Differentiation Always Counts

Do you fully understand what differentiation means when it comes to your marketing efforts, and ultimately your success?  I just read an amusing anecdotal blog post from the powerhouse legal recruiting firm of Major, Lindsey & Africa.  Entitled “Tales from the Inside: Do You Think I Should Send a Thank-You Note?” It tells the story of how three candidates for a desirable in-house position were differentiated by the simple fact that one of the three took time to send hand-written thank you notes after each interview, and the other two did not.  Guess who got the job?

Take a look at what Wikipedia has to say about differentiation, when used in the context of marketing (emphasis added):

In economics and marketing, product differentiation (or simply differentiation) is the process of distinguishing a product or service from others, to make it more attractive to a particular target market. This involves differentiating it from competitors’ products as well as a firm’s own products. The concept was proposed by Edward Chamberlin in his 1933 Theory of Monopolistic Competition.

The objective of differentiation is to develop a position that potential customers see as unique. . . .

Differentiation primarily affects performance through reducing directness of competition: As the product becomes more different, categorization becomes more difficult and hence draws fewer comparisons with its competition. A successful product differentiation strategy will move your product from competing based primarily on price to competing on non-price factors . . . .

Most people would say that the implication of differentiation is the possibility of charging a price premium; however, this is a gross simplification. If customers value the firm’s offer, they will be less sensitive to aspects of competing offers; price may not be one of these aspects. Differentiation makes customers in a given segment have a lower sensitivity to other features (non-price) of the product.

The anecdotal blog post illustrates how simple it can be to develop differentiation in some cases.  However,  any good law firm management consultant or marketing professional will tell you that development of differentiation for lawyers and law firms may not be so easy.  It depends on so many factors, such as whether you have a niche practice, what unique qualifications exist at  your firm, and so forth.  Sometime a firm must make purposeful changes to develop differentiating factors.

Your takeaway from all of this is that being different (in a good way) from your competitors, will always help you stand out in the crowd, and enable you to compete for work on a basis other than cost.


Job Opening / Opportunity: Bookkeeper for Philadelphia Law Firm

Job Description – Bookkeeper and Administrative Assistant – FINAL

The well-run successful small boutique law firm of Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt LLC, located in Center City Philadelphia, has a job opportunity for an experienced full-charge bookkeeper. The candidate who fills the position will devote 90% of time to accounting work, and 10% to firm administrative matters.  The position job description is attached.

The ideal candidate will have a college degree and 5 years of relevant experience.  The firm utilizes QuickBooks, Timeslips, and Microsoft Office.  Existing competency with  these products is desired.

The firm offers a competitive starting salary, health, dental and life insurance, and a non-matching 401(k) plan.

Interested candidates should submit their resume to Edward T. Kang, Esquire.

Job Opening – Commercial Litigation Associate

McCormick Law Firm in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, has a job opening for a full-time Associate Attorney with 1-5 years’ experience who is interested in working in a civil law practice, with a focus in commercial litigation. The associate will also have opportunities to work in the following areas of this general practice firm: commercial law and transactions, municipal law, personal injury and malpractice litigation, and labor and employment law. The ideal candidate will be focused and highly motivated, and will have the energy and drive to take on established business as well as to explore new challenges. The firm offers highly competitive salary and benefits for the geographic area.

McCormick Law Firm is one of the oldest and most respected law firms in north central Pennsylvania. They have a regional presence that continues to grow and evolve. In recent years, Williamsport has been named one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, offering a high quality of life, and it is in the heart of the Marcellus Shale region of the Commonwealth. Williamsport is well known for hosting the Little League World Series annually, and it is home to three colleges and a large healthcare system. McCormick Law Firm is looking for an attorney with a career commitment, who plans to reside and practice with the firm for the long-term.

Interested applicants should send a resume, law school transcript and cover letter, including available start date, to Emilie Pearson, Business Manager, or mail to:

McCormick Law Firm
Attn: Emilie Pearson, Business Manager
835 West Fourth Street
Williamsport, PA 17701

Upgrade to Windows 10?

Microsoft has cleverly delivered pop-up invitations for free upgrades to Windows 10.  Should you take advantage and become an early adopter?  In my usual pragmatic manner, I advise against it unless you want to unwittingly become an early debugger too.

Let the big firms with in-house tech support go through the pain first.  They can afford to smooth all the wrinkles and support users through the bumpy ride.  Wait until at least the first service pack comes out.  And following that, the software gets “good reports” regarding the results of the service pack installation.  Then and only then should you install.

My colleague, Jennifer Ellis, is much more analytical in her approach.  In her blog postShould You Upgrade to Windows 10?” she spells out the specific considerations to take into account for each end-user and firm.  Give it a read, to help you decide.

As always, I will post to the blog when I think the time has arrived to safely install Windows 10 for the majority of users who read my blog.  If you go back into my historical archives of past blog posts, you’ll see that I never recommended installation of Windows Vista.  As time passed it became apparent that it was never going to be a decent operating system.  I suggested keeping XP going until the next generation (Windows 7) was released, and upgraded at least once.  It turned out to be the right move.  I also recommended the same with Windows 8.  So stay tuned.  I won’t steer you wrong.


Increasing Emotional Intelligence

The concept of emotional intelligence — EQ — hit my radar screen about 25 – 30 years ago while attending a seminar presentation by Dr. Larry Richard, who at the time was a consultant with Altman Weil.  He is now with LawyerBrain, a consulting practice which helps law firms tackle their most important people issues related to leadership, motivation, talent management, and  managing change.

Back then, the concept of emotional intelligence was not on the radar screen of law firms or HR executives.  Explosive 900-lb gorillas ruled the roost, or were tolerated, at a large percentage of firms. Most succeeded in spite of the obvious shortcoming.  In fact, talented attorneys with a high IQ and low EQ were perceived and sometimes sought out as those with the “right stuff” for success.

With my roots firmly planted in financial management, I recognized the fallacy early on.  Turnover at all levels of the firm, defections, and a toxic culture cost the firms I managed dearly in both dollars and work satisfaction.

One particular firm still stands out in my memory despite the passage of decades. The firm was founded by two partners. One was mild in temperament and affable. The other was undoubtedly the holder of the lowest possible EQ score on the planet. He would scream until his face was beet red and white spittle accumulated at the corners of his mouth.  He would scream equally at everyone at the slightest cause of displeasure, or because of the slightest stressor.  He didn’t care where the excoriating took place, and in fact most were public.  It was literally physically uncomfortable to witness him eviscerate his fellow founding partner in the hallway, to the point where the partner’s hands would shake and his head would bow in an attempt to deflect what must have felt like physical blows.

I have since made it my mission to help firms come to the realization that life is too short to allow this behavior to persist if there is an alternative. Admittedly, as some firms the founder is the low-EQ culprit, and the only choice is  endure or leave. But I always point out that when your choice is “my way or the highway,” leaving is an option to be considered.  It’s better than becoming ill from continued stress and abuse day after day.

I also encourage accountability for unacceptable behavior in the same manner that sloppy work, missing deadlines, or inadequate client communications are behaviors which most firms will not tolerate.  However, I find that the majority of firms are still unwilling to deal effectively with low-EQ offenders who are profitable for the firm.  What can your firm do?

Well, if you don’t want to throw out the attorney, at least get him or her some mandatory coaching assistance.  I have been increasingly referring clients to coaches for rainmaking, leadership, organization, and yes, emotional intelligence.  A very smart and talented coach I have become privileged to know is Dena Lefkowitz, founder of Achievement by Design.  Like Dr. Larry Richard, Dena is a “recovered attorney” who works to help those in practice improve their performance, work/life balance, and career satisfaction.

Can coaching make a difference?  I am asked that all the time by skeptical clients.  My answer is that it depends on the coach, and on the lawyer’s willingness and desire to improve.  As Dena states in her article:

. . . professional practices today have less toleration for berating, belittling and bullying behaviors. Unlike our IQ, which remains stable over a lifetime, EQ scores can be measurably improved. Coaches use assessments, such as the EQ-i 2.0, to determine areas of strength and those needing development, which are very useful, especially if there is lack of awareness regarding unwanted behaviors in a partner or employee.

To learn more about emotional intelligence read Dena’s excellent article “How to Harness Emotional Intelligence to Ensure Success” which appeared in the July 30, 2015 issue of The Legal Intelligencer.



Job Opening – Law Firm Administrator

The midsize West Chester, PA law firm of Gawthrop Greenwood, PC, with diverse practice areas and clientele, has a job opening for an experienced office administrator to oversee finances, technology, facilities, human resources, strategic analysis, and marketing. The firm offers a collegial atmosphere, a comprehensive compensation and benefits package, and a stable but growing practice. A copy of the job description is available at http://jobs.gawthrop.com

Send resume and salary request to Barbara Moore, Gawthrop Greenwood, PC, via email or mail to 17 East Gay Street, P.O. Box 562, West Chester, PA 19381- 0562.


Job Opening for Public Interest Attorney

Schuylkill Women in Crisis

Seeks attorney to represent survivors of domestic violence in civil matters (primarily OTHER than PFAs), e.g., divorce, custody, bankruptcy, housing, employment, etc. At least one-year litigation in family law practice preferred. Expertise /demonstrated interest in affecting positive change in public interest/legal/court system response to violence against women essential. Salary, bonus, and medical. Job description at  http://s-wic.org/jobdescriptions.html.

Send cover letter, CV, salary requirement and writing sample by August 28, 2015, to: SWiC, P.O. Box 96, Pottsville, PA 17901. E.O.E.

Upcoming Seminar Presentations by Ellen Freedman

I am often asked how to find out when and where I will be presenting a seminar.  And I repeatedly promise to blog about my upcoming presentations.  But usually I am too busy actually doing the presentations to take the time to write about them beforehand.  I know, do as I say and not as I do!

August, September and October are going to be busy MCLE months.  I will be on the road presenting in many venues.  Most of the courses qualify for ethics credit.  For additional information or to register, contact the county bar association which is sponsoring my seminar(s).

Thursday, August 6, 2015
Sponsor:  Barley Snyder
Contact:  Rose Lowther
Lancaster County
Email Etiquette & Ethics

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Sponsor: Lehigh County Bar
Contact: Nancy Devers
The Essential Building Blocks of a Successful Solo or Small Firm Practice

Thursday, August 27, 2015
Sponsor: Mercer County Bar
Contact: Debra Arner
 Survival 101: Law Practice Emergency Planning for Death or Disability

Thursday, August 27, 2015
Sponsor: Erie County Bar
Contact: Sandra Brydon Smith
The Essential Building Blocks of a Successful Solo or Small Firm Practice
Records Management
Survival 101: Law Practice Emergency Planning for Death or Disability

Friday, August 28, 2015
Sponsor: Washington County Bar
Contact: Kathy Sabol
Efficiently and Effectively Administering Your Practice (3 hrs)

Thursday, September 17, 2015
Sponsor: PA Bar Institute  (program by PBA Statutory Law Committee)
Contact: Beverly Hendry
Program: Legislative Process, Statutory Drafting, Regulatory Process & Update
Part-time Practice

Friday, September 18, 2015
Sponsor: Monroe County Bar (Bench Bar)
Contact: Denise Burdge
Winding Down a Practice

Friday, October 9, 2015
Sponsor: Franklin County Bar (Bench Bar)
Contact: Amelia Ambrose
Topic not yet selected . . . stay tuned for update!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Sponsor: Montgomery Bar Association (Family Law Section)
Survival 101: Law Practice Emergency Planning for Death or Disability
Billing and Collecting for Family Law Attorneys

Thursday, October 22, 2015
Sponsor: Montgomery Bar Association (Leadership Academy)
Business Planning

Friday, October 30, 2015
Sponsor: Adams County Bar (Bench Bar)
Contact: Barbara Entwistle
3 Sessions . . . Topics not yet selected . . . stay tuned for update!

If you get to attend one of these sessions, I invite you to post a comment or two on my blog, LinkedIn, or Facebook page.  Or you can Tweet during or after the session.  It’s all good!

Job Opening – Bilingual Associate Attorney

The Law Office of Marcia Binder Ibrahim, LLC, located in Montgomery County, PA, has a job opening for an associate attorney with at least five years of criminal and/or immigration experience. The firm handles criminal and family matters, and has a special focus on all aspects of immigration law as they relate to the above.

Applicants must be a member of the Pennsylvania bar and/or eligible to waive in. Spanish language fluency is required. The firm’s offices are located in Lansdale and Norristown, and both are convenient to SEPTA’s regional rail. A competitive salary and benefits are available. The firm offers a flexible and congenial work environment, with significant opportunities to gain experience in complex immigration matters.

Interested candidates are requested to send a cover letter detailing why you are qualified for this position, along with salary requirements and a resume in PDF format to Marcia Binder Ibrahim.  (Note: the firm will not accept calls regarding this position unless the firm has already made contact first.)

Job Opening / Opportunity for Experienced Estate Paralegal in Wilmington, DE

Gawthrop Greenwood, PC is a mid-size 100+ year old law firm headquartered in West Chester, PA.  They have a job opening / opportunity for a full-time experienced Estate Paralegal for their Wilmington, DE office.  The desired candidate’s requirements include:


  • Minimum of 5 years’ experience


  • Must be organized, professional, dependable


  • Must be able to work both independently and as part of a team


  • Must have strong technical skills, including Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel; OneSource Tax and Accounting System (“Zane”)


  • Prosystems fX and TABS experience a plus


  • Must be able to prioritize and pay close attention to detail and accuracy


  • Must be generally familiar with court accounting and tax preparation software, the Delaware probate process, and ability to draft estate planning documents; familiarity with the Pennsylvania probate and inheritance tax process a plus.


  • Must have excellent oral and written communication skills


The firm offers a competitive starting salary commensurate with experience, along with a comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, ST, LT, Life and 401K.  Please forward resume, salary requirements and references to Diane Wenner . Equal Opportunity Employer.

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