Yesterday my friend John Romano asked me to speak at the Florida Justice Association Workhorse Seminar. The “Workhorse” as it is known at the FJA, is one of the best consumer justice attorney seminars in the country. Romano has been doing this seminar for over 30 years. It’s know for being LONG — it starts at 7:30 in the morning and ends until 8:30 at night — and goes on for four days. But it’s also an amazing seminar for consumer justice attorneys, with a wide range of topics covering all aspects of the practice.
Romano asked me to talk this year about building a products practice in 2012. It was a treat to be asked to speak at the Workhorse, and especially so because he asked me to talk about a great topic, and in one of the coveted time slots — Thursday afternoon.
It was also fun to be back at an FJA event. I was President of that organization last year, and because the job took me away from my law practice for most of the year campaigning and lobbying, I haven’t been to too many FJA events of late. Being at the Workhorse yesterday felt like coming home. It was great to see great friends and staff, and made me appreciate once again what a critical job the organization does to protect the civil justice system in Florida and what an amazing networking opportunity it presents for its members.
Yesterday my talk focused on two things I believe are at the core of building a niche law practice: first, being remarkable in what you do, and second, building meaningful relationships. The concept of being ‘remarkable’ is something that’s been covered by many speakers before. This idea is also well covered in popular books like Good to Great, or Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, which is one of my favorites.
The second concept was the one I spent most of my time discussing yesterday: that recent cultural changes we’ve seen as the result of social media and online networking has given consumer lawyers a new vehicle to develop and maintain meaningful relationships and change the game for building a practice. Blogs, social media, and websites if done the right way will help build our reputations and generate clients. Pretty basic concept, right?
Unfortunately we trial lawyers are often the last ones to adopt new technologies, especially compared to other industries and professions. And when it comes to social media we are solidly behind the curve. Most of us do not consistently and personally blog. We might have a staffer blog for our firm, but we don’t do it ourselves, much less actively participate in the legal blog sphere conversation.
Most of us don’t have Twitter accounts. And most haven’t even claimed our own profiles on places like Avvo, LinkedIn, or Google+ where consumers are looking for information about us. These are all free things we can do to immediately to engage and build our long term relationships that will undeniably benefit our practices by generating referrals.
The interesting thing about giving a presentation, or teaching anything for that matter, is that the teacher usually learns more than the students. I’ve had a blog and a twitter account for years. But unfortunately for me I’m extremely inconsistent. The great legal bloggers like Max Kennerly and Bill Marler who I talked about yesterday both have one thing in common: they engage personally on a consistent basis. People like me subscribe to their blogs because they regularly and reliably generate great content that keeps me coming back.
So, in the wake of the lessons I learned yesterday, I’ve decided to dust off this blog. I started this — NewsomeBlog.com on a whim several months ago with the idea of having a separate blog from our firm’s blog that would focus more on my personal experiences as a consumer lawyer and civil justice activist. Like any new blog, I recognize that this blog will initially have few, if any readers. But I’m going to try practicing what I preached to my friends yesterday, by keeping up with this thing and trying to share helpful information here on a somewhat regular basis.
On that note, as promised yesterday, here is a link to the Prezi presentation I gave yesterday at the Workhorse, Building a Product Liability Practice in 2012, A Two Step Blueprint. I’d appreciate any comments or questions from anyone who was there yesterday, and thanks again for listening.