Stem Client Roundup for June 2016

Here we are: at the midpoint of the year, and about to kick off one of our short and sweet Canadian summers. Here at Stem, we hope all our clients and readers make time to slow down, enjoy the fleeting pleasures of summer, and recharge for the inevitably busy fall ahead. An early Happy Canada Day and 4th of July!

We’ll be back again next month!

Stem Client Roundup for May 2016

Can you believe that 2016 is almost half over? The weather is warming up (or sweltering hot already, depending on where you live!) and summer is at last in sight. Here’s what our clients were up this past month:

That’s it for May; we’ll back in a few weeks with our next installment.

New Blogs & Podcasts at Lawblogs.ca

It’s been a while since our last update listing the newest blogs added to lawblogs.ca, and there are quite a few of them to share!

We’ve also added a couple new entries to our slowly-but-surely growing list of Canadian legal podcasts:

Know of another great blog that’s not yet on lawblogs.ca? Let us know!

 

Stem Client Roundup for April 2016

Another month has flown by, and as usual our clients have busy with conferences, blogging, training and more. Here’s a look at what they were up to in April:

That’s it for this month; we’ll be back at the end of May with more new & notables.

 

Stem Client Roundup for March 2016

The joke was on me this April Fool’s, as I thought there was one more day left in March for me to get this roundup completed! At any rate, better late than never. Here’s a quick look at some of the great things our clients have been up to over the past month:

That’s it for March – we’re keen to see what April holds!

Stem Client Roundup for February 2016

After the full month we’ve had here at Stem, I very much appreciated the bonus day of February 29th – but alas, it was not quite enough for me to get our usual month-end roundup out on time! Our clients have been busy too — here’s a peek at what they’ve been up to:

Check back next month for month our next round of new & notables.

New on Lawblogs.ca: Clawbies Winners & More

We’re due for another “what’s new at lawblogs.ca” post! Since our last update, we’ve added lots of blogs to our directory of Canadian law blogs. This batch includes Clawbies winners, finalists and nominees along with other new (and new-to-us) sites from around the blogosphere:

As always, if you’ve got a blog that meets our submission guidelines, please let us know!

Stem Client Roundup for January 2016

Happy New Year! Looking over what our clients have been up to this month, it’s clear that 2016 is off to a great start. Here’s our regular roundup of clients news and accomplishments:

We’ll be back in a month with more client news.

Stem Client Roundup for December 2015

The last day of 2015 is upon us, and we’re wrapping up the year with our December installment of Stem client news. While we were busy running the 10th annual Clawbies, here’s what our clients were up to:

That’s it for this time — see you next year!

Melissa Kluger: Blogging “helped me find my voice”

This week we’re wrapping up our Original Clawbies Winners Interview Series with these insights from Melissa Kluger. She is the founder, publisher and editor of Precedent magazine, which began as a blog in 2006. Although Kluger herself is no longer blogging, we know our readers will be interested in this behind-the-scenes look at the site’s evolution from a blog into the online presence for a print publication, and how the website acts as a companion to the magazine.

Melissa Kluger of Precedent magazine, lawandstyle.ca

Melissa Kluger of Precedent magazine, lawandstyle.ca

What prompted you to start your original blog, lawandstyle.ca? Were you the sole blogger?

I started blogging on lawandstyle.ca in 2006. I knew at the time that I wanted to launch a print magazine and thought that writing online at the beginning would help me find my voice, learn about the interests of my audience and develop the magazine’s overall tone. At the time, blogging was still quite new and a huge leap for me.  I’ll admit I was quite nervous about it at the beginning, but once I got rolling it was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to write. In the beginning, I was the only blogger.  But soon after I brought on a couple of other lawyers to write columns — one on wine and one on fashion. The print magazine launched in the fall of 2007. My online writers got space in print, but I hired professional journalists to write the majority of the content.

How do you decide what magazine content gets published online, or vice versa? How much overlap is there between content across formats?

Just about everything we run in print also runs online. Our website is also updated with daily news, photos from events in the legal community and other timely content. We also have some web exclusives, such as our popular Hireback Watch and Summer Job Watch  The data we collect for these stories online often ends up being included in print articles as well. So print and web really help each other out.

Do you have a sense of what Precedent’s most popular columns or topics are?

Our most popular content is the material our audience can’t get anywhere else. For example, we’ve published exclusive stories about the fall of Heenan Blaikie as well as all the data we’ve been tracking for the Hireback and Summer Job watches.  I think our audience really appreciates our effort to collect and report this type of insider news for them.

Oh and there’s one other super popular story: “The suits on Suits.” A couple of years ago we interviewed the Canadian-based tailor who designs the men’s suits for the TV show Suits and he told us why he chooses certain styles for certain characters. So, when people around the world Google “What does Harvey Spector wear,” our story comes up!

What have been the highlights (and low points) of your blogging/magazine journey?

A highlight and also a challenge for me has been keeping up with the way people (and lawyers in particular) consume news and lifestyle stories. When I started Precedent I wasn’t even on Facebook and no one had heard of Twitter. Today, we spend a lot of time sharing our stories on a variety of social media platforms and measuring the effectiveness of each of those platforms. It’s a fun challenge to keep up with the changing way people consume media and also be especially aware of the unique (and highly cautious) ways in which lawyers approach the web and social media.  The especially good news in all of this is that now I don’t do any of this alone.  I have a team that works with me and they are responsible for posting and sharing all our great content.  It’s amazing to have a web-savvy team who are not only great at sharing content but who also act as advisors on the most effective ways to do it.

If you can share, what’s in store next for Precedent?

Right now, I’m putting a lot of focus on The Precedent A-List. This is a site I launched in 2010 to help law firms share announcements and jobs in the legal community. Five years in, the site is still very innovative and more and more firms are using it to either advertise job openings or to announce good news like new hires, promotions and awards. It’s not blogging or a magazine, but a new kind of business that works well with the other products we offer.

Thanks very much, Melissa, for sharing your story with us!

That’s a wrap on our Original Clawbies Winners Interview Series – a big thanks to all those who participated. We ran this series in honour of the Clawbies’ 10th anniversary. Nominations for the 2015 awards are open now, and we look forward to hearing about our readers’ favourite blogs – get all the details on how to nominate them at Clawbies.ca.

P.S. Did you miss any of the previous installments of our series? Here they all are: David CantonMichael Geist | Vincent Gautrais | Allison Wolf | David Fraser | Neil Melliship

 

Who Will You Nominate For the 10th Annual Clawbies?

You know the feeling.

That little jolt of excitement and anticipation when you see a new blog post is available from one of your favourite blogs. Maybe you read it right away, or maybe you save it to read on your bus ride home (or in the bath with a glass of wine?).

Either way, you savour the post, maybe share it on social media or with a colleague or friend, and file it away in your mind, because you know at some point you’ll probably refer back to it – that’s the quality and usefulness of this blog.

So, that blog you’re thinking about? There’s your Clawbies nomination right there – and we’d like to hear about it.

This year marks the 10th annual Canadian Law Blog Awards, and until December 23rd, you can blog or tweet your nominations of up to 3 law-related blogs, using the hashtag #clawbies2015 or #ClawbiesAt10. (No need to nominate your own blog – by nominating others, your blog will earn an automatic nomination.)

Then, watch for the announcement of the 2015 Clawbies winners on New Year’s Eve, subscribe to the new favourites we’re sure you’ll discover, and look forward to more of that “can’t wait to read it” feeling all next year.

 

Stem Client Roundup for November 2015

Everything seems to really kick into high gear around this time of the year – work gets busy as we try to clear our plates a little before the holidays, and our family and social calendars are quickly filling up with engagements. Here at Stem we’ve been preparing for one of our favourite times of the year: the Clawbies, which kick off tomorrow morning. Our clients have been busy as well; here’s a look at what November held for them:

We’ll be back next month to wrap up the year with a final installment of client news for 2015.

Neil Melliship: Blogging is “a very good and relatively low cost marketing tool”

This week we bring you a new installment of our Original Clawbies Winners Interview Series with these blogging insights from Neil Melliship. Melliship is an IP lawyer and trade-mark agent at Clark Wilson LLP in Vancouver, BC. He is founding member of the firm’s Canadian Trademark Blog, which launched in 2006.

Neil Melliship blogs at the Canadian Trademark Law Blog.

Neil Melliship blogs at the Canadian Trademark Blog.

You’ve been blogging for more than a decade. Do you remember what prompted you to start blogging in the first place?

Our webmaster of the day suggested it would be a good way to improve our SEO based on how it was, at that time, quickly gaining traction as a marketing tool.

Have you ever taken a hiatus from blogging or considered shutting the blog down? Why?

Different members of our team have taken turns writing blog posts over the years, but as time has gone on, the initial enthusiasm has waned. We have considered shutting the blog down in the last year or so, but we haven’t as we still see it as potentially a very good and relatively low cost (time wise) marketing tool.

How do you make the time to blog regularly? i.e., how does it fit into your schedule? Do you do it as part of your work day, write on evenings/weekends etc?

It’s evolved. At one time it was a first thing in the morning task and gradually it has shifted to evenings or weekends – due primarily to increased work flow generally.

Where does your blogging inspiration come from? Do you use an RSS reader or social media to be alerted to topics of interest?

There are a few services that provide very prompt notice of new Canadian trade-mark decisions and I review those every morning.

How do you decide what topics to cover?

Our blog is targeted very narrowly – we only post on stories that relate to Canadian trade-mark law.

Do you ever include items of a personal/less-serious nature?

We are always on the lookout for ways to make the blog more readable and less formal, so that writing style reflects that as do some of the topics we write about.

How do you spread the word about a new blog post? Through social media or other channels?

Our marketing department pushes all new blog posts (and newsletter articles) out through various social media channels, as do I.

Do you mention your blog in your (firm website/faculty) biography?

Yes.

Thanks, Neil, for this! This was the sixth installment of our series – if you missed the earlier interviews, check them out here:  David Canton, Michael Geist, Vincent Gautrais, Allison Wolf, and David Fraser.

Autumn Additions to Lawblogs.ca

It’s been a few months since our last update on what’s new at Lawblogs.ca, so here’s a quick look at some of the more recent additions:

As always, if you know of a blog that meets our listing criteria for lawblogs.ca, please let us know about it.

On a related note, in just a couple weeks, we’ll be heading into the 10th annual Canadian Law Blog Awards, and looking forward to seeing lots of participation from the Canadian legal blogosphere. Check out Clawbies.ca on December 1st for all the details on how to nominate your favourite blogs!

UX and the Future of Law Firm Branding

If I were in charge of marketing at a law firm, I’d be trying to learn how my firm could incorporate design principles and the user experience (UX) into its client-facing activities. Here’s why.

Most law firm branding efforts aim to create a reputation within the firm’s target markets for some specific quality by which the firm wants to be known or for which it wants to “stand out.” Traditionally, this quality has been lawyer-focused: the firm possesses elite expertise in a particular practice area or industry. More recently, firms have tried branding themselves through buyer-focused qualities such as client service, affordable prices, “business thinking,” and so forth.

Regardless of what brand the firm chooses to adopt, however, the branding efforts are always applied by the seller to the buyer, a one-way message from the firm to its market: the firm wants to influence what the market thinks of when it thinks of the firm. The law firm believes, as do most companies in other industries, that it’s in control of that “branding process.”

In reality, of course, law firms have very little control over their brand. Partly, this is because law firms have almost no mechanisms for quality control and no power to enforce protocols for lawyers’ behaviours and relationships with clients. A law firm that tries to force a partner to strictly follow a specified regimen when performing work and communicating with clients will usually be down one partner in short order. As for “expertise,” most clients assume their lawyers have it, and very few know or care enough to distinguish the fine gradients of expertise that separate one lawyer from another — and in any event, with partner movement rampant among firms, expertise has become mobile to the point of peripatetic, and therefore an unreliable foundation for a brand.

But there’s a more important reason why law firms can’t really create a brand: clients are already doing that for them. Clients don’t need any help, thanks very much, in deciding what a firm’s brand actually is.

This is because a company’s true brand is based upon the actual experiences of its users — hence, on its “user experience.” The key to a successful UX is design. Good design maximizes the quality of the experience by which a user reaches his or her desired outcome, by optimizing the process through which the outcome is achieved — not just the best result, but the best path by which the result is reached. Apple understands design and the UX, as the iPhone and iPad demonstrate; very few other computer makers ever have. BMW uses the tagline “The Ultimate Driving Experience” for a reason. Apple products work just as well as PCs. BMWs get you from A to B just as well as any other vehicle. But the experience of people when using these products is outstanding. That is the brand these companies enjoy.

Notice, however, that these brands were not built through advertising slogans or marketing campaigns — they weren’t manufactured by the company through repeated one-way messaging directed at consumers. The consumers themselves identified and validated the brand through their own experience. This is the real shift that’s taking place in markets of all kinds: people are deciding for themselves how they will relate to companies and products, rather than waiting for advertisers to tell them how they should feel. The rise of ad blocking software is a good illustration of newly empowered consumers deciding that they, not the products they consume, will determine the nature of the relationship between the two.

Every lawyer and every law firm has a brand, but most of these brands are inadvertent and invisible to their owners. When a lawyer fails to respond to email inquiries, or interrupts a client in the first seven seconds of their conversation, or sends a bill 20% more expensive than the original estimate with no warning or explanation, that lawyer has created a brand more powerful and authentic than anything the Marketing Department will ever come up with. The user experience of that lawyer is terrible, and therefore so is his or her brand. Multiply that effect across law firms with tens or hundreds of lawyers and staff: every point of contact between the firm and its clients is another data point in the firm’s true brand. Are clients delighted by their experience of using the firm? Or are they confused, frustrated, bewildered or infuriated? Tell me the answer, and I’ll tell you the brand.

That’s why law firm marketing professionals (or, in smaller firms, the partners in charge of marketing) should step away from tagline debates and advertising campaigns and instead pay close attention to improving the firm’s user experience. Your brand is what it’s like to deal with you. Figure out exactly what it’s like to use your firm: walk through the process of finding, assessing, contacting, conversing with, being served by, and paying your firm. These are among the most critical points of the law firm user experience. Upgrade these, and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your firm’s branding objectives.