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June 28, 2006

Shameless Plug: Doing Business In North America (2006 edition)

Yorkhill Law Publishing, an arm of the respected Center for International Legal Studies in Salzburg, Austria, recently released the 2006 update of Legal Aspects of Doing Business in North America, edited by Christian Campbell. First published in 1988, the three-volume set focuses on the needs of non-North American businesses. It spells out requirements for doing business and investing in Canada and the United States, including state-by-state and province-by-province analyses. Chapters are prepared by local practitioners and offer practical insights into issues relating to choice of entity, securities, environmental, taxation, labor law and dispute resolution. The new Pennsylvania chapter was authored by my firm, Hull McGuire PC. Other contributors include Clifford Chance (New York chapter), Baker & McKenzie (Texas) and Barnes & Thornburg (Indiana). Doing Business is available in print, CD or online. To find out more, or to order, go here.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

International Arbitration

Here's a first-rate primer on international arbitration by lawyers from DLA Piper's London and New York offices. It appeared June 26 in Law.Com's In-House Counsel, reprinted from the New York Law Journal.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2006

Calloway on Client Expectations

Terrific post by Jim Calloway at his respected Law Practice Tips Blog on perhaps the most difficult of all client/customer tasks: creating and meeting expectations. Jim's post is also mentioned in this week's Blawg Review, No.63, written this week by Sheryl Schelin at The Airport Lawyer.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:14 PM | Comments (0)

Client Blogs on a Roll: Herz, Golden and Kane.

Clients. If you are interested in getting and keeping good ones, and deepening your relationships with them in ways that aren't shrill marketing b.s., and that simultaneously help both the client and your firm, do check out the many, many recent fine posts of each of the following: Arnie Herz at Legal Sanity, Michelle Golden at Golden Practices and Tom Kane at The Legal Marketing Blog. Read and keep scrolling down. All three of these folks are on fire.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2006

Sensitive Trial Moment No. 6: "Subsequent Remedial" Advice.

Here's a simple way to get a litigation client to stay on with your firm for non-litigation work. Trial lawyers are constantly making mental notes about how lawsuits either arise or are made complicated and expensive by imperfect if legal conditions which need corrective action at the client's shop. These defects usually lurk in day-to-day business practices. It could be a confusing employee handbook, a potentially faulty environmental storage practice, or ambiguous language in a standard contract or purchase order terms. Early on in the engagement, and after you have considered the subsequent repair rule, inform the general counsel about the problem or imperfection (which is usually dead-on obvious to everyone) and tell her that other departments in your firm would be glad to help fix it. If the client doesn't need or want your help to fix the problem, that's fine. The point is that you are looking out for your client in the long-term--in the non-litigation areas of its business--and that your firm cares enough to say something and offer to help.

Posted by JD Hull at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2006

The New Constant: European Hostility Toward U.S.

This column by Newsweek's Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey appeared yesterday in Newsweek online. My two cents is that the column understates European disapproval of the U.S. government. And the more educated the speaker, the more intense the hostility. You need to know about it if you or yours do business in any part of Europe. It is a fact which colors the most pedestrian Euro-American relationship. It's more on peoples' minds and a more popular small talk or dinner conversation subject than the weather, the European Union or World Cup soccer. Since the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, it has not let up.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)

Latin American Legal Weblogs?

To follow up on earlier posts over the past few months, WAC? is calling for suggestions of active legal weblogs from or about jurisdictions in Latin America to link to the left-hand side of this blog. Any language is fine. So far we have 125 active blawgs from 24 countries, jurisdictions or intergovernmental bodies (i.e., European Union)

Posted by JD Hull at 11:35 PM | Comments (1)

Client-Centric Ads? Is It Time?

In advertising, never attack your own industry. I read that long ago. But in 1998--when people started to realize that a combination of emerging technologies, strategy and plain American hustle would permit more lawyers to participate and compete in the "new global economy"--well, we had some extra cash for advertising. We ran an ad (text below) in three U.S. east coast business newspapers for an 8-week period. Maybe it was dumb luck, but this very basic and somewhat crude ad produced: (1) some wildly enthusiastic phone calls from people we did not know (in the first week, one GC, apparently sober, congratulated us from an airport payphone during a layover), (2) some catty but entertaining and telling comments from lawyers in Pennsylvania and D.C. we did know, and (3) the firming up for us at least one still continuing relationship with a like-minded company fed up with the lethargy and indifference of its traditional large law firm:


Doing business has changed. But many law firms haven't.

They still charge for "services" and overhead no corporate client should have to absorb. Like associate lawyer training. Duplicative conferences. And senior lawyers who will never understand or care about your business.

The product is disappointing. Service and follow-up are only words. And the bill makes you nuts.

Stop being the equipment in games lawyers play. At Hull McGuire, we focus on clients, and solving their problems. We build lifetime relationships with businesses of all sizes.



Washington DC, Pittsburgh, San Diego

Corporate Planning, Transactions, Tax, Intellectual Property, Telecommunications, Litigation, Employment Practices, Environmental, Legislative, International."

Posted by JD Hull at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2006

The Manchester School, Free Trade and Starbucks...

At times, but rarely, I have mixed emotions about Letting Markets Solve Everything. I used to joke that I would return to Cincinnati some day to find that Starbucks had opened up a branch in my parents' living room. Starbucks is indeed everywhere, and installed so uniformly and and evenly all over Europe that you can forget where you really are. There's one in Madrid I was in a lot 3 years ago that is a spitting image of one near my house in California--right down to the bright shiny employees who pretend to be your buddy (and say your name about 5 times, which is why I am known as "Jack"), the location of the bathrooms and those 3 people/fixtures on their laptops. And there's McDonald's, of course, and Subway, Burger King. Americanization--from slang you hear on the streets and TV commercials to clothing and truly stunning cosmetic surgery--is nothing to fear anymore. It's an established fact of life. Here's a kicker: today in Manchester near Granada Television Studios on Water Street I saw a huge sign that says for about USD $700 you can get a direct flight from Manchester, England, first city of the industrial revolution, to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Posted by JD Hull at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

June 18, 2006

Troutbeck, Windermere, Cumbria, England

We live in a world that never sleeps, and now it combines the ancient with the digital. I left Manchester three days ago to attend the wedding of a London lawyer up here in the Lake District. My hotel for the first night, the Queen’s Head, in Troutbeck, near Windermere, is about 400 years old and looks out over a very narrow winding road, green valleys, daffodils, sheep, cattle, the ruins of old stone houses and hundreds of miles of grey stone fences in the shadows of fells (mountains). All of the fences--and some of the older houses--are done by dry stone. No mortar at all, and they meander up and down the fells and the valleys and around the lakes for hundreds of miles, like multiple Hadrian's walls stitching everything together. These are the same fences the Lake poets like Wordsworth walked along 200 years ago. Prince Charles has declared dry stone a lost art, and he wants people to re-learn it to keep the fences in repair.

There is no telephone in any room at the Queen’s Head, a rustic inn even around here, in the quiet Troutbeck Valley, not far from the old Roman Road. No internet connections. Just one pay phone near the dining room off the pub, and also a fax, they claim. But it doesn't matter--a Sony Ericsson cell phone and the T-Mobile service allow better wireless connections to talk to clients and my office than I get in the U.S. A Treo or a BlackBerry work just fine here. Clients have no idea where I am unless I tell them. In a way, it's a shame. This morning I saw a farmer in one of the rolling fields way down below me in a scene of timeless pastoral beauty and, yes, he had to his ear a silvery cell phone as he paced around between the sheep, their still-nursing lambs and the old stone walls designed to keep them from getting lost or hurt on his neighbor's property. Otherwise, the year was 1730, or earlier.

One great thing if you need to keep working while you travel out here is this: in Europe, I am always at least 5 or 6 hours ahead of North America, which means that I can do "immovable" weekly conferences on ongoing projects in the early afternoon rather than 5:30 to 8:30 AM. I am ahead of the game--that's never true when I am in, say, California. In the western U.S., when I call it a day and go to sleep, workers in the UK, Germany and the rest of Europe are checking their e-mail accounts and just starting their day.

Posted by JD Hull at 05:07 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2006

Manchester, England

Later today I leave for Chicago, then to Manchester, England for a couple of days, and finally for points further north and more rural. Manchester is the UK's second city--like Chicago, but with a bit less glitz. Hardworking, industrial, and "northern" in both geography and character, Manchester, with its Roman origins, is a place to get things done. With a population of over 2 million, it is home to the newspaper The Guardian, two major football clubs, Granada Television Studios, The Royal Bank of Scotland, the Hollies (that's Graham Nash's first band if you're under 40) and even Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders. Manchester folks are indeed British--but they’re not the tweed-clad, class-conscious proper chaps and ladies of southern England in our unfortunate American stereotype of what is English. Northerners, even in the cities, are in fact a little friendlier and more down-to-earth than southerners. Mixing travel with business is an education and great fun--but you've got to know where you are, and who you are with. Chicago is not New York. Manchester is not London. England isn't the U.S. Even though the Brits' style of doing business is closer to the Americans' than that of any other nationality, we are still very different. So what happens when Americans do business with the English? And which English? English trading with Germans? Or Germans with Japanese? For more on doing business abroad, see Richard Lewis's book When Cultures Collide: Managing Successfully Across Cultures.

Posted by JD Hull at 07:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2006

Real Elitism: Toward Building A Client-Centric Culture.

In a couple of years, your clients won't care, and it may even backfire. Don't get me wrong. Those two 28-year-old ex-Supreme Court clerks your firm just hired at $165,000 a year along with your eight other fine new associates are treasures. Cherish and develop them. Still tell your clients and the world, as you have for years, that you only hire and the "smartest" people. Keep hiring them and keep telling the clients. But the chance that even one out of those ten hires--even assuming that all ten stay at your firm and make partner--will ever "get" clients and minimally master client service is about zilch. Talent and solid legal work are both critical--but they aren't enough.

In the 1994 book Built To Last, authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras discuss how enduring world-class companies often have developed "cult-like cultures" in which they view themselves as truly unique, superior and and frankly better-than-you in the production, marketing, selling and delivery of their products and services. Amongst themselves, and in talking to customers, they don't talk about whether their sales and management people are graduates of Tuck, Harvard or Wharton, huge state schools or small obscure private liberal arts colleges. That stuff faded into the woodwork when it was time to perform. Built To Last notes that some of the same firms don't have an external standard of quality. Instead, they have their own standard, and they compete against that. And they talk about it. Interestingly, though, their "elitism"--viewing themselves as special with their own special standard--didn't evolve with their success. They thought of themselves as special since day one. Check out the nearly 100-year history of IBM, pre-success elitists since 1911.

In firms of any type, size or caliber that sell services, talent and academic achievement is cherished, and it should be. Also valued is a high standard of client service: the art of making a valued client both "be and feel safe". However, services of all manner in the "new" global economy--new product-service mixes, traditional consumer services and professional services--continue to get low marks. The main reason for launching What About Clients? last year (see the first post) is the belief that client service at law and other professional firms is shamefully third-rate and our standard on client service so uninspired and low that it ensures mediocrity and failure. The best people and the best product are not enough. They are merely prerequisites. Better service or service techniques you learned last year at a seminar or from the state disciplinary board aren't enough either. A new campaign to keep clients more informed, return phone calls right away and buy better seats at the stadium won't get you to a client-service culture. And telling yourself and your clients that you give good or better client service than the next firm is like saying you're the most beautiful maiden in a leper colony.

Set your own client service standard and compete against that. Start talking about it. Learn from everyone, but banish other firms' standards of service out of your mind forever. Get a high standard--and then outdo yourself. Get cocky and superior about that. If WAC? could start one small revolution, that is the one we'd choose.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2006

Think about value first--and pricing alternatives second.

What about a "Chief Value Officer"? So we're back to the subject of King Billable Hour and whether lawyers can devise efficient value-based alternatives to that institution. Ron Baker at Verasage Institute thinks we can. Ron has an interesting new post which starts out:

The empirical evidence is overwhelming: Customers do want alternative pricing methods. There is an enormous backlash against the billable hour, since it misaligns the interest between the firm and the customer and rewards inefficiency. Customers want certainty in price, and more value than the price they are paying.

Underline the word "misaligns". Now read the rest of Ron's post.

Posted by JD Hull at 10:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 08, 2006

Dan Harris, China Law Blog and China Business.

For years our firm has acted for clients in the Americas and Europe--but only recently in Asian markets and China, where we have our own "trusted advisors". We are not experts yet. If you are new to the brave new world of China, and want to get a good feel for doing business there, along with some very interesting news and insights, see China Law Blog by Seattle-based Dan Harris. This is a business lawyer's blog by a business lawyer with strong ties to China and an active office there. Western newcomers to China business are made quite welcome at Dan's site. And check out his "Favorite Blogs" on China law and business on the lower right hand of China Law Blog. WAC? will add quite a few of these to our catalogue of non-U.S. blogs.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2006

Sensitive Litigation Moment No. 5: Depositions and FRE 612

FRE 612 provides that if a witness uses a writing "to refresh memory", either while or before testifying, the adverse party is "entitled to have the writing produced at the hearing, to inspect it, to cross-examine the witness" on the document. Good trial lawyers overlook that FRE 612 applies to depositions as well as to trials. Federal decisions have applied the rule to depositions based upon Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(c). So ask a "hostile" deponent if he or she looked at documents before the deposition other than those being produced at the deposition. If the answer is "yes", request that they be produced. You can have them produced during or after the deposition. Often the best documents are the ones that never make it to the deposition, like handwritten records that even opposing counsel doesn't know about.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:45 PM | Comments (0)

June 03, 2006

...and the Times of London has a legal weblog.

We learn from Point of Law and Robert Ambrogi that the Times of London--the Murdoch publication which announced plans to enter the U.S. market--has been publishing Law Weblog since February. It may be just WAC? but The Times' new blog looks and feels a bit like Peter Lattman's Law Blog launched in January at The Wall Street Journal.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

Special Saturday Glimpse into the Eternally Serious Swiss...

Click here. Since we are talking in European stereotypes here, note that this tragedy occurred in traditional, old-fashioned Vienna, Austria. Our thanks to YouTube, Margaret Marks at Transblawg and one of the editors at the International Desk of Blawg Review.

Posted by JD Hull at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2006

South African Legal Weblogs?

And we know you are out there. A South African commercial litigator, Paul Jacobson, just let us know about his blog. If you publish or know about other active blawgs originating in or about South Africa, please let us know so we can add it to the growing list on your bottom left of non-U.S. blawgs. Thanks to some excellent blawgs here and abroad and a few of our betters like Blawg Review there's increasing interest in the WAC? effort to expand the digital conversation with the rest of the world by creating a solid catalogue of non-U.S. legal weblogs. In the next few days, we--well, a hard working guy in Pennsylvania named Tom who started out as a corporate tax lawyer but now is headed for more fun if contentious projects--will add here links of recently-submitted non-U.S. blawgs. We'd do it sooner but at WAC? we don't just talk about the mysteries of high-end global clients who trade everywhere. We have to work for them, too.

Posted by JD Hull at 04:11 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2006

The Wonder of Repeat Business - Part 2

Tom Kane at The Legal Marketing Blog has yet another great article on marketing to existing clients--one of my favorite WAC? subjects--and it's right here. This follows previous posts by both Tom and Jim Hassett we discussed last month on the same subject. Stats, anecdotes and plain common sense will tell you that it's a lot easier to expand your business from the client base you already have than to go after new game. In particular, if you have good corporate clients, try this: work for them every day like it's that first project they gave you 10 or 15 years ago. Forget forever what other lawyers do or don't do and compete against your own standard. Keep those clients safe, happy and coming back to you with both repeat work and new types of work.

Posted by JD Hull at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)