2012 – IB Summit – Report to Members / Part One

Part One of the member report covers the following topics:

State of The Injury Board
Update on The Safety Report
Update on The Legal Examiner

Hot Topics
Networking — How to increase member-to-member interactions
Mass Torts — How to better connect non-mass tort members to those practicing mass torts
Participation — How members can take better advantage of current services
Education — How to equip members with better ROI-style marketing skills and techniques


State of The Injury Board

Session One of the Summit offered members an overview of the current state of our organization along with key developments that will affect membership in the near future.

Launching with only a handful of firms more than a decade ago, The Injury Board now has 140+ member firms with representation in 36 of the top 50 markets and 51 of the top 100 markets. Member firms range from single practitioners practicing general personal injury law to multi-state offices and nationally-focused mass tort practices. Interestingly, close to one-third of member firms represent cities with less than 100,000 person populations.

Individually, we define ourselves as “a different kind of lawyer” — leaders in our profession, servants in our community, lawyers who deliver consistent, positive results for our clients. Together, we do even more by working as a collective — each firm benefitting from a shared “in-house creative ad agency” and underwriting the development of consumer-focused initiatives like The Safety Report magazine, The Legal Examiner news network, and the 60 for Safety speakers bureau, all which raise the profile of our members and our profession.

In short, the state of The Injury Board is strong.

As we look down the road, we do face a specific challenge in the area of growth. In order to continue providing high-quality products and high-level services to help member firms better connect with their clients, colleagues and community, The Injury Board must grow. How we do that will be shaped by our members, themselves, and you will be able to read more on that ongoing conversation in the various sessions detailed in this report.

Important developments with two of our signature initiatives were also discussed in this first session:

The Safety Report —

The Safety Report magazine is the high-quality, community safety quarterly co-written and co-published by a small portion of our members and distributed to their clients, colleagues and community, including members of the local press. Currently in its third year of production, approximately 50,000 copies of TSR are produced and distributed each quarter. Word-of-mouth reports from our members who distribute the magazine continue to be overwhelmingly positive.

In the past year, the complete design process for TSR has been brought in-house, which has bolstered our creativity and the overall quality of the publication. That said, the enterprise remains a costly endeavor.

In an effort to dramatically increase readership and brand exposure and lower production costs even further, The Injury Board and Claris Law have recently entered into an agreement with AAJ to support and market TSR to their full membership. AAJ members can now purchase “clean” (non-customized) copies of The Safety Report for display in their lobby, as part of their intake packages and as a thank you to clients, for the single-copy price of $6.95 per magazine. AAJ will receive $1 per magazine as a means of support for their ongoing mission.

Importantly, members of The Injury Board continue to have the exclusive opportunities related to the magazine.  We will only direct mail magazines to a mailing list for IB members (non-IB members will have all orders shipped in bulk to their office) and IB members alone can customize the magazine with their firm’s brand and messaging.

Please contact Stephanie Andre at sandre@clarislaw.com with your questions or for more information.

The Legal Examiner —

The Legal Examiner news network is the online legal news, consumer safety and political opinion consortium formerly known as The Injury Board blog network. Nearly 60% of our members also participate as regional editors for this high-ranking portal, providing content and support for local, national and worldwide readers. Member posts continue to result in contact by local and national news media on issues ranging from product safety and community safety initiatives to local government and elections, positioning our members as subject matter experts and strong advocates for consumer safety in their own areas of practice.

In order to encourage more participation from readers and links from other websites — two things we’ve already seen happen based just on our name change — we are continuing our redesign of The Legal Examiner website for rollout at the AAJ winter convention in Miami in February 2013. Click the following links to see composites of the new look for the TLE home page, a regional home page and an individual article page. Once the files are open, click again to enlarge them.

This new branding will increase our credibility as a legitimate news publication (rather than a “blog network”) and will provide greater opportunity for publishing members to partner with local and national “voices” and grow their local brands. With the update, members will not only be able to produce original content themselves but will also be able to invite colleagues, subject matter experts, local safety advocates and more to contribute content under the member’s own regional banner (eg., tulsa.legalexaminer.com, etc.).

Additionally, this increased level of meaningful content (defined by having something to say, expressing informed opinion and reaction, being passionate about a topic), will provide an exponential increase in readership and help our entire network enjoy greater strength and higher search engine rank based on recent algorithm changes. In other words — these changes will help us be even “better together.”

Please contact Angus Hinson (The Legal Examiner) at ahinson@clarislaw.com with your questions or for more information about these changes.

Hot Topics

Session Two of the Summit focused on “Hot Topics” or areas in which members have expressed interest through the pre-Summit survey and/or direct discussions on the listserv or with staff throughout the year. This year’s “Hot Topics” included: Networking (how to increase member-to-member interactions); Mass Torts (how to better connect non-mass tort members to those practicing in those areas); Participation (how to empower members to take better advantage of current services); and Education (how to equip members with the information they need to more effectively market their practice). The format of this session was a brief presentation of the topic and then open discussion to produce action items that advance member objectives.

Networking —

While there are many networking options currently available to help members connect (The Member Summit, the Radius of Influence Conference, IB events at AAJ Winter and Annual), a number of members have shared that professional networking is one of the most important aspects of our association. At the Summit, discussion centered around three main areas: sharing best practices; member-to-member referrals, and social opportunities.

Members requested specific help with:

  • “A way to voice marketing suggestions or tips with other members”
  • “Some help circulating best marketing practices”
  • “A more robust or user-friendly member directory to help make referrals easier”
  • “Quicker response from members when dealing with a referral”
  • “Additional ways to connect with other members at events”

STAFF ACTION — Patrick Mickler (Membership) is currently working with staff to put together a more robust member-to-member networking strategy that addresses these and other issues; this will be vetted by a working group of our attorney members. This strategy will roll out to all members in Jan. 2013. If you’re interested in serving on the networking working group (2-3 meetings total), please contact Patrick at pmickler@clarislaw.com

STAFF ACTION — Staff will more frequently release updates on new members and will develop a calendar of upcoming events for members.

MEMBER ACTION — As we develop a more comprehensive plan, our members can help the networking process by taking one or more of the following steps:

  • Visit the current online Member Directory when seeking a colleague for referral
  • Forward out-of-area referrals from your state and local TLA listserve to other members
    • NOTE — We’ve already seen an uptick in these efforts! Thank you!
  • Respond quickly to listserv referrals in your area.
  • Send us your ideas for what you’d like to see at future member events.

Mass Torts —

A system or method for non-mass tort member firms to be educated on emerging mass torts and ways to market for these cases in their communities was reinforced by interest from approximately 50% of attendees at the Summit.

Specifically, members requested:

  • “Some kind of list of emerging mass torts”
  • “Some kind of list of which member firms are overseeing cases on specific torts ”
  • “A list of ongoing class actions”
  • “Some kind of online resource which helps us inform our clients”

STAFF ACTION — Patrick Mickler (Membership) and Stephanie Andre (Publishing and Events) are creating an educational program, tentatively titled “Mass Torts Monthly”, where a mass tort member of IB will give a 30 minute to 1 hour presentation on an emerging tort and ways to market for these cases.

MEMBER ACTION — As we develop a more comprehensive plan, our members can help the mass torts process by taking one or more of the following steps:

  • Mass Tort Firms — If you would like to participate in this educational process as a “mass torts firm,” please advise Patrick of your interest, along with a list of specific torts you would be interested in presenting on.
  • Non-Mass Tort Firms — If you’d like to participate in this process as a “non-mass torts firm,” please contact Patrick with your ideas or requests for features that your firm would like to see be a part of this initiative.

Participation —

One important issue for all members is how to get the most out of services and/or products that you’re already paying for. Over the years, we’ve found that many members (or their partners, firm staff, etc.) were unaware of key offerings or features of their membership in The Injury Board, their regional news account with The Legal Examiner (formerly Injury Board Blog Network), their distribution of The Safety Report, and even their participation in special offerings like the 60 for Safety speakers bureau.

STAFF ACTION — To help all our members get the best possible return on their investment of time and resources, we are working on creating better and more consistent systems across each of our services and products:

  • Membership (Patrick Mickler)
  • The Legal Examiner (Angus Hinson)
  • The Safety Report (Stephanie Andre)
  • 60 for Safety (Mason Alley)

Our efforts will include comprehensive information, simple step-by-step instructions and training, better communication and a more unified system to integrate all available products and services. Keep an eye out for developments in this area!

Education —

Radius of Influence (ROI) is how we describe our particular style of word-of-mouth marketing. And, throughout the year and every time we meet, members consistently request the most current information, updates on emerging trends and best practices from member firms around the network — all filtered through our ROI marketing philosophy.

These conversations and a few well-attended and well-received training events during the Summit (thanks again, Michael Monheit!) have underlined the fact that we need to offer members more and ongoing training in the basics (and more) of ROI-style marketing.

STAFF ACTION — Stephanie Andre (Publishing and Events) is leading our staff effort to develop an ongoing training schedule for members who want to know more about ROI-style word-of-mouth marketing. Under the ROI brand, we’ll share a “marketing round-up” of the latest tips, techniques and proven best practices across our member network. We’ll also offer “basic training” on things like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and more.

Look for the skill-building posts to arrive by email, our member listserv and the Radius of Influence site beginning in November 2012.

MEMBER ACTION — To help us deliver the best possible content addressing your most pressing issues, please share your marketing (word-of-mouth and otherwise) questions and concerns with Stephanie at sandre@clarislaw.com


NEXT WEEK: Part Two

Lawyers Against Hunger

60 for Safety
EndDD.org Campaign Updates
Custom Campaigns for your State and Local TLA
KidsAndCars.org

Roundtable Discussions
Agency Hours – How to get the most out of our (free!*) members-only “in-house ad agency”
Social Media / Twitter – The basics of Twitter and how to make it work for your firm
Blogging — How to turn practice areas and personal passions into great posts
Community — How to grow relationships and your reputation through community outreach

*Members receive 18 hours of agency services (graphics, web design, etc.) annually

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