The practice of law has changed significantly since I started in 1988. These changes, along with my desire to explore a new platform, resulted in my decision to close my individual law practice and become a member of the Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada law firm.
Butler Snow is based in Ridgeland, Mississippi and is recognized as a leading law firm by many publications. Chambers USA – America’s Leading Lawyers for Business describes Butler Snow as having “enormous power and presence” with a team of attorneys who have achieved national prominence because of “sheer, unambiguous quality.” According to Chambers, Butler Snow clients refer to the firm as “well-known for being successful” and it’s attorneys as “real deal-makers.” Chambers also noted Butler Snow’s ability to deliver to the client “the whole package – intelligence, presence and trial experience.” Butler Snow has been named by Best’s Review as one of 69 law firms “Standing the Test of Time.” National Law Journal has listed Butler Snow as one of twenty law firms on its Midsize Hot List for demonstrating creative, innovative strategies, developing practice areas and recruiting top legal talent. Butler Snow is committed to diversity and I look forward to actively participating in it’s efforts to strengthen that commitment for the benefit of its clients, the firm, the legal community and the public.
During my twenty-three-year career, I have worked on hundreds of cases with, and against, attorneys from Butler Snow and I have observed their legal ability first hand. I am pleased to join this talented group.
Posted in Diversity, Law Firm Economics, Marketing, Strategic Planning
Tagged Butler Snow, Butler Snow O'Mara Stevens & Cannada, Charles E. Griffin, Charles Griffin, Commercial Litigation, law firm diversity, law firms Memphis TN, law firms Ridgeland Mississippi, Mississippi commercial litigation, Mississippi law firm
According to a press release on PR-USA.net, the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) has announced the appointment of Jason L. Brown as it’s new Executive Director. Mr. Brown is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and was previously employed byPepsiAmericas, Inc.
Minority defense lawyers face significant challenges to maintaining existing business and generating new business. While some of these challenges are the same as our majority counterparts, many are not. One of the biggest challenges is the difficult task of meeting and developing relationships with prospective clients. Diversity programs and networking events provide opportunities for minority lawyers to meet in-house counsel who might otherwise be inaccessible to them. Most minority lawyers and minority law firms lack a historical or “legacy” relationship with large companies and their in-house counsel. The historical relationships between corporations and majority lawyers and law firms are a significant obstacle for minority lawyers. Networking opportunities are extremely important means of access for minority lawyers.
Networking programs provide access to minority lawyers. For minority lawyers in large firms, these programs serve to augment existing client relationships that they may have developed through their firms. For minority lawyers in small firms, these programs provide invaluable access that they might not otherwise be able to achieve. These programs should be preserved, expanded and objectively measured so that they can improve minority defense lawyers’ chances of achieving some degree of parity in the distribution of corporate defense work.
While the benefits of diversity programs cannot be denied, these programs are not panaceas for all of the business development challenges faced by minority defense lawyers. While working on a recent project, I learned that diversity programs are not immune to the effects of the current recession. The number of opportunities and the resources available to fund those opportunities are not as plentiful as they were during healthier economic times. It is more evident now than ever that diversity programs are not substitutes for independent business development efforts. In this environment, it is more important than ever for minority defense lawyers to increase their personal business development and marketing efforts.
There’s an old expression about being out of sight and being out of mind. The point of the expression is that people tend to forget about you if they don’t see you. This adage is particularly true in the legal profession. Successfully building a defense practice requires that you establish and maintain a strong presence within your community and in your practice area. Maintaining a strong presence in your community improves the chances that your name will be mentioned when someone seeks information regarding defense counsel in your area. Maintaining a strong presence in legal circles involving your area of practice greatly increases your chances of being considered for defense work within that area of practice. A combination of a strong community presence and a strong reputation in your practice area will help you develop your individual “brand” and your “brand” will make you a visible and viable candidate for defense work.
Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you have a strong presence in your community. Next, ask yourself if you are known as a defense lawyer in one or more particular practice areas. If the answer to either of these questions is less than an enthusiastic “yes,” you should improve your marketing efforts immediately. Don’t wait for business to come to you by merely attending one or more diversity programs. Be proactive, be visible, develop and market your “brand.”
The American Bar Association (ABA) established a program in 1998 to encourage corporations to retain minority lawyers. Initially called the Minority Counsel Demonstration Program, it is now known as the Minority Counsel Program (MCP). The goal of the program has grown to include the promotion of diversity in the legal profession through education and promoting relationships between corporations and lawyers who are ethnically and racially diverse.
Until recently, membership fees for the program were fixed and expensive. Member firms had to fork over a hefty $2500 fee to join the program. This limited the number of participating firms. One of best changes to the program is the creation of a new staggered fee structure. The new fee structure is based on the size of the law firm and ranges from $750 to $2500. Firms with less than three hundred attorneys are eligible to join for $750.
The MCP hosts two annual meetings which include CLE presentations, professional development sessions, networking receptions and roundtable discussions—all of which will include participation by in-house counsel. Previous meetings have been limited to members of the MCP. I have been informed by the ABA that non-member attorneys will now be allowed to attend these events for a registration fee.
I suspect that the Minority Counsel Program will see increased membership and increased participation as a result of the new changes. If implemented with proper planning and defined measurable goals, the changes may provide opportunity for the development of meaningful relationships between ethnically and racially diverse lawyers and corporate representatives who control legal spending. If implemented without measurable goals and objectives, the new enhancements may prove to be little more than a feel good gathering of individuals with good intentions. As for me, I will do all that I can to assist in the program’s success.
The Defense Research Institute commissioned Smock Sterling Strategic Management Consultants to perform a study on the future of litigation. A pdf of the study report can be downloaded here. The report provides an interesting and informative overview of the future challenges to the jury trial system. Among other things, the report provides insight into future practice trends that should be beneficial to lawyers planning their practice emphasis and future goals. Kudos to DRI for publishing this report.
The Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA) was founded in 1997 to promote the hiring and retention of minority attorneys by corporations. They recently published a story titled Leading Law Firm Rainmakers — 2009. This story details the success of fourteen diverse attorneys who have managed to develop strong books of business.
This story is worth the time to read it.