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Bar News - January 4, 2008


Book Review: "The Law Firm Associate’s Guide to Personal Marketing and Selling Skills" By Beth Marie Cuzzone and Catherine Alman MacDonagh

By:

Monica S. Singh

This book should be part of every associate’s arsenal and is particularly useful for those lawyers in the midst of launching their legal careers. The book is captivating, thorough and inspiring, leaving readers with practical tools, strategies and tactics for improving their marketing and selling skills; techniques that, as the book points out, do not come naturally to every lawyer.

The authors, Catherine Alman MacDonough, J.D., and Beth Marie Cuzzone are co-founders of the Legal Sales and Service Organization, a group focused exclusively on sales, service and quality issues. They each currently serve as Director of Business Development at large firms in Boston, Mass. The book, the accompanying CD (comprised of checklists, tips, worksheets and forms), and the separate Trainer’s Manual are all designed "to help lawyers and law firms grow their businesses and revenues."

The greatest strength of this book is its easy-to-read format. Divided into 10 concise chapters, the book begins by identifying the need to employ innovative marketing and selling strategies in order to achieve success in the current fast-paced, highly competitive legal industry. The book points out that each lawyer’s success is directly proportional to the amount of effort and time he/she devotes to honing marketing and selling skills. Early on in the book the authors ask the reader to take what they call "The Great Lawyer Test" challenging readers to ask themselves whether they have adequately polished both their "soft" and "hard" skills, exercises that the authors believe will help lawyers realize "greatness" over the duration of their careers.

The book distinguishes between marketing and selling, providing excellent visual models of the marketing and selling cycles. Marketing is defined as making potential clients "aware" of you. Developing rapport and trust are considered part of "selling." The remainder of the book takes the reader through the separate and distinct marketing and selling processes, describing and coaching the lawyer through these stages as well as pointing out how, at times, the processes become intertwined.

Of particular benefit is the sample business plan that is included. While the authors stress the importance of substance over form when drafting a business plan, they view the creation of such a plan for your practice "as fundamental as having a telephone or a computer." The authors encourage lawyers to set "SMART" goals, or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely goals, even providing examples of how lawyers can transform existing goals into SMART ones.

In addition to the sample business plan, the book also provides excellent sample networking questions (including exit strategies for an occasion when you might get "stuck" speaking to someone for too long, hindering your ability to maximize a particular event/opportunity), a sample "client expectation rider," a sample "end of matter questionnaire" and a variety of other simple worksheets that provide tangible ways to overhaul your marketing and selling skills. This book is full of helpful hints and guides, even setting forth further simplified and condensed information within the "Chapter Flashes" and "Best Practices in One Minute" sections to quickly summarize information in the various individual chapters.

One of the recurring themes in this book is the importance of not only maintaining and nurturing existing client relationships, but also the benefit of networking and developing new ones. The authors stress the importance of listening, theorizing that to be most effective, lawyers should spend 80% of their time listening and 20% of their time speaking when meeting someone new. The authors challenge lawyers to uncover less obvious networking opportunities, believing that when you "give to others and help them…what you give will come back to you many times over." The authors do a nice job of "practicing what they preach," often referring the reader to Web sites, materials and legal publications created by individuals other than themselves.

I would strongly recommend this book to any lawyer wanting to boost his/her practice and revenue by employing simple, useful methods. In addition, for the new lawyer such a tool is invaluable, as it reinforces the importance of creating good habits at the outset of your legal career; habits, that will likely directly correlate to your ability to achieve good business development and client retention.

We all recall the process of highlighting the most critical pieces of information in our legal texts. This is a book that will leave your highlighter dry as the entire package of materials is a must read.

Monica S. Singh is an associate attorney practicing in the Business Law Group with Preti Flaherty Beliveau & Pachios, PLLP, a full service law firm with offices in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She is admitted to practice in New Hampshire (2006) and Massachusetts and can be reached at msingh@preti.com.

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