The Digital Edge

How to Attract Clients in the Digital Era

Legal marketing has changed dramatically in the past 20 years as we have reached “the digital era.” Some lawyers have embraced this new world of social media marketing, engaging website content, and cloud-based computing. But those who have not, particularly solo and small firm lawyers, are missing out on an opportunity for increased client base, client satisfaction, and competition with big law firms.

On this episode of The Digital Edge, Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway interview Sona Pancholy, a business development director, about the ways in which the digital age impacts law firm marketing, what mistakes lawyers should avoid making, where busy professionals should start, and some dos and don’ts of social media.

Topics include:

  • Technology leveling the playing field for law firms
  • Reduced barrier of entry into new markets
  • Increased efficiency in engaging potential clients, preparing pitch materials, etc.
  • Website content to help business development
  • Updating blogs and videos
  • Optimized website for mobile
  • Removing the legalese (yes, we know it’s hard)
  • Data mining and analytics to target your market
  • Bios, LinkedIn, and being familiar with social platforms
  • Technology as a tool, not a solution

Sona Pancholy is the director of business development at Stinson Leonard Street LLC. Based in Washington, D.C., Sona serves on the Education Board of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Division and has spoken at previous ABA and Legal Marketing Association annual meetings. She has experience training lawyers, judges, lawmakers, and business professionals around the world. In her current role, Sona focuses on creating and supporting best practices and processes for the delivery of top quality business development support across the firm.

Special thanks to our sponsors, ServeNow and CloudMask.

View transcript

The Digital Edge: How to Attract Clients in the Digital Era – 8/27/2015

 

Advertiser: Welcome to The Digital Edge with Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway. Your hosts, both legal technologists, authors and lecturers, invite industry professionals to discuss a new topic related to lawyers and technology. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.

 

Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome to the 90th edition of The Digital Edge, lawyers and technology. We’re glad to have you with us. I’m Sharon Nelson, president of Sensei Enterprises.

 

Jim Calloway: And I’m Jim Calloway, director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance program.

 

Sharon D. Nelson: Before we get started, we’d like to thank our sponsors. CloudMask offers cost-effective and efficient data encryption for law firms. Whether large or small, in Google Apps, Office 365 and other Cloud solutions. Sign up now for your 60 day free account at CloudMask.com. We also thank Serve-Now, a nationwide network of trusted, prescreened process servers. Work with the most professional process servers who have experience with high volume serves, embrace technology, and understand the litigation process. Visit ServeNow.com to learn more.

 

Jim Calloway: Today our topic is How to Attract Clients in the Digital Era. We are happy to welcome our guest, Sona Pancholy. Sona Pancholy is the director of business development at Stinson Leonard Street based in Washington, DC. Sona serves on the Education Board of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Division and has spoken at previous ABA and Legal Marketing Association meetings. She has experience training lawyers, judges, lawmakers, and business professionals around the world. In her current role, she’s focused on creating and supporting best practices and processes for the delivery of top quality business development support across the firm.

 

Sharon D. Nelson: Thanks for joining us today, Sona, we’re awfully happy to have you.

 

Sona Pancholy: Well thank you very much. I’m very excited since I received the information, I’m honored to be here.

 

Sharon Nelson: Well let’s start off with the obvious, we know the digital age is impacting law firm marketing. But can you tell us how it’s impacting from your vantage point?

 

Sona Pancholy: Sure. So when you extended the invitation for me to join you, I was on vacation. And this question has been disrupting my cocktail by the pool ever since then. So perhaps the first answer is it is disrupting legal marketing, no doubt. I think there are three areas that I would probably call to attention today, and they are – first and foremost, it is leveling the playing field for law firms and that in the sense that today the Cloud based computing with open source programming and social media platforms, things like that. It is so much more cost effective for law firms to take advantage of some of these tools that are out there. And so big marketing budgets and national brands, such as a firm like mine, are now competing with much smaller law firms in a very nuanced geographical area that can reach clients across the country, across the world; they can access information and data and easily connect them with those prospects around the country. So the flipside of that is it’s also reducing the barrier to entry into new market, meaning that we as lawyers can now spot trends in a more effective way. We can find those trends and then create a targeted and tailored marketing campaign and we can find really unique and creative ways to reach those potential clients in a brand new space with a lot less investment of time and money than what it might have been in the past. And related to that would be the efficiencies that come from a digital era. So these new platforms have changed the way in which lawyers and marketing professionals such as myself can track and analyze or react to a market development. So we have robust relationship management software, for example. Even in a large firm, we can be aware of who knows somebody at a potential client, how strong is that relationship and how can we best engage this potential referral source. For example, we can build and purchase off shelf experience tracking software which allows us to be aware of past successes and then turn that back around and tell our clients or potential clients what we’ve done that can be helpful to them. We have tools that now allow law firms to prepare very tailored and very nice pitch materials, proposal responses. All of these things have created a lot of efficiency which is good because it allows us to respond to a much higher competitive environment.

 

Jim Calloway: Well following up on that, what do you see changing about law firm marketing in this digital age?

 

Sona Pancholy: That’s a really good question. There’s a lot of things that I think have changed, certainly. Digital or not, legal marketing has changed significantly in the last fifteen to twenty years. But there’s three areas that I think are probably relevant for today’s discussion, and they are in the aspects of business development first, client service, and business intelligence. So if we focus on those, digital marketing and the ability to use these tools don’t replace the fact that this is still a relationship business. And we know that most clients, whether it’s an individual looking for a divorce attorney in Phoenix or it’s a major corporation looking for an M&A attorney around the world, they’re still going to find their lawyer by asking a trusted resource. They’ll ask a friend or they’ll ask a colleague and they get that referral. But then they’re using things like websites and online content to validate. So what that has done for legal marketing is it means our content has to help demonstrate that we can do what someone says we can do. We have to put content out there in a way that’s understandable for the client that we can bring them success when they engage with us. That’s one way in which business development is changing. We’re also seeing a new way that we can provide client service and bring value. As I mentioned earlier, these platforms are much more available to us. Things like a podcast, such as this format, webinars, e-alerts, blogs; all of these tools allow us to provide value to our clients in a new way that’s cost-effective. So we, in preparing for law firm marketing, we’re looking at how we can provide a service to our clients in a way that brings value and in a way that they want to receive it; whether that be online CLEs, or it be invitations to free opportunities that may allow them to educate their legal team in-house or something like that. And then one area that doesn’t get discussed as much but I think is very critical is the aspect of business intelligence. Terms like data mining, data analytics, may seem very daunting to some of the listeners here. But I think it’s important to remember that the digital era makes business intelligence accessible. So things like an internet search, subscribing to a news feed, tracking a client on social media. These are really cost-effective ways that allow a lawyer to stay informed about what’s happening to their clients or what’s happening to a prospective client that they might use to find an opportunity to engage with that person or that company. And then of course, there’s lots of ways in which the digital era allows business intelligence to be more robust if you can have some dollars to invest in some of the big databases and things like that. But we really can know a lot more about who our clients are, what our marketplace looks like, and that creates a lot of new expectations, certainly. Clients and prospects don’t tolerate information that’s not tailored to them, but it also creates a lot of new opportunities because we can really be thoughtful about who our market is and who our clients are and what we can do to help them.

 

Sharon Nelson: One of the things that it has allowed lawyers to do as digital marketing has changed, it has allowed them to make many, many mistakes. Some of which end up in disciplinary proceedings. But if you have to identify just three of the mistakes that have been made, what would you say they are, Sona?

 

Sona Pancholy: Well you know, I had an opportunity to listen to a podcast that the Digital Edge had a few weeks ago in which one of your guests spoke about optimizing for mobile and I strongly recommend every listener to go back and listen to that if they haven’t already done so because I think the points raised there are critical. Law firms do have websites, but if they’re not staying current in how those platforms are being accessed, there’s no point in having it. There was a great article last week in the Wall Street Journal about the fact that Google’s efforts to change the algorithm on which websites show up in a search is having an impact and they are emphasizing websites that are mobile friendly. And they’re doing this because they’re acknowledging that a lot of people are using mobile devices and such to do their web searches. So it’s important. There’s a cost involved but it is important that law firms keep up with the times as those technologies evolve and make sure that their online content is accessible and able to be found by the clients that they want to reach. And then related to that, the other mistake that I see is that content gets old. So you have a great website, you created a blog, maybe you even have a YouTube channel, but the content is stale. A lot of lawyers will tell me that the law just doesn’t change that rapidly. I wrote a great article on this nuance of the tax law and it just hasn’t changed, so what more should I say? But you have to keep in mind that if the content is old, not only will your postings all lower in a search result, but clients will proceed that lack of activity as lack of active engagement on the subject. It just appears as if you’re not doing anything more in the space. So I really think it’s important that if you created a platform or a website or a blog, you have to find ways to keep that content current and make sure that it’s relative and timely. And then when you write that content, now that I have you doing that, it’s important to remove the legalese. Sharon, too many lawyers still write as if they are briefing cases for their law professor. And it is just critical that this content be written in a way that clients find informative and engaging. No matter how flashy your website or how slick your blog or how current your bio, if the client can’t understand what you’re writing about will impact them and what they can do about it, you’re just noise in a very crowded space so they’ll jump to the next piece of content that’s available.

 

Sharon Nelson: Thanks, Sona, that’s one of the remarks I hear most often is that the accessible writing, the non lawyerly writing is so important in communication. And I know we almost had an article rejected by the ABA’s Judges Journal because it wasn’t legally lawyerly language and some of the editorial board objected but happily they were overruled and the article got published anyway. But we are having a trouble, I think, moving from that legalese into something that is compelling as a story, something that will grab the reader.

 

Sona Pancholy: It makes sense, three years of law school drums in a style of writing that is very hard to walk away from. But that’s just not our audience, that’s not who’s reading our content.

 

Jim Calloway: That’s certainly true and one thing I see about lawyers is they all seem to be very busy. So for time-challenged lawyers, how should a lawyer get started with improving their marketing efforts?

 

Sona Pancholy: If lawyers do nothing else, I always advise them to focus on their bios first. We know through website analytics that most clients are accessing a law firm’s website through the lawyer’s bio. And that’s usually because, again, they receive a referral so they have a name. They may read an article that hopefully that the attorney has reposted several places and now they have a name of a lawyer that they want to connect with that content. They met you somewhere so they’re looking for your bio and that’s where they enter your website from. So if you do nothing else, I strongly encourage lawyers to ensure your bio is well written, it’s easy to find on your website, and again it explains what a client will gain by working with you. Tell them how you approach solving problems for companies like yours. Tell them how you have brought success for other clients. Write it from the perspective of what the company or the individual will gain by engaging you as opposed to writing it from all the great things you have done. It’s a slight nuance, it’s similar content but it’s worded a little differently. And once you have your bio, I would say the next place to start is your LinkedIn profile. And I should say I’m not trying to endorse one social platform over another, but there is still too many lawyers who are just not taking advantage of LinkedIn. And the fact is that LinkedIn, in terms of the ability to come back in searches so that we know when you Google someone’s name, oftentimes LinkedIn profiles will be the first that will come back in a search. That and the ability to build a network online is so critical that I think focusing on your LinkedIn profile as a place to start is an important one. And I encourage lawyers to take advantage, there are great tip sheets out there and really good consultants also who can help you think about how to put together an effective LinkedIn profile. But it is worth that initial time and investment to do so. And then the other social media platforms I think are a good and easy place for lawyers to start, but it does depend on who your clientele is. Sometimes they may be great, left for your own postings, but more to – again, on the business intelligent side – to track and be aware of what your clients are saying. You can use Twitter feeds to follow what a given company is finding important or anticipating a direction that they want to go in. So I would encourage people to get started in being familiar with those platforms.

 

Sharon Nelson: Is there anything else you’d like to add to focus or should we move to client service which was our next question?

 

Sona Pancholy: Well, I think in terms of business development, I want to remind everybody just before we leave this topic that the technology is a tool, it’s not the solution. This is a relationship business and it’s important that we use these tools to be faster, to be more efficient, to maybe establish credibility. But if all you do is create a website and ask people to call you if they have questions, you’re not going to see growth in your practice. So I encourage looking at technology as a tool for helping your business development but to continue to stay focused on building those solid client relationships.

 

Jim Calloway: The phrase better client service has almost become a buzz phrase in our profession right now, but could you tell us briefly about how lawyers can use these digital platforms to improve their service to their clients?

 

Sona Pancholy: Sure. I can share with you a really great example in my own firm. We are leveraging digital platforms to be able to survey our clients, and we’ve done some creative things and other industries do this much more frequently and much more effectively than law firms do. But clients tell us all the time that their lawyers do not check in with them. They don’t ask them what they could be doing more to gain their trust and their work. And so we are able to use technology, we use an online survey tool to survey vast numbers of our clients on a regular basis, and then we use that data to tell us both how to improve a specific individual client relationship as well as how the firm, how the enterprise, can enhance its own skills and create new ways to feed our clients’ expectations. If you don’t ask, you don’t know, and these tools make it much more feasible for us to understand what clients consider valuable in terms of service. And then I mentioned things like blogs and e-alerts, webinars; by leveraging these digital platforms, small and big law firms are able to offer really specific and tailored training for clients. CLE’s for large legal departments and other ways to learn about legal developments that may be impacting their business. When we’re putting together pitches or proposals, we often extol these offerings when a client asks us how we can help them keep their legal team aware of developments as it impacts them. And we can use data analytics to provide more specific pricing models. So technology is changing the way we put together legal budgets and we’re able to be more effective and more competitive in that area as well.

 

Sharon Nelson: We certainly are and we’re seeing a lot of that. Let us pause for a commercial break and then we will be right back.

 

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Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome back to The Digital Edge on The Legal Talk Network. Today, our subject is How To Attract Clients in the Digital Era, and our guest is Sona Pancholy, the director of business development at Stinson Leonard Street based in their Washington, DC office.

 

Jim Calloway: Turning to social media do’s and don’ts, let’s talk about social media do’s. What tips can you offer for lawyers new to social media?

 

Sona Pancholy: I think it’s important that they leverage these sites. A lot of them are free and I find so many lawyers just missing the simple opportunity. So for example, if you’re speaking or you’re writing, use your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook page to repost that content. Each forum reaches a different type of audience. It’s important, it’s free as I said, and you could reach a variety of people that way and repurpose your content. Also use the platform to know who your audience is. Write and speak in a manner that’s appropriate for them. For example, if you’re an advertising lawyer, and most of your readers are CMO’s or consumer brands, you might use some catchy phrases, you might find some appropriate photos. And if you’re a banking lawyer, you might want to still be engaging but perhaps get the clipart and measure. Social media platforms allow you to know who’s following you, take a look who are they, is it the right audience, and if not tweet your process and consider different content so that you can reach the right audience.

 

Sharon Nelson: The other side of the coin is what are the no-no’s.

 

Sona Pancholy: The most common mistake is lawyers who just continue to avoid these platforms and if you need validation that you won’t look silly, I’ll give you two. I recently attended a panel of in-house counsel, and every single one of them told the audience that they read the content that we as lawyers put out there. They do have caveats around that, it has to be relevant, but they want this information from us and so your clients are telling you that. So don’t avoid putting information out there and using these platforms. And if you still need another example, I can tell you the White House uses Google Hangout as a social media platform to reach conspicuous that they want to engage on social issues. So if they can do it, there’s no reason we can’t do it. Having said that, I will go back to my caveat, and that is you have to be relevant. Don’t use these platforms to tell the world how great you are. Don’t flood your network with promotions or all of your accomplishments. People are reading their news feeds and they’re logging on into these platforms scanning for information; who, what how. Tell them that quickly and tell them that frequently and they will continue to follow you on these platforms. And lastly, I think Sharon you hinted at it earlier in our conversation, just don’t forget that there are ethics rules that are evolving around lawyers’ use of social media. Don’t buy to hype that you can’t use it, but do proceed with caution and understand these rules and watch the changes that are coming in them.

 

Jim Calloway: For those who follow your suggestions well and they now have a mobile optimized website, they regularly post to a blog or social media, they maintain their LinkedIn profile and they gather information on their marketplace. What do you advise for them to do next?

 

Sona Pancholy: Well, Jim, you mean if they’ve done all that, they can’t just sit back and wait for the phone to ring? I mean we all did go to law school just to be able to do that, right?

 

Jim Calloway: Absolutely.

 

Sona Pancholy: I’m joking, of course. But I’ve had the privilege of working with lawyers around the world in lots of different professional settings. And the best advice I received was from a mentor who once reminded me that at one time, lawyers referred to themselves as counselors. You may remember those business cards that used to read, “Counsellors at law”

 

Sharon Nelson: Yep.

 

Sona Pancholy: But the reason that reminder stays with me is all the digital evolution does not replace the fact that the best lawyers are those that still view their role as a counsellor. Someone who’s purpose is to help their clients and to help their community. So I say this because blogs and data analytics, et cetera, they’re just meaningless if you lose sight of the relationship purpose behind them. So I encourage everybody to use these tools to build more meaningful relationships, to be more efficient in doing so, and to understand that you will still be hired by people and people want to know that you care about the things that are important to them. Let the digital era help you be a better person and a better counsellor at law.

 

Sharon Nelson: Well, Sona, we can’t thank you enough. This has been a truly excellent podcast and full of useful information that people can put into use right away. So thank you so much for being our guest today.

 

Sona Pancholy: Absolutely, my pleasure, I’ve really enjoyed it.

 

Sharon D. Nelson: And that does it for this edition of The Digital Edge, lawyers and technology; and remember, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at LegalTalkNetwork.com, or on iTunes. And if you enjoyed our podcast, please rate us on iTunes.

 

Jim Calloway: Thanks for joining us. Goodbye Ms. Sharon.

 

Sharon D. Nelson: Happy trails, cowboy.

 

Advertiser: Thanks for listening to The Digital Edge, produced by the professionals at Legal Talk Network. Join Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway for their next podcast covering the latest topic related to lawyers and technology. Subscribe to the RSS feed on LegalTalkNetwork.com or in iTunes.

 

The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own, and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by, Legal Talk Network, its officers, directors, employees, agents, representatives, shareholders, and subsidiaries. None of the content should be considered legal advice. As always, consult a lawyer.

 

[End of Transcript]

 

The Florida Bar Podcast: President-Elect Bill Schifino on The Florida Bar’s Future Focus – 8/26/2015

 

Advertiser: Welcome to the official Florida Bar Podcast. Where we cover practice management, leadership, and what’s happening in Florida law. Brought to you by the Florida Bar Practice Resource Institute. You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.

 

Adriana Linares: Welcome to another episode of the official Florida Bar Podcast. My name is Adriana Linares. I’m usually the host of this show and I’m very excited to have a great co host with me today. I am, though, a legal technology trainer and consultant and today we’re recording live from the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference down in the beautiful O Resort in West Palm Beach. We’re trapped inside but we’re here for our dedicated listeners. And with me I’m lucky to have a co host today. Hey, Renee!

 

Renee Thompson: How are you Adriana?

 

Adriana Linares: I’m great, thanks for coming on again and helping out.

 

Renee Thompson: Absolutely.

 

Adriana Linares: Tell us a little bit about yourself first.

 

Renee Thompson: Renee Thompson, I serve on the board of governors with president elect Bill Schifino who we’ll be meeting today, and we’re so grateful to be here. It’s been an exciting conference and we’re wrapping it up this afternoon.

 

Adriana Linares: It has been very good so far.

 

Renee Thompson: Absolutely.

 

Adriana: Hey, Bill!

 

Bill Schifino: Hey, good morning!

 

Adriana Linares: Tell our listeners who may not have gotten a chance yet to read about you or hear about you a little bit about our new president elect. Congratulations, by the way.

 

Bill Schifino: Well thank you very much. Bill Schifino, I’m from Tampa and a commercial litigator. I’m married, I have three children, been on the board of governors since 2008, and working closely with our president this year, Ray Abadin, ramping it up for my year next.

 

Adriana Linares: We should tell our listeners that it’s hysterical that Ray is in there doing a townhall barefoot.

 

Bill Schifino: That was the first thing I noticed. Ray and I met in college. Ray didn’t wear shoes in college. I’m telling you, he did not wear shoes in college.

 

Renee Thompson: He works better on his feet.

 

Bill Schifino: I guess so. But I walk in and I learn over to our president last year, Greg Coleman, and I go, “Greg. The man doesn’t have shoes on.” So we had a good chuckle.

 

Renee Thompson: It is a business casual conference.

 

Bill Schifino: Very much so.

 

Adriana Linares: Well, Bill, we wanted to have you come by and tell us a little bit about some things that you have going this year and what your plans are and then specifically we’re going to ask you about the strategic plan that the Bar has kind of put into place for this year and probably into your year.

 

Bill Schifino: Go ahead, Renee.

 

Renee Thompson: One of the things that we really want you to talk about today so that people can get to know you better is what your thoughts are ramping up to your presidential term. Do you have anything on the horizon that the legal profession is going to need to be looking at in the next year that you’ll be working with our membership on?

 

Bill Schifino: Renee first let me start by telling you, you have a great radio voice. I’ve never really even heard this. You have a second career! You’re soothing, calming, and disarming, which is great. As you know, Renee, you and I work closely together on a lot of the issues we’re grappling with. As president elect, my first charge is to support Ray and the issues that he has in front of him, and that’s the job as a president elect. So I’m working very closely with Ray. We talk almost every day, if not every day, sometimes a few times a day, because there are a lot of issues out there. And we heard Ray yesterday talk about how technology is impacting the profession and a lot of these other issues. It’s a great conversation to be having, it’s a good dialogue. Renee you were talking last night. I can’t wait for two weeks from now when we sit down and talk at our board of governors meeting about some of these issues. One big issue that I have that you and I will be dealing with and the rest of the board of governors is the Constitution Revision Commission. That’s a little different.

 

Adriana Linares: That was very fancy sounding, what is that?

 

Renee Thompson: It only comes along like every twenty years, so you may not know about it.

 

Bill Schifino: And it’s very secret, so you can’t talk about it. No, I’m kidding.

 

Renee Thompson: But only for Legal Talk Network listeners are you going to find out about it here today.

 

Bill Schifino: But you can not tell anybody else our secret. But in addition to all of the issues that Ray has brought forward and that Greg’s been dealing with, the Vision 2016, the huge issue we all talk about access – we’ve talked a lot about that. There’s this little issue out there called the Constitution Revision Commission, and Renee’s right. Every twenty years, by Constitution, a commission is convened. The executive branch appoints fifteen members to that commission, the speaker of the house nine, senate president nine, the Supreme Court only gets three appointments, and the attorney general himself sits on it. That commission is empowered to place amendments on the general ballot November of 2018 by majority vote. So a lot can happen at that time. A lot of issues can affect the judicial branch of government, so we’ve got a lot of work to do there.

 

Renee Thompson: So tell me, when you are looking at your presidential agenda, do you get to – as a president – just decide, “Hey, this is what I’m interested in doing this year,” or is there some guiding principle that brings you ideas or platforms. What do you do? You’re brand new to the Bar, are you passionate about something? What do you do?

 

Bill Schifino: Essentially, you get to rewrite the whole bit. No, you know I’m kidding. It was that way, Renee. Ten or fifteen years ago, presidents come in, they’d have a new platform, and you may have president focusing on issue A. Well, next president doesn’t think A’s really that important. He or she is going to go back. But in ‘03 we came up with a good concept that is have a mission statement with specifically delineated objectives that we work with. So now it’s more like a barge slowly moving down the channel. You’re not going to be a speedboat moving left and right. So yeah, we work very closely. And in fact, Renee, annually we get together and in September we’re going to be meeting, hopefully in Tampa, close to you and me. We’re going to get our strategic planning committee together to come up and analyze all of these new issues we’re talking about and see what changes, if any, we need to make.

 

Renee Thompson: And this is not just a one year plan. This is something the Bar looks at five years out, isn’t that correct?

 

Bill Schifino: That’s right, it is a five year plan. So when I talk about we’re going to get together, in all likelihood there will be very few tweaks to it. But that’s all it is is a tweaking process to see okay, what changes are appropriate, what aren’t.

 

Adriana Linares: And so what are some of the big overarching themes in this five year plan you all have cooked up?

 

Renee Thompson: Well it’s got a couple of different areas, I’m sure.

 

Adriana Linares: Technology’s important.

 

Bill Schifino: I can’t tell you how the sausage is made. That’s our secret!

 

Adriana Linares: Tell us! Tell us!

 

Bill Schifino: You wouldn’t eat it then!

 

Renee Thompson: That’s true.

 

Bill Schifino: There are things you would expect. When you talk about the five main objectives, let’s get away from the mission statement. The first is to ensure the independence of the judicial branch.

 

Renee Thompson: And the Constitution Revision Commission will be a big part of that.

 

Bill Schifino: It’s going to be a big part of that. Enhancing the profession’s image with the public and our relationship with the public, making sure that the citizens of our state know the good work we do, pro bono, things like that. The third is the issue we deal with which we’re talking about now. And we came up with this years ago if you remember, and that is access to justice. Strive for equal access to and the availability of legal services. So that’s another big one we’ve got.

 

Adriana Linares: They’ve made a mistake.

 

Bill Schifino: We know that, Justice Labarga and Greg Coleman, last year’s president, are working hand in glove with that.

 

Renee Thompson: And that commission is doing incredible work.

 

Adriana Linares: That’s good.

 

Bill Schifino: I actually went to a meeting they held in Tampa in March. Wonderful men and women doing good work. Let’s hope we can fix this problem.

 

Renee Thompson: It’s a partnership, that’s what I was so impressed about the commission is it’s not just lawyers. We have our attorney general sitting on there, there are people in the business community, CEO’s.

 

Bill Schifino: Significant, that’s right. Absolutely.

 

Renee Thompson: Right, big businesses, who have come to the table to say we want to solve this problem together.

 

Adriana Linares: And they’re volunteers.

 

Renee Thompson: Oh yeah, absolutely.

 

Bill Schifino: Wait a minute, we’re not getting paid for that?

 

Renee Thompson: Did you not get the memo?

 

Bill Schifino: No, I did not get the memo. What a minute. I thought this was a paid job when I ran. No? Okay.

 

Renee Thompson: You don’t get paid for this either, just letting you know.

 

Bill Schifino: No lunch? Nothing?! Okay.

 

Adriana Linares: But we just want to remind people that these amazing things that the Bar and the organizations that partnered with and the things that we’re doing is all because of volunteers just like you. And I always like to remind our listeners that that’s kind of the case in these big things that you’re doing and these amazing commissions and the work that they’re doing, it’s all because of volunteers.

 

Bill Schifino: And to underscore what Renee was saying, it’s not just lawyers, and that is amazing. When I was sitting there listening – and I just sat in the audience and listened to the commission work. But to see business men and women to take time out of their day, travel to Tampa, travel to Tallahassee, the attorney general, judges, politicians, other politicians, it is really exciting to see. And hopefully there’s a lot of work to do, though. It’s a big issue.

 

Renee Thompson: Yeah, and the think tank of people in that room was outstanding. They’re going to come to the table with some exciting initiatives to help the people of Florida.

 

Adriana Linares: Alright, well that was three.

 

Bill Schifino: Okay, four, enhance and improve the value of Florida Bar membership and Bar relations with its lawyers. That’s one we deal with and address; member services, making certain we, the Bar, are here to serve not only our citizens first and foremost but to make sure we’re serving our members.

 

Adriana Linares: And that’s one of the great things about this specific conference is that the Bar leaders are here. So the big Bar working with the smaller Bar is voluntary Bars to do those very things.

 

Bill Schifino: And the Leadership Academy which are even younger lawyers in many cases who are the future leaders of the Bar making certain that they’re prepared, they’re ready. I thought about it this morning and it was wonderful speaking to the Leadership Academy today. And one thing I thought about this morning was as I looked out and was talking about them, what wonderful future leaders we have.

 

Renee Thompson: We are in good hands.

 

Bill Schifino: And that’s exactly right! I’ve been practicing thirty years now and so it’s hard to believe I’m on the second half, clearly the O.L.D.

 

Renee Thompson: Would not know it looking from you.

 

Bill Schifino: Well thank you very much. But we are in good hands and that’s exciting.

 

Adriana Linares: That’s great!

 

Bill Schifino: Really is. And then the last main objective of the Bar is to focus on diversity and inclusiveness in the Bar. And not just in the Bar, but in the judiciary, on our judicial nominating commissions, and make sure that we as the judicial branch of government are doing our part to push that needle to make sure our profession, committee, sections, the bench, and everyone, it’s a diverse representation of our population.

 

Renee Thompson: One of the issues that comes up when our Leadership Academy fellows talk about the strategic plan in the Bar is where do I find it? Because a lot of members don’t really know it exists in writing. Where do you find it? Do you just go to the website?

 

Bill Schifino: On the website. It’s there, yep. Easy to find. And in fact, also on the website is – I call it the Scruggs Pettis Task Force. I came up with a ten step action plan for diversity inclusiveness. And with our JNC’s and our bench. Really good work.

 

Renee Thompson: And that’s going forward, right?

 

Bill Schifino: Still going forward, still  pushing hard.

 

Adriana Linares: Well that’s great, this has been great. I’m so glad Bill stopped by.

 

Renee Thompson: Absolutely, and we’re going to get to see him throughout the year.

 

Bill Schifino: Well thanks for having me, ladies!

 

Renee Thompson: So hopefully you’ll come back and tell us how you’re ramping up all these exciting projects. And we’re happy to have you here with Legal Talk Network and the Florida Bar Podcast. We thank you so much for your time.

 

Bill Schifino: Oh, my pleasure, I enjoyed it. Thank you.

 

Adriana Linares: Thanks, Bill.
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