Monthly Archives: April 2012

Leveraging Your Reputation: 10 ways to repurpose, publicize articles

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has about 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Associations CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

I was talking with an attorney recently, and she said that she doesn’t have time to write articles, and thinks that it’s a waste of time because she’s already very busy with work of her own, and is making a good living without doing any extra writing. I’ve also met other attorneys who assume that because they’re successful, they don’t need to put any effort into publicity, and think that writing articles is exerting unnecessary effort. While it’s great to be busy with billable work, it’s still important to write articles for publications or online outlets because it will help your reputation and even bring in new clients and referrals down the road.

Writing an article doesn’t have to be a one-shot attempt; there are several ways to repurpose and publicize your article. Once the hard work of writing is done, you don’t have to spend much time sending it out to other places, so that your name and ideas are expressed in a larger sphere of influence.

Here is a list of 10 ways that you can repurpose and publicize your article, in addition to posting it on your own website or blog. Try at least a few of them, and you will discover how easy it is once you put just a little effort into it.

  1. Edit the article and send a revised version to various trade publications and websites.
  2. Offer to send it to people when you are speaking or participating in a seminar or conference. You can also print out copies to pass out when you meet people at those events. Remember to include your contact information.
  3. Look for current news angles and create a press release that mentions the article.
  4. Create a white paper.
  5. E-mail the article to your contacts. You can upload it to your own website and send a link to that. If you don’t want to host it at your website, you can upload it to Scribd or Mediafire and send that link instead.
  6. Create an e-book that is a collection of your published articles.
  7. Create a video or audio in which you read or talk about your article, and include a link to the article below the video or audio post.
  8. Link to the article in your e-mail signature.
  9. Post a summary of the article in LinkedIn and any of your other social media networks. If you belong to any groups, give them a link to the article.
  10. If you’re reading an article online and think that your article is related to the topic, leave a comment with a link to your article.
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Attorneys in Transition: Corporate counsel positions

 Nick Augustine is the principal of Pro Serve PR Marketing, a firm that provides marketing and public relations advising and services for law firms. Nick’s practice includes advising attorneys on career development and leveraging knowledge, skills, and abilities. Nick earned a communications and rhetorical studies degree from Marquette University and a law degree from The John Marshall Law School where he is an active Alumni Board member.

I recently spoke with a friend who works for a large company as corporate counsel. Her position is interesting and the experience she is earning is useful in future legal positions, requiring task and management skills, beyond what most attorneys experience in traditional private practice.

Corporate counsels are the in-house attorneys who represent the interests of a corporation. As smaller companies grow, their legal fees increase, and it often makes sense to hire in-house counsel. In my friend’s position, there were two attorneys who supported her, and a few outside firms she used for her company’s litigation matters. My friend’s position allows her to determine what matters will be handled internally and which are properly farmed out. An attorney working as corporate counsel must be able to appropriate resources using their best judgment, in consideration of the best interests of the company.

The consistent exercise of judgment, regarding multiple transactional and litigation matters, certainly prepares an attorney for a management position in a law firm, in a corporate legal department, and in many other professional contexts. When overseeing outside law firms, internal staff and other business units, the corporate counsel manages budgets, expectations, and exposure to liability.

The role of corporate counsel requires decision making that can impact employee morale, corporate good will, and the company’s public relations efforts. Corporate counsels answer to the organization and its third parties which can require a thick skin.

The Association of Corporate Counsel is an organization providing education and resources regarding the complex issues corporate counsels face in managing the legal processes and workflow management. The organization and others like it provide networking opportunities for many in-house corporate attorneys who might not interact and network with other attorneys as much as they would in private practice or where they made frequent court appearances. Anyone considering in-house attorney work is well-advised to get involved in local chapters and events for the Association of Corporate Counsel members and with other similar groups.

Few law students set their course on obtaining an in-house legal position in a business, and most business managers hiring corporate counsels prefer an attorney who has significant experience. Transactional and litigation experience are both important to the role of the corporate counsel who must be able to appreciate the nature of the legal work preformed. Business experience is very useful when interacting with multiple entities and business units. Talking to a current or past in-house attorney is your best bet when considering applying for a corporate counsel position.

Avoid frustrating situations with opposing counsel

Marty Dolan, principal at Dolan Law and his associate Karen Munoz represent victims of wrongful death and personal injury. His column “Law and Wellness,” appears in the Chicago Lawyer and her column appears regularly in the Law Bulletin. This week’s blog is written by Karen Munoz.

Difficult Opposing Counsel?
I recently spoke with an attorney who said he felt the need to introduce mediators purely for supervising the discovery process. Apparently there are many others like him who feel that the establishment of such an institution could adequately prevent and resolve bitter drawn-out discovery disputes.

So I got to thinking about some of the times when we might encounter an opposing counsel who we perceive to be trying to frustrate the pre-trial stage of a case with obstructionist tactics and how best to respond to it.

Whether it’s deliberately withholding documents, answering all discovery requests with blanket objections or fling/threatening to file spurious motions, there are lots of ways a lawyer could potentially try to unsettle an opponent and thwart the progress of a case. So what should we do if we find ourselves in one of these situations?

1. Pick Up the Phone
While it is probably naïve to assume that no-one is doing it deliberately, a lot of the time, I think, it comes down to miscommunication. Picking up the phone, making a call to opposing counsel and calmly outlining your concerns can go a long way to straightening things out.

In my view, this is the most straightforward way of resolving discovery disputes or perceived obstructionist tactics. In the case of blanket objections to discovery requests, for example, it may be that one or two words are too broadly defined and your opposing counsel feels it’s a bit too burdensome or irrelevant. A short conversation can clear this up without getting mired in an acrimonious dispute at an early stage of a case. Of course, it may be that the opposing counsel is unwilling to work with you, in which case, you have at least found out for sure.

2. Don’t Play Them at Their Own Game
If that turns out to be the case, there is always the temptation to fight fire with fire by issuing wholesale objections to their requests and trying to impede the construction of their case. A judge will be unimpressed by this, as he or she will be by your opposing counsel’s behavior.

So rather than getting drawn into a cat fight, you could create an honest record of what has happened. Writing a letter to the opposing counsel indicating that you tried to reach an amicable resolution and that you’re still open to it lets the judge see that you are making an honest and direct attempt to reach a mutually beneficial resolution and puts pressure on your opposing counsel, in a perfectly legitimate way, to start doing the same.

3. Stick to Your Guns
Sometimes the goal of obstructionist tactics is to make you doubt your own ability or put you out of your comfort zone. But don’t let it get to you. Continue to build your case as you always do. There are ways of overcoming obstacles presented by difficult opposing attorneys. In the discovery example above, you could issue further, succinct and more narrow requests to admit on certain facts. If the rejections continue then one option is a motion to compel. It shouldn’t have to come to that but you are obviously well within your rights to do so.

Nursing consultants become integral to their legal teams

Carolyn Palash is a legal nurse consultant with 30-plus years of nursing experience. She has worked with attorneys in the city of Chicago and its western suburbs for the past 15 years. Contact her at (630) 682-9971 or carolyn@psi.biz.

A patient is admitted to the emergency room with complaints of headache, dizziness and vomiting.  With a past history of cardiac disease, the ER physician initiates a cardiac workup.  Over the next few hours, the patient becomes more lethargic and difficult to understand. The ER physician admits the patient.  His admission orders include a stat CT scan of the head.  As the evening progresses, the patient becomes increasingly difficult to arouse with a decrease in vital signs.  Finally, late in the evening, the stat CT scan is obtained.  A few hours later, the patient suffers a respiratory and cardiac arrest. Early the next morning, the results of the earlier CT scan indicate an ischemic stroke.  The patient eventually expires after removal of life support.

Review by an internal medicine doctor found the attending physician negligent for failure to diagnose the stroke.  The case is filed.  The records are then sent to a nurse consultant who identifies clear warning signs of a stroke while the patient was in the ER.  By not including stroke in the differential diagnosis, the ER physician was also negligent.  Unfortunately, he had not been named in the suit though clearly liable.

When medical negligence is suspected, nursing consultants should be an integral part of your legal team.  From the initial intake through the conclusion of the trial, the nurse can facilitate maneuvering through the medical maze.  

There are multiple advantages to using nurse consultants rather than a physician at this stage of the medical review:

  1. Nurse consultants review the entire record.  Oftentimes when physicians review the record, they focus on their specialty, thereby potentially missing negligence in another area.
  2. A well qualified nurse consultant has expertise in not only medicine, but also the health-care system.  The nurse consultant is able to navigate hospital records, knowing where to look for corroborating evidence that may not necessarily be in the medical record. 
  3. Nurse consultants perform the medical record review in a more timely fashion.
  4. Nurse consultants charge a lower hourly fee.  Considering the low percentage of cases that are actually filed, the attorney saves a considerable amount in fees by utilizing nurse consultants for the initial medical record review.
  5. A nurse consultant fee is money well-spent.  If the review indicates medical negligence, the nurse consultant can assist the attorney in working up the case, deciding what type of expert is appropriate, determining which additional records may be needed, developing a timeline, obtaining experts, completing interrogatories, defining damages, to name a few.
  6. A nurse consultant may assist the attorney in locating appropriate experts. Quite often a physician will not return a call from an attorney but will speak to a nurse consultant.
  7. Once the expert is obtained, the nurse consultant can serve as the liaison with the plaintiff experts, providing assistance with formulating opinions, expert affidavits and deposition preparation.
  8. As part of the legal team, the nurse consultant is able to assist the attorney in preparing for the defense expert deposition, research the background of the expert, understand the medical testimony and formulate appropriate questions for the deposition.

Nursing consultants can be utilized in additional roles such as evaluation of injuries and potential damages in personal-injury cases. The nurse consultant is frequently more efficient than a paralegal in issues involving medicine.

Finding a qualified nurse consultant can be a challenge.  Experience matters.  The nurse consultant should be an independent thinker, analytical, possess strong critical thinking skills and communicate effectively. After working with a nurse consultant, the attorney will realize the multiple advantage of having a nurse consultant on the legal team.

Reputation Management: Scam or strategy?

Debra Pickett is president of Page 2 Communications (www.page2comm.com).  A former newspaper columnist and television commentator, Pickett offers consulting and training services to law firms and lawyers who deal with the media.  Reach her at deb@page2comm.com.

As a business, “reputation management” has a reputation somewhere just south of “masculine enhancement.”  And, certainly, there are plenty of folks out there who’d be happy to take your money for doing nothing more than arguing with a blogger who posted a complaint about your firm on a local chat board.

But the concept of reputation management – a strategy of actively monitoring and engaging with what’s being said about your work via social media and other channels – is bigger, and far more valuable, than this.  It is, in fact, the most important and effective kind of marketing a firm can do.

For most types of businesses, a comprehensive approach to reputation management involves first collecting reviews and comments (“consumer generated content”) from their customers and then making sure that content is widely published and distributed on review sites, like Yelp, and through other channels.  In addition, the business needs to respond to the comments (positive and negative) and to take action, even changing policies and practices when necessary, based on the feedback.

With law firms, where customer comments, reviews and testimonials generally aren’t widely disseminated, beyond, say, the Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Index, this first aspect of reputation management is less relevant.  But the second part is still critical.  In fact, it’s even more so.

Even if your firm is not directly engaging in online or social media advertising, your work and your reputation has a digital presence.  People are talking about the work you do.  They’re talking about a case you handled or something your client did or the way your summer associates all jammed into the elevator at once, crowding out the hard-working bike messenger.

Referral business, a critical source of new clients for virtually every firm, is directly impacted by these comments and conversations, whether they happen online or in the real world.  To manage your firm’s reputation in this climate, you need to be actively following a variety of outlets, from hyperlocal sites, such as EveryBlock, to Facebook and Twitter and searching for your firm’s name, as well as keywords related to the clients and matters you’re working with.

When you know what people are saying, you can make informed, strategic decisions about how and whether to respond (or help your client respond) and, most importantly, review the way you work to see if there are things you might change.  Did a neighbor at a community meeting, where one of your attorneys was representing an environmental client, make a snarky comment about the very expensive suit she happened to be wearing?  And did a dozen other neighbors chime in to agree?  Maybe it’s time to start recommending casual dress for public events.

Reputation management doesn’t have to be sneaky.  And it doesn’t have to be complicated.  It might be as simple as taking off your jacket.

Non-billable Hours: Sushi Wabi, we will miss you

Katherine A. Grosh is a partner in the commercial litigation and appeals department at Beermann, Pritikin, Mirabelli, Swerdlove LLP and has experience in a broad range of business litigation and appellate matters. Grosh is also a member of the family law department, where she handles family law appeals.

For my weekly sushi craving over the last 10 years, there has only been one choice: Sushi Wabi (842 W. Randolph St.) Sadly, this West Loop neighborhood spot is scheduled to close its doors after April 21.

The sushi has always been consistently good and fresh, made with high-quality ingredients, and their maki offerings creative and interesting.  My personal favorite is the hot daisy roll, which is a delectable confluence of albacore tuna, masago, mayo, sesame oil, green onion and chili powder, wrapped in jasmine rice and soy paper. Another solid choice is the veggie tempura roll, which I always slightly modify to include only sweet potato tempura, mayo and brown rice, with a side of Sriracha sauce for extra spice.  Modify their rolls to your heart’s content, or create your own – the server won’t bat an eyelash.  

For appetizers, I love the gyoza (pan-seared pork and vegetable dumplings served with a vinegar-based dipping sauce and celery) and the aemono salad (seasonal greens lightly tossed in a tart and creamy ginger dressing), and of course, edamame, which has always been perfectly steamed and salted – never soggy.  

For drinks, I highly recommend the ozeki hot sake, and they have a fantastic wine list.

Get in tonight or tomorrow night and enjoy this icon if you can, but if you’re curled up on your couch after a long and stressful week, don’t worry – Sushi Wabi delivers!

Find Sushi Wabi’s menu at sushiwabi.com.

Spontaneous Exclamations: Welcome to the Real World, Where are Your Pills? Part 2

Adam Katz is a senior associate at Harrison & Held LLP.  He concentrates his practice on federal & state tax matters, commercial finance, mergers & acquisitions, entity structure and formation, and non-profit law.  Adam can be reached at (312) 753-6110 or akatz@harrisonheld.com.  Comments on all posts are welcome.

DISCLAIMER: This article is focused on the abusers of amphetamines who do not have legitimate diagnoses or prescriptions. It follows yesterday’s Part 1 article.

A second and viler problem is the law schools’ complicity with illegitimate amphetamine usage and medical diagnoses.  Many law schools grant those students with diagnoses extended or unlimited time to complete timed final exams.  Again, I’m not targeting those with legitimate diagnoses, but apparently it’s simple to either fake symptoms for diagnosis or find a health-care provider who will give you the golden ticket granting extra/unlimited exam time.  While the risk is low that a student will get caught faking a diagnosis (what law school will attempt to question what could be a legitimate disability?) the reward is extremely high — a much easier chance at that “A” without reporting to potential employers that the student had eight hours to complete exams as opposed to the professor’s mandated two-hour limit. 

For those with that “anything to get ahead” attitude, how attractive is the time extension?  One of the main reasons why law school exams are so difficult is the fact that you have to write three or more essays in a ridiculously short amount of time.  Without a time limit, many exams (at least most of those I took) would have been significantly easier, and I won’t even mention how easy those two hour open-book or open-note exams would have been if I had six more hours to finish … and juicing can make sure your energy to focus is unbreakable for the entire six hours.  However, how are law students supposed to police the diagnosis fakers?  They can’t without risking lawsuits if they mistakenly target those with legitimate diagnoses.  Again, I suppose the answer is establishing severe consequences for the fakers since there’s not much of a way or incentive for law schools to investigate. 

It’s a shame though … makes you wonder how many top students snatching up the best jobs accomplished this through juicing and exploiting the unlimited exam time exemption?  But back to reality, once you’ve earned that top 10 percent GPA and are now working arduous hours at your top law job, how are you going to focus for those 2,200-plus billable hours throughout the year? 

I bet you’re going to reach for those pills … but how many can you take to keep you going for 19 hours straight?  Uh oh, you may actually have to use your body’s natural energy to focus … and, boy, has that deteriorated since you got hooked on the pills.  Now it’s noon and you’re getting started on the project that will take you all night to be turned in no later than 8 a.m..  You have no pills left and a stack of papers in front of you.  You start reading, but five minutes later, you check GChat … and then Facebook … then Twitter … then start reading the news … then play your turn on that drawing game on your phone … read another five minutes worth from the stack … wait, is that pizza? … Did I feed my dog? … Wait, I don’t have a dog … I wonder what Wilmer Valderrama is doing right now? … Bunk beds are cool! … And the clock strikes midnight.  Only ten minutes worth of work done in 12 hours, oops.  Welcome to the real world, where are your pills now?

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