agencies. John is a leader in the field and comes armed with his unique perspective on branding and other tools to help conference attendees differentiate themselves and their firms.
In other exciting news, we have a unique program called Ranking the Raters; Rating the Rankers: A Forum on Methodologies, Benefits and Value, which takes place across the conference’s two lunch sessions. It works like this: On day one, representatives from leading lawyer-rating services will explain their rating methodologies—not just to attendees, but to a panel of in-house counsel, too. The in-house counsel will then rank the rating services based on their view of the value of the respective ranking methodologies. Attendees will learn how the raters were ranked by the panel at lunch on the second day, when they will also have an opportunity for questions and answers with members of the conference faculty.
Q. What are some other highlights of the educational content?
SS: There are great programs on topics including social networking and blogs, media relations, marketing and advertising ethics, women rainmaker tactics and more. And of particular note, we heard the concerns of attendees of the last conference who wanted more programming geared to specific issues confronting either large firms or small firms. Therefore, on each day we have dual-track breakout sessions where attendees can hear a panel discuss either small or large firm issues. These size-specific tracks allow attendees to have a real focus on the kinds of things that best differentiate between large and small firms’ marketing efforts.
All attendees thus get to learn both the common issues facing law firms of any size as well as the issues uniquely related to their particular firm’s size.
Q. What can you tell us about the “10x10” track?
SS: The “10x10” format is a fantastic way to cover a number of essential topics in a series of short presentations. We have a great lineup of 10 lawyers who will each speak for 10 minutes on one of 10 topics that are important to any firm’s marketing program. The result is a full day’s worth of programming in just 100 minutes. Some of the topics on the list to be covered are Client Satisfaction Interviews, Niche Marketing, Charitable Giving, Up-Selling, Associate Development, How to Lose a Client in 10 Days, Seminars as a Strategic Growth Tool and The Marketability of Being Green. For anyone who thinks you can’t learn anything important in just 10 minutes, I can tell you that I picked up my most profitable marketing secret at a 10x10 program back in 2005. I can’t tell you what that is, though, because … well … it’s a secret. However, both the speaker who gave me the tip and the topic involved will be part of the conference this year, so if you come yourself, you can find out.
Q. Are there any special networking events planned?
SS: We’re thrilled to be hosting the first program of its kind to include a social networking component, which begins before the conference and continues during the conference through our sponsor, Martindale-Hubbell Connected. Registrants can interact with faculty before the program, via a virtual meeting place, and focus content on first-hand issues and concerns of those attending the conference. We also intend to integrate the social networking component into our Virtual/Non-Virtual Networking Reception on Thursday evening, at the end of day one. Profiles of attendees are going to rotate on screens at the reception while everyone is physically networking—and, if you see someone on screen you’d especially like to interact with, you can post a message with your smartphone and find that person in the room to begin, or renew, a relationship.
Q. Who should come to the conference?
SS: If you are a practicing lawyer and you like having work to do, you should be there. This is an opportunity to learn from some of the stars of law firm business development. Anyone who understands that law firm business development is no longer about waiting for your aunt’s bridge partner to call should get registered for this conference. If you don’t walk away with at least one tip that you can use to improve your business development skills, you should be teaching this stuff. In addition, you have the opportunity to network with lawyers from all over the country, which in and of itself can be an excellent business development opportunity.
Q. So how much will the conference cost attendees?
SS: It’s a bargain for everything you get! The price includes two days packed with education, breakfast and lunch each day, the networking reception, and the opportunity to interact with some of the top lawyer-marketers in the country. LPM Section members pay $795, ABA/Non-LPM members pay $895, and all others pay $995. We’ve also arranged for incredibly affordable room rates at the conference hotel, the five-star Four Seasons Philadelphia. It all adds up to a remarkable occasion to learn and discuss the best legal marketing strategies in a truly welcoming environment.
Steve Silverberg is a partner at Silverberg Zalantis LLP, in White Plains, NY. He is chair of the ABA LPM Education Board.