The Legal Sales and Service Organization (LSSO) is the legal industry's first and only organization focused exclusively on sales, service and quality issues in law departments and firms.

Wednesday, July 2

Missed RainDance 2008?

Read about speakers and programs from LSSO's 2008 RainDance Conference:

Big Thinking in Tough Times: A Peek Inside LSSO's RainDance™ 2008 - "Conference attendees left with a lot to think about and act upon. From practical to visionary, simple to complex, the program provided a menu of ideas to take back and put to use. Like a good work-out, the LSSO RainDance event left us tired, but stronger . . . " - Rachel Hayes, RainToday

Lessons from the World Champion Boston Celtics - Building a Winner - "What a difference a year makes. The Boston Celtics finished 2007 with just 24 wins - the worst record in the Atlantic Division and the second worst record in 62 years of Boston basketball. But on June 19, 2008, they rode through the streets of Beantown with the NBA championship trophy held high above their heads in front of cheering throngs of more than a million people. It was the biggest turnaround in league history. So how can a franchise go from worst to first? How do you chalk up 66 wins - one of the top five regular-season records in league history - after being the doormat that everyone walked on for years? How do you attract the star athletes necessary to pull off that feat when you haven’t won a championship in 22 years? Law firms take note – there is a message here for you that comes directly from Celtics President Rich Gotham, who was the star attraction at this year’s RainDance Conference." - John O. Cunningham, Freelance Writer & Legal Marketing Consultant

More from RainDance 2008:

  • Read article on the Managing Change presentation: Effectively Managing Organizational Change: A Science and an Art, Jake Julia, Vice President, Change Management, Northwestern University
  • Read what 2008 RainDance attendees had to say
  • View 2008 conference photos
  • Access library 0f the 2008 RainDance Conference materials

Friday, April 4

What Do These People Have in Common?

Question: What do these people have in common?

  • The President of the Boston Celtics
  • A leadership and organization development consultant, coach, and trainer who works with NASA astronauts
  • Northwestern University's Vice President of Change Management
  • Liberty Mutual Property's Chief Counsel
  • A former law firm executive director turned executive chef
  • Clifford Chance's Regional Chief Operating Officer for the Americas Region

Answer: They are all part of the faculty of LSSO's 5th Annual RainDance Conference, May 6-8, 2008 in Boston, MA at the Hilton Boston at Logan Airport.
LSSO's RainDance Conference™ is conceived and designed for senior leaders in law firms and legal departments. It's the place where sophisticated professionals and industry thought leaders turn for their own professional development. Once again, RainDance features a stellar faculty of sales and service experts with the experience and insight to help you develop competitive, effective sales, service and process improvement strategies and tactics. At RainDance, there’s 100% chance for rain.
Please join us, our faculty and a stellar group of attendees at LSSO's RainDance Conference.

RainDance Conference 2008 Faculty & Programs

  • Jake Julia, Associate Vice President of Change Management, Northwestern University, Effectively Managing Organizational Change: A Science and an Art
  • Harris E. Berenson, Esq., Asst. Vice President /Chief Counsel, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Developing, Maximizing and Maintaining the Inside Counsel/Outside Counsel Partnership
  • Rich Gotham, President, Boston Celtics, Sales and Marketing – Lessons from the NBA
  • Howard K. Shafer, Former law firm Executive Director turned Chef, What Law Firms and Lawyers Can Learn From Culinary School
  • Leo Bedard, Capitol Project Manager, How To Survive as a Project Manager and a Consultant Utilizing Efficiency And Process Improvement Techniques
  • Gary Mitchell, Managing Director, GEM Communications, The Law Firm of the Future
  • Mark Stevens, CEO, MSCO, God is a Salesman
  • Andrew Cline, Cline Consulting, Teams that Lead & Follow: Dynamic Roles for the Moment at Hand (Interactive, Experiential Learning Session)
  • Sally Fiona King, Regional Chief Operating Officer for the Americas Region, Clifford Chance, Global Leadership In a Time of Economic Uncertainty: Keeping Your Eye on The Forest as well as the Trees
  • Becky Dowd, Director of Business Development, Kirkland, Albrect & Frederickson and Barry MacQuarrie, Kirkland, Albrect & Frederickson, Project Balance: A Case Study from the Accounting World on Workflow Improvement and Happier Professionals

See you there!

SNEAK PEEKS! RainDance - May 6-8 - Boston

SNEAK PEEKS! Or, rather, listens... check out two interviews of RainDance 2008 speakers:

First, check out Howard K. Shafer, a law firm executive director turned culinary student. His program is "Lessons to Law Firms From Culinary School."

Then, listen to the remarkable Andy Cline short clip about his program "Teams that Lead & Follow: Dynamic Roles for the Moment at Hand." He should know - among other things, this is a guy that works with NASA astronauts after all.

We have a tremendous faculty, as always, featuring fresh voices, unique perspectives and sophisticated content. This is the conference where senior leaders go for their own professional development. If that's you, we look forward to seeing you there.


BIG NEWS! Six Sigma Lean Process Improvement for Law Firms and Legal Departments

In May, LSSO will launch the legal industry’s first process improvement certification programs designed to provide enhanced innovation, quality and efficiencies, and, in turn, increase profitiabilty and service in law firms and legal departments.

Up until now, law firms and legal departments have had to first learn about process improvement from programs designed for other industries, and then to figure out how to apply those concepts and tools in their own organizations. These programs change that, since they are designed specifically for the legal industry. Toward that end, LSSO is extraordinarily fortunate to work with Laura Colcord. She is an internationally-known Process Improvement expert who has pioneered the use of Lean and Six Sigma methodologies in a number of non-traditional applications.

As a former corporate counsel and LSSO Co-Founder, I have been interested in developing a program that teaches Six Sigma, Lean and other process improvement methodologies in the context of what law firms and legal departments face. I am thrilled that we have yet another groundbreaking offering with our white, yellow and green belt programs!

When we 3 LSSO co-founders got our green belts together (scary for the rest of the room, but that's another story), we agreed that it would be so much more valuable to have learned this from the perspective of our industry - shorten the learning curve, immediate application and so on.

Sure, some of this stuff can cause the eyes to glaze over a bit. But the fact is, this is is bottom line stuff, it's real and it's flat out fantastic when you put it to work. I'm finding lots of examples of firms and departments using it already but I'll be there are plenty more who are doing it well under the radar. Those who are engaged in process improvement are ahead of the game. And if you ask me, they upping the stakes for their unwitting competitors. Please join us on May 8 in Boston for the inaugural white belt program (it's an adjunct to RainDance May 6-8 in Boston, register at Click on the above link for more info and to register.


Would you buy from this company?

With our focus on sales, service and process improvement, I'm always tempted to share the rather abundant number of "bad service" stories I have in this space. Usually, I can control the urge, but not today.

Today I am wondering whether anyone else would do what I did. Let's say you had a need for a new technological product. And then let's say that a vendor (which would also be working with that service or product) with whom you had a long standing customer relationship recommended three options.

Then, let's assume you did your due diligence and made your choice based on a number of factors, including an impressive sales experience. And you proceeded to complete an online application, which did not work the first time. So you re-entered all the data required and it does not work the second time!

Then, let's say you email the nice sales person who's provided all the info to you and explain you are having a problem. Say the response is: "yeah, we know there's a problem, sorry about that, but that's why I attached a pdf of the application for you." Um, HUH? The irony of a tech solutions provider wanting a new customer to trust them in spite of their failure or inability to correct a tech problem seems to escape both the sales person and the company itself.

So, would you buy from that company? And what about the referror who sent you there? How would you deal with their disappointment that you were not giving that particular suggested vendor the business (because it would have been easier for them, they know the product, etc.)? How would you react when your proposal went up significantly so that you could pay for them to overcome their learning curve with the other two of the three?

Maybe it's just me, but I don't feel like buying.


Tuesday, March 4

Challenge and Break The Status Quo

In LSSO's continued effort to bring best practices from other industries to the 'legal sales, service and strategy community' I suggest reading the article, Breaking Compromises, by Stalk, et al. The authors discuss approaches to realize innovation and growth. As written, opportunity doesn’t have to equate to ‘new’ but may lie with existing clients, products, services and industries. The key is to challenge the ‘status quo’ and create or add value that doesn’t exist. This approach has created true innovation and evolution at many successful companies. We have all learned that opportunity can arise from existing clients and industries, but how many of us truly challenge and break the status quo to add value that currently doesn't exist? If you have had success, we encourage and welcome you to share it here or this year's RainDance!

Sunday, February 24

People Make Mistakes and Lawyers are People Too

Have you read the stories about partners at two firms and their mistakenly directed emails? I'm not sure why this is news, maybe it's a slow day in legal journalism land.

Check out the link above for the full story: "Well-known litigator Sheila Birnbaum of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom believed Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood used a press release and newspaper column to mischaracterize a recent confidential settlement with her client State Farm, and she said so.Her opinion was intended to circulate in an internal e-mail, but instead she sent it to more than a dozen reporters, the Associated Press reports.
“This is so over the top,” she wrote in the e-mail. “Can we ask that he be held in contempt of court for misrepresenting a settlement agreement and order of the court?”
Lawyers, you may want to consider deleting reporters' names from your e-mail address book. Birnbaum's misdirected e-mail is the second by a lawyer to make headlines this month. A lawyer at Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia reportedly sent an e-mail referencing settlement negotiations that apparently involved Eli Lilly & Co. to New York Times reporter Alex Berenson. The message was intended to reach co-counsel Bradford Berenson of Sidley Austin.
A hat tip to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, which posted the story."

Um, a hat tip? Maybe it's just me, but I really don't think that an honest mistake combined with some fairly innocuous email contents is all that interesting. Yes, there is a lesson to be learned (be careful, observe confidentiality standards, delete reporters from your address book and so forth) but does this rise to the level of being newsworthy?

What about journalists observing and honoring those disclaimers at the bottom of the emails?

People make mistakes. And lawyers are people too.


Saturday, February 9

Acknowledgement is Key

A recent coaching meeting had me realize how powerful acknowledgement can be in moving people into action. She made none of the calls we agreed she would make in our last meeting and was feeling defeated. I said, "Remember our last meeting, when you said you wanted to increase your revenue by 10% this year? Given your level of success last year, that's a big deal. You had the guts to make that personal goal and I want to acknowledge you for that." Her face lit up and her demeanor opened up a bit - giving us the room to move on and set up the next action plan with specific, measurable benchmarks.

Acknowledgement - the genuine and sincere type - may help you nudge an otherwise dormant client into action. Even if your best efforts have been less than successful, you might want to acknowledge your "coachee" for being willing to roll up their sleeves and work with you. Some of our clients' colleagues would never make the time to talk about how to grow their businesses.

Focusing on the gap - what wasn't done and what needs to be done - is obviously critical. Doing so in the context of acknowledgement may be an access to higher levels of success for you and your clients. Take on this practice and let us know about the results!

Friday, February 1

Law Without Suits - WSJ Article

Did Law without suits: Youth flouts tradition, By STYLE CHRISTINA BINKLEY
February 1, 2008

This is an interesting and provocative read. The angle seems undercut by the punchline (“Trying a case is like a movie," Ms. Arnold says. "Wardrobe is everything."), since the article seems to be going in the direction of a generational discussion and/or the value of having a consultant like Gretchen Neels in to remedy the situation.

I do think it’s true that there are differences in dress codes between offices, firms, geographies and generations. Full disclothesure: I’m in the “suit” category for a couple of reasons: it is actually easier to put together when you are bleary eyed and/or rushing to get out the door in the morning and also for professional appearance reasons. You can go anywhere in a suit but you can't in jeans (which I really don't think are appropriate for a professional services provider who is in the office anyway).

But, and with all due respect to the managing partners of the world, the more relevant question is…. What are the CLIENTS at the associates' level wearing and what do they expect and want THEIR lawyers to look like?


Sunday, January 27

It's Catching Not "Pitching"

With all the slang used to describe the sales process one word -"pitch"- has become law firms' standard terminology to describe meeting with a prospective client to get hired. According to Webster, the definition of pitch (verb) is to throw, fling, hurl or toss. While it is a good description of many law firm and potential client meetings - it couldn't be a more inaccurate term.

What an injustice. We describe our contributions to our firms as preparing teams of lawyers for "pitches". Why should we continue this rhetoric? As sales and service executives in our firms, we must push to change this misnomer of 'pitching'. If we continue to call these meetings pitches then lawyers will continue to treat them as so ... Prospective client meetings should be treated as well prepared, thoughtful dialog between our firms and the marketplace to uncover possible legal and business problems for which our firms can solve. After all - if the process is followed correctly, it's called 'catching' not pitching. Start the evolution in your firm by taking the word "pitch" out of your vocabulary.

Friday, January 25

5 Law Firms on Fortune's Best Places to Work

Interesting to see that 5 firms made Fortune's 100 Best Places to work list. Read the full article ad the reasons why they were picked on the ABA Journal's site at:

Here's the list of firms:

Arnold & Porter
Alston & Bird
Bingham McCutchen
Perkins Coie
Nixon Peabody


Wednesday, January 23

Humanize It: The Manifesto

I just read a fabulous manifesto by LSSO Board member Leonardo Inghilleri of Disney, then Ritz Carlton, now West Paces fame and Micah Solomon, no slouch either. It's published on “Change this!” and contain 7 principles that you just can't argue with (even if you're a lawyer).
“The best thing you can do for your business is not about new technology, brute force, or first-mover advantage. It’s something simpler. And more dependable. Humanize each customer interaction in order to turn your product or service into much more than a commodity. In your customer’s mind, commodities are interchangeable and replaceable. Humanized relationships are not."

Check it out: 42.03 Humanize It: Bring a five-star sparkle to your customer ...


Tuesday, January 15

Turn The Soil

Since sales is a never-ending challenge, and since all relationships have arcs, and since every new year needs to be seen as what it really is: "A monumental onslaught of opportunity, disguised as pessimism and reluctance to act" (that's since all of these make sense to consider at this volatile and crucial time of year) may I suggest that we look at sales with the idea that we can use a farming metaphor to have the importance of specific exercises make sense, and make cents.
So, enough cutesy phrasing, Klymshyn- "What's your point?"
Here it is: I was speaking with someone today who sells professional services in Miami. He told me that business was coming at him fast and furious (this is good news), but that it's all project work, and once each specific project is DONE, so is the revenue opportunity.
He bemoaned the fact that he has contacts and knows people, but that when business slows or dries up, he feels as though he must start all over!
Here's what I told him: "We are not in the position to reap a harvest unless we do the invisible, back-breaking, toil and sweat type of work." (Such as: making calls we know we should make, but can make the excuses that a current project is taking all of our available time!)
The harvest (I used the image of a nice red wine, because that's what I like!) can only be brought in after many specific and tiring steps.
What are we to do now? Turn the soil! 
Your prospect/contact group represents the seed. Before you can plant them and expect them to thrive, you have to move the dirt around a little bit, turning the dry caking topsoil underneath, and bringing the nutrient-rich dark, wet, wonderful soil to the top. This is what you need to prepare for planting.

Are you setting meetings that will forward relationships in the next few weeks? Are you reaching out to people you lost contact with? Are you asking for referrals? Are you wondering what kind of wine I really really like? :)
Or, are you wondering where to start?
Turn the soil. Start with the plot of land right at your fingertips, and work your way outward.
And send me a note, to let me know what sort surprises you experience.