Archive for the 'General' Category


ILTACON 2015 Survival List

Author: Ed Colandra
August 12, 2015

ILTACON 5In less than a month, thousands of legal technology vendors, legal professionals, consultants and media will descend upon Las Vegas for the annual Legal Technology conference known simply as ILTACon. Starting August 30 and concluding Sept 3, and billed as an educational and networking event, ILTACon has become a mecca of topical panel discussions, product demos, arguably the largest exhibition hall, and an ever growing list of companies representing the hot topics of the Legal IT universe. Whether you are attending to demonstrate your latest eDiscovery solution, to meet up with colleagues with shared interests in Cloud computing, or to hear from the largest industry vendors on their vision on security, document management, time and billing software, or a host of others, ILTACon doesn’t disappoint. Here’s a shortcut link to the agenda for the complete grid and schedule.

ILTACon Survival List  Having attended ILTA Conference for several years, here’s my ILTACon survival list, whether you are an exhibitor, a panelist, a member of the media or an attendee:

Shoes While it’s true that many attendees adopt the grunge look when attending tech conferences (like wearing a Springsteen concert shirt from 1992), for the rest of us, it’s usually khakis, and a golf shirt or some version of gender-independent business casual. For booth duty, the company logo shirt, and black or khakis are also the typical uniform. But shoes can be your worst nightmare or your best friend. Personally, I have always held a high respect for those wearing stylish high heels for 3 days, but for me soft soled, leather uppers with a cushion insole has saved me from feeling the effects of those long, long walks getting around ILTACon (and if you haven’t been before, be sure to review the site map on the ILTACon website to truly appreciate what you can expect. One last thought, bring TWO pairs. My good friend and colleague found her fashionable sandals broke a strap last year at ILTACon in Nashville, and discovered it was easier to find a portable defibrillator than a comparable pair of shoes.

O-T-C Meds Of course, if you are on prescription medication from your physician, you know to bring them along. But if not, whether as a result of the aforementioned aches from walking, or the morning after a lively “social event” that goes into the wee hours, you’re going to be happy to have an ample supply of aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or whatever is your preferred pain reliever. Likewise extra contact lenses, eye care solutions, an extra pair of glasses, or anything that can help restore vision after an 8-10 hour non-stop day (and extended evening social). Vitamins (I like Airborne brand) can also restore depleted levels of vitamins and minerals from eating on the run, and the occasional adult beverage. And an inexpensive first aid kit with adhesive bandages, and antibiotic cream, and antacids always comes in handy.

Exhibitor Specific Stuff I’m just going to run through this list rather than making a checklist, but these simple reminders can be a life saver when it’s time to go home. Scissors, tape, sharpies, labels, sewing kit (buttons come loose), business cards, bowls for your goodies (aka premium items), bar stools/chairs (yep you can rent them, but they are often cheaper to buy and toss, than rent for $150 a day), power strips, inventory all the power cables, USB cables, realize that some laptops use display ports (which are different from the old VGA or even USB ports), business cards, scanner rental, and booth duty schedule. Don’t forget your laptop and phone chargers (and remember to bring them home and not leave them plugged into the hotel room outlet when you check out). I recommend at least two 2400ma power sticks to keep my phone from running out of juice Hint: this is a popular giveaway a booths these days. J If you’re not an exhibitor, and plan to schedule meetings with other non-exhibitors, stake out a convenient place within a short walk for privacy. Holding a meeting surrounded by people sitting on the floor charging their laptops and phones is never a good idea.

Final tips: Business cards – when you exchange business cards, take a moment to write down the gist of the conversation because you won’t remember when you get back home. Badge Scanners – Have a solid plan to incorporate the scans into your CRM (or Excel spreadsheet) when you return home, and send out a thank you note, EVEN if you think the odds are low that the contact isn’t a qualified buyer. They just might not be – yet. Be social but know when to say no. I’ve witnessed some dance moves that were alcohol infused. It wasn’t pretty, and the fact is, you are at a business event, not a party – even when it’s called a party.

Final rule: NO EMAIL AT THE BOOTH. You want to check the stock market, play Sudoku or Words with Friends, or catch up on email, don’t let the lull in traffic seduce you into thinking you’re off duty. If someone were to pass by your booth, and you are heads down on your iPhone, most likely they’ll just keep walking. Unless there is an urgent text, keep the phone in your pocket, and when there is a lull in the crowd, walk around and learn about your competitors and potential partners. Get the most out of your investment in the cost of being at ILTACon. Oh and have fun, too.


The Trouble with Marketing and Sales

Author: Cathy Kenton
August 6, 2014

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) penned an article regarding the relationships between marketing and sales entitled “The Buying Funnel”. Here is a quote from that article:

Marketing blames the sales force for its poor execution of an otherwise brilliant rollout plan. The sales team, in turn, claims that Marketing sets prices too high and uses too much of the budget, which instead should go toward hiring more salespeople or paying the sales reps higher commissions.

It’s the same old story, marketing complains that the sales team isn’t doing enough to close good leads, and the sales team(s) complains that marketing’s efforts result in poorly qualified leads or inadequate materials/support. Even in smaller companies where the organizational lines are blurred the tendency is for one group to lay blame on the other.

Sales and Marketing

In the HBR article, it is suggested that “when Sales and Marketing are fully integrated, boundaries become blurred. Both groups redesign the relationship to share structures, systems, and rewards”. I couldn’t agree more…there’s nothing like live interaction to help define not only the prospect’s needs, but also clarify in the marketer’s mind the supporting information the salesperson needs.

It’s all about Leads? Are the leads produced by your marketing efforts the right ones? It’s not about the quantity, it’s about generating quality prospects for the sales team. It’s all about working backwards, starting with results:

  • How many ‘qualified’ leads must you produce to generate the desired close-ratio?
  • What is the unique persona of a qualified lead?
  • Where can you find qualified leads?

Are the numbers realistic and achievable? If not, revise your projections…don’t pad the numbers with inappropriate leads just to make the first part of the equation work.


This is part 2 of a two-part series on Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law (CASL)

CASL image 2

Implied vs. express consent

The law defines two types of consent: implied and express. Implied consent is a looser interpretation, whereas express consent requires action from both sender and recipient.

Implied consent includes when:

  • A recipient has purchased a product, service or made another business deal, contract, or membership with your organization in the last 24 months;
  • You are a registered charity or political organization, and the recipient has made a donation or gift, has volunteered, or attended a meeting organized by you; or
  • A professional message is sent to someone whose email address was given to you, or is conspicuously published, and who hasn’t published or told you that they don’t want unsolicited messages.

If your recipients don’t meet any of the above criteria, then express consent is required before you can send campaigns to them.

Express consent means written or oral agreement to receive specific types of messages, for example “You want to receive monthly newsletters and weekly discount notifications from Company B.”

Express consent is only valid if the following information is included with your request for consent:

  • A clear and concise description of your purpose in obtaining consent
  • A description of messages you’ll be sending
  • Requestor’s name and contact information (physical mailing address and telephone number, email address, or website URL)
  • A statement that the recipient may unsubscribe at any time.

The requestor can be you or someone for whom you’re asking. If you’re requesting consent on behalf of a client, the client’s name and contact information must be included with the consent request.

During the transition period, July 1, 2014-July 1, 2017, you may continue to send messages to recipients from whom you have implied consent, unless they unsubscribe. After the 2017 cut-off date, you may only send to recipients with express consent or whose implied consent is currently valid under CASL—that is, 24 months after a purchase or six months after an inquiry.

 

Additional requirements

In addition to understanding what qualifies as CASL-regulated message, and what type of consent is needed, there are a few other details to keep in mind.

  • You must retain a record of consent confirmations.
  • When requesting consent, checkboxes cannot be pre-filled to suggest consent. Each subscriber must check the box themselves for consent to be valid.
  • All messages sent must include your name, the person on whose behalf you are sending (if any), your physical mailing address and your telephone number, email address, or website URL.
  • All messages sent after consent must also include an unsubscribe mechanism, and unsubscribe requests must be processed within 10 days.

Stiff Penalties for Non-Compliance

There are new consequences for spammers, including fines of $1M for individuals and $10M for corporations per violation. It’s important to note that individuals and companies, including directors, officers and other agents, are responsible and liable for the messages they send.

Beyond SPAM

In addition to the traditional SPAM referenced above, the new CASL rules will impose a consent requirement for installation of a computer program on any other person’s PC, smart phone or other computer-based device. Whether the program is installed for a malicious or to commit fraud is not relevant. Technically this means that virtually every business that operates a website, sells or provides mobile applications, or incorporates any kind of software into their products or otherwise make software available to customers will need to review and likely modify their current practices for installing software, and implement and track proof of compliance. For example, using a virtual meeting program to conduct a demonstration or review a proposal, where the user is required to download a piece of software onto their PCs or other device, will constitute a circumstance where proof of audit and compliance is necessary.

 

 

 

Note: LVS provides this article as a resource, based on currently available and published information on this topic, but it should not nor does it constitute legal advice. If you have more questions about CASL, we encourage you to contact an attorney in your area who is familiar with this issue.

 

 


This is part 1 of  two-part series on Canada’s New Anti-Spam Law (CASL).

On July 1, 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (aka CASL) came into effect. Law firms and other companies that do business with Canadian companies need to understand the impact of these new regulations, or face big fines for non-compliance. LVS offers the following insights for our clients’ consideration:

CASL imageWhat is CASL? CASL (pronounced “Castle”) is the implementation of a new set of regulations, and subsequent penalties for non-compliance, by the Canadian Government. There is a transition phase which began on July 1, 2014, and continues until July 1, 2017.During the transitional period, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the Competition Bureau, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, may investigate and litigate against entities that don’t adhere to CASL. After July 1, 2017, any individual will also be able to sue any entity they believe is sending spam messages.   On face value, one might think that only predatory “spammers” need to be concerned about the implications of Canada’s latest anti-spam legislation. However, it is much further reaching than its friendly-sounding name would imply. In fact, it goes much further than just regulating bulk, unsolicited email communications most of us consider as “spam”. Instead, it creates an express (opt-in) consent-based set of rules that will apply to almost all electronic messages sent for a commercial purpose.

What kinds of messages fall under the CASL regulation? The regulations apply to any “Commercial Electronic Message” (CEM) sent from or to Canadian computers and devices in Canada. Messages routed through Canadian computer systems are not subject to this law. A CEM is any message that:

  • Is in an electronic format, including emails, instant messages, text messages, and some social media communications;
  • Is sent to an electronic address, including email addresses, instant message accounts, phone accounts, and social media accounts; and
  • Contains a message encouraging recipients to take part in some type of commercial activity, including the promotion of products, services, people/personas, companies, or organizations.

These types of electronic messages are exempt from CASL for various reasons.

  • Messages to family or a person with established personal relationship.
  • Messages to an employee, consultant, or person associated with your business.
  • Responses to a current customer, or someone who has inquired in the last six months.
  • Messages that will be opened or accessed in a foreign country, including the U.S., China, and most of Europe.
  • Messages sent on behalf of a charity or political organization for the purposes of raising funds or soliciting contributions.
  • Messages attempting to enforce a legal right or court order.
  • Messages that provide warranty, recall, safety, or security information about a product or service purchased by the recipient.
  • Messages that provide information about a purchase, subscription, membership, account, loan, or other ongoing relationship, including delivery of product updates or upgrades.
  • A single message to a recipient without an existing relationship on the basis of a referral. The full name of the referring person must be disclosed in the message. The referrer may be family or have another relationship with the person to whom you’re sending.

If your message does not meet one of these criteria, consent is required under CASL.


In 1992 after a seven-year career as a litigation paralegal, I decided to move into the world of marketing and selling to lawyers. I knew instinctively that my time “in the trenches” would serve me well as I went to work developing messaging and selling technology software to lawyers.

Having spent three months on a law school campus earning my paralegal certificate, I saw first-hand how law students were converted into lawyers. What I didn’t realize until I entered my new career was how many of the same factors that go into legal training influences the way lawyers buy legal products and services.

Why is the legal vertical so challenging?

1. Law School Creates Lawyers – Like medical school, the competitiveness and demand on law students fundamentally changes their personalities. From LSATs to applications, the competition starts before the first day of class. Drop-out/failing rates and class ranking struggles pervade the psyches of students forcing them to focus inward and manage their time selfishly. The better the school, the higher the class ranking, the better the job at graduation (especially in a tough job market). That competitiveness continues into the firm environment.

2. Law Firms have a Different Business Model – A carry-over from the law school mentality, law firms are a bastion of individuality and competitiveness. Rather than pulling together, law firms are made up of pockets (practice groups) that invariably distrust each other. David Maister’s article Are Law Firms Manageable? first published in The American Lawyer, addresses the issues of distrust and competitiveness, and how they impact firm values.

3. Competition is the Name of the Game – The law school process encourages critical thinking and teaches students to advocate every side of an argument. There is no right or wrong, only winning and losing arguments. Three years of arguing in law school, and it’s no wonder lawyers challenge every claim a vendor makes. As consumers, they question ‘the biggest’ and ‘the best’ and they are risk adverse. Few lawyers want to risk trying something new for fear of making a mistake and suffering the scorn of their peers…in short, they’re not early adopters by nature.

My first position after leaving the law firm was as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a legal technology company that developed and marketed case/practice management software. From the onset, we knew we had to overcome aging Luddite managing attorneys, and reasoned that within a few short years, younger more technologically inclined lawyers would move into decision-making positions and advocate for more technology. Along with our competition, we truly believed that as younger, more tech-savvy attorneys worked their way up the ranks, they would embrace productivity enhancing technology, and by the new millennium, every attorney would use practice management software.

And yet even today, only 33% of attorneys use case/practice management (according to the 2010 “Perfect Practice® – Legal Technology Institute Case, Matter, and Practice Management System Software Study” conducted by The University of Florida Law’s Legal Technology Institute, link unavailable at this writing).

What we failed to understand at the time was that the demands placed on young attorneys to perform require them to narrowly focus on the issues at hand. Most young attorneys enter the practice of law in subservient roles and are required to use whatever technology their firms use. Their goals are limited to getting the job done, and as they mature and move through the ranks, they remain focused on getting the job done, and not on how to do the job better.

This is not to say that lawyers will never embrace technology fully. It is to say that there are factors unique to the legal industry that impact buyer behavior. As sellers of legal products and services, we need to hone-in on the specific buying characteristics of this unique market of buyers and craft messages to address their needs and the drivers that most influence them.


It’s December, Typically a Quiet Time in Our Business

Author: Cathy Kenton
December 8, 2013

In all of the years that I’ve worked in the legal industry, I’ve repeatedly heard how slow business is in December. While nobody likes a party or down-time more than me, I’ve found December presents a few unique opportunities:

1. Take Advantage of the Impulse Buy – If your product or service is appropriate for impulse buyers, develop an offer that takes advantage of end of year-end tax spending. Small firms often look to increase deductions at this time of the year. Create a special offer that expires before December 31st and send it to all of your unconverted leads. You just might be surprised at the uptick in sales.

2. Its Not Too Late to Plan – If you’ve been too busy to worry about a ‘plan’ for next year, now’s the perfect time. With the activity slowdown, this is an excellent opportunity to get some quiet, thinking time. Start big, with your overall goals, and ask yourself this question “what does success in 2014 look like?” Once you’ve got that answer, start breaking it down into the pieces and the timing. Whether you’re starting with revenue, users, clients, or income per customer/client, identify the goal and then work backwards to incorporate milestones and build your plan. Write it down…if the plan exists only in your head, the chances of success are significantly reduced.

3. Learn Something New/Do Something New – Social marketing is more than just buzz. Failure to incorporate a social strategy into your marketing program is certain to result in a negative impact on your business in 2014. But where to start? A website update, a blog, SEO, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are all viable options. Pick one…they each have their own strengths…and commit to it. Incorporate it into your plan and set aside some time to learn the benefits and figure out how to make it work for you. There’s a wealth of information (much of it free) online to help you get started.

At this point it isn’t what you do that’s important…it’s doing something! Use your ‘down-time’ wisely and when next December comes around, you’ll appreciate the results. That’s how I’m planning to spend my December slow-down.


Legal Vendor Advisory, a new voice for our community

Author: Cathy Kenton
June 9, 2013

Selling products and service to lawyers has never been easy, and it’s never been more challenging than it is now. The legal vertical is such a dynamic market, with the constant turnover of decision-makers, disruptive innovation changing the way law firms operate; it’s not easy to construct and deliver messages to cynical buyers. But without our products and services, law firms would not operate at any level of efficiency. For years as a member of the legal ‘vendor’ community and as a consultant, I’ve thought we’ve lacked a say.

What are we missing?

A Forum – New companies entering the legal vertical stumble along, forced to figure out the legal market for themselves, while seasoned veterans struggle to optimize ROI. Imagine the intelligence we can share with ‘newbies’ and veterans alike.

A Resource – Short of a few national tradeshows and conferences, we lack a community meeting place where companies providing products and services to the legal market can join together to discuss news, topics, and challenges we face in both the short term and long term.

A Voice – How many times have we heard ‘no vendors’? It’s our job to change the perception that vendors/providers are only interested in selling…after all some of the greatest minds in legal are ‘vendors’.

When NALV (the National Association of Legal Vendors) imploded in the early 1990’s, it was long before it was fashionable to acquire a domain name. A recent Google search turned up an acronym dictionary that still lists the legal vendor version, but that’s about it…the URL, nalv.org, belongs to the Nigerian Association of Las Vegas! The point is, it’s been well over 15 years since the legal vendor community has had a centralized meeting place to openly discuss the issues facing and transforming our businesses.

While we won’t change negative ‘vendor’ perceptions or solve issues overnight, LegalVendorAdvisory (LVA) is dedicated to helping shape the legal profession and starting conversations between ourselves, the market, and the organizations/publications serving the legal community. A big goal and one that will take time.

To start, this blog will discuss high-level issues facing us as well as addressing our marketing and business development challenges. And, to make sure we have a little fun along the way, I’ll be dedicating Fridays to a lighter post that incorporates my love of wine (drinking it) so keep an eye out for my Friday Vin-Yets.

So, if you provide products and/or services to lawyers, join us and share your opinions.